Employer hiring pushed employment in Idaho to a record 736,000 people, the Idaho Department of Labor said Friday. The unemployment rate slipped another tenth of a point to 5.2 percent, lowest in a 5-1/2 years.
March was the seventh straight month total employment has set a record and eighth straight month of declines in the jobless rate.
The Conference Board's index of online job postings and the number of officially unemployed fell to 1.56 unemployed workers for each posted job opening in March - the lowest ratio since 2008.
Idaho's labor force expanded to over 777,000, keeping the state's participation rate at 63.7 percent - the share of Idahoans 16 and older who are working or actively looking for work.
Construction showed the strongest job growth. The sector is recovering from the severe contraction after the burst of the housing bubble. Manufacturers expanded slightly more than normal for March, and the combination resulted in twice the normal job expansion in goods producing sectors of the economy, where wages average about $10,000 a year more than the service sector. Twenty percent of the new jobs generated in March were in goods production.
Some rural counties continue to suffer from high unemployment. Adams, Clearwater, Shoshone and Benewah counties had double-digit jobless rates. Clearwater's again had the highest rate at 12.4 percent.