Custer County’s unemployment rate increased in December, the first time in months that more people reported being without a job.

The county registered a rate of 3.6 percent, up from 3.2 percent in November, but down from 4.4 percent in December 2017, according to data released by the Idaho Department of Labor.

In neighboring Lemhi County, the December jobless rate dipped to 4.2 percent compared to 4.4 percent in November and down from 4.8 percent in December 2017. Butte County’s rate remains low — 2.8 percent in December. But that was an uptick from 2.7 percent recorded in November and 2.7 percent in December 2017.

The highest rate of unemployment in Idaho in December came in Adams County, 5.9 percent. Other counties with high levels of jobless residents were Lewis at 5.6 percent, Clearwater at 5.4 percent, Shoshone at 5.3 percent and Idaho County at 4.5 percent.

On the other end of the scale, the lowest level of unemployment was reported in Madison County at 1.9 percent. Teton County rolled in at 2 percent. Fremont County and Oneida County both registered 2.1 percent, and Jefferson County stood at 2.2 percent.

The statewide rate was 2.6 percent in December, the report states, the same as in November and down from 3 percent in December 2017. That 2.6 percent rate continued the 16-month stretch of Idaho recording statewide unemployment levels below 3 percent.

The state’s labor force, defined as the number of people 16 and older working or looking for work, increased slightly in December, by two-tenths of a percent from November. That translated to 2,013 more people for a total labor force of 856,337.

The number of people with jobs also increased, by 1,823, for a total of 833,756 employed Idahoans. The number of unemployed people dropped by 190 to 22,581 in December.

Idaho’s labor force participation rate remained unchanged at 63.4 percent, the report states.

Compared to the prior year, December’s statewide labor force increased 1.7 percent for a gain of 14,563. The number of people working increased 2.1 percent for a gain of 17,145 and the number of unemployed people dropped by 10.3 percent or 2,582 people compared to December 2017.

Unemployment insurance benefit payments dropped by 6.6 percent from a weekly average of $2,264,000 in December 2017 to a weekly average of $2,115,000 for December 2018. The number of claimants decreased by 9.6 percent to 6,740 in December from 7,450 in December 2017, according to the report.

The national unemployment rate rose by two-tenths of a percent to 3.9 percent in December. Across the country, 6.3 million people are jobless. In December 2017, the national unemployment rate was 4.1 percent, representing 6.6 million unemployed people.

Preliminary data for all of 2018 shows Custer County with a 4 percent unemployment rate for the 12 months, down from 4.2 percent in 2107. Butte County’s preliminary annual rate is 3.2 percent for 2018, compared to 3 percent in 2017. And, in Lemhi County the preliminary 2018 total is 4.4 percent, down from 5.2 percent in 2017. Statewide, Idaho’s 2018 jobless rate was 2.8 percent, compared to 3.2 percent in 2017.

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