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December unemployment rate remains unchanged at 2.9 percent

photo of downtown idaho falls

Over the year, nonfarm jobs for the Idaho Falls area saw the the fastest growth rate of any MSA in the nation. Photo by Sharon Fisher

Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained at 2.9% in December for the sixth consecutive month.

An additional 2,329 people made themselves available for work in December, pushing Idaho’s seasonally adjusted labor force up to 889,092. The number of unemployed decreased by 110 to 25,769. Total employment grew by 2,439 to 863,323.

Idaho’s labor force participation rate – the percentage of people age 16 years or older working or looking for work – moved up slightly to 64.2%.

Over the year, December’s statewide labor force was up 26,698 (+3.1%), employment was up 24,687 (+2.9%) and there were 2,011 (+3.6%) more unemployed persons. Seasonally-adjusted nonfarm jobs grew by 21,600 in December, up 2.9% – the second highest growth rate in the nation.

Professional and business services (+7.4%), financial activities (+5.7%) and construction (+5%) showed the largest percentage gains while natural resources and leisure and hospitality saw a combined over-the-year decrease of 300 jobs.

Idaho nonfarm jobs increased by 3,200 (+0.4%) from November to December for a total of 763,900. Nine of Idaho’s 11 industry sectors exceeded seasonal expectations. The largest over-the-month increases for December were information (+2.7%), construction (+1.2%) and leisure and hospitality (+0.9%). One sector, professional and business services, fell short of seasonal expectations by 0.1%, and total natural resources jobs remained unchanged from November.

Three of Idaho’s Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) experienced nonfarm job growth from November to December 2019 with Lewiston having the fastest rate of growth at 0.7%. Nonfarm job levels remained stable for the Coeur d’Alene MSA, while the Pocatello MSA declined by 0.8%.

Over the year, nonfarm jobs for the Idaho Falls MSA increased 4.8% – the fastest growth rate of any MSA in the nation – while all five Idaho MSAs experienced job growth gains of 1.5% or higher.

Annually, unemployment insurance benefit payments were down 5.3%, from a weekly average of $1,992,500 a year ago to $1,886,000 weekly for December 2019. The number of claimants decreased by 9.2% to 5,783 from a weekly average of 6,370 a year ago.

Nationally, the unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.5% in December. Total unemployed decreased by 58,000 from November for a total of 5.75 million people looking for work. One year earlier, the national unemployment rate was 3.9%, and the number of unemployed was about 6.3 million.

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