Idaho jobless rate lowest since 2008

Idaho’s unemployment rate dropped to 5 percent in April, matching the state’s lowest jobless rate since 2008.

Dan Cravens, regional economist with the Idaho Department of Labor, said the unemployment rate for the Idaho Falls regional area, which covers Bonneville and Jefferson counties is lower.

“Going back to last April in the Idaho Falls area, we had an unemployment figure of 5.5 percent,” Cravens said. “This year in April, that number is down to 4.2 percent.”

In Idaho Falls, that means 671 people have found jobs since April 2013, said Bob Fick, Department of Labor communications manager.

Fick said the growth in new jobs shows Idaho’s recovery is continuing.

“The real bright spot is the fact that the labor force and job participation numbers rose from last summer,” Fick said. “The participation number has been declining for years, so seeing a rise … is a good sign.”

The job participation number refers to the number of people 16 and older who are seeking employment in the state.

In April, 1,500 people across the state entered the labor force, Fick said, the largest one-month increase in the labor force since 2010.

“I think as the economy improves, people become more optimistic about not only the future in general, but about getting a job,” Fick said. “A lot of people recommit to getting out there and finding a job.”

Statewide, construction and manufacturing jobs grew in April, Fick said, due to an increase in housing and commercial construction projects.

Locally, Cravens said many of the new jobs can be attributed to businesses trying to satisfy increased demand.

“Most of the job creation is coming from existing companies adding more positions,” Cravens said. “Local businesses are seeing more demand from customers and are hiring new staff.”

Although Idaho’s economic recovery has been a slow process, Fick said that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“Moderate improvements are good,” he said. “We’re seeing numbers that are sustainable. These numbers are the kind of thing that should continue steadily improving for a while.”

Nathan Davis can be reached at 542-6762.