Idaho’s March jobless rate tells a story of layoffs, rebounds — and newcomers


    Construction crane in downtown Boise
    A construction crane towers over downtown Boise in March 2021. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

    Idaho’s unemployment rate continues to improve, and is doing better than the nation as a whole, according to new numbers from the Idaho Department of Labor.

    The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 3.2% in March, according to the Labor Department. That’s compared with a rate of 2% in March 2020, when COVID-19 officially arrived in Idaho — followed by the staggering 11.5% rate in April 2020 due to pandemic layoffs.

    The national unemployment rate for March 2021 was 6%.

    As Idaho saw an influx of new residents in the past year, many of those new Idahoans joined the state’s labor force. The addition of people working in Idaho helped to offset a still sizable number of Idahoans who lost jobs in the pandemic.

    Six industries showed job gains in March 2021 compared with March 2020, the department said: financial activities (up 9.4%), construction (up 7%) and the trade, transportation and utilities sectors (up 5%).

    Four employment sectors instead showed job losses: information (down 11.4%), other services (down 6.3%), government (down 1%) and leisure and hospitality (down 0.5%).

    The unemployment rate for February was 3.3%, according to the department.

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    Audrey Dutton
    Audrey Dutton, senior investigative reporter, joined the Idaho Capital Sun after 10 years at the Idaho Statesman. Her favorite topics to cover include health care, business, consumer protection issues and white collar crime. Dutton hails from Twin Falls. She attended college at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, and received a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University in New York City. Before coming home to Idaho, Dutton worked as a journalist in Minnesota, New York, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Dutton's work has earned dozens of state, regional and national awards for investigative reporting, health care and business reporting, radio journalism, data visualization and much more. Her resume also includes fellowships from the Association of Health Care Journalists, Idaho Press Club, Idaho Media Initiative and Investigative Reporters and Editors. Dutton also teaches an upper-division journalism course at Boise State University. She resides in Boise with her husband, young daughter and two cats.