Monthly Archives: October 2014

October Economic Activity Around Idaho

Information provided in this article has been gathered from various sources throughout the state, including local newspapers and other media.

Northern Idaho
North Central Idaho
Southwestern Idaho
South Central Idaho
Southeastern & Eastern Idaho


  • The Wayne Brown Institute, a Salt Lake City venture capital accelerator focusing on technology companies, wants to increase its presence in Idaho. The accelerator wants to add up to 40 Idaho mentors to counsel new entrepreneurs and find more startups seeking venture capital funding. The institute is a nonprofit accelerator that has helped companies raise more than $8 billion including acquisitions and stock offerings since 1983. President Brad Bertoch said its model works because its mentoring program for startups is not just free consulting but a short-term, focused program to help companies appeal to venture capital investors.
  • Nowhere in the United States does it take less money to join the top 1 percent than in Idaho. Business Insider, which weighed household income data from the 2012 American Community Survey to estimate the income requirements necessary to reach the top 1 percent, found it takes just $274,000 a year to be in Idaho’s top 1 percent. Montana was next at $280,000 followed by New Mexico at $286,009 and Wyoming at $295,000. At the other end of the spectrum, it takes $688,000 a year in Washington, D.C., to make the District’s top 1 percent, $642,000 in Connecticut, $511,000 in New York and $504,000 in New Jersey. California ranked eighth at $433,000. Idahoans have a head start in reaching the Top 1 percent. According to calculations by the Business Insider, 14 states have a lower median household income., regional economist
(208) 332-3570 ext. 3455

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Underemployment Edges Up in 2013 as Official Unemployment Drops

Idaho’s official unemployment rate fell steadily during 2013, while the rate of workers faced with underemployment edged up.

Over 11,000 workers found jobs in 2013 including 3,000 new entrants to the labor force, driving the official jobless rate down over a percentage point to 6.2 percent. At the same time, the number of workers considered underemployed rose by almost the same amount, pushing underemployment up more than a full point to 18.2 percent, a reflection of a persisting rise in part-time jobs and the dominance of service sector employment since the recovery began in 2010.

The combined unemployment and underemployment rate for the state was 24.4 percent, up four-tenths of a point from 2012.

Idaho Annual Rates     Continue reading

Four Industries Make up 64 Percent of Growth in Idaho Jobs

Idaho’s economy has generated about 16,000 nonfarm jobs in 2013. Health care, manufacturing, leisure and hospitality and construction were the most expansive sectors, accounting for 64 percent of the growth. The majority of jobs in every case were in southwestern Idaho, the state’s population center.


The biggest share was in manufacturing, which generated 16.5 percent of the new jobs, with durable manufacturing carrying the load. Since wages are typically higher in durable manufacturing than nondurable, those new jobs accounted for two-thirds of the $300 million in new wages that sector provided. The opening of the Chobani Greek yogurt plant in Twin Falls boosted nondurable manufacturing.

All Manuf Jobs 2013

Share of new man jobs

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Unearned Income, Government, Semiconductors Drive Idaho Employment

Idaho’s major economic drivers include government, construction, computer chip manufacturing, the food products cluster and unearned income from Idaho households.

In 2012, 146,000 jobs or 23.5 percent of all Idaho jobs were generated by unearned income – money the state’s households received from outside sources in pensions, Social Security, returns on investments, food stamps, welfare payments, unemployment benefits and other so-called transfer payments.

Government was the next strongest economic force, supporting nearly 16 percent of all employment both regionally and statewide.

Only a small fraction of those jobs were attributable to people commuting to work outside of Idaho.

These findings are based on an analysis using economic base theory, which determines whether economic activity generates revenue from outside the local economy or merely recirculates existing revenue.

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Idahoans Showed Frugal Spending During the Recession

Idaho residents cut back personal consumption expenditures during the recession by a greater percentage than all but two other states.

Estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis show Idahoans reduced their per capita personal consumption spending 5.8 percent between 2007 and 2009. Nationally the reduction in per capita personal consumption spending was less than 1 percent. Only Nevada with a reduction of 7.9 percent and Arizona with a reduction of 6.4 percent posted greater cutbacks.

Nationally, per capita personal consumption spending on the essential items rose 3.6 percent between 2007 and 2009 – $523 to $14,874 – while spending on nonessentials fell 4.4 percent – $791 to $17,191. Twenty-four states and the District of Columbia saw per capita personal consumption continue to increase during that period.

In most states, per capita spending declined for nonessential items to offset continued increased spending for the essentials – food at home, gasoline and energy, health care, housing and utilities.

Idaho, however, is one of only six states where per capita personal consumption spending fell for both essentials and nonessentials. Idaho’s 3.3 percent drop in per capita personal consumption spending in essentials – $575 to $13,418 – was the largest decline except for Nevada’s 3.9 percent reduction. The state’s 8.1 percent cut in nonessential spending – $1,257 to $14,268 – was exceeded by four other states.

Idahoans cut per capita spending for housing and utility costs from $6,071 to $5,753, or 5.2 percent, to cover a $187 per capita increase in health care costs – 6.6 percent to $4,012 in 2009. The reduction in spending on housing and utilities was the third steepest in the country.

They also cut their food spending $119 to $2,484 per capita, or 4.6 percent, and decreased  gasoline and energy spending by over 15 percent to $1,169 per capita. Idaho was one of just three states where food spending was cut, and its 4.6 percent reduction was the deepest of the three.

Since 2009, Idaho’s per capita personal consumption spending has increased with essential items rising faster. Spending on essentials rose 11 percent by 2012 compared to a 10.1 percent increase nationally. Idaho’s per capita spending reflected a further, albeit slight, 0.3 percent decrease in housing and utilities, reflecting the persistence of low housing costs after the housing bubble burst in 2006.

But spending was up 4.8 percent on food as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s estimate of Idaho households facing food insecurity in 2012 hit 14.3 percent. The 2.7 percentage point increase from 2009 was greater than all but six other states, according to the Agriculture Department report.

Health care spending in Idaho was up 17 percent – the fourth largest increase behind North Dakota, South Dakota and South Carolina. Nationally, health care spending rose 11 percent per capita.

Energy saw the largest Idaho increase among the essentials at nearly 59 percent from 2009. Only North Dakota, Oklahoma and the District of Columbia had greater increases. The national increase was 43 percent.

Idaho’s per capita spending on nonessentials rose 7.2 percent between 2009 and 2012, and at $15,301 was only $77 higher than in 2007.

Changes in personal consumption expenditures followed the state’s per capita personal income, which ranked 44th nationally in 2007, but after falling 4.3 percent by 2009 – the fifth steepest decline nationally – per capita income rose just 9 percent by 2012 to $34,481 to rank Idaho 50th among the states and the District of Columbia. Only seven other states posted smaller increases between 2009 and 2012.

Idaho per capita expenditures

Per Capita expenditure nation by state

Per Capita Non essential expenditure by state, regional economist
(208) 332-3570 ext. 3628

Teton County’s Growing Population Puts Pressure on Employment, Wages

Teton County is one of Idaho’s smallest counties. The largest of its three cities – Victor – has fewer than 2,000 residents. Its proximity to the Grand Targhee and Jackson Hole ski resorts makes it a bedroom community to year-round tourist destinations. As such, Teton County has experienced unique changes as the national economy continues to improve.

Population Growth

Economic Modeling Specialists International estimated Teton County’s 2014 population at 11,067, less than 1 percent of the state’s population. Over the past five years, however, the county’s population has grown more than 10 percent, outpacing the state’s growth rate by 4 percentage points. And as the county population increased, so has the demand for labor.

Job Growth

Job growth in Teton County has been much higher than job growth statewide. While Idaho’s statewide private sector growth grew jobs by 3.9 percent from the first quarters of 2013 and 2014, Teton County’s private sector added 178 new jobs, a 10.4 percent increase.

As a result, some Teton County employers have had a difficult time filling openings.

TableCost of Living in Teton County

Teton County’s cost of living in relation to household income is significantly higher than the rest of the state and surrounding areas.

The average mortgage payment accounts for 33.2 percent of Teton County’s average household income, compared with less than 25 percent for the state. Although housing costs are significantly higher in neighboring Jackson Hole, Wyo., the average mortgage payment only accounts for 27.6 percent of the average household income leaving more money available for discretionary spending.

housing costs as percent

Teton County’s average cost of living for renters is also higher than the statewide average or in in Jackson Hole, WY. Average gross monthly rent in Teton County is 16.3 percent of the average household income while gross monthly rent accounts for 12.1 percent in Jackson and 14.4 percent for Idaho.

The higher cost of housing coupled with lower paying jobs has caused the county’s workforce to seek employment elsewhere, causing what feels like a worker shortage.

Inflow Outflow

In 2011, the Census Bureau reported that 61.2 percent of the available workforce in Teton County were employed outside the county, with only 38.8 percent of the workforce working in the county where they live.

One in five workers from Teton County works in Wyoming, most in Jackson Hole. Driggs, Teton’s county seat, employed one in five.

Tetons workforce

Having so many people leave the area can significantly impact an employer’s ability to fill jobs, putting an upward pressure on wages.

Wage Growth

Average private sector wages in Teton County increased 8.2 percent from the end of the first quarter of 2013 to the end of the first quarter 2014, nearly twice as much as the state’s wage increase of 4.3 percent, according to BLS and census data. From 2011 to 2013, growth in average pay for new hires in Teton also outpaced the state’s growth rate. In Teton County, average pay for new hires increased 4 percent while average new hire pay increased 2 percent statewide.

Despite the accelerated growth in wages, the average wage in Teton County still falls 20 percent short of Idaho’s statewide average wage  and 40 percent below the average wage for Jackson Hole, Wyo.

As long as the benefits outweigh the costs of commuting to work, Teton County’s workforce will continue to commute, leaving jobs unfilled. But the longer jobs remain unfilled, the greater the pressure will be to increase wages, making it attractive for workers to remain in the county., regional economist
(208) 557-2500 ext 3077

Idaho Ranked 6th in Nation in Patents Per Capita

Idaho is among the nation’s leaders in innovation.

While the state only ranks 27th in the number of patents issued in 2013, on a per capita basis it ranks sixth, reflecting how truly innovative Idahoans are.

Micron Technology Inc. develops the largest number of patents followed by Round Rock Research, both based in Boise. The Idaho National Laboratory’s manager, Battelle Energy Alliance, also contributes a large number of patents.

But there is a significant contribution in individual patents. The Coeur d’Alene metropolitan area had 18 patents in 2011 – the most in a given year over the past decade. Bluewater Technologies in Hayden was responsible for a few, but most were from individuals. Continue reading