BOISE, Idaho -

The Idaho Department of Labor estimates the number of Idaho workers off the job increased by 900 to 47,500 in May.  That helped push the state's unemployment rate from 6.1 percent in April to 6.2 percent in May.

It was the first monthly increase in the unemployment rate since June 2011. 

The state's labor force increased by 1,100 workers, ending a four month decline.  Department analysts say that may indicate renewed optimism about the state's economic recovery and its ability to generate jobs.

Employers reported hiring over 18,200 workers for existing and new jobs from April to May.

The economic improvement resulted in a dramatic decline in unemployment insurance benefits of more than 50 percent over the past year.  An average of nearly 13,900 idled workers received $13.3 million in jobless benefits in May.