Idaho’s unemployment rate fell to its lowest point in four years, 6.6 percent in December. The rate is two-tenths of a percent under the November level.
The Idaho Department of Labor credits the strength of rising employment. According to the department, Idaho’s labor force expanded for the first time since last May. The expansion accommodated 300 new entrants to the work force and 1,500 workers who were previously without jobs.
The department said Idaho employers added more than 12 thousand new hires to their payrolls during the month, up 12 percent from December of last year. But, rather than new jobs, the hiring was almost entirely to fill vacancies that occurred through firings, retirements, death or other reasons.
Preliminary figures put Idaho’s average unemployment rate for 2012 at 7.4 percent, 1.3 percent below 2011 and the lowest annual average since 2008. That means over 13 thousand more workers had jobs in December than a year earlier.