Idaho unemployment hits 21-year high - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Idaho unemployment hits 21-year high

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho. - Idaho unemployment continued increasing in February, hitting its highest level in 21 years. Over 51,000 people were without jobs last month, 22,000 more than a year ago and the first time total unemployment has exceeded 50,000.

Persisting layoffs across many sectors of the economy sent the February rate up another two-tenths of a percentage point to 6.8 percent. February's increase followed a half percentage point gain from 6.1 percent in December 2008 to 6.6 percent in January.

The rate in February 2008 was 3.9 percent.

Only 701,000 Idahoans were working in February, more than 20,000 less than a year ago and the lowest number since October 2005. Total jobs across the state dropped below 610,000 for the first time since January 2006. The recently announced layoffs at Micron Technology in Boise, Tamarack resort in Donnelly and other businesses will not be recorded until March.

Employment in Idaho peaked at just under 729,000 in July 2007.

The loss of 1,000 nonfarm jobs marked the first job decline from January to February since 1982 during the heart of the worst economic slump Idaho has experienced since the 1930s. Typically, jobs increase 1 percent in February.

Nonfarm jobs totaled 4.6 percent less than the year-earlier level, the 11th straight month jobs have run below the previous year. The loss was limited by a gain of 3,000 jobs in education and more modest increases in hotels, motels and financial services, which offset the disappearance of 900 jobs in construction, 1,100 in manufacturing and 1,600 in retail trade.

February marked the 18th straight month that unemployment has risen in Idaho. But with another substantial increase in the national unemployment rate to 8.1 percent, February was the 89th month the Idaho rate has been below the national rate.

Unemployment insurance benefit payments rose again this week but only modestly, possibly indicating that the normally high level of winter unemployment may be giving way to an increase in spring job opportunities.

More than $11.2 million in regular state benefits was paid to nearly 42,000 jobless workers this week. While both the payout and the number of claimants were records, each was up only fractionally from the week before. Another $2 million in extended federal benefits was paid to 7,600 workers who already exhausted their state benefit allotments. For the first time, all 49,000 claimants received an additional $25 in their benefit checks as part of the federal stimulus package, pumping another $1.25 million into Idaho communities.

The unemployment rate was up from a year ago in all 44 counties in February with eight reporting unemployment rates above 10 percent. Adams County had the highest rate for the sixth consecutive month at 14.3 percent. Other double digit counties were Clearwater at 14.1 percent, Benewah at 13.6 percent, Shoshone at 10.8 percent, Boundary at 10.6 percent, Lincoln and Valley at 10.5 percent and Gem at 10.1 percent. One year ago there were no counties reporting double digits.

Only six counties posted rates at or below 4 percent in February. Owyhee had the lowest rate at 3.2 percent. Bear Lake reported 3.8 percent. Cassia, Franklin and Teton counties were at 3.9 percent and Madison was at 4 percent. A year ago, 10 counties had rates below 3 percent.

Since 1978 the statewide unemployment rate has remained unchanged between January and February 19 times and increased only seven. The rate has never increased more than two-tenths of a percentage point, the increase posted both this year and last.

Seasonally Adjusted Forecast Data                 

2/09

1/09

2/08

 

 

 

Civilian Labor Force

752,400

752,700

751,000

Unemployment                                  

51,400

49,300

29,500

% Labor Force Unemployed

6.8

6.6

3.9

Total Employment

701,000

703,400

721,500

 

 

 

Unadjusted Forecast Data

                                                                             

2/09

1/09

2/08

 

 

 

 

Civilian Labor Force

748,400

747,600

746,300

Unemployment                                                       

59,300

58,200

34,600

% Labor Force Unemployed

7.9

7.8

4.6

Total Employment

689,100

689,400

711,700

  

Area Unemployment Rates

2/09

1/09

2/08

Boise City-Nampa MSA

7.7

7.1

3.9

Burley MicSA

4.4

4.7

3.5

Coeur d'Alene MSA*

7.4

7.4

4.6

Grangeville MSA

8.6

8.8

5.4

Hailey SLMA

6.1

5.2

3.0

Idaho Falls MSA

5.0

4.9

2.8

Lewiston MSA

7.1

6.4

4.9

Pocatello MSA

5.6

5.5

3.7

Rexburg MicSA

4.8

4.7

3.3

Twin Falls MicSA

5.5

5.4

3.2

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