Bringing the Economy Home

As Idaho’s Unemployment Rate Drops, The Labor Force Shrinks

Chris Hondros / Getty Images

The Washington D.C. business think tank, the Conference Board, estimated there were 2.5 unemployed workers for every posted job opening in Idaho in October.

More than 7,000 Idahoans have left the labor force since May, says the state Labor Department, and that’s why Idaho’s jobless rate continues to decline.

The Idaho Department of Labor’s monthly unemployment report shows the jobless rate dropped one-tenth of a percentage point from September to October.  The 7.0 percent seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is the state’s lowest in three and a half years.

The Labor Department writes October’s lower rate “was the result of another 1,100 workers leaving the state labor force.”   That means the state has seen five straight months of workforce decline.  “The only other year the labor force was smaller in October than May was 1980 between the 1980 and 1981 recessions,” the department’s release says.

Labor Department economists say food manufacturers reported the greatest hiring surge from September to October, with a 3 percent boost.  And good weather during the month meant fewer seasonal construction layoffs.

“Health care and private education hired at just under their normal rates for October, but payrolls fell more than normal in food services and other leisure enterprises and in professional and business services.” – Idaho Department of Labor

The department’s monthly report shows employers hired 17,000 people in October, but nearly all of those new hires were filling existing jobs that had been vacated through retirements or firings.

More than 20,900 jobless Idahoans received $20 million in state, federal and extended federal unemployment insurance benefits last month.  Unless Congress decides otherwise, those extended benefits will expire at the end of the year, meaning Idahoans will qualify for a maximum of 26 weeks in state unemployment insurance benefits.


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