Orofino,Idaho-Window on the Clearwater
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North Idaho workers filed high number of new unemployment claims last week

by Kathryn Tacke, Regional Economist, Idaho Department of Labor

The number of North Central Idaho residents filing new unemployment claims rose from 99 in the week ending June 27 to 141 in the week ending July 4.

That was the highest number of initial claims in any week since May 9, but far below the peak of 1,020 set in the week ending March 28. Claims were much higher this year than in the same week in 2019.

Initial claims rose last week in all of the region's counties except Idaho.

Statewide initial claims dropped from 5,417 to 4,923.

The biggest driver for the increase in claims in Latah and Nez Perce counties were layoffs from the University of Idaho and Lewis-Clark State College as COVID-19 blights their finances.

Throughout the region, other job losses came from a variety of industries-including restaurants, health care, and retail.

In the first 16 weeks of the coronavirus economic crisis, 4,694 North Central Idaho workers filed initial claims. That is roughly 9.1 percent of the region's residents who were employed before the crisis. While the majority of those who have filed claims returned to work in the last few weeks, many remain jobless. In addition, many self-employed workers have lost work or seen large drops in income.

The continuation of large filings of new claims indicate that COVID-19 continues to destroy jobs, even as some jobs have been restored.

There are several indications that some employed workers are working fewer hours or days of the week than they did before the pandemic.

In addition, the hospitality and other tourism- related industries appear to have greatly reduced hiring for summer jobs to about 220 jobs, compared to the 580 jobs they normally add for the summer.

Women and younger workers (under 25 years old) have had proportionately larger job losses than men and workers 25 and older. About 1 in 7 women filed claims in the last 16 weeks., while 1 in 8 men did. One in three younger workers filed claims, while about one in five older workers did.

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