Behind the scenes at the Idaho Department of Labor are six individuals who spend their days converting economic data into employment solutions.
“As regional economists, we take the data produced by the research analysts and tell a story with it,” said Ethan Mansfield, regional economist for southwestern Idaho. “Data is meaningless unless someone is there to communicate it and interpret it, and that’s our job.”
Each region in Idaho has a designated economist who provides a link between those who produce economic data and those who need this data. The regional economists repackage and explain raw data to make it easily understandable, enhancing the community’s economic knowledge.
Regional economists respond to information requests from private industries, public officials, economic development organizations, media organizations, government entities, employers, grant writers and job seekers.
Regional economists use their knowledge of labor market information to collect and analyze the most helpful information for each individual or organization.
“Often, users don’t even know the data they need, let alone how to find it,” Mansfield said. “We assist these folks by understanding the question they are trying to answer and identifying the data that will answer their question.”
The work of a regional economist is beneficial for both businesses and employees.
“I frequently pull data on the number of openings, the number of job seekers and current and projected employment for specific occupations,” Mansfield said.
Mansfield has been working on multiple tasks to create a broader understanding of the state’s economy. One recent project was pulling data and projections to estimate the supply of nurses in Idaho.
“I am also working on defining and pulling data for the high-tech sector in Idaho,” Mansfield said. “And I am working on a project to estimate vacancy rates using job postings from around the state and identifying the major hiring activity by employer and occupation.”
Additionally, regional economists administer Workforce Development Training Funds. These funds are used to reimburse employee training costs to eligible companies bringing jobs to Idaho, adding jobs or upgrading skills of current workers to keep them employed.
“I love doing research. I love using numbers and statistics as little pieces of the puzzle to answer difficult questions and understand the bigger picture,” said Christopher St. Jeor, regional economist for eastern Idaho. “I enjoy the one-on-one interaction with the public and working with them to answer their questions.”
Find a Regional Economist near You
(208) 457-8789 ext. 4451
North Central Idaho
(208) 799-5000 ext. 3984
(208) 332-3570 ext. 3455
(208) 735-2500 ext. 3639
(208) 236-6710 ext. 3713
Chris St. Jeor
(208) 557-2500 ext. 3077