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Coronavirus crisis makes More North Central Idaho residents jobless

by Kathryn Tacke, Regional Economist Idaho Department of Labor

In the week ending May 9, 162 North Central Idaho workers filed initial unemployment insurance claims.

That was the lowest amount filed since coronavirus began eroding employment in mid-March, but nearly double its level the week before the crisis began, the week ending March 14.

In the first eight week of the coronavirus economic crisis, 3,777 of the region's residents filed claims. That was greater than the 3,666 claims filed in the entire year of 2019. People filing claims made up 7.3 percent of the residents who had jobs before the coronavirus crisis. Lewis, Clearwater, and Nez Perce counties had the highest percent of formerly employed residents, as the table below shows.

The estimated impact of coronavirus on Nez Perce County's industrial sectors is shown below.

Health care and social assistance experienced the largest job losses - nearly 500. Among those laying off workers were dental care; outpatient clinics; offices of physicians, chiropractors, and mental health counselors, child care; community assistance programs; and services for people with disabilities.

The hard-hit accommodations and food services sector laid off nearly 400 workers-causing a 19 percent drop between the expected number of jobs if there hadn't been a crisis and the estimated jobs with the crisis.

Construction lost 240 jobs. Some of the job losses came from nonessential specialty trades, while other losses resulted from the slowdown of work at construction sites as contractors attempted to keep their crews socially distanced from each other. In addition, the economic uncertainty resulting from coronavirus is postponing some projects.

Retail workers filed 170 claims in the first eight weeks of the coronavirus crisis, resulting in a 7 percent drop in jobs. The job losses mostly came from "nonessential" retail including stores selling clothing and accessories, books, electronics, and personal care items.


Initial claims reached 5,795 during the week ending May 9, a 23 percent decline from the previous week.

Laid-off Idaho workers filed 131,101 initial claims for unemployment benefits during the eight weeks of the COVID-19 state of emergency - 2.2 times the total number of initial claims filed in all of 2019.

It was the sixth week the number of new claims fell, while continued claims - the number of people who claimed benefits - fell to 65,478, a decline of 9 percent from the previous week.

Accommodations and food services accounted for almost 15 percent of total claims filed during the week, while retail represented the second largest group at 13 percent, and health care and social assistance jobs the third largest with 11 percent. The three sectors combined were 39 percent of total new claims filed during the week. Unemployment claims for manufacturing jobs represented about 10 percent.

COVID-19 layoffs continue to affect people of all ages, with young people under age 25 representing almost 20 percent of initial claims for the week. Claims were evenly split between the two genders.

Between March 23 and May 9, the Idaho Department of Labor paid out to laid-off Idaho workers $70 million in regular benefits, $504,000 in Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) payments and $123.9 million in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) payments. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) payment information will be available next week.

Regular benefit payouts for the week of May 3-9 reached $13.4 million, a 2 percent decrease over the previous week, but 9.5 times higher than the same week in 2019. Total CARES Act payments increased 6.4 percent for the week of May 3-9 from $28.6 million to $30.4 million.

Weekly claims by county and industry are available on a data dashboard at https://lmi.idaho.gov/ui-weekly-claims.

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