The February jobs report from the Idaho Department of Labor follows trends we’ve seen over the last few months. February’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate ticked down one percentage point to 6.2 percent, but that decline is due to a shrinking workforce.
The Labor Department says private sector employers hired more people than usual last month, but total employment dropped by 400.
The decline to less than 774,000 in the statewide workforce – the combination of employed workers and those actively looking for jobs – has become a concern since Idaho appears to be generating jobs faster than the national economy. Instead of expanding as those new job opportunities emerge, the labor force has slipped back to the level of February 2012, wiping out modest gains made during the previous 12 months and reinforcing concerns that the state will have enough manpower to sustain a strong economic recovery.
Idaho Department of Labor analysts suspect more workers may be abandoning self-employment for more traditional jobs covered by the state’s unemployment insurance system, or an increasing number may be taking on second jobs. Idaho traditionally has one of the highest percentages of workers holding more than one job, ranking 10th among the states in 2011 at 7.4 percent. – Dept. of Labor
Idaho’s jobless rate is well below the national rate of 7.7 percent.