Monday, August 20, 2012

Eastern Idaho joblessness continues to decline

The employment news for Idaho from July was about the best in the nation -- only Idaho and Rhode Island posted declines in their jobless rates -- and eastern Idaho's numbers were even better.

The state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped another two-tenths of a percentage point, falling to a three-year low of 7.5 percent. In the Idaho Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area the rate dropped from 6.7 in June to 6.2 percent, down from 7.3 percent in July 2011. Rexburg posted a jobless rate in July of 5.3 percent, down from 6 percent in June and 6.5 percent in July 2011.

Idaho’s rate, which has been lower than the national rate since September 2001, has fallen dramatically during the past year from a post-recession high of 8.9 percent in July 2011. Despite employment slipping slightly, there were still over 19,000 more Idahoans at work in July than a year earlier while the number out of work dropped again to 58,600 – 9,700 fewer than in July 2011 and the lowest number of unemployed in three years.

New hires were at their highest rate for a July since 2007, although these new hires overwhelmingly filled jobs that had been held by people who retired or left for some other reason. The replacement factor in the jobs picture will increase as more and more  baby-boomers decide to take their pensions.

The Conference Board, a Washington, D.C. business think tank, estimated fewer than five unemployed workers for every two posted job openings in Idaho, the first time that ratio has been that low since late 2008. At the peak of the recession in late 2009, there were nine unemployed workers for every two posted job openings in the state.

Only 10 rural counties recorded double-digit unemployment rates in July, unchanged from June but down from 17 in July 2011. The highest rate was 17.3 percent in resource-dependent Adams County, up over a point from June but over two points lower than in July 2011.

Here's a breakdown of July 2012 unemployment for all eastern Idaho counties:

Bingham: 6.2 percent
Bonneville: 6.2 percent
Butte: 5.8 percent
Clark: 7.0 percent
Custer: 7.1 percent
Fremont: 6.5 percent
Jefferson: 6.3 percent
Lemhi: 10.3 percent
Madison: 4.9 percent
Teton: 6.5 percent