The Idaho Department of Labor today reported a drop in the state’s unemployment rate, but the number of people still out of work isn’t declining as quickly as labor officials would like. August’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is down two-tenths of a percent to 9.2. That’s the lowest Idaho’s rate has been in the last 15 months. Still, Department of Labor spokesman Bob Fick said 70,000 people were still out of work around the state.
“The number of workers with jobs declined for the third straight month, dropping below 689,000 for the first time since March. Nearly 2,400 workers dropped out of the labor force in August, the second largest one-month drop on record. The largest was 2,600 in July.” – Bob Fick, Idaho Department of Labor
Fick said employers expanded payrolls by just 1,800, matching the gain from July to August in 2010 but far below the pre-recession average of 3,300 new jobs.
Director of the Business Research and Economic Development Center at Boise State University, Brian Greber, believes too much weight is put on monthly unemployment figures. He said those statistics aren’t always a good indicator of what’s happening in the job market. Instead, he thinks the focus should be on the actual number of jobs being added to the economy.
Greber said while the number of new jobs were up for August, compared to last year, he doesn’t foresee a new industry taking hold here, bringing with it hundreds or thousands of jobs.
“We’re not in a position for any known big bang for the economy, there’s no new Micron on the horizon” said Greber.
Instead, Greber believes Idaho will continue to add jobs incrementally, “a dozen here and there.”
Bob Fick, at the Department of Labor, said the state has stopped losing jobs, still the Idaho economy is largely stagnant.
“We’re idling, we’re stuck in neutral. We’re not downshifting anymore, but we’re not shifting into a higher gear. We’re idling…just waiting for whatever sector or sectors are going to be that bring us off the bottom” said Fick.
Experts say the recession ended more than two years ago. Fick said, “it’d be very hard to tell that’s the case here in Idaho.”