According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the national average unemployment rate dropped in April to 7.5 percent. The April unemployment figure in the Gem State, specifically, isn’t available yet. “We won’t have those numbers for a few more days,” Bob Fick, spokesperson for the Idaho Department of Labor told IdahoReporter.com.
While other important economic data points won’t be available for a few days as well—specifically , the national and state labor force participation rates—the 7.5 percent national average unemployment continues a three-month national average that saw the figure drop.
What is available for Idaho, however, is data for the first three months of the year including unemployment rates, unemployment benefits, Medicaid and food stamp participation.
Statewide unemployment: In January of 2013, Idaho’s statewide unemployment rate was 6.3 percent, while in February and March that figure held steady at 6.2 percent.
Unemployment benefits: Despite the relatively consistent unemployment rate during the first quarter of 2013, claims for unemployment benefits in Idaho steadily increased during the same period of time. In January, 73,391 unemployment benefits claims were processed in the state; in February the number rose to 76,187; and in March the number came in even higher at 81,770.
“These numbers are still lower than they were at the peak of the recession,” Fick told IdahoReporter.com. He added that, in some cases, would-be unemployment benefits recipients are simply no longer eligible for the benefit. “Unemployment benefits generally last anywhere from 10 to 26 weeks a year, and eligibility for the benefit is accrued over time as one works,” he explained.
Food stamps: According to Niki Forbing-Orr, spokesperson for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, January saw 231,647 participants in the food stamp program; February’s number rose to 232,545; and in March the number declined slightly to 232,105.
Medicaid: As for Medicaid, 248,471 Idahoans participated in the program in January; February saw a decline to 248,413; and in March the number dropped to 247,465.
Both Medicaid and food stamps are federal assistance programs administered by state government agencies. In Idaho, the state Department of Health and Welfare administers them both.
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