Randy ShumwayIdaho labor market. Idaho’s unemployment rate has remained mostly unchanged at 3.7 percent.

Idaho’s nonfarm payrolls increased by two-tenths of a percent this month, as gains in trade, transportation and utilities, professional and business services, education and health services, and government were nearly offset by weaker performance in mining and logging, construction, information, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, and other services. The state’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment grew 2.8 percent since last year. The United States’ unemployment rose two-tenths of a percentage point to 4.9 percent.

Nearly 20 percent of June’s online job postings were classified by department analysts as “hard-to-fill” jobs. Access to skilled workers is a common difficulty faced by Idaho businesses. However, according to the Idaho Department of Labor, around 77 percent of in-state residency students who graduated from a public Idaho college or university between 2010 and 2014 continued to work in Idaho jobs a year after graduation. Idaho’s retention of its college graduates indicates a promising trend for employers looking to fill skilled positions.

U.S. Consumer Price Index. The national Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased 0.3 percent from May to June on a non-seasonally adjusted basis. The national CPI has increased 1.0 percent over the last year, which is below the Federal Reserve’s annual inflation target of 2 percent.

The increase in the all items index was driven by increases in the indexes for energy and all items less food and energy. The energy index rose 1.3 percent, primarily due to a 3.3-percent increase in the gasoline index. The energy index has risen for four consecutive months. The index for all items less food and energy, a less-volatile measurement of prices, increased 0.2 percent this month.

Meanwhile, the food index declined 0.1 percent as the food at home index declined 0.3 percent. The food at home index has declined 1.3 percent over the last 12 months, marking the largest 12-month decline since February 2010.

U.S. Consumer Confidence Index. The Conference Board’s U.S. Consumer Confidence Index remained mostly unchanged in July, declining 0.1 point to 97.3. The Present Situation Index, which measures sentiment about the current state of the economy, increased from 116.6 to 118.3, while the Expectations Index decreased from 84.6 to 83.3, indicating slightly weaker confidence in the state of the economy six months out.

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions was slightly more favorable: the percentage of consumers who felt business conditions were “good” increased from 26.8 percent in June to 28.1 percent in July. However, those stating current business conditions were “bad” also increased—up from 18.3 percent to 19.0 percent. Opinions of the labor market were mostly unchanged, with those claiming jobs are “plentiful” declining from 23.2 percent to 23.0 percent, and those claiming jobs are “hard to get” also decreasing from 23.7 percent to 22.3 percent.

Meanwhile, consumers are less optimistic about the future, as indicated by the rising percentage of consumers who expect business conditions to worsen—up from 11.2 percent to 12.3 percent this month. Perspectives about the job market are slightly more favorable—those who anticipate fewer jobs in the months ahead decreased from 17.7 percent to 17.0 percent.