Boundary County unemployment climbs to nearly 13%



Coeur d'Alene _ Hard times in the timber industry pushed Boundary County's unemployment rate to nearly 13 percent in July.

The jobless figures reflect the closure of Louisiana-Pacific's mill in Bonners Ferry, and "considerable distress in the rest of the timber industry," said Kathryn Tacke, state labor market analyst. "There are a lot of folks who are out of work, or not working full time."

Jobless rates also grew in other areas of the Idaho Panhandle, with the exception of Benewah County. The county's July unemployment rate of 9.2 percent was nearly 1 percent lower than June's rate. Tacke attributed the job gains, in part, to workers returning to the Potlatch mill in St. Maries after the completion of renovations.

Kootenai and Bonner County reported July unemployment rates of 7.5 percent and 8.1 percent, respectively. Both counties were also affected by downturns in the timber industry, though to a lesser degree, Tacke said. Though new job creation has been sluggish in both counties, "fortunately, the bleeding of jobs has been stemmed," she said.

At 14.9 percent, Shoshone County continued to post the region's highest unemployment rate in July. A temporary shutdown at the Galena Mine has left more than 100 workers without jobs and also led to weakness in the retail sector. The July numbers do not yet reflect an additional loss of 80 jobs at a Smelterville call center, which closed this week.


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