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Idaho Employment Hits Another Record in January

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By Paul Johnson

Boise, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KSVT-TV ) - Total employment set its fifth straight monthly record in January, driving Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate down another two-tenths of a percentage point to 5.4 percent.

Idaho’s jobless rate for January was the lowest since September 2008 and has fallen 1.3 percentage points since January 2013. The rate was also one and a quarter percentage points below the nation’s and has been lower than the national rate for more than 12 years.

The number of new workers hired across the state in January increased 1,300 from a year earlier, but the total remained under 13,000 and well below the nearly 15,000 hired in January 2008. Still, total employment hit 734,500, up 2,100 from the previous record set in December and more than 12,000 higher than January 2013.

The number of workers receiving unemployment benefit payments continued dropping, falling another 24 percent in January to just over 14,000. Total payments were only $100,000 lower in January than a year earlier at $19.5 million, but that was because the average payment rose $15 a week to $268, reflecting the increase in the maximum benefit in response to the 30 percent decline in employer tax rates. Only about 2,200 workers received $700,000 in federally financed extended benefit payments in January as that program ended. A year earlier about 5,700 workers a week shared $5.6 million in federal extended benefits.

In issuing the January employment estimates, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also significantly revised its monthly employment estimates for the previous three years. Those new figures showed that Idaho came out of the recession much more slowly than initially thought, but the state’s recovery in 2013 was much more robust than the initial figures showed.

The weaker employment growth in 2011 and 2012 – more than 3,000 a month lower during the second half of 2012 – increased the annual unemployment rate each year, raising the rate in 2011 a tenth of a point to 8.4 percent and in 2012 two-tenths of a point to 7.3. But the stronger growth in 2013 – over 6,000 more employed each month from August through November – dropped the annual average rate a tenth of a point to 6.2 percent.

The statewide labor force grew for the fourth straight month but by fewer than 400 new entrants. At just over 776,000, the labor force finally matched its previous peak in May 2012 even though the participation rate – the percentage of people over 16 who are working or actively looking for work – slipped another tenth of a point to 63.8 percent in January. It has been under 64 percent since September. The last time it was below 64 percent was January 1982.

February employment figures along with county figures for January and February and nonfarm job figures for both months will be released on March 21.

Seasonally Adjusted Data 1/14 12/13 1/13

Civilian Labor Force 776,000 775,700 774,200
Unemployment 41,600 43,300 51,800
% Labor Force Unemployed 5.4 5.6 6.7
Total Employment 734,500 732,400 722,400

Unadjusted Forecast Data

Civilian Labor Force 769,300 772,900 768,800
Unemployment 48,100 42,300 61,600
% Labor Force Unemployed 6.2 5.5 8.0
Total Employment 721,200 730,600 707,200

Annual Average Data 2013 2012 2011

Civilian Labor Force 775,400 772,000 766,000
Unemployment 48,200 56,300 64,000
% Labor Force Unemployed 6.2 7.3 8.4
Total Employment 727,200 715,700 701,900


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