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Idaho’s December unemployment rate reaches historic low of 2.4%

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IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 2.4% in December, an historic low and one-tenth of a percentage point below the state’s previous record of 2.5% in December 2019.

"Idaho's economy is booming and people are working at historic rates, proving that the conservative principles of cutting taxes, slashing regulations, and making investments where they matter most lead to opportunity and prosperity for the people. Thank you to Idaho workers and employers big and small for our success! My LEADING IDAHO plan keeps us on this path of prosperity by using our record budget surplus to give back to the people through historic tax relief and significant investments in education, transportation, water, and other areas that impact people's daily lives," Governor Little said.

The number of Idahoans employed or looking for work grew by 806 people (0.1%) to 909,467 – marking the smallest over-the-month labor force gain through the last five months of 2021.

Labor force participation decreased slightly from 62.3% to 62.2% in December. The state’s participation rate dropped below the previous historic low in June 2021 and has continued decreasing in the months since – an indication of a persistently tight labor market. Idaho’s peak participation rate reached 71.4% in September 1998.

Total employment grew by 2,522 to 887,379, up 0.3%, while total unemployment dropped by 1,716 (7.2%) to 22,088. According to The Conference Board’s Help Wanted Online there were 51,765 online job openings in Idaho in December – a ratio of 2.3 openings for every unemployed Idahoan.

Idaho’s nonfarm job growth exceeded seasonal expectations in December, up 2,000 jobs (0.3%) for a total of 790,500 jobs. Industry sectors with the greatest over-the-month gains include natural resources (4.9%); information (3.9%); transportation, warehousing and utilities (2.4%); durable goods manufacturing (1.6%); federal government (0.8%); professional and business services (0.5%); local government (0.4%); accommodation and food services (0.4%); and retail trade (0.3%).

Industries with job declines include nondurable goods manufacturing (-1.3%); state government (-1.2%); wholesale trade (-0.9%); financial activities (-0.5%); and construction (-0.2%).

Coeur d'Alene experienced the highest over-the-month nonfarm job growth among the state’s Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) with an increase of 0.8%. Idaho Falls saw the second highest job growth at 0.3%, and both Boise and Pocatello saw an increase of 0.2% in December. Lewiston was the only MSA to see a decrease in nonfarm jobs (-0.7%).

Year over Year

Idaho’s labor force was up 1% from December 2020, an increase of 9,222 people.

Total unemployment dropped 36.2% (12,508) from December 2020, with the number of working Idahoans up 2.5% (21,730).

Idaho’s nonfarm job total increased by 1.8% (14,100) over December 2020 and was 2.2% above its February 2020 pre-pandemic peak.

Every major industry sector showed over-the-year job increases in December except for manufacturing (-3%); federal government (-2.2%); and professional and business services (-1.7%). Leisure and hospitality – the most adversely affected industry during the pandemic – was 6% above where it was one year ago.

All five of Idaho’s MSAs saw year-over-year nonfarm job gains. Pocatello showed the greatest increase at 6.6%, followed by Coeur d'Alene (3.7%), Idaho Falls (2.4%), Boise (1.4%) and Lewiston (1.4%).

National Comparisons

Nationally, unemployment dropped from 4.2% in November to 3.9% in December, with the number of unemployed down 484,826 to 6.3 million. The nation’s labor force increased by 168,000 to 162.3 million. Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 199,000 to 149 million.

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