Area unemployment rises

Rate is nearly 1 percent lower than it was last year

COEUR d'ALENE - The city of Coeur d'Alene's unemployment rate increased nearly a full percentage point from March to April, Department of Labor statistics showed Monday.

Its unemployment rate was 9.2 percent in April, up from 8.3 percent from March. The April figure is preliminary.

The rate, however, is down from 10.3 percent in April last year.

Troy Tymesen, the city of Coeur d'Alene's finance director, said more people who had given up looking for work might be back in the hunt.

"Maybe a few folks got a little bit busier looking for work," Tymesen said.

"There is really nothing significant to pin it on," said Alivia Metts, a labor economist for the Department of Labor.

The city of Post Falls saw its unemployment rate increase slightly, inching up to 8.9 percent in April from 8.7 percent in March. It was 10.5 percent in April last year.

Metts said March employment numbers were inflated because of Silverwood Theme Park's hiring.

Kootenai County's unemployment rate increased by three-tenths of a percentage point from March to April, coming in at 8.8 percent.

The labor force was measured at 73,456 people, with the number of unemployed at 6,450.

Metts said a drop of 1,331 workers in the labor force from March to April was a surprise.

"The worst-case scenario is people are leaving the area," she said. She's not convinced that is happening.

The county had similar drops in its labor force in March 2009 and March 2007.

"It could be a number of things" causing that drop, she said.

Kristine Forsberg, chief of staff for Post Falls-based temporary staffing company Command Center, said more of their workers are being placed with business clients compared with last year.

Specifically, the demand for workers has been greatest with business clients in the fields of construction and landscaping and in resort and hospitality, Forsberg said.

"We're getting called more by those clients," she said.

Command Center, which has a Coeur d'Alene office, has seen more of the business owners asking to retain the workers.

"More of them are offering our clients jobs," she said. "To me that's a really good indication of the economy improving, because the business clients are willing to take on that payroll."

Command Center's building and landscaping clients are bidding on more work compared with last year.

"They are feeling very comfortable with the increased activity in bids, which leads to jobs," Forsberg said.

Unemployment has dropped by two-tenths of a percentage point in Shoshone County.

The labor force is at 6,198, with 703 unemployed.

The unemployment rate was 11.3 percent in April, down from 11.5 percent in March.

It's down significantly from 12.8 percent in April last year.

Silver Valley employment has seen a lift from mining work, driven by high metals prices, and cleanup of the Coeur d'Alene River basin, Metts said.

The unemployment rate in Benewah County has been going down.

The rate reached 11.2 percent for April, compared with 11.8 percent in March, and 12.5 percent from a year earlier.

The labor force is at 4,147, with the number of unemployed at 466.

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