Idaho’s January Unemployment Rate Down Slightly to 2.8 Percent


For Immediate Release: March 16, 2020
Information Contact: Craig Shaul, (208) 332-3570 ext. 3201 or Karen Jarboe Singletary (208) 332-3570 ext. 3215

Second Fastest in the Nation for Over-the-Year Job Growth

Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for January was 2.8 percent – down slightly from December and the 26th consecutive month at or below 3 percent following the benchmarking of 2019 estimates.

An additional 1,539 people made themselves available for work in January, pushing Idaho’s seasonally adjusted labor force up to 890,197. The number of unemployed decreased by 638 to 24,751. Total employment grew by 2,177 to 865,446.

January’s labor force participation rate – the percentage of people 16 years and older with jobs or looking for work – remained unchanged from December at 64.2 percent.

Over the year, January’s statewide labor force was up 19,580 (2.2 percent), employment was up 20,412 (2.4 percent) and there were 832 (3.3 percent) fewer unemployed persons. Seasonally-adjusted nonfarm jobs were up 2.5 percent from January 2019, the second highest growth in the nation representing a gain of 18,700 jobs. Other services (+5.7 percent), professional and business services (+4.5 percent) and construction (+4.4 percent) showed the largest percentage gains while manufacturing was the only industry experiencing an over-the-year decrease, totalling 1,200 jobs.

Idaho nonfarm jobs increased by 900 (0.1 percent) from December to January for a total of 770,000. Seven of Idaho’s 11 industry sectors exceeded seasonal expectations. The largest over-the-month increases for January were construction (+0.7 percent), other services (+0.7 percent) and leisure and hospitality (+0.5 percent). Three sectors – natural resources, information and education and health services – fell short of seasonal expectations, shedding a combined total of 900 jobs. Total financial activities jobs remained unchanged from December.

All five of Idaho’s Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) experienced nonfarm job growth from December 2019 to January 2020 with Lewiston having the fastest rate of growth at 0.7 percent. Over the year, all five MSAs experienced job growth rates of 2.2 percent or higher. The Idaho Falls MSA saw the fastest over-the-year growth rate in the state at 3.9 percent.

Annually, unemployment insurance benefit payments were slightly up 0.2 percent from a weekly average of $2,899,900 a year ago to $2,906,300 weekly for January 2020. The number of claimants decreased by 3.2 percent to 8,962 from a weekly average of 8,677 a year ago.

Nationally, unemployment was slightly up at 3.6 percent in January. Total unemployed increased by 139,000 from December for a total of 5.9 million people looking for work. One year earlier, the national unemployment rate was 4.4 percent, and the number of unemployed was about 7.1 million. []

Idaho’s county rates for January and February of 2020 will be included in the February employment release scheduled for Friday, March 27.

For details on Idaho’s labor market, visit