Idaho Unemployment Rate Falls to 4.8 Percent in November


For Immediate Release: Dec.18 2020
Media Contact: Craig Shaul, or Karen Jarboe Singletary,

State nonfarm jobs see first year-over-year increase since pandemic

Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 4.8 percent and nonfarm payrolls regained 6,200 jobs in November as the state’s economy continued to recover.

The unemployment rate dropped seven-tenths of a percentage point in November from October’s 5.5 percent. The current rate is 7 percentage points below April’s historic high of 11.8 percent.

Labor Force

The number of unemployed Idahoans fell by 6,605 to 43,814 (-13.1 percent). As a result, Idaho’s seasonally adjusted labor force decreased by 6,765 to 906,033, but still remains 11,400 higher than its pre-pandemic level in March. The total number of employed went essentially unchanged from October, dropping by 160 to 862,219.

November’s labor force participation rate – the percentage of people 16 years and older with jobs or looking for work – was 64 percent, down from 64.6 percent in October.

Year over year, the number of Idahoans with jobs was down one-tenth of a percent (-1,282) while the number of unemployed increased by 18,437 (+72.7 percent). Idaho’s labor force continued to show over-the-year gains, up 17,155 people (+1.9 percent) from November 2019.

Nonfarm Jobs

The additional 6,200 nonfarm jobs brought November’s total to 768,400, representing an increase of 0.8 percent, but 3,400 (-0.4 percent) below Idaho’s February pre-pandemic peak. Nine industry sectors experienced some job gains from October, with the most significant increases in information (+3.9 percent), natural resources (+2.6 percent) and other services (+2.4 percent). Leisure and hospitality (-0.5 percent) and education and health services (-0.2 percent) experienced declines.

Seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs were up by 3,600 over November 2019, representing a year-over-year increase of 0.5 percent. This was the first time since March that nonfarm jobs exceeded year-ago levels. Six industries experienced year-over-year job gains, led by financial activities (+8.7 percent), natural resources (+8.1 percent) and manufacturing (+5.1 percent). Each of the four industries hit hardest by April’s job losses — information (-14.1 percent), other services (-5.8 percent), education and health services (-3.7 percent) and leisure and hospitality (-0.2 percent) — were still below year-ago levels. Government also experienced a year-over-year loss of 4.3 percent.

Three of Idaho’s five Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) saw nonfarm job gains from October to November 2020. Boise saw the greatest increase at 0.6 percent, followed by Idaho Falls (+0.5 percent) and Coeur d’Alene (+0.3 percent). Lewiston (-0.7 percent) and Pocatello (-0.3 percent) experienced slight declines.

Year-over-year, the Idaho Falls MSA had the only job gains at 4.2 percent while four Idaho MSAs saw declines over November 2019, with Lewiston experiencing the greatest decrease at 7.7 percent.

National Comparisons

Nationally, the unemployment rate declined to 6.7 percent, with the number of unemployed dropping by 326,000 to 10.7 million. Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 245,000 to 142.6 million in November, but still below its February level by 9.8 million (-6.5 percent).

One year earlier, the national unemployment rate was 3.5 percent and the number of unemployed was 5.8 million. Total nonfarm payroll employment was 151.8 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.