Continued decline in workforce helps keep Idaho’s jobless rate stable

May 17, 2013 

job fair, idaho department of labor, unemployment

Wells Fargo Bank recruiter Maggie McCormick talks about employment opportunities with Trey Lacer, 19, of Caldwell, during a job fair hosted by the Idaho Department of Labor on May 7 in Boise.

DARIN OSWALD — doswald@idahostatesman.com Buy Photo

Idaho employers maintained hiring at normal levels in April, but another 1,300 people left the state labor force, driving both employment and unemployment down to keep the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stable at 6.1 percent, the Idaho Department of Labor reported Friday morning.

April saw the fourth straight monthly decline in the state’s labor force – a combination of those working and those actively seeking work – dropping the total labor force to under 771,000, the lowest level since October 2011.

Total employment was down by another 500 from March and 1,500 from January despite employers generating 17,000 new jobs since the beginning of the year, according to the department’s monthly report.

Analysts speculate that the gap between increased jobs and decreased unemployment likely reflects a number of self-employed people securing more traditional — and financially stable — jobs covered by the state’s unemployment insurance system. At any given time, Idaho has 70,000 to 100,000 self-employed workers.

New hires in April, more than 16,000, were back to prerecession levels for only the second time since the downturn began, the Department of Labor reports, and more than a third of those hires were for new jobs.

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