Unemployment in Idaho has been ticking upward by small percentages, helping take some pressure off Idaho’s tight labor market. 

Unemployment remains under 4 percent, still well below the national average. Despite the increase in unemployment, employers continued hiring, adding more than 3,000 jobs to payroll. Also, unemployment insurance payments and the number of those collecting unemployment benefits continued to decline. Unemployment benefits payments are down over 16 percent over the 12-month period since last May.

Nationally, the unemployment rate followed the same trajectory, with unemployment rising one-tenth of a percentage point from last month to 5.5 percent. Across the country, unemployment rates rose marginally in 50 percent of the states, decreasing in only nine states, and remaining constant in 16. Despite the small uptick in unemployment, the U.S. economy added 280,000 jobs in nonfarm payroll employment during the month of May. Modest job gains were made in most sectors excluding Mining, which continued to decline. Even with the minute increase in unemployment, there are positive signs in the labor market. The number of discouraged workers—those not looking for work because they believe no work is available—fell to 563,000 in May, down by 134,000 over the last 12 months.

Housing Market

The housing market made marked progress toward full recovery as housing prices increased 1.3 percent in Idaho and 1.7 percent nationally from April to May according to the CoreLogic Home Price Index. This represents a 4.7-percent increase compared to May 2014 for Idaho and a 6.3-percent 12-month increase in home prices nationally. In Idaho, home prices are 14.0 percent below their May 2007 peak while home prices across the country are 8.4 percent below their pre-recession high.

The strong growth in housing prices in May is more than just an ordinary seasonal uptick, according to Realtor.com. The organization’s chief economist, Jonathan Smoke, who performed an analysis of the website’s traffic in May, expects site visits and home searches to rise 50 and 35 percent respectively from last May’s figures. According to Smoke, this is representative of new highs in terms of housing demand. Smoke noted that listings inventory grew an additional 4 percent over last month’s figures. However, despite inventory growth in May, listings have not quite been able to keep pace with demand, evidenced by the 7 percent year-over-year increase in prices. Median home prices are now $228,000 nationally. Even more telling is the pace at which homes are selling. The number of days on the market nationally is down to 66—a sharp decline of 11 percent since May 2014.