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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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As workers stop looking, Idaho jobless rate declines

Staff and wire reports

BOISE— Idaho’s unemployment rate dropped to its lowest level on record in April but only because thousands of so-called “discouraged workers” stopped looking for jobs.

The Department of Labor on Friday forecast April’s jobless rate at 4.3 percent, down another third of a point from March and the lowest under the current calculation used to determine rates back to 1978.

Unemployment rates fell sharply in all five Panhandle counties.

Kootenai County’s unemployment rate fell to 6 percent from 7.2 percent a year ago. Shoshone County’s was 7 percent in April, versus 10.6 percent a year ago. Bonner County’s unemployment was 5 percent compared with 7 percent a year ago. Boundary County’s rate was 4.4 percent, down from 7.6 percent in April 2003. And Benewah County’s rate was 6.8 percent, down from 10.1 percent a year ago.

Statewide, analysts said employment opportunities were not as strong as usual for the early spring, reducing total employment by 1,900 to 668,400. It was the first time in nine months that employment has declined. It exceeded 670,000 for the first time in March.

But the unemployment rate dropped because the number of people looking for work fell by more than twice that amount. An estimated 4,000 workers stopped seeking jobs in April.

“Some of Idaho’s workers are leaving the labor force or the state because of the lack of job opportunities,” department analysts concluded in the monthly report. “However, the data indicates that Idaho’s economy is experiencing a temporary slowdown rather than an economic downturn.”

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