Idaho unemployment dips

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COEUR d'ALENE - Idaho's unemployment rate dipped slightly to 7.7 percent, and Kootenai County has slipped to 9.5 percent, according to the Idaho Department of Labor on Friday.

The revised unemployment rate for the county in May was 9.8 percent. The labor force in June grew to 73,727 from 73,664 a month earlier.

Alivia Metts, a regional labor economist for the Labor Department in Post Falls, said leisure and hospitality sector employment increased from May to June. Leisure and hospitality, however, are down about 400 jobs compared with last year at this time, due to this year's late-arriving summer weather, she said.

In a bit of definite good news, construction employment was up, Metts said. The county had 200 more construction jobs in June compared with May, she said.

"In Post Falls the number of building permits quadrupled compared with March and April of last year," she said. Most of the construction has been single-family homes, but multiple-family unit construction has been hot, too.

"Our manufacturing and health care (job sectors) have been strong and expanding," said Steve Griffitts, president of Jobs Plus. "There's a lot of great things going on."

He said Kootenai County is well diversified.

"I'm pleased to see the workforce continue to grow and the number of jobs grow," he said. "Those are positive signs."

The city of Coeur d'Alene's unemployment rate dropped to 9.2 percent in June, compared with 9.9 percent a month earlier.

Post Falls' unemployment rate increased to 10 percent, up from 9.7 percent in May. Post Falls' labor force grew by 147 people from May to June, reaching 14,290 people.

Unemployment increased slightly in Benewah County, reaching 13.3 percent in June, compared with 13 percent in May. Shoshone County slipped from 12.4 percent in May to 12.1 percent last month.

The much-lower state unemployment rate is helped by Ada County, which includes Boise, where the labor market is less seasonal.

June's report shows Idaho's rate has been relatively stable for the past three months, returning to the April level of 7.7 percent, after moving up a notch to 7.8 percent in May.

The number of Idaho workers without jobs slipped below 60,000 for the first time in 33 months, the Department of Labor said.

New jobs during June in construction, professional and business services and hotels and restaurants were offset by declines in state and local government, a slight drop in private education and no seasonal hiring in food processing, wholesale trade and information services.

A year earlier, the unemployment rate in Idaho was 8.8 percent, and more than 68,000 people were out of work.

The nation's unemployment rate remains at 8.2 percent.

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