Friday, July 9, 2010

Blaine County unemployment stable

Rates may be due to shrinking labor force


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

Blaine County's June 8.3 percent unemployment rate is unchanged from last month, and still 1.3 percent higher than it was for the same month in 2009.

Continuing a four-month decline, Idaho's unemployment rate dropped 0.2 percent to 8.8 percent, below the national rate of 9.5 percent.

With the termination of federal unemployment benefits, many long-term unemployed workers have lost the incentive to continue seeking work, reports indicate. To receive benefits, claimants must be active job seekers, contacting at least two employers per week.

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People no longer seeking work are not counted as part of the labor force. Idaho's labor force dropped by 2,200 residents from last month, in the wake of a congressional decision not to extend unemployment benefits. Idaho saw 400 unemployed lose their benefits in the first week of June.

New hiring as reported by Idaho businesses is down 8 percent from June 2009.

The loss of positions for census workers essentially canceled out recent seasonal job creation, and the Department of Labor attributes the drop in unemployment to a shrinking labor force.

Employment statewide dropped by 900 people in June to 692,400, down 1,600 from June 2009.

Katherine Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com

Benefits lapsed

With the termination of unemployment benefits by Congress, the number of benefit checks going to Idahoans has dropped significantly. More than 4,400 Idahoans lost their benefits. The first week of June saw 41,000 checks totaling $11.3 million sent to job seekers, a number that dropped to fewer than 31,000 checks totaling $8.1 million during the week of June 21. This seasonal decline in checks has traditionally been around 2,000, climbing as high as 3,000 checks following the 2001 recession.




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