TWIN FALLS — South-central Idaho had no significant change in unemployment last month, but upcoming changes in business could have bigger effects in the coming months.
The Idaho Department of Labor reported a 2.6 percent unemployment rate for the region in July, up just a tenth of a percent from June.
Idaho’s unemployment, however, dropped to its lowest levels since 2008 — 3 percent. The state also led the nation in month-over-month job growth of 0.6 percent.
Job growth is also strong in the eight-county region, and appears to be less focused in manufacturing than in years past, Regional Economist Jan Roeser said.
“This is probably more sustainable, and it’s all the industries that are contributing,” she said.
In the first six months of 2017, Twin Falls and Jerome counties surpassed job growth in the Treasure Valley. The counties expanded jobs by 6 percent to nearly 45,000.
South-central Idaho’s slight drop in labor force and slight increase in unemployment in July isn’t much to put stock in, Roeser said.
Upcoming changes that could show a bigger impact? The harvest season approaches.
“If there is somebody out there that doesn’t have a job, I hope they go to a staffing agency,” Roeser said.
Plus, new businesses are in the works. Several retailers — Charming Charlies, Goodwill Industries and O’Reilly Auto Parts, for example — are slated to open this fall in Twin Falls. A new MyPlace Hotel will open at the end of September.
In Burley, Dow Chemical will open soon and has probably already begun recruiting, Roeser said. And other announcements for economic development projects have been hinted at in Mini-Cassia and Jerome County.
A dark cloud on the horizon: Twin Falls’ Macy’s store intends to close in March.
“It is concerning to lose Macy’s,” Roeser said. “It really truly was the anchor for that mall.”