Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Statewide jobless rate drops slightly

In Blaine County, figure drops below 9 percent


Part of a statewide trend, Blaine County's unemployment rate fell to 8.7 percent in November, down from 9 percent in October and 10 percent in November 2010. According to the Idaho Department of Labor, the county's labor force in November was 12,377 people, with 1,075 unemployed.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continued falling in November throughout the state, dropping another three-tenths of a percentage point to a two-year low of 8.5 percent—the largest one-month decline in the rate since 1983.

As they did in October, when the rate dropped two-tenths of a point, employers across the state maintained payrolls at higher-than-normal levels for November. Employers cut just 2,300 jobs from October, less than half the average reduction during the previous four years. The average decline during the expansion from 2003 through 2006 was just 900.

Seasonal layoffs in construction, manufacturing, employment agencies and agriculture and food processing were augmented by the closure of the Clearwater Paper mill in Lewiston and some government layoffs.

But more than 3,000 more people were working in November than October, pushing total employment above 695,000 for the first time since April 2009. The rise in employment fueled a 1,400 decrease in the number of Idaho workers without jobs last month. Unemployment fell to 65,000, the lowest in two years. It was the third month in a row that employment has risen and unemployment declined.

Should the numbers hold through the revision process in January and February, Idaho's unemployment rate will have fallen 1.2 percentage points in just eight months. The last time that kind of rapid decline was recorded was during the recovery from the double-dip recession of the early 1980s.

The national jobless rate fell four-tenths of a point to 8.6 percent to remain above the Idaho rate for the third straight month. Idaho's rate was 9.6 percent in November 2010.

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