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Idaho unemployment stays at 9.7 percent in March

Idaho unemployment stayed at a record-high 9.7 percent from February to March.

But the number of people at work grew faster than the number of people seeking work for the first time in four years, according to preliminary estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This was not enough to decrease the unemployment rate.

“It suggests that, at least in March, the economy generated more jobs than there was demand,” Idaho Department of Labor spokesman Bob Fick said. “The increase in the number of people looking was less than the number that found jobs, so we finally tipped the scale.”

Idaho had more jobs during the first quarter of this year than in the first quarter of 2010, and normal seasonal employment trends appear to be returning, the Idaho Department of Labor reported. Fick said the state had fewer jobs year to year from March 2008 until the start of 2011, he said. In the past three months, job gains from the year-earlier period ranged from four-tenths to six-tenths of a percentage point.

“As that gap widens, we are seeing job creation apparently come off the bottom,” he said. “We are seeing jobs starting to be created again.”

A recovery likely will be slow, similar to the recovery seen following the early 1980s recession, Fick said.

The Idaho Department of Labor said a report from The Conference Board tempers the outlook. The Conference Board reported more than four unemployed workers for every job opening in Idaho, down slightly from an all-time high of nearly five idled workers for every job in late 2009.

Fick said that is in contrast to 2007, when the state had two jobs for every unemployed person. Labor shortages occurred during the peak of the economic expansion, he said.

Most major employment sectors in March performed better than their five-year averages, with even the hard-hit construction segment adding jobs, the Idaho Department of Labor reported. Financial services, education and health care underperformed compared to recent trends, and the government segment lost jobs.

U.S. unemployment fell a tenth of a percentage point from February to March, and was at 8.8 percent.

About Brad Carlson

4 comments

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  3. In economics there’s the concept of ‘elasticity’, meaning how responsive one set of conditions are to another set of conditions, when they act upon eachother. Before the ‘Great Recession’ even began, Idaho’s economy was in the crapper, thanks to the rural wingnuts in her micromanaging imperial legislature. But has Idaho become more ‘elastic’ in its response?

    Their ideology-driven, doctrinaire approach to governance substitutes a form of conservative ‘make-believe’ for dynamically changing real-world conditions. In their minds, the world is static, doesn’t reward speed, or transparency, or rapid accountability (quick ability to change or sanction) …it exists in a permanent loop-rerun of an old Frank Capra movie.

    Meanwhile, the ‘real-world’ marches on, and so do its biggest players, i.e. HP, Micron, Albertsons, Washington Group, etc, etc. while smart, ambitious young people previously stuck in a cold, remote, atavistic place decide it’s time to leave.