Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Idaho jobless rate drops below 8 percent

Blaine County rate down to 7.4 percent


By EXPRESS STAFF

Idaho's seasonally adjusted March unemployment rate dropped below 8 percent for the first time in two and a half years, as more Idahoans found work than during any other month since October 2006.

According to a news release from the Idaho Department of Labor, the tenth-of-a-point decline in the jobless rate to 7.9 percent marked the eighth straight month that Idaho's unemployment rate has fallen. It is now a full percentage point below the recession-era high in July 2011.

In Blaine County, an estimated 918 of the county's workforce of 12,329 were unemployed in March, a rate of 7.4 percent. That's an improvement from 8 percent in February and 8.7 percent in March 2011.

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More than 2,500 more workers were on the job in March than in February, as employers across the state hired more than 13,500 people to replace retirees and others, as well as to fill new jobs. It was the first time since 2007 that March hiring has exceeded 13,000, though it was still about 2,000 below the average during the economic expansion from 2003 through 2007.

Those factors ate into the competition for available jobs. The Conference Board, a business think tank in New York, estimated in its March report that the number of unemployed workers vying for each job posting had slipped below 3.5.

Contractors and manufacturers both added more workers between February and March than average over the past five years. But even with persisting gains, construction employment remains at mid-1990s levels while manufacturing payrolls are still at early 1990s levels.

Retailers, transportation companies and employers in the financial sector also maintained payrolls ahead of the five-year average, while the rate of hiring slipped slightly in professional and business services and health care and education—two sectors that have grown steadily through and since the recession.




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