Friday, October 2, 2015

August unemployment rate ticks up to 4.2%

An increase of 400 people looking for work nudged August’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate up a tenth of a point to 4.2 percent.

A seasonal decline of 500 nonfarm jobs – a 0.1 percent decline - in private higher education offset a modest August payroll gain in construction, manufacturing and service sector jobs. At a five-year average monthly change of 0.2 percent, August is typically a month of minor changes.

Year-over-year the numbers tell a different story. Nonfarm payrolls are up by 3 percent over last year due to an across-the-board gain of 19,800 jobs, underscoring 12 months of healthy economic growth, with the biggest gains in construction, trade, professional services and healthcare.

Even though August’s labor force increase was the smallest monthly increase so far this year, it was the eighth month in a streak of labor force gains, reflecting an annual increase of 21,000 people – or 2.7 percent - the largest percentage increase since March 2006.

With only one unemployed worker for every job opening, Idaho’s labor market continued to tighten in August, according to job opening estimates by The Conference Board.

Idaho’s labor force participation rate - the percentage of people 16 years and older with jobs or looking for work - remained unchanged at 64.1 percent for the third consecutive month.

Nationally, unemployment fell to 5.1 in August, from 5.3 percent in July.

Clearwater County’s rate fell slightly from July, to 7.8 percent, compared with July’s rate of 7.9 percent. In August of last year the rate was 8.9 percent.

Lewis County’s rate climbed to 4.7 percent in August, up from 4.3 in July and 4.1 last August.

Idaho County’s rate also climbed from July to August, 6.4 to 6.6, respectively, but was still down from last year’s August rate of 7.2 percent.

Nez Perce County’s August rate of 4.0 was exactly the same as August 2014’s rate. It was up a bit from this July’s rate of 3.9 percent.

The state’s unemployment benefit payouts were down from July by nearly 21 percent in August to $1.29 million, with the number of claimants receiving benefits declining by 25 percent to 4,597.

Twenty-four Idaho counties experienced higher unemployment rates than the state average during August. Madison County claimed the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 3.1 percent, while Adams, Clearwater and Shoshone counties reported the highest rates.

Almost all of Idaho’s Metropolitan Statistical Areas had unemployment rates below the state average except for the Coeur d’Alene MSA at 5.1 percent. The Idaho Falls MSA remained unchanged from July with the lowest unemployment rate of the MSAs at 3.7 percent.

Additional insight into Idaho’s unemployment picture can be found at

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