Job growth sizzles in Idaho

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COEUR d'ALENE — Idaho has had the second-fastest job growth in the nation over the past year and Kootenai County led the pack among five metro areas statewide in that category, a report released on Friday states.

Kootenai County had 2,500 non-farm jobs over the past year for a 3.9 percent increase, the Idaho Department of Labor report states.

"Almost every sector added jobs," said Kathryn Tacke, a Labor regional economist.

Retail jobs grew by 1,100 positions (12 percent); construction 400 jobs (7 percent); health care 200 (4 percent); and leisure and hospitality 500 (4 percent).

"There are thousands of counties across the U.S. that would envy Kootenai County’s strong growth in the last few years," Tacke said.

"The labor market remains a job seekers’ market because there aren’t enough workers available for all the potential openings. That means employers are struggling to attract and retain workers. Those conditions aren’t likely to ease in the near future."

Looking ahead to fall, Tacke said there are signs that growth across the U.S. will slow down, so Kootenai County will likely see less rapid job growth, but it still will see some.

"The unemployment rate may creep up a bit, but it still will remain close to record lows," she said.

Kootenai County's jobless rate in July increased one-tenth of a percent from June to 3.5.

"That was mostly the result in a significant number of people (about 180) joining the labor force," Tacke said. "Some of them didn’t find work right away, so were counted as unemployed."

The local rate is between the state number of 2.9 percent and the national rate of 3.9 percent. The state's rate has been below 3 percent for nine months.

Year over year, Idaho’s non-farm job growth were up by 3.1 percent for a total of 21,800 jobs – the second-fastest percentage growth in the nation, the report states.

Of Idaho’s leading industries, construction jobs saw the largest job gain of 6.3 percent followed by natural resources, 5.7 percent; manufacturing, 5.1 percent; financial activities, 5.1 percent; and professional and business services, 3.5 percent.

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