Unemployment rates in Idaho and southeastern Idaho are far lower than four years ago. In June the unemployment rate in the seven-county region was 4.2 percent. In 2010 the annual unemployment rate stood at 7.4 percent.
Despite the substantial drop, the total number of jobs in the region has yet to recover to prerecession levels. According to estimates from Economic Modeling Systems International, there were 62,373 jobs in southeast Idaho in 2007. In 2013 there were 58,600, a decline of about 6 percent.
Some counties in the region saw increases. Bingham County gained 469 jobs, rising to 15,213 in 2013. Likewise Bear Lake County’s employment grew by 63 jobs from 1,634 jobs to 1,697. Caribou County grew by 99 jobs from 3,215 jobs in 2007 to 3,314. Oneida County posted a modest gain of 13 jobs to 1,118 and Power County also saw a limited increase of 45 jobs to 3,252.
Others did not. In Bannock County – the number of jobs fell by 4,214 from 35,161 jobs in 2007 to 30,947 jobs in 2013, a decline of 12 percent. Franklin County also experienced a 7.5 percent job loss of 248 jobs from 3,308 to 3,060.
While the decreased unemployment rate is good news for the region’s economy, the types of jobs created have changed since the recession.
Regionally, construction and extraction lost 888 jobs while office and administrative support occupations dropped 1,448. Sales jobs declined by 747.
Offsetting those losses were gains of 608 in health care, 245 in community and social services and 195 in agriculture.
Between 2007 and 2013 Bannock County shed 1,497 jobs in the office and administrative support sector, 601 jobs were lost in construction and extraction and 530 in production. It picked up 184 jobs in community and social services, 171 in health care and technical occupations, 197 in service and personal care and 169 in health care support.
Like Bannock County, a large portion of Franklin County’s job loss came from office and administrative support – 41 – and 93 in construction and extraction. Franklin did see an increase of 21 jobs in education.
Bear Lake County, which had the highest percentage increase in jobs, picked up 20 each in health care support and service and personal care. The county added 29 jobs in building, grounds and other maintenance to partially offset the loss of 34 jobs in food services and 16 in sales.
Bingham County, which had the second highest job increase by percentage and the highest by number, added 98 jobs in engineering and architecture, 214 jobs in health care, 95 in protective services and 98 in production. Countering those gains were the loss of 264 jobs in construction and extraction, 63 in sales and 120 in food services.
Many of the areas with the sharpest declines had lower average annual wages. Office and administrative support, which saw the greatest drop, had an average hourly wage of $12.93. Food service and preparation and building, grounds and other maintenance – which combined for a loss of 445 jobs – had average hourly wage of $8.80 and $9.62 respectively.
Total payrolls took a hit, however, with the loss of construction and extraction jobs with an average hourly wage of $18.29.
Some areas seeing major gains represented high-income opportunities. The addition of 370 health care practitioners and technicians carried an average hourly wage of $31.07. That was tempered by the 238 extra jobs in health care support, where the average wage is $11.08.
Overall, most of the jobs added to the regional economy of southeast Idaho were lower paying than the jobs lost between 2007 and 2013. The challenge for the region is not only creating new jobs but also attracting employers and supporting existing businesses that offer high-wage job opportunities.
Dan.Cravens@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
(208) 236-6710, ext. 3713