Once again, Idaho’s unemployment rate brings mixed news.
Upfront, it’s good: unemployment dropped by three tenths of a percent in September, falling to 7.1 percent. The rate “plunged,” as Department of Labor spokesman Bob Fick puts it, and reached its lowest level since May of 2009.
Also in the positive column: there were 1,200 more Idaho workers on the job in September than in August. That made for a faster August-to-September payroll growth rate than the state saw in any of its pre-recession boom years. With that gain, the number of working Idahoans hit 720,600 last month, the largest number of people with jobs the state has seen in the last four years.
But this economy rarely brings unadulterated good news. The Department of Labor says 500 people left the Idaho labor force between August and September. That brings to 6,000 the total number that have exited since May of this year. People dropping out of the labor force are generally described as “discouraged workers,” though the Department of Labor points out that the contraction is taking place even as hiring prospects improve.
Nine of Idaho’s rural counties still experienced double-digit unemployment last month. Adams County continues to lead that list, with an unemployment rate of 18 percent.
Idaho is among 41 states that saw their unemployment rates fall last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. The total number of jobs in Idaho is not expected to reach pre-recession levels until 2015, the Department of Labor says.