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.