Idaho Job, Wage Recovery is Slow, Steady

Idaho’s job recovery began showing signs of life in late 2011 and picked up in 2013 when year-over-year monthly growth rates exceeded 2 percent, according to the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. In April 2013 Idaho had the third highest year-over-year job growth at 3.1 percent and the fourth highest in May at 3.1 percent.

Through the 12 months that ended in September 2013, Idaho recovered 21,000 of the 56,000 jobs it lost to the recession. While that recovery rate was 40th among the states, it underscored the slow job growth the state experienced during the first several years following the recession.

North Dakota and Alaska lost no jobs during the recession and have continued growing since. Of the other 48 states, 12 regained prerecession job levels by September 2013 led by Texas, which generated more than 15 times the number of jobs it lost.

Idaho should reach its prerecession job levels in the first half of 2015, however the mix of jobs based on average wage has changed.

In 2007, there were 54,000 Idaho jobs in sectors with an average wage of more than $50,000; 307,000 jobs in sectors where wages averaged $30,000 to $50,000 and the rest – about 300,000 – were in sectors averaging under $30,000 a year.

Idaho’s total payroll was nearly $22.2 billion in 2007, when the expansion peaked. Sixty-two percent of that covered wages in sectors where the average was in the $30,000 to $50,000 middle-income range. Sixteen percent of the payroll covered sectors with average wages of more than $50,000, and the remaining 22 percent was in sectors averaging less than $30,000.

By 2010, when Idaho’s job loss finally bottomed out, the number of jobs in the middle range dropped to 248,000, from more than 46 percent of all jobs to 41 percent. At the same time, jobs in sectors with average wages above and below the middle range increased. Sectors in the top bracket added more than 16,000 jobs increasing from 8 percent of all jobs in 2007 to nearly 12 percent in 2010. Sectors in the bottom bracket lost fewer than 2,000 jobs so increasing the share of total jobs in that bracket from 45 percent to 47 percent.

The shift in payroll allocation was even greater. The top bracket sectors claimed 21 percent of payroll, up five percentage points, while the sectors in the bottom bracket increased their share from 22 percent to 31 percent.

Sectors in the middle range declined in the percentage of payroll, falling from 62 percent in 2007 to just under 48 percent in 2010.

Idaho’s economy picked up another 21,000 jobs between 2010 and the 12 months ending September 2013, but the percentage of jobs and payroll among the three average-wage brackets remained essentially unchanged, leaving the recession’s mark on middle range sectors like construction, most manufacturing, trucking, hospitals and clinics and government.

In providing this analysis, the average annual wages for the 98 industry subsectors of the North American Industry Classification System for 2010 and the four quarters through September 2013 – the most recent period wage data were available — were deflated to 2007 dollars. The statewide payroll and total unemployment-insurance-covered jobs were allocated based on average sector wages into above $50,000, $30,000 to $50,000 and under $30,000. Over 90 percent of all jobs in Idaho are covered by the unemployment insurance system., communications manager
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 Wage table 1

Wage table 2