Tag Archives: labor force

Vacancy rates provide insight to hiring challenges

The exceptionally tight labor market in Idaho has left many employers hard-pressed to fill job openings. The monthly vacancy yield rate – the number of hires each month relative to the number of job openings at the end of the previous month – provides a barometer for employers’ ability to fill openings while its inverse provides an implied number of months to fill an opening.

An unprecedentedly tight labor market

Well before the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic disruptions it brought, the Idaho labor market would have been characterized as “tight,” but once businesses and the economy at-large reopened, the excess demand for workers relative to their supply only intensified.

One key barometer of a labor market is the ratio of job openings, or vacancies, to the unemployed, which is how macroeconomists typically define a labor market’s “tightness.” The larger the number, the more job openings are chasing after a fixed number of idle workers. For high ratios, we would typically expect to see wages rise as employers are forced to compete for limited talent; conversely, for small ratios, we would expect wages to fall as workers are forced to compete for a limited number of jobs.

Figure 1 plots the monthly job openings-to-unemployed ratio for Idaho as well as the United States for 2001-2021, adjusted for seasonality effects. For the entire sample, the average labor market tightness was about 0.81 openings for every unemployed Idahoan. Throughout 2021 the ratio hovered between 1.5 and 2, and by year’s end it reached a record 2.18.

Figure: labor market tightness

Note: Job openings are for total nonfarm jobs.
Source: Idaho Department of Labor, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Continue reading

Idaho’s December Unemployment Rate Reaches Historic Low of 2.4%


For Immediate Release: Jan. 21, 2022
Media Contact: Karen.JarboeSingletary@labor.idaho.gov or Craig.Shaul@labor.idaho.gov

Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 2.4% in December, a historic low and one-tenth of a percentage point below the state’s previous record of 2.5% in December 2019.

The number of Idahoans employed or looking for work grew by 806 people (0.1%) to 909,467 – marking the smallest over-the-month labor force gain through the last five months of 2021.

Labor force participation decreased slightly from 62.3% to 62.2% in December. The state’s participation rate dropped below the previous historic low in June 2021 and has continued decreasing in the months since – an indication of a persistently tight labor market. Idaho’s peak participation rate reached 71.4% in September 1998.

Total employment grew by 2,522 to 887,379, up 0.3%, while total unemployment dropped by 1,716 (7.2%) to 22,088. According to The Conference Board’s Help Wanted Online there were 51,765 online job openings in Idaho in December – a ratio of 2.3 openings for every unemployed Idahoan.

Idaho’s nonfarm job growth exceeded seasonal expectations in December, up 2,000 jobs (0.3%) for a total of 790,500 jobs. Industry sectors with the greatest over-the-month gains include natural resources (4.9%); information (3.9%); transportation, warehousing and utilities (2.4%); durable goods manufacturing (1.6%); federal government (0.8%); professional and business services (0.5%); local government (0.4%); accommodation and food services (0.4%); and retail trade (0.3%). Continue reading

Idaho Unemployment Falls to 5.6 Percent in June


For Immediate Release: July 17, 2020
Media Contact: Craig Shaul, craig.shaul@labor.idaho.gov or Karen Jarboe Singletary, karen.jarboesingletary@labor.idaho.gov

Nonfarm Jobs Recover 3.5 Percent

Idaho’s nonfarm payrolls regained 24,800 jobs and the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 5.6 percent as the state’s economy continued to reopen.

June’s unemployment rate dropped 3.4 percentage points from a revised rate of 9 percent in May and down from April’s historic high of 11.8 percent. Previous peak unemployment rates include 10.2 percent for December of 1982 and 9.6 percent for June of 2016 – the Great Recession peak.

The number of unemployed Idahoans fell by 28,961 to 50,267 as total employment recovered by 38,885 to 841,898, up 4.8 percent from May.

Continue reading

Idaho’s April Unemployment Rate Down Slightly to 2.8 Percent


For Immediate Release: May 17, 2019
Information Contact: Craig Shaul (208) 332-3570 ext. 3201 or Karen Jarboe Singletary (208) 332-3570 ext. 3215

Steady Nonfarm Job Growth Continues

Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped slightly to 2.8 percent in April, the 17th consecutive month at or below 3 percent.

An additional 1,768 people made themselves available for work between March and April, pushing Idaho’s seasonally adjusted labor force up to 869,968. The number of unemployed decreased by 234 – down nearly one percent to 24,683. Total employment grew by 2,002 to 845,285.

Idaho’s labor force participation rate – the percentage of people age 16 years or older working or looking for work – increased to 63.9 percent.

Continue reading

People Not in the Labor Force: Why Aren’t They Working?

Since 2000, the number of people who are neither working nor looking for work and counted as “not in the labor force,” increased according to a recent article by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. reasons-for-not-working

From 2004 to 2014, the proportion of the population 16 years and older who said they were not in the labor force increased due to school attendance, illness or disability, or retirement.

The percentage not in the labor force also rose for both men and women 25 to 54 years, and nearly all reasons cited recorded an increase. Women in this age group were more likely than men to cite home responsibilities as the main reason for not working. Men and women 25 to 54 years with less education were more likely to be labor force nonparticipants than their counterparts with more education. From 2004 to 2014, the increases in the percentage of men and women not in the labor force were larger for those with less education.

Continue reading

Labor Participation Rates in Idaho, Nation Slip

Laborforce participation

In 2013 both the national and statewide unemployment rates were declining – a positive economic sign. But the concern has been the labor force participation rate, which has been falling – particularly in certain age groups.

The labor force participation rate – the percentage of the adult population that is employed or actively looking for work – has been steadily declining since the late 1990s, both nationally and in Idaho. Idaho did see a strong jump in the rate during the mid-2000s expansion, and the state participation rate has remained at or above the national rate even during five percentage point slide over the past 15 years. The national annual average rate only declined 3.4 percentage points.

Continue reading