Idaho’s unemployment rate has ticked up slightly for the second straight month, adding a tenth of a percentage point to reach 4.0 percent.
Although Idaho actually added 1,400 jobs on a seasonally-adjusted basis, economic growth caused 2,300 people to re-enter the labor force, which netted the slight increase in unemployment numbers. Compared to last year, unemployment has decreased by nine-tenths of a percentage point in Idaho and nonfarm payroll has increased by 23,000 jobs. Nationally, the employment situation improved considerably as the unemployment rate dropped two-tenths of a percentage point to 5.3 percent.
Unemployment continues to rise in rural areas of Idaho as jobs move to urban centers. Unemployment rates in the Idaho Falls and Boise metropolitan statistical areas were lower than the statewide average, standing at 3.6 and 3.8 percent respectively. The state’s highest unemployment rate in June was 7.6 percent in rural Adams County. This is evidence of the changing makeup of Idaho’s employment. In the last year, the largest job increases have come in the construction, education and health, and trade industry groups—most of which are centered in urban areas. While farming, ranching, and other rural activities will always be part of Idaho’s employment base, they are likely to make up a smaller portion as time goes on.
U.S. Consumer Price Index
The national Consumer Price Index (CPI) released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics increased 0.4 percent from May to June on a non-seasonally-adjusted basis, and has grown 0.1 percent over the past twelve months. The CPI’s growth resulted from increases in several categories, including gasoline, shelter, and food.
Gasoline, electricity, and natural gas all increased in price going into the peak of summer. Despite rising energy prices the past few months, the energy index has still declined 15.0 percent over the past year. Food price increases were at least partly expected as avian flu has impacted poultry and egg production throughout the Midwest. The food index posted its largest increase since September 2014, reflecting the sharp increase in egg prices.
Economists often use the “core CPI” index—all items less food and energy—to measure changes in prices nationally. The core CPI shows actual growth or decline more accurately because it eliminates the volatility of the energy and food indexes. In June, the core CPI rose 0.2 percent. The main contributors to this increase were recreation, airline fares, personal care products, tobacco, and new vehicles. Other indexes saw declining prices: medical care, household furnishings and operations, used cars and trucks, and apparel. The national CPI registered an annual increase for the first time since December, and rose 0.1 percent over the past 12 months.
U.S. Consumer Confidence Index
The U.S. Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) declined in July after improving in June. The Index dropped 8.9 points to 90.9. Both sub-indexes of the CCI declined in July, contributing to the sharp drop. Consumer confidence has fluctuated in recent months, increasing and decreasing almost every other month. Despite the fluctuations, the CCI has averaged about 95 points over the past twelve months, indicating that the United States has been in a period of economic recovery and growth.
The Present Situation Index, the sub-index of the CAI that measures how consumers feel about current economic conditions, decreased 2.9 points to 107.4 in July. Confidence in the present situation is derived from two measures: sentiment regarding current business conditions and sentiment regarding job availability. Consumers who say business conditions are “good” decreased from 26.1 percent in June to 24.2 percent in July. Consumers were also slightly less positive about job availability. Those stating that jobs are “plentiful” decreased from 21.3 percent to 20.7 percent.
The Expectations Index experienced a sharp decline from June to July, dropping 12.9 points to 79.9. The percentage of consumers who expect business conditions to improve over the next six months dropped 3.2 points to 14.7 percent. Expectations for the labor market in the next six months also declined. Those anticipating more jobs in the coming months decreased 4.0 points to 13.1 percent. Consumers expecting a bump in their household income also declined but only slightly, edging from 17.6 to 17.0 percent.