It has taken four years for the Idaho economy to approach the job levels it boasted before the worst recession in generations.
Total nonfarm jobs have been right around 100 percent of the monthly peak before the recession took hold in Idaho in 2008. Employers were also hiring at near their prerecession levels, but the activity has shifted among the industry sectors.
Service sector businesses have generally been hiring at or above their pre-recession highs while goods production employers, primarily in construction and manufacturing, have been significantly short of their mid-2000 peaks.
Using data provided by employers submitting required monthly reports on the workers they hired, total hiring during the first nine months of 2014 was 98.6 percent of the average monthly levels seen at the peak of the expansion in 2006 and maintained near that level during the final year of the expansion in 2007.
The sectors that accounted for the return to pre-recession hiring levels – retail, other services, education and health care – generally had wages below the average wage for all jobs. Those sectors account for nearly four of every 10 jobs in the nonfarm economy. Health care has an average wage of $1,300 a year higher than the average for all jobs. The other three averages were thousands of dollars below the all-job average.
Average monthly hiring during 2014 in construction, manufacturing and mining remained considerably below the 2006 levels. The average wage in each of those sectors was higher than the all-jobs average and significantly higher in manufacturing and construction.
Natural resources, primarily in agriculture, posted the largest increase over pre-recession hiring levels of any sector, reflecting the continued growth of dairy in south central Idaho.
Men make up about 51 percent of the Idaho workforce, according to Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics data, and normally accounted for a fractionally higher percentage of the monthly new hires except during 2007 and 2008 when spot labor shortages occurred and the percentage of women hired rose fractionally.
Since the recession men have accounted for a nearly 52 percent share of new hires, reflecting the fact that nearly two of every three jobs lost in the recession were in male-dominated industries like manufacturing and construction.
During the first nine months of 2014, 52 percent of the new hires that were identified by gender were men.
Of the new hires identifiable by age, the recession and recovery saw a slight shift away from the youngest workers. During the expansion of the 2000s, workers under 22 years of age accounted for around 29 percent of new hires even through that age group makes up only about 8 percent to 9 percent of the labor force. That reflected the transient nature of both the jobs – primarily food service and retail – and the young workers. Once the recession put more mature and experienced workers on the street, employers relied on under-22-year-old workers to fill 25 percent or fewer of their openings.
At the same time, workers 55 and older steadily increased their share of job openings, moving from 5 percent to 6 percent prior to the recession to nearly 9 percent during the first three quarters of 2014.
Bob.Fick@labor.idaho.gov, communications manager
(208) 332-3570 ext 3628