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Idaho’s November Unemployment Rate Drops To 4.8%

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Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 4.8% in November, down from 5.5% in October, and 7% below the historic high of 11.8% set in April.

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show the number of unemployed Idahoans fell 13.1% from October to November, resulting in a slight decrease to the seasonally adjusted labor force — the total number of employed or job-seeking people in the state. Despite those changes, the overall number of employed people in Idaho was basically unchanged from October to November.

State Department of Labor analyst Craig Shaul said the drop in the labor force shows that people are giving up their search for work.

“These are people who are unemployed and not looking for work in November, and will likely stay out of the labor force until the economy improves,” Shaul wrote in an email Friday.

Even with the coronavirus pandemic impacting the local economy, Idaho’s labor force has increased by more than 17,000 people during the past year: an increase of 1.9% compared to November 2019.

Since the pandemic took hold in the U.S., nonfarm jobs in Idaho have exceeded 2019 levels only twice: in November, and previously in March.

Unemployment claims in Idaho fell last week, bucking the national trend. Idaho’s Department of Labor reported 4,083 initial claims during the week ending Dec. 12, a decrease of 17%. Continued claims — people with ongoing unemployment benefits paid by state — rose slightly last week.

As of November 28, more than 16,000 Idahoans were receiving federal unemployment benefits set to expire the day after Christmas.

Over the weekend, congressional leaders announced a deal on a new stimulus bill, which included an extension of federal pandemic unemployment programs, and a $300 monthly boost to unemployment benefits, both through mid-March.

While a deal was announced, the package still needs to be voted on as part of an omnibus spending bill which will fund the government through September of next year. That vote is expected Monday, and the President is expected to sign the bill.

Nationally, initial claims for unemployment rose by 885,000 last week, reaching the highest levels since the first week of September. November’s national unemployment rate fell slightly to 6.7%

This story has been updated to reflect developments in Congress in the 48 hours after the story was originally published.

Follow Troy Oppie on Twitter @GoodBadOppie for more local news.

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