Idaho Unemployment Rate Falls to 5.5 Percent in October


For Immediate Release: Nov. 20, 2020
Media Contact: Craig Shaul, or Karen Jarboe Singletary,

State regains 5,400 nonfarm jobs

Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 5.5 percent and nonfarm payrolls regained 5,400 jobs in October as the state’s economy continued to recover.

The unemployment rate dropped six-tenths of a percentage point in October after increasing by almost 2 points in September to 6.1 percent. October’s rate was 6.3 percentage points below April’s historic high of 11.8 percent.

The number of unemployed Idahoans fell by 5,866 to 50,278 as total employment recovered by 1,021 to 863,917, up one-tenth of a percent from September.

Idaho’s seasonally adjusted labor force decreased by 4,845 to 914,195. October’s decline put the labor force below its record peak of 919,040 in September, but still close to 19,600 above its pre-pandemic level in March.

October’s labor force participation rate – the percentage of people 16 years and older with jobs or looking for work – was 64.7 percent, down from 65.2 percent in September.

The additional 5,400 nonfarm jobs brought October’s total to 763,200, representing an increase of 0.7 percent, but 8,600 (-1.1 percent) below Idaho’s February pre-pandemic peak. Seven industry sectors experienced some job gains from September, with the most significant increases in leisure and hospitality (+4.9 percent), financial activities (+1.5 percent), professional and business services (+1 percent) and manufacturing (+1 percent). Information (-5 percent), government (-1.3 percent) and other services (-0.8 percent) experienced declines.

Seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs were up by 300 over October 2019, representing no percentage change. This was the first time since April’s pandemic-related job losses that nonfarm jobs equaled or exceeded year-ago levels. Six industries experienced year-over-year job gains, led by financial activities (+8.2 percent), natural resources (+5.4 percent) and construction (+3.8 percent). Three of the four industries hit hardest by April’s job losses — information (-16.5 percent), other services (-5.2 percent) and education and health services (-2.8 percent) — were still below year-ago levels, but leisure and hospitality (+0.5 percent) reported year-over-year gains for the first time since March. Government also experienced a year-over-year loss of 4.2 percent.

Year over year, the total number of Idahoans with jobs was up one-tenth of a percent (442) while the number of unemployed increased by 24,856 (+97.8 percent). Idaho’s labor force continued to show over-the-year gains, up 25,298 people (+2.8 percent) from October 2019.

Three of Idaho’s five Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) saw nonfarm job gains from September to October 2020. Job increases in Coeur d’Alene exceeded the statewide average at 1.4 percent. Pocatello (-1.7 percent) and Lewiston (-0.5 percent) experienced slight declines.

Four Idaho MSAs saw year over year job declines in October, with Lewiston experiencing the largest job loss at 6.3 percent. The Idaho Falls MSA saw the only gain at 4.7 percent.

Nationally, the unemployment rate declined to 6.9 percent, with the number of unemployed dropping by 1.8 million to 11.1 million. One year earlier, the national unemployment rate was 3.3 percent and the number of unemployed was 5.9 million. []

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

For details on Idaho’s labor market, visit

* Editors / News Directors – please note: 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) implemented modifications to the Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) seasonal adjustment, smoothing and outlier designation procedures beginning with the April 2020 final LAUS estimates. These changes preserve movements in the published estimates that the models otherwise would have discounted and may contribute to higher variance and volatility in month-to-month changes and revisions. BLS anticipates these modifications will continue for as long as complex outlier treatments are deemed necessary for the model inputs. More information can be found on the BLS website.

— end —