Idaho’s unemployment rate holds at 3.6 percent

Published: Mar. 24, 2017 at 3:56 PM MDT
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Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for February held steady at 3.6 percent while the state continued to lead the nation in over-the-year job growth for the sixth consecutive month.

An additional 2,100 people were added to Idaho’s labor force - the largest January to February increase since 2005. The state’s labor force growth was exceeded by February’s employment growth of 2,200 leading to an overall decline of more than 100 people counted as unemployed.

Year over year, Idaho’s nonfarm payroll jobs increased 3.6 percent, or 24,000, from the previous February - the fastest in the nation. Those additional jobs in Idaho’s economy were spread among most of Idaho’s industry sectors with the largest gains of 10.4 percent in construction and 6.3 percent in financial activities. Manufacturing, along with trade, transportation and utilities, saw the smallest year-over-year growth at 1.2 percent each.

Month to month nonfarm job growth went unchanged in February from January’s total of 712,900 as seasonal declines in manufacturing and trade, transportation and utilities offset gains in Idaho’s remaining sectors.

The state’s labor force participation rate – the percentage of people 16 years and older with jobs or looking for work – climbed to 64.1 percent, up slightly from January’s 64 percent.

There were more than 20,200 online postings for Idaho jobs in February according to the Conference Board. Of those postings, 4,300 were classified by department analysts as hard-to-fill. Health care-related jobs accounted for 14 percent of those hard-to-fill jobs and include physicians, surgeons, psychiatrists, occupational and physical therapists, and support positions. By volume, registered nurses and truck drivers maintained their perpetual first and second spots for the largest number of hard-to-fill jobs.

Annually, unemployment insurance benefit payments were up 9.9 percent - from $3.3 million a year ago to $3.6 million for February of this year - while the number of claimants dropped by 6.8 percent to 11,700 from a weekly average of 12,000 a year ago.

Among Idaho’s Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA), Boise experienced the strongest seasonally adjusted over-the-year growth with 12,700 jobs, or 4.2 percent, followed closely by Lewiston with a 3.2 percent increase of 900 jobs.

Month over month, a job decline of 300 from both Boise and Idaho Falls MSAs was offset by the 1,300 increase from Coeur d’Alene, Lewiston and Pocatello. The net increase of jobs among Idaho’s five MSAs was 1,000. The Idaho Falls MSA reported the lowest unemployment rate of all MSAs at 3.1 percent.

Twenty-two of Idaho’s 44 counties had unemployment rates above the state rate. Madison County continued to experience the lowest unemployment rate at 2.2 percent. Six counties experienced rates above 6 percent: Clearwater (7.5 percent), Shoshone (7 percent), Adams (6.4 percent), Lewis (6.1 percent) and Benewah and Lemhi (6 percent).

Details on Idaho’s unemployment picture can be found at