Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment edged up again in November, but the year-over-year job loss across the state declined significantly.
The unemployment rate for November was forecast up a tenth of a point from October to 9.1 percent in November – up 3.3 percentage points from November 2008 – and will likely continue rising into 2010, the Idaho Department of Labor said in a release. But the number of non-farm jobs has essentially leveled out over the past three months and begun to follow pre-recession seasonal patterns.
While the number of Idaho workers without jobs hit yet another record at 68,800, job loss between November 2008 and this November was 33,400 – nearly 9,000 less than in October, a signal that the rapid deterioration of the Idaho economy may have ended, state labor officials said. The loss peaked at nearly 50,000 in August.
Idaho officials said the year-over-year job gap is closing because the slide was so severe during the final months of 2008, not because the current economy is creating new jobs yet. Employers held hiring to the lowest level since May and the lowest November level since 1998 when those statistics began to be compiled. Still, job activity from October to November exceeded the five-year average, if only modestly, in construction, manufacturing, retail trade, transportation, financial services, health care, accommodations and restaurants.
Idaho’s unemployment rate hit its highest point since May 1983 when the state was pulling out of a double-dip recession. It was 3.3 percentage points above November 2008 but still under the national rate for the 98th straight month – more than eight years. The record rate was 9.4 percent in late 1982 and early 1983.
Rural Idaho remained hard hit by the recession. Twenty counties posted double-digit percentage jobless rates in November, the first that has occurred since November 1986. All but three were rural counties. Two – neighboring Adams and Valley counties – had rates over 20 percent, the first time more than one county has had a rate of 20 percent or higher since June 1987. The Adams County rate hit 24.8 percent, the highest county rate since Benewah County hit 24.8 percent in August 1996.
Unemployment insurance benefits totaling $47.5 million were paid to a weekly average of over 41,000 jobless workers in November. Through early December, more than $596 million in state and federal benefits has been paid to over 120,000 people, $350 million more than the previous record of $246 million in 2008.
To see job totals and unemployment rates by area, click here.