Small Town News


Adams County unemployment swells to over 20%

The Adams County Record of Council, Idaho

- Advertisement -

The unemployment rate in Adams County swelled to state-high 20.8 percent in October, the first time in over nine years that any county posted employment numbers larger than 20 percent.

It was a three-point jump from the 17.8 percent that Adams County recorded in September.

The total civilian work force for Adams County is estimated to be 2019 persons, with 419 of those individuals on the state's unemployment rolls. In October 2008, the state estimated that 228 people out of a work force of 1863 were unemployed (12.3%).

Overall, Idaho's forecasted seasonally adjusted unemployment rate edged up a tenth of a point to 8.9 percent in October.

Fourteen other counties also recorded double-digit unemployment rates including Canyon and Kootenai, the state's second and third largest. Six counties had double-digit rates a year ago.

The number of Idaho workers without jobs rose another 1,100 to a record 67,300 as employers held October hiring to the lowest level since record-keeping began in 1998 and 22 percent below 2008's previous low for October. Total unemployment was up almost 25,000 from October 2008, when the rate was 6.6 percent.

Over $43 million in state and federal unemployment benefits was paid to a weekly average of 37,300 jobless workers during October. Half the workers signing up for benefits are exhausting their regular state allotment without finding jobs and moving onto federal benefits. At the end of June federal benefits accounted for less than 42 percent of total benefit payments in Idaho. Since then the federal share has risen to over 55 percent. Over 2,300 Idaho workers have already used up all their benefits – state and federal – and more than 100 workers a week are joining that group.

Since the year began, Idaho has paid out a record of over $547 million in state and federal jobless benefits.

With high unemployment persisting, the federal government stepped in this week to extend unemployment benefits. Although details about the new extension have yet to be released, over 20,000 idled Idaho workers could receive up to 14 additional weeks of payments. The Idaho Department of Labor will advise those who are eligible, but because specifics are still being worked out, checks under the new benefit extension will not be issued until late November.

Total employment fell another 400 from September to 686,100 in October, the lowest Idaho employment level since January 2005. Although 700 job seekers joined the labor force in October, the economy failed to produce jobs for them. Overall, the labor force has contracted by 5,500 in the last year, reflecting people dropping out because they are discouraged, returning to school to learn new skills or leaving the state.

The year-over-year loss of nonfarm jobs, which seems to have peaked in August at 7.5 percent or nearly 50,000, declined for the second straight month, slipping to 6.6 percent to 43,200 for October after dropping to 7.1 percent in September. It was the first time since Idaho began recording year-over-year job loss in April 2008 that the gap has closed in two consecutive months. But to a great extent the closing gap is the result of job loss from 2007 being so great during the final quarter of 2008 rather than the economy creating new jobs.

Except for health care, every major sector of the Idaho economy including government had fewer jobs in October than last year, and the five-county Boise metropolitan area continued to bear the brunt of the loss. The Boise area jobless rate jumped four-tenths to hit 10 percent, and nonfarm jobs in the metro area were down 8.5 percent from a year earlier, a loss of 23,000 or more than half the statewide job decline. The metro area has about 40 percent of Idaho's jobs.

Although Idaho's jobless rate remained at a 26-year high, October was the fourth straight month of relative stability. The rate fluctuated between 8.8 percent and 8.9 percent while the national rate steadily climbed from 9.4 percent in July to 10.2 percent in October.

The lowest rate in October was 4 percent in both Franklin and Power counties. Only 15 other counties had rates below 7 percent.

Copyright 2009 The Adams County Record, Council, Idaho. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: November 12, 2009

More from The Adams County Record