In October, North Central Idaho’s jobless rate remained lower than the nation’s. Its rate was 3.2 percent and the nation’s 3.6 percent. Its two largest counties—Latah and Nez Perce—also had rates below the national rate.
Although unemployment rates have crept above the historic lows reached in the last year or so, they remain considerably below their historic averages.
Clearwater County’s rate remains the highest among Idaho’s 44 counties. Its rate in October was 6.6, up one-tenth of a percentage point from September. The unemployment increase was caused by the reduction in tourism related to steelhead fishing.
Despite the reduction in steelhead tourism in the Riggins and Cottonwood areas, Idaho County’s unemployment rate fell from 4.4 percent in September to 4.3 percent in October, as health care and manufacturing expanded employment.
Latah County’s jobless rate edged up from 2.6 percent in September to 2.7 percent in October as some construction came to an end for the year. Concerns about budget cuts at the University of Idaho, the county’s main engine of growth, are likely to quash plans to add retail, service, and construction jobs over the next year or so.
Lewis County’s unemployment rose from 5.4 percent in September to 5.5 percent in October, giving it the third highest rate among Idaho counties. Exceptionally cool weather hampered construction, tourism, and logging activity.
Some of Nez Perce County’s unemployment increase from 2.6 percent in September to 2.7 percent in October and Asotin Count’s increase from 4.4 percent to 4.7 percent resulted from the temporary closure of boat traffic on the Columbia-Snake system, which reduced tourism activity (cruise boats) and affected transportation and warehousing activities.
North Central Idaho and Eastern Idaho (the Idaho Falls area) were only two of Idaho’s six regions that didn’t see an increase in the unemployment rate from 12 months earlier.
Clearwater County’s unemployment rate was one-tenth of a percentage point higher than its 6.5 percent in October 2018.
Latah County’s rate also was up one-tenth of a percentage point over the year from 2.6 percent to 2.7 percent.
An estimated 384 more North Central Idaho residents were employed this October than in October 2018. That’s a 0.8 percent increase. Employment additions occurred across a variety of industries with the biggest gains coming from health care, transportation, and professional and business services.
Idaho County added 129 employed residents, Lewis County added 29, and Nez Perce County added 251. The number of employed residents remained the same in Latah County, while it fell by 25 in Clearwater County.