Idaho's unemployment rate increased to 6.8 percent in August, with total employment dropping to the lowest level in almost a year, according to newly released data from the Idaho Department of Labor.
August's jump continues a negative trend for the state's employment picture. The unemployment rate has now increased 0.7 percent since April, one of the largest percentage increases in the country during that time.
While Idaho's jobless rate is still lower than the national average of 7.3 percent, August marks the first time since October 2002 that the state's rate has been within a half percentage point of the national rate.
However, the unemployment rate in four of Idaho's five metro areas actually declined from July to August. Ada County's rate stayed flat at 5.6 percent. Canyon County's rate decreased from 7.3 percent to 7 percent. In the city of Boise, the rate ticked up slightly, from 5.7 percent in July to 5.8 percent in August. The rate decreased in Meridian and Nampa.
Other details from an Idaho Department of Labor news release:
--The number of Idaho workers without jobs in August was up 1,200 from July to nearly 52,300, the highest total since September 2012. The number of people working in August fell 2,200 to just under 721,000, the lowest total in nearly a year.
--Analysts estimate more Idahoans may be working multiple jobs to meet the hiring demands of employers and make ends meet at home. In 2012, 24.2 percent of Idaho jobs were part-time, compared to 18.2 percent of all jobs before the recession. Only four other states Maine, Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin had higher percentages of part-time jobs.
--Idaho employers across all industries were hiring at or slightly above normal levels for July to August, putting total jobs in August 2.6 percent ahead of a year earlier. Nationally, jobs in August were 1.7 percent higher than August 2012.
--Seven of every 10 new jobs in August were in services, and nearly all were in sectors that typically have more part-time workers retail and administrative services, where over a quarter of the jobs are part time, and food service, where half are part-time jobs.
--Despite the unemployment rate increase, unemployment benefit payments in August were down 39 percent with the number of claimants 36 percent lower than August 2012. Over $10.2 million in state and federal benefits were paid to a weekly average of 10,700 claimants in August 2013. Just over a quarter of the payments were federally financed extended benefits, which will cease at the end of the year. An average of 3,000 people a week received federal extended benefits in August.
--In rural Idaho, the same six resource-dependent counties that reported double-digit rates in June and July did so again in August. Adams County had the highest unemployment rate at 14.7 percent, down a full percentage point from July. Oneida had the lowest rate at 3.9 percent, the only county under 4 percent.