TWIN FALLS — The Magic Valley continued to experience extremely low unemployment in September, with a rate of 2.2 percent across eight counties.
The Idaho Department of Labor reported on Friday that statewide seasonally adjusted unemployment fell to 2.7 percent for the month, the 13th consecutive month it’s remained below 3 percent. But job growth is slowing down, at 2.7 percent year-over-year. That’s the first time in 2018 that year-over-year job growth has been below 3 percent, regional economist Jan Roeser said.
And that could be a sign of things to come.
“I just don’t think we have the capacity to possibly continue to grow as fast as we were,” Roeser said.
She projects that employers will grow weary of struggling to fill positions, and may get creative in restructuring or using automation to meet their needs.
What does that mean for job seekers?
“They need to get their foot in the door now — while there’s still jobs left,” Roeser said. “If you’re not someplace now, it’s not going to get better.”
The eight counties of south-central Idaho are also experiencing less labor force growth as they have been, gaining only 1,153 workers over the year. Of the 101,249 in the civilian workforce, only 2,232 were unemployed in September, the department estimates.
Jobs in demand
The Department of Labor has also created a list of top 50 occupations in demand around south-central Idaho. The top job in demand is heavy truck drivers, with 164 openings — including 96 new openings over the month. Registered nurses ranked second, with 128 openings, followed by first-line supervisors of retail sales workers, with 65 openings.
According to data collected for continuing claims — claims that are paying out something and are past the waiting week — the industry with the most claims in Idaho was manufacturing, with 371 claims. In the south-central Idaho region, the industry with the most continuing claims was retail, at 40 claims.
Labor force changes
Twin Falls County has had the largest numerical gain in its labor force, bringing in 864 workers between September 2017 and September 2018. Jerome County gained 439 people.
Three counties have fewer potential workers than they did a year ago: Blaine County lost 84 people, Cassia County lost 80 and Minidoka County lost 76. Roeser has a theory that Mini-Cassia may have lost some of its younger people as they went off to school.
“I don’t think there’s any reason for anybody to pull out of those counties because the jobs continue to grow,” she said.
In September, the department reported the following preliminary estimates of unemployment rates:
Blaine County — 2.1 percent
Camas County — 2.6 percent
Cassia County — 2 percent
Gooding County — 2.1 percent
Jerome County — 2 percent
Lincoln County — 3.4 percent
Minidoka County — 2.2 percent
Twin Falls County — 2.3 percent