Idaho Unemployment Holds Steady At Low Not Seen For A Decade

Mar 26, 2018

Idaho's unemployment rate continues to sit at 3 percent. February was the sixth consecutive month of the record low figure.
Credit Scott Lowe / Flickr

The Idaho Department of Labor is out with its latest monthly jobs report. It finds the state’s unemployment rate has held steady for half a year.

Three percent; that’s where the unemployment rate has sat for six months. That might seem like a long time, but we’ve been here before, according to Craig Shaul – an analyst with the state’s Department of Labor.

“The previous period this has happened was from August 2000 to February 2001,” he says. “The unemployment rate then was 4.8. It wasn’t necessarily as tight then as it is now.”

Shaul says the current rate of three percent is below what’s called the “natural rate of employment.” He describes it as the sweet spot between people entering the workforce and employers looking to hire. Right now, while we’re below that balance, demand for workers is outpacing supply.

“Instead of being able to hire the workers you need, you’re probably going to be trying to attract those workers from other employers,” Shaul says.

According to the analyst, economic conditions are in place that could drive the unemployment rate even further south. While that’s a possibility, he expects the labor market to remain incredibly tight for the foreseeable future. On the prospects of the unemployment rate going up, he says it’s doubtful – “at least in the next 12 to 16 months – all things being equal.”

Shaul says he’s scratching his head about the volume of Idaho’s growth and wonders how long it can sustain the breakneck pace.

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