The headline on Fridays news release reporting the latest monthly Idaho unemployment rate was unabashedly positive: Jobless Rate Drops Two More Tenths; 7.5 percent Lowest Rate in Three Years.
And thats true. But it is not as positive as it seems. As the same Idaho Labor Department news release explained, the two-tenths of a percent drop in July from June was largely caused by a shrinking labor force. That force includes both employed workers and job seekers. When they stop seeking employment for whatever reason, their disappearance helps the unemployment rate fall.
Employment actually dropped by nearly 1,500 people in July. That broke a string of 12 months of rising employment. Ten rural counties still have double-digit unemployment rates, led by Adams at 17.3 percent. Ada Countys rate fell to 6.4 percent from 6.8 percent, but employment fell slightly to 190,000 from 191,000. Canyon Countys rate fell to 8.7 percent from 9.1 percent, but its payrolls also fell slightly from 80,300 to 79,900.
Idahos jobless rate peaked at 8.9 percent in July 2011.