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Rebound Idaho: A snapshot of Idaho's labor market as the pandemic continues

For Labor Day, we're looking at how far we've come and how far we have to go.
Posted at 9:41 PM, Sep 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-08 00:18:15-04

IDAHO — Our newsroom is committed to bringing you and your family the critical information you need so we can all bounce back from these trying times together. It’s what drives our Rebound Idaho coverage. In the spirit of Labor Day, we're shining a light on the rebound of Idaho’s economy and labor workforce since the pandemic began.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you witnessed how the coronavirus threw a nasty curveball at Idaho’s workforce this year, causing tens of thousands to be laid off amid shutdowns, closures and cutbacks. But while there is still work to be done, as Idaho Department of Labor Director Jani Revier points out, we are better off than we were in the spring.

"We went from a record low of unemployment of 2.5 percent (in March), to a record high of 11.8 percent (in April) -- and now we’re back to about 5 percent," said Revier.

While the unemployment rate is still higher than we’d like, the progress that Idaho's made since the spring is actually quite stunning — proving just how resilient Idahoans can be.

“We’re in a much better position than, as a state, than where we were back in April -- and I hope that we continue to see the recovery in the economy," said Revier.

One way Idahoans can find continued recovery is by reaching out to their local Idaho Department of Labor office staff, to gain a helping hand with the job search or career training.

“We have a lot of resources to help connect employees or job seekers with jobs," said Revier.

As you might recall, back in the spring, Idahoans told Idaho News 6 it was nearly impossible to get in touch with someone at the Idaho Department of Labor. Since then, however, Revier says things have improved.

“Right now if you call the the the line, I think it’s a five second wait. It’s pretty quick on average," said Revier.

The eventual signing of a call center contract at the end of May was one way the state was able to meet the pressing demand.

“The governor provided money through the CARES Act that we can use to fund the call center," said Revier.

But that contract only goes until the end of the year.

“After the end of the year, when that funding source is gone, so we’ll need to find an alternative at that point,” said Revier.

Unemployment insurance specialists are currently issuing $300 weekly payments through the Lost Wages Assistance Program to those who qualify (those who self-certify they are unemployed due to COVID).

Revier says she is currently in the process of hiring several more adjudicators to help with new accounts like these.

Visit this link to learn more about what the Idaho Department of Labor can do for you, including job seeking and career training services.