TWIN FALLS — Have we hit the low for unemployment? The latest uptick may reflect a change of pace for the Magic Valley.
According to estimates from the Idaho Department of Labor, south-central Idaho’s unemployment ticked up a tenth of a percent to 2.6 percent in July. That’s the same unemployment rate the county had at this time last year.
Regional economist Jan Roeser believes this is showing a leveling-out, after months of unemployment being lower than a year ago.
“Maybe we have hit as low as we can go at this point,” she said.
Upcoming reports will tell, as the calendar nears October, when unemployment is usually at its lowest due to agricultural activity.
South-central Idaho saw just 17 more unemployment claims in July. Manufacturing comprises the biggest share of claims — at 18 percent.
“Manufacturing is seeing an upward trend (in claims) over the last three months,” Roeser said.
The “administration and waste” category accounted for 11 percent of all unemployment claims in the region. This category includes staffing agencies and call centers. Staffing agencies often reflect manufacturing, Roeser noted.
Retail unemployment claims are on the decline.
“With the new restaurants and wardrobe change in retail, most of the layoffs from Macy’s, Old Navy and Sears have been absorbed,” Roeser said. “The back to school shopping coincides with closures of garden centers co-located with grocery or big box retailers.”
Statewide, July’s unemployment rate remained unchanged from a month before, at 2.9 percent. That’s the eleventh consecutive month the state’s unemployment rate has been below 3 percent.
Meanwhile, Idaho’s labor force and jobs continue to grow. The state gained 1,600 nonfarm jobs in July, making Idaho second in the nation behind Utah for over-the-year job growth.
But online job postings are on the decline. In south-central Idaho, there were 300 fewer listings between mid-June and mid-July of 2018 compared to the previous year. There were only 2,267 listings throughout the region. Online job postings peaked in 2015, Roeser said.
The occupations with the most online job postings were heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers, retail salespersons, first-line supervisors of retail sales workers, and registered nurses.