Monthly Archives: December 2013

Non Farm Jobs Increase 4.2 Percent Between 2011-13


Idaho’s economy has been producing jobs faster than the nation and most states over the past two years.

Between October 2011 and October 2013, the number of nonfarm jobs in Idaho increased 4.2 percent, seven-tenths of a percentage point higher than the national increase, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only nine other states posted higher increases.

From October 2011 through March 2013 – the most recent period figures are available for – Idaho’s average wage on an annualized basis increased from $35,832 to $36,186, or by 1 percent according to federal estimates.

Nationally, the average wage rose 2.3 percent over the same period to $49,368.
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FAQ Friday – How do I know if my work search contacts are acceptable?

Editor’s note: This article was updated on April 20, 2021, to reflect changes to acceptable work search contacts.

If you are unemployed and collecting benefits you are now required to complete and report two acceptable contacts with potential employers for full-time work or acceptable work search activities. Not sure what counts as an acceptable contact or activity?

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Understanding Idaho’s Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages

Although it is not as well-known as the unemployment rate or the changes in nonfarm payroll jobs, Idaho’s Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) plays a key role in developing those reports.

The Idaho Department of Labor’s QCEW program is part of a nationwide operation funded by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Its mission is to review the records Idaho employers provide with payment of their quarterly unemployment insurance taxes to ensure employers are coded into the right industry error-free. Once review and cleaning of the record is complete, it is uploaded into a database that contains the vast majority of Idaho’s employment which provides a detailed snapshot of Idaho’s labor market and economy.

In statistical terms, the QCEW program nearly captures the entire universe of employment. In Idaho, 94 percent of all employment and wages in the state is compiled into a database. Nationally, the data captured is around 96 percent of the total that is known to exist.

The small percentage of data that is not captured by QCEW is the result of employers who are exempted through federal or state law from paying unemployment insurance taxes. Examples of exempted employment include railroad workers, university and hospital internships and workers for religious organizations.

The Bureau of Labor Statistic’s samples for the Establishment Survey (where nonfarm estimates are derived by the Current Employment Statistics program) and the Occupational and Employment Survey (which provides information on the national and state landscape of occupations and their wages) are both derived from QCEW data. In addition, nonfarm estimates are corrected at the end of each year based on information from QCEW data through a process known as benchmarking. While the survey unemployment rate estimates are developed and operated by the Census Bureau, it also corrects these estimates at the end of each year based on information derived from QCEW.

While the strength of QCEW is the breadth of detail it provides for researching Idaho’s economy, its weakness is the time it takes to publish new data. Collection and processing of data is a long process that results in new information being published six-to-nine months after the fact. Another weakness is QCEW data can contain historical and classification shifts that cause the underlying industry and wage data to fluctuate in ways that do not necessarily represent an economic change.

Using QCEW information to benchmark the nonfarm payroll employment and unemployment rate requires that any invalid shifts that may exist in the data be resolved before being used to correct estimates. This benchmarking process is why there is an extended period between the release of December’s unemployment rate and January’s unemployment data. The data is typically not released until March when the results of the benchmark for the unemployment rate and nonfarm estimates are made public.

While QCEW sifts through sensitive and personal data, the confidentiality of the information is protected by law. Stakeholders can rest assured that we take the protection of confidential data seriously. The Bureau of Labor Statistics requires each analyst and technician to take annual training on handling confidential information. They are also required to sign agreements that state they understand infractions and breeches of the strict federal laws and rules which protect employer and employee data are subject to a $250,000 fine and six months in jail. The Idaho Department of Labor extends this arrangement further by requiring everyone in the agency’s Communications & Research Division to take confidentiality training and sign a confidentiality agreement.

“We take the privilege of serving as the administrator of Idaho’s cooperative agreement with the Bureau of Labor Statistics very seriously,” explains Deputy Director Georgia Smith. “Part of that agreement means we safeguard the data from misuse and unauthorized disclosure.”

Craig Shaul, research analyst supervisor

Economic Activity in Idaho in December

Here is a roundup of economic news compiled by the Idaho Department of Labor in December:

Northern Idaho

  • North Idaho College unveiled its new Aerospace Center of Excellence program in November. Classes at the Dakota Avenue facility, near the Coeur d’Alene Airport, began this fall with 40 students enrolled. NIC’s aerospace program is being funded with a $3 million federal grant awarded in September 2012 by the U.S. Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training initiative.
  • Idaho Department of Labor hosted a U.S. Forest Service job fair in the 25 local offices. Nearly 680 job seekers attended with 94 seeking employment in northern Idaho’s Panhandle National Forest.
  • Spokane Valley-based Revett Minerals Inc., suspended mining at its Troy Mine in Montana last December due to safety concerns. The company reports that it won’t resume operations until late next year as it constructs a new underground route to copper and silver deposits. About 65 employees are working at the mine, down from 200 workers when the mine was in full production before the shutdown.

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Boise Ranks High in North America Trade

The Boise metropolitan area ranks high among its peers for trade throughout North America, according to a new report released by the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution. (1)

The report assesses trade between major metropolitan areas of the United States, Canada and Mexico 20 years after the adoption of North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. It focuses on exports coming from advanced industries, which are defined as “high-value engineering and R&D-intensive industrial concerns that are the prime movers of regional and national prosperity.”
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Tourism Growth Expected in Southeastern Idaho


Idaho’s tourism industry employs more than 26,000 workers and adds $3.4 billion to the state’s economy, according to the U.S. Travel Association. That means about 3.4 percent of Idaho’s workforce is employed in tourism or tourism-related enterprises.

Local tourism organizations apply for and receive grants through the Idaho Travel Grant Program and leverage the state’s natural beauty and low cost of doing business to attract film productions. The department also works with local communities to promote local festivals, niche attractions and professional conferences.

The efforts seem to be paying dividends. According to the Idaho Department of Labor’s Long-Term Industry Projections for 2010-2020, several industries related to tourism will see employment increases.
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Idaho Engineering Students Tend To Stay In Field


More than 172,000 people 25 and older hold bachelor’s degrees in Idaho, about 17 percent, but only half work in the field they studied. The relationship between field of degree and occupation is strongest for occupations that require a four-year degree, specific skills and specific training.

The top occupations in that category are engineers, health care providers, financiers, managers and educators. A bachelor’s degree in engineering is required for most entry level engineering jobs, and the engineering specialty is typically linked to the college curriculum. Of all the engineering disciplines, chemical and environmental engineers have the highest relationship between field of degree and occupation, according to census data.
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Trucking’s Impact on Idaho’s Economy

For every trucking job created in Idaho nearly one additional full job is created elsewhere in the state. This ‘ripple effect’ is due to a combination of factors including the new hire spending his or her wages in the area and increased revenues for suppliers. This effect is measured by a multiplier and in the case of the trucking industry, ranges from 1.6 to 2.24.

For additional facts about Idaho’s trucking industry, read on. Continue reading

Changes in Idaho’s Alternative Unemployment Measures

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released a new set of alternative unemployment measures for four quarters through September 2013, and Idaho posted the largest percentage improvement for the U-1 unemployment rate. This measure includes those who are unemployed for 15 weeks or more. Only four other states posted double-digit declines but Idaho’s 13 percent decrease was the largest.

chartIdaho’s U-1 unemployment rate decreased by four-tenths of a point – falling from 3.1 percent for the year ending in June 2013 to 2.7 percent in the year ending in September. Over the year Idaho’s U-1 unemployment rate decreased by 29 percent – only Hawaii showed greater improvement – declining by 31 percent. Continue reading

Idaho Shows Robust Growth in Private Health Care


Idaho’s private health care industry has had one of the largest growth rates in the country and is projected to have one of the largest for the next decade. According to data from Economic Modeling Specialists International, Idaho’s health care industry expanded 46 percent between 2003 and 2013, an impressive growth rate considering the recession. This was the largest growth rate among the surrounding states and nationally second only to Arizona, where the sector grew 49 percent.

This robust growth is projected to continue into the next decade with Idaho’s health care sector growing another 35.5 percent by 2023. The rate was high enough to keep Idaho in second place among all states, this time behind Utah with a projected 35.7 percent growth.


Growth in health care occupations regardless of industry was also very strong, both during the last decade and projected into the future. Idaho is seventh nationally in terms of health care occupation growth since 2003 at 30.3 percent. Utah ranks second nationally and leads the region with 35.6 percent.

In terms of projected growth, Idaho is expected to do even better. With a 31.5 percent increase in health care occupations by 2023, Idaho moves to second in the nation just behind Utah’s 31.9 percent.

healthcarewagesWages for health care occupations are a mixed bag though. Comparing them to all other occupations in the state, they do well. Idaho health care occupation’s median wage is 40.5 percent higher than the all-occupation median wage. That is enough to put Idaho 12th compared to the other states in terms of health care median as a percent of the median for all jobs. Nevada, Oregon and Montana all come in higher regionally. But comparing the actual median wage in Idaho drops the state to 35th nationally. Only Montana had a lower median hourly wage for health care occupations in the region at $23.68.

More details on Idaho’s health care industry and data for all states are in the Idaho’s Health Care Industry Business Scan., Regional Economist
(208) 332-3570, ext. 3455

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This article originally appeared in the November issue of the Idaho Department of Labor’s monthly economic and employment newsletter. Interested in reading more articles like this? Please send an email to to subscribe to the newsletter.