Idaho’s unemployment rate dropped slightly in March to 9.4 percent as 2,700 people found work, according to the Idaho Department of Labor. That’s the first time the jobless rate has declined in more than two and a half years, but it remains close to a record high. Idaho is still below the national unemployment rate, which held for the third straight month at 9.7 percent.
Idaho’s two largest metropolitan areas, the Treasure Valley and Coeur d’Alene, posted modest job growth in March, continuing a reversal of months of decline that started in February. According to the labor department, nearly half the statewide job growth was in metropolitan Boise. Three Idaho counties, Butte, Madison, and Oneida, had unemployment rates below 6 percent.
The labor department said in a news release that it paid out a total of $14.9 million in unemployment benefits last week to 53,000 Idahoans who are out of work. Almost half that total, 24,000, have used up the state’s regular unemployment benefits that can last up to six months, and are receiving extended benefits paid for by the federal government that can now last up to 73 weeks.