The number of Idahoans officially listed as unemployed dropped in April, but so did the overall civilian labor force. As a result, Idaho's unemployment rate remained steady last month at 6.1 percent.
The Idaho Department of Labor reported this morning that the total number of employed Idahoans was 724,000. New hires in April—at more than 17,000—were back to pre-recession levels for only the second time since the downturn began, and more than one-third were hires for new jobs.
Hiring increases were seen in the retail, private education, hotel and restaurant sectors. But decreases were registered in manufacturing, professional and business services.
While analysts suggest that some numbers are being bolstered by more self-employed workers finding traditional nonfarm jobs, the overall decrease in the labor force is due to an "exodus" of younger workers and an increase in the number of retired workers and those finishing out their careers.
According to the Idaho Department of Labor: "Should this population shift persist, it could aggravate Idaho’s structural shift toward service sector jobs, which has accelerated since the end of the 2001 recession."
Recent reports show that more than 85 percent of all jobs in Idaho are in the non-goods producing trade and service sectors—a contributing factor to Idaho leading the nation in minimum wage workers.
"That shift from 82 percent to over 85 percent of all jobs in the last decade is economically significant because service-sector jobs on average pay $10,000 a year less than jobs in goods production," the department stated.
The Treasure Valley, including Boise, Meridian, Nampa and Caldwell, registered a 6 percent unemployment rate, the same as March but 1.2 percent lower than the same time last year. The city of Boise reported a 5.6 percent jobless rate in April, one-tenth of a point lower than March and nine-tenths of a point lower than April 2012.
Six of the state's 44 counties posted double-digit unemployment rates, up from five in March. Clearwater and Adams counties in north-central Idaho had the state's highest rate at 12.7 percent. Franklin and Oneida counties in southeast Idaho had the lowest rates at 4 percent.