Wednesday, December 22, 2010

County jobless rate drops slightly

Unemployment spikes in rural Idaho counties

Express Staff Writer

Preliminary figures from the Idaho Department of Labor show a November unemployment rate in Blaine County of 9.8 percent, a drop of 0.1 percent compared to the previous month. The department reported 1,229 people unemployed out of a labor force of 12,495 people.

The unemployment rate statewide in November was 9.4 percent, up from 9.1 percent in October. That increased the rolls of the jobless by 1,700 to 70,800, just 700 short of the record number of unemployed in February.

The local unemployment estimates were released just hours after the Congress approved resumption of the federally financed extended benefits program, which provides an additional 28 to 73 weeks of benefits to idled workers who already exhausted their 10 to 26 weeks of regular state benefits. However, resumption of the program does not benefit the thousands of workers who already exhausted the 28 to 73 weeks of extended benefits provided in addition to regular state benefits.

The Idaho Department of Labor will notify eligible unemployed workers by mail about their resumption of benefits. Unemployment claimants can monitor the department's website at for updates on the status of the benefit program.

November's boost in unemployment focused on rural parts of the state. Idaho's 11 largest cities reported less than 45 percent of total unemployment. In October, those cities accounted for 48 percent of the unemployed.

The highest rate was in resource-reliant Valley County at 18.5 percent, up 1.1 percentage points from October. Oneida County in the southeastern corner of the state continued to have the lowest rate at 5.3 percent, up two-tenths from October.

Teton County on the Wyoming border recorded the largest one-month increase at over three percentage points, a result of significant construction layoffs in the Jackson, Wyo., area.

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