Idaho’s May Unemployment Rate Unchanged at 2.9 Percent


For Immediate Release: June 15, 2018
Information Contact: Karen Jarboe Singletary (208) 332-3570 ext. 3215 or Robert Kabel (208) 332-3570 ext. 3886

— Idaho Remains in Top Two for Over-the-Year Job Gains for Fifth Straight Month —

Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stayed steady at 2.9 percent in May, continuing a nine-month streak of 3 percent or lower.

The state’s labor force – the total number of people 16 years of age and older working or looking for work – continued to increase, gaining 1,222 people from April to May for a total of 850,605.

Total employment grew 1,203 to 826,026 in May, driving the increase of the state’s labor force growth, while the number of unemployed remained virtually unchanged at 24,579.

Idaho’s labor force participation rate remained essentially flat at 63.9 percent.

Year over year, Idaho’s statewide labor force was up 2.6 percent (21,462), total employment was up nearly 3 percent (23,504) and the total number of unemployed workers was down 7.7 percent (2,042).

According to the Conference Board, a Washington, D.C., think tank, Idaho’s online job listings were down 1,558 from 25,748 a year ago to 24,190 in May 2018. Of these postings, 5,523 were classified as hard-to-fill, up from 5,372 in May 2017. Hard-to-fill positions are those which are posted continuously for 90 days or more. Health care occupations, including physicians, surgeons, psychiatrists, occupational and physical therapists and support positions, represented about 16 percent of all hard-to-fill online job openings.

Idaho’s monthly total nonfarm job growth remained virtually flat in May with an increase of 400 jobs. Five industry sectors – professional and business services, manufacturing, financial activities, information, and leisure and hospitality – all exceeded seasonal expectations and offset a 2,200 job decrease in five other sectors – education and health services, construction, government, other services, and trade, transportation and utilities. Natural resource jobs remained unchanged.

Year over year, Idaho’s job growth continued to remain strong. Total nonfarm jobs were up by 3.1 percent – for a total of 21,800 jobs – the second-fastest percentage growth in the nation. Of Idaho’s leading industries, construction jobs saw the largest job gain of 6.3 percent followed by natural resources, up 5.7 percent, manufacturing up 5.1 percent, financial activities up 5.1 percent and professional and business services up 3.5 percent.

Monthly nonfarm jobs gains were reported for two of the state’s Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) – Coeur d’Alene (+400) and Boise (+100). Idaho Falls’ jobs remained unchanged, and Lewiston and Pocatello each experienced a loss of 300 jobs.

Year over year, Idaho’s five MSAs all showed significant gains in nonfarm payroll employment. Boise nonfarm jobs were up 3.6 percent (11,200 jobs), Coeur d’Alene jobs were up 3 percent (1,900 jobs), Idaho Falls jobs were up 2 percent, (1,300 jobs), Lewiston jobs were up 3.1 percent (900 jobs) and Pocatello jobs were up 2.2 percent (800 jobs).

Unemployment insurance benefit payments were down 28.6 percent from a weekly average of $1.4 million a year ago to $1 million weekly for May 2018. The number of claimants decreased by 28 percent to 3,400, down from a weekly average of 4,700 a year ago.

Twenty-three of Idaho’s 44 counties had unemployment rates above the state rate in May. Four counties experienced rates at or above 5 percent: Clearwater at 6.6 percent, Shoshone at 6.4, Adams at 5.6 percent and Lewis at 5.1 percent. Madison County’s unemployment rate remained the lowest at 1.7 percent.

Nationally, May’s unemployment rate was 3.8 percent, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point, and the second consecutive over-the-month decrease. Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 223,000. Labor force participation decreased slightly to 62.7 percent.

June’s 2018 labor force and nonfarm payroll data for Idaho will be released on July 20.

For details on Idaho’s labor market, visit