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Kootenai jobless numbers steady

by Nick Rotunno
| December 18, 2010 8:00 PM

POST FALLS - Around closing time Friday at the Idaho Department of Labor office, Mary Noonan searched the computer screen, hunting for a job.

Like many North Idahoans, the single mother from Hauser hasn't had much luck lately.

"There's nothing available," Noonan said. "You apply, and you don't receive a response back. That's the tough part."

It's not for lack of trying - Noonan has filled out plenty of applications, she said. There have been two call-backs, a couple of interviews, but so far nothing has worked out.

Still, IDL has been a helpful resource, she said.

"They've been pretty good here (at the office)," Noonan said. "They tell me to keep plugging."

According to the latest IDL figures, Kootenai County's seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate held steady at 10.8 percent for the month of November, same as the October number.

Non-farm jobs have continued to decline; roughly 500 jobs were lost from October to November of this year, IDL noted. Of those, approximately 84 percent were construction or leisure and hospitality positions, which are mostly seasonal.

"I kind of expected that," IDL Regional Economist Alivia Body said of the dropping numbers. "It didn't seem like there was too much (employer) activity that had gone on."

Seasonal jobs always decline during the wintertime, she added, especially in Idaho's five northern counties.

"(Employment) is hard to come by," said Jason Wiswall of Coeur d'Alene, a full-time student at North Idaho College. He needs income, but doesn't know where to find it these days. Most companies just aren't hiring.

"I know construction," Wiswall said. "As far as construction goes, it's been slow."

Despite reports that the national economy is on the road to recovery, in Idaho, the statewide unemployment rate hit 9.4 percent in November, IDL said - three-tenths higher than October's 9.1 percent. Seventeen Idaho counties reported double-digit unemployment.

The highest was Valley County, at 18.5 percent.

Without a job for the past few weeks, Marcus Allen of Post Falls stopped by the IDL office on Monday to file for unemployment. He had tried to file online, but found the process difficult.

"It was really confusing on the Internet," Allen said, "so I decided to come (to the office)."

A few of his friends are also unemployed, he said. At this point, all he can do is keep looking for work.

"There's not a lot out there. It's really hard," Allen said. "You just gotta find it."

Denise Lunderstadt, a supervisor at the IDL facility in Post Falls, said the department has seen a lot of people pass through its doors.

"It has been very crowded," she said. "And we don't expect that to change much over the next several weeks."

IDL offers several resources for job-seekers. There are resume workshops every Friday, Lunderstadt said, as well as Tuesday workshops with changing topics - interviewing, for example, or searching for jobs online. The department will also try to connect people with jobs it has listed, or help them locate a job themselves.

And some funds are available for people who need re-training, Lunderstadt said.

"Persistence is the key," she said. "It's never hopeless ... I know sometimes it doesn't feel that way. There are still some jobs out there."

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