Idaho started the new year with good employment numbers, as the unemployment rate dropped three tenths of a percent, from 4.4 percent in December (according to the BLS’s revised numbers) to 4.1 percent in January. 

Idaho’s total nonfarm payroll employment grew by 3,800 jobs and hit an all-time high for the second straight month, reaching 778,500. Nationally, the unemployment rate ticked up slightly from 5.6 percent in December to 5.7 percent in January.

Employment in city centers is growing while employment in surrounding suburbs is shrinking, according to a report by City Observatory, an Oregon-based think tank. As recently as 2007, all indicators predicted employment growth at a much higher rate in suburban areas than in urban areas, but that trend appears to have reversed itself in the last few years. This change reflects a number of factors: for instance, people increasingly prefer shorter commutes, and younger workers are more interested in living in urban environments. The study also suggests that more skilled, higher-paying jobs are popping up in urban centers.

As jobs increasingly move to cities, it will be important for Idaho to ensure that Boise and other urban centers continue to provide an attractive environment to support a flourishing labor market.

U.S. Consumer Price Index

The United States Consumer Price Index (CPI) declined 0.5 percent in January on a non-seasonally-adjusted basis. Over the last twelve months, the Index has decreased 0.1 percent. The decline in the Index was largely due to the recent decline in oil and gasoline prices.

The energy index fell 9.7 percent, and the gasoline index fell 18.7 percent in January—the sharpest in a series of seven consecutive declines. The all-items index would have risen 0.1 percent had the gasoline index gone unchanged. The fuel oil index and natural gas index also fell, although the electricity index rose. The food index did not change in January, and the food at home index fell for the first time since May 2013.

The index for all items minus food and energy rose 0.2 percent in January. The shelter index rose 0.3 percent, and indexes for personal care, for apparel, and for recreation increased as well. The medical care index went unchanged, while an array of indexes declined in January: household furnishings and operations, alcoholic beverages, new vehicles, used cars and trucks, airline fares, and tobacco.