Idaho Unemployment Falls to 5 Percent in July


For Immediate Release: Aug. 21, 2020
Media Contact: Craig Shaul, or Karen Jarboe Singletary,

Nonfarm Jobs Recover 1.9 Percent

Idaho’s nonfarm payrolls regained 14,000 jobs, and the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 5 percent as the state’s economy continued to reopen.

July’s unemployment rate dropped 0.8 percentage points from a revised rate of 5.8 percent in June and down from April’s historic high of 11.8 percent. Previous peak unemployment rates include 10.2 percent for December 1982 and 9.6 percent for June 2016 – the Great Recession peak.

The number of unemployed Idahoans fell by 6,917 to 44,722 as total employment recovered by 12,843 to 856,251, up 1.5 percent from June.

Idaho’s seasonally adjusted labor force increased by 5,926 to 900,973. July’s gains put the labor force about 6,300 above its pre-pandemic level in March and pushed the labor force above 900,000 for the first time in history.

July’s labor force participation rate – the percentage of people 16 years and older with jobs or looking for work – increased to 64.2 percent, from a revised 63.9 percent in June.

Idaho nonfarm payrolls increased by 14,000 jobs, up 1.9 percent to 751,300 for July. All but two industry sectors experienced some recovery in July, with the most significant gains concentrated in government (+5.2 percent) and leisure and hospitality (+3.7 percent). Financial activities experienced a small decline of 0.3 percent, while total natural resources job levels remained steady.

Year over year, the total number of Idahoans with jobs dropped 0.2 percent (-1,874) while the number of unemployed increased by 18,870 (+73 percent). Idaho’s labor force continued to show over-the-year gains, up 16,996 people (+1.9 percent) from July 2019.

Seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs were down 1.2 percent representing an over-the-year loss of 9,300 jobs. The three largest industry declines were in leisure and hospitality (-10.4 percent), information (-9 percent) and other services (-6.8 percent).

All of Idaho’s five Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) saw nonfarm job gains from June to July 2020. Job increases in two MSAs exceeded the statewide average – Lewiston (+4.3 percent) and Idaho Falls (+3 percent) percent.

Year over year, three Idaho MSAs experienced job declines. Pocatello experienced the largest over-the-year job loss at 7.2 percent, while the Idaho Falls MSA saw a gain of 6 percent.

Annually, unemployment insurance benefit payments were up 496 percent from a weekly average of $1,204,100 a year ago to $7,177,900 weekly for July 2020. The number of claimants increased 622 percent to 28,289 from a weekly average of 3,919 a year ago.

Nationally, the unemployment rate declined to 10.2 percent, with the number of unemployed dropping by 1.4 million to 16.3 million. One year earlier, the national unemployment rate was 3.7 percent and the number of unemployed was 6 million. []

Labor force data for Idaho’s counties and cities can be found at

For details on Idaho’s labor market, visit

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