Idaho’s Unemployment Rate Drops to 2.9% for August


For Immediate Release: Sept. 17, 2021
Media Contact: Craig Shaul, or Karen Jarboe Singletary,

Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased by one-tenth of a percent from July to 2.9%.

August was the first time Idaho’s unemployment rate dropped below 3% since March of 2020. The state’s previous streak of unemployment rates under 3% lasted for 26 months – from February 2018 to March 2020.

Idaho’s labor force participation rate held steady at 62.5% for August, as the number of people able and available for work grew by 1,896 to 904,795 (0.2%), the largest gain so far this year.

Total unemployment dropped 1% (-254) to 26,442, while total employment rose 0.2% to 878,353 as 2,150 Idahoans found jobs or returned to work.

Idaho’s nonfarm payrolls decreased by 1,500 jobs to 788,800 in August, down 0.2% from 790,300 in July. Industries showing the greatest job losses included transportation, warehousing and utilities (-2%), local government (-1%), federal government (-0.8%), construction (-0.8%), accommodation and food services (-0.8%), financial activities (-0.5%), health care and social services (-0.4%), retail trade (-0.4%), wholesale trade (-0.3%) and manufacturing (-0.3%).

Industries showing the largest gains included arts, entertainment and recreation (7.9%), private education services (2.9%), information (2.7%), other services (1.2%), state government (0.9%) and professional and business services (0.2%).

Idaho Falls was the only Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) in the state to see an increase in nonfarm jobs (0.1%). Of the four remaining MSAs, three saw nonfarm job losses. Boise led with -0.4% decrease, followed by Pocatello with -0.3% and Coeur d’Alene with -0.1%. Lewiston experienced no change in August.


Over the year, 15,672 people were added to Idaho’s labor force, pushing the total number of people age 16 years or older who are able and available to work up 1.8% to 904,795.

Total employment increased by 3.9% (32,669) to 878,353 while total unemployment plummeted 39.1% (-16,997) from 43,439 in August 2020 to 26,442.

Idaho’s nonfarm jobs increased 3.8% (28,600) over August 2020 and was 2% above its February 2020 pre-pandemic peak.

Every major industry sector showed over-the-year job gains except for federal government and manufacturing, which dropped by 8.3% and 0.7% respectively. Leisure and hospitality – the most affected industry during the pandemic – climbed 13% above where it was a year ago.

All five of Idaho’s MSAs saw year-over-year nonfarm job gains. Pocatello showed the greatest increase at 5.6%, followed by Coeur d’Alene (5.5%), Boise (4.7%), Idaho Falls (4.1%) and Lewiston (2.5%).

National Comparisons

Nationally, the U.S. unemployment rate saw a solid drop from 5.4% in July to 5.2% in August, with the number of unemployed down 312,814 to 8.4 million. The nation’s labor force increased by 190,000 to 161.5 million. Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 235,000 to 147.2 million.


Idaho’s 2021 BLS release calendar is available at