Bringing the Economy Home

Idaho’s 2011 Unemployment Rate Barely Lower Than 2010

Emilie Ritter Saunders / StateImpact Idaho

Job seekers at a recent job fair in Boise, Idaho

Idaho’s average annual jobless rate in 2011 wasn’t much different from 2010Data released this week from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows Idaho’s average unemployment rate in 2011 was 8.7 percent, down one-tenth of a percent from 2010.

Idaho Department of Labor Regional Economist Kathryn Tacke says there are a couple of reasons for Idaho’s stagnant rate.  One, the recession hit hard here, and recovery has been exceedingly slow.  The second reason: Idaho has a significant teen population trying to enter the workforce, which can keep the jobless rate high.

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“One of the big concerns with that is that with so many young people wanting to enter the workforce, we have a lot of youth in particular who are unable to find work and there can be long-term consequences for that,” Tacke says.

She says teens aren’t learning the skills they need to be employable.  “Employers are reluctant to hire someone who is 19 or 20 who haven’t had a job before,” Tacke says.  Idaho’s teen unemployment rate is one of the highest in the country, nearly 30 percent.

Tacke says another reason Idaho’s annual jobless rate decreased just one-tenth of a percent could be because more people may have started searching for work again, which can also drive up the unemployment rate.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports all but two states saw a decrease in their average annual jobless rate.  Thirty states saw “statistically significant” declines.

“The largest of which was in Michigan (-2.4 percentage points). Four additional states experienced decreases greater than 1.0 percentage point: Ohio (-1.4 points), Utah (-1.3 points), Oregon (-1.2 points), and Indiana (-1.1 points).” – Bureau of Labor Statistics

“Certainly, everyone is concerned with the persistence of long-term, high unemployment,” Tacke says.  “It has dire consequences for communities, the individuals involved, and their families.”

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