Idaho’s unemployment rate dropped below 9 percent in June from a high of 9.5 percent earlier this year. The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for June sat at 8.8 percent, making it the fourth straight month that the jobless rate dropped.
The decline was caused by a drop in both the number of people looking for work and in the number of Idahoan employed. According to the Idaho Department of Labor, the civilian labor force shrank for the first time in a year.
The expiration of federally funded unemployment benefits for thousands of Idahoans may have contributed to the shrinking labor force. Congress was unable to pass an extension of those benefits this week. All of Idaho’s members of Congress oppose the plan backed by Democratic leaders in Washington, D.C. The labor department said some people who lost their benefits could be discouraged and are no longer looking for work.
The labor department distributed $11.3 million in state and federal benefits during the first week of June, but that dropped to $8.1 million in the last week of the month.
Unemployment in the Boise and Coeur d’Alene metropolitan area was higher than the state average, while Idaho Falls, Rexburg, and Lewiston were all below the 8.8 percent statewide jobless rate.