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Unemployment Trends On The Rise Despite 45% Drop In Initial Claims Last Week

Molly Messick
StateImpact Idaho

Initial claims for unemployment in Idaho fell 45.5% the week ending Feb. 20, according to the Idaho Department of Labor. The dramatic decrease was the largest by percentage of any U.S. state last week, but comes one week after a similar-sized spike in unemployment claims.

Labor department analyst Craig Shaul wrote in an email that recent winter weather contributed to the wild swings of initial claim numbers.

Even with last week’s drop in initial claims, the four-week average rose, as claims have been on the rise since mid-January. Last week, 6,110 people made first-time jobless claims in Idaho. Most of those came from the construction industry, which is typical during the winter season.

Continued claims, which are on-going requests for state unemployment benefits, have risen about 15% since Christmas. Last week, 15,363 people requested continued benefits, most since the week ending Aug. 21, 2020.

The number of Idahoans receiving federal unemployment benefits is rising, too, with 7,122 weekly beneficiaries of the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, PEUC, which provides continued benefits for those whose 26 weeks of state unemployment has run out. The number of people receiving PEUC checks has more than doubled since the first week of the year.

Between state and federal programs, 30,228 people in Idaho made continued jobless claims last week. That number is up slightly since the start of the year but has been stable in February. The increasing number of beneficiaries in most unemployment programs has been balanced out by a decrease in the number of claims made by self-employed people on the Pandemic Unemployment Aid program.

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

Copyright 2021 Boise State Public Radio

Troy Oppie is a reporter and local host of 'All Things Considered' for Boise State Public Radio News.

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