The number of Idahoans who received state unemployment benefits last week dropped below 10,000 for the first time in nearly five years.
That's another sign of an improving economy, according to the Idaho Department of Labor.
A total of 9,645 people received state unemployment insurance benefits last week, down 400 from the previous week and the lowest since November 2007. The number of payments was down 4,000 from the same period in 2011.
The decline does not include an additional 8,000 people who are still on federally financed extended benefits. State benefits are financed by Idaho employers and normally last up to 26 weeks. Congress has appropriated federal funds to extend the duration of unemployment benefits nationwide for the past few years.
Idahoans received $2.2 million in benefits last week, compared with $11 million that was paid out in one week during the height of the recession in March 2009.
Idaho's unemployment rate was 7.7 percent in June, down from 8.9 percent in July 2010.