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Idaho unemployment rate falls to 8.9% in May

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BOISE, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 8.9% in May.

May’s rate dropped from a revised record high of 11.8% in April, falling below former peak rates of 10.2% in December 1982 and 9.6% in June 2009 during the Great Recession.

Total employment increased 23,090 to 804,643, up 3% from April, while the number of unemployed Idahoans dropped by 24.2%, down 25,276 to 79,015.

Idaho’s seasonally adjusted labor force decreased by 2,186 to 883,658 for a total decline of almost 11,000 - or 1.2% - since the COVID-19 emergency declaration in March.

May’s labor force participation rate – the percentage of people 16 years and older with jobs or looking for work – dropped from 63.5% in April to 63.2% for May – the lowest it has been for Idaho since May 1976.

Idaho non-farm payrolls gained 24,300 jobs, up 3.5% to 713,000 for May. April’s 688,700 total no-nfarm jobs was a level last seen in Idaho in 2016, and May’s recovery brought Idaho nonfarm jobs back to the 2017 level.

All but one of Idaho’s five Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) saw nonfarm job gains from April to May 2020 – Idaho Falls (4.3%), Pocatello (4.1%), Boise (4.0%) and Coeur d’Alene (3.4%). Lewiston remained at the same level as April (0.0%).

Only two sectors – construction and financial activities - continued to see employment levels higher than May 2019, while the four largest over the year industry declines were in leisure and hospitality (-26.1 %), other services (-18.4 %), information (-11.1 %), and education and health services (-6.8 %).

Year over year, Idaho Falls was the only MSA in Idaho to see an increase at 1.4%. Lewiston (-13.8%), Pocatello (-11.3%), Coeur d’Alene (-9.1%) and Boise (-4.8%) all were below their May 2019 levels.

Annually, unemployment insurance benefit payments were up 837% from a weekly average of $1,295,000 a year ago to $12,134,000 weekly for May 2020. The number of claimants increased 1,100 percent to 45,037 from a weekly average of 3,828 a year ago. These increases are a direct result of the shutdowns caused by COVID-19.

Nationally, unemployment fell to 13.3% in May. The number of unemployed persons fell by 2.1 million to 21 million in May.

One year earlier, the national unemployment rate was 3.6%, while the number of unemployed reached 5.9 million.

Article Topic Follows: Economy

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