Custer County’s unemployment rate decreased in February to 4.3 percent, from 4.8 percent in January, according to data from the Idaho Department of Labor.

The state’s rate increased slightly in the same time frame, to 2.9 percent in February, compared to 2.8 percent in January. February marked the 15th consecutive month that Idaho registered an unemployment rate at or below 3 percent, according to Craig Shaul with the Labor Department.

Butte County’s jobless rate increased in February to 2.5 percent, compared to 2.3 percent in January. In Lemhi County, the February rate of 4.4 percent was a big drop from the 5.1 percent registered in January. Those rates translate to 95 unemployed people in Custer County in February, 35 in Butte County and 157 in Lemhi County. Across Idaho, 24,779 people were unemployed in February.

Custer County’s labor force stood at 2,196 in February, down from 2,218 in January, Shaul’s report shows.

The number of nonfarm jobs in Idaho increased by 3,600, or 0.5 of a percent, in February for a total of 750,600 nonfarm jobs. That increase was the fastest job growth rate in the nation and the second-largest statistically significant job increase added by any state, the Labor Department reported.

The greatest increase in job gains came in the professional and business services sector — 2.3 percent, followed by manufacturing, education and health services. Declines in the number of construction, information and hospitality categories were recorded in February in Idaho.

The number of Idahoans age 16 or older who are employed or are looking for a job increased by one-tenth of a percent in February, to 63.9 percent. The state’s labor force increased in February from the prior month, with the state’s seasonally adjusted labor force at 866,633 in February.

Fewer Idaho jobs were posted online in February this year than in February 2018. This year, 24,701 online job listings were found in February, down from 27,189 the prior year. The number of hard-to-fill positions remains high — 6,629 in February, the report states. To be classified as hard to fill a position must have been continuously posted online for 90 or more days. Some 22 percent of those hard-to-fill jobs are health care positions, a continuing problem in Idaho.

Unemployment insurance benefits in Idaho in February were up 9 percent compared to the prior year, reaching $3 million this year paid weekly. In February, 9,320 unemployed people in the state cumulatively collected that amount.

The national unemployment rate decreased in February, compared to the prior year, by two-tenths of a percent to 3.8 percent.

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