Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Idaho unemployment up in May

Blaine County fares better than other counties

Express Staff Writer

According to a forecast from the Idaho Department of Labor, unemployment in the state will hit a 22-year high for the month of May.

In a press release on Friday, Department of Labor spokesman Bob Fick reported that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Idaho last month is estimated to be 7.8 percent, compared to 4.5 percent for May 2008.

Preliminary estimates show that 5,600 workers lost their jobs in May, bringing the total unemployment figure to 58,300 for the state. Nationally, unemployment reached 9.4 percent for May, but the monthly decline was the smallest since September.

In Blaine County, the unemployment rate rose from 6.3 percent to 6.8 percent from April to May, with 953 workers out of jobs. By comparison, this number was 454, or 3.3 percent, in May 2008.

Blaine County fared better than a number of other counties throughout the state, with nine of Idaho's 44 counties recording unemployment rates over 10 percent. Clearwater County had the highest rate in May at 12.3 percent and Custer the lowest at 3.2 percent.

According to the Department of Labor, the rising unemployment rate is having a severe impact on the state's Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, which paid out $227 million to jobless workers in the first 23 weeks of 2009. By comparison, less than $210 million was paid out in all of 2008. The department reported that the expenditures will force the state to "substantially" increase employer tax rates in 2010, though the rate will not be determined until fall.

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