Idaho’s unemployment rate decreased by one-tenth of a percent to 2.9% in August, the state Department of Labor reported.

August was the first month in which Idaho’s unemployment rate dropped below 3% since March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic started. The state’s previous streak of unemployment rates under 3% lasted for 26 months—from February 2018 to March 2020.

Idaho’s labor force participation rate held steady at 62.5% for August, as the number of people able and available for work grew by 1,896 to 904,795 (up 0.2%), the largest gain so far this year.

Total unemployment dropped 1% to 26,442, while total employment rose 0.2% to 878,353, as 2,150 Idahoans found jobs or returned to work.

Idaho’s nonfarm payrolls decreased by 1,500 jobs to 788,800 in August, down 0.2% from 790,300 in July, the department reported. Industries showing the greatest job losses included transportation, warehousing and utilities (down 2%); local government (down 1%); federal government (down 0.8%); construction (down 0.8%); and accommodation and food services (down 0.8%).

Industries showing the largest gains included arts, entertainment and recreation (up 7.9%); private education services (up 2.9%); information (up 2.7%); and state government (up 0.9%).

Over the last year, 15,672 people were added to Idaho’s labor force, pushing the total number of people age 16 years or older who are able and available to work up 1.8%, to 904,795. Total employment increased by 3.9% over the last 12 months, while total unemployment plummeted 39.1%.

Idaho’s nonfarm jobs increased 3.8% over August 2020 and was 2% above its February 2020 pre-pandemic peak, the department reported.

Nationally, the U.S. unemployment rate saw a solid drop from 5.4% in July to 5.2% in August, with the number of unemployed people down 312,814 to 8.4 million. The nation’s labor force increased by 190,000 to 161.5 million. Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 235,000 to 147.2 million.

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