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Idaho unemployment rate drops to 7.4 percent

Idaho’s unemployment rate improved by one tenth of a percent in August to 7.4 percent. The Idaho Department of Labor says the lower number, however, was due to fewer people seeking available jobs.

According to the department, the lost of 2,600 workers from the state’s labor force offset an increase in hiring by Idaho employers at a rate just above their recession-era average. It was the first July-August decline the state has seen since 1980.

The agency said nearly 1,100 fewer people were working in August than July and almost 1,600 more workers left the ranks of the jobless. Together, that dropped the number of “officially employed” Idaho workers to just over 57,000. Even so, there were 17,000 more people working in Idaho in August than a year earlier and 11,000 fewer unemployed.

There is some indication that employers may be picking up their hiring. The department said businesses reported hiring 18,400 workers in August matching the average August hires Idaho saw during the economic expansion years from 2003 through 2007.

Unemployment insurance benefit payments totaled $16.5 million in August. Since the recession began and during its aftermath, more than 15,000 workers have exhausted all benefits without finding jobs and hundreds more have stopped receiving extended benefits.

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