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Idaho unemployment exceeds U.S. average

Idaho unemployment increased from 9.4 percent in November to 9.5 percent in December, marking the first time in more than nine years the state rate exceeded the national rate. U.S. unemployment dropped four-tenths of a point to 9.4 percent.

“The national rate very well could be positive news for Idaho going forward in future months,” Idaho Department of Labor Chief Research Officer Bob Uhlenkott said. “Idaho’s recovery is yet to gain a lot of traction.”

Idaho is not shedding jobs as much as it was, he said.

“The bleeding has stopped, but we are not adding jobs yet to really have a strong recovery,” Uhlenkott said.

Idaho’s above-average unemployment rate probably has more to do with how much the national rate declined last month, although Idaho’s economy has been hit hard, he said. “In the last expansion, Idaho’s [expansion] was much greater than the national average,” he said. “Some of that was artificial due to construction. It probably caused us to fall a little harder and a little further.”

The state’s civilian labor force was 756,100 last month, 756,600 in November and 751,200 in December 2009, the Idaho Department of Labor reported. Total employment in Idaho was 684,200 in December, 685,850 in November and 682,900 in December 2009.

Based on current data, Idaho’s average unemployment rate for 2010 was a record 9.2 percent, breaking the previous record of 9 percent set in 1982.

About Brad Carlson