Thursday, June 23, 2011

Poor weather pushes up North Central Idaho’s unemployment rate

Poor weather conditions slowed logging, construction, agricultural, transportation, and retail activity in May. It also delayed job creation that would normally happen between April and May.

This May, Clearwater County had the highest unemployment rate of Idaho’s 44 counties, due largely to the number of laid-off loggers. Between April and May, Valley County traded places with Clearwater County. In May its unemployment rate was 16.3 percent, the highest rate then. Now, its rate is higher—17.2 percent—but Clearwater's is higher. Boundary County had the highest unemployment in May 2010 at 15.9 percent. Its unemployment rate this May was 14.6 percent. Valley County had the third highest rate a year ago at 14.8 percent, while Shoshone County at 15.3 percent ranked second highest.

Lewis County was affected by reduced mill employment because Blue North Forest Products was unable to get logs to process, as well as the difficulties getting into farm fields in some areas.

Nez Perce County’s job losses resulted mostly from the weather but partly from the general economic sluggishness. Mild job losses were seen across several industries there, but the biggest cause of increased unemployment was that seasonal hiring was below expected levels because of the weather.

In Asotin County, some laid-off workers were able to return to work in manufacturing, natural resources, transportation, and retail helping the unemployment rate to drop significantly. Asotin County’s employment gains offset Nez Perce County’s loses, allowing the Lewiston MSA’s unemployment rate to fall from 8.5 percent in April to 7.5 percent in May.

In Idaho and Latah counties, unemployment rates dropped mostly because more loggers in those areas were able to get back into the woods.

North Central had the third highest unemployment rate of Idaho's six regions in May, same ranking as in April. Its unemployment rate dropped slightly between April and May.

It did not drop as dramatically between April and May as the other regions did. That was because Clearwater, Lewis, and Nez Perce counties all had increased unemployment.

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