Idaho’s Economic Recovery Exceeds Expectations in 2020

Idaho continued to experience rapid population growth, relatively low unemployment and a significant increase in business growth in 2020, even as the coronavirus pandemic caused major interruptions to the national and state economies.

Comparing Idaho’s 2020 economy with neighboring states gives economists a clearer perspective of the state’s economy and creates a roadmap of expectations for a full economic picture in 2021.

Idaho’s 2.1% population growth from 2019 to 2020 was the highest among the states for the fourth consecutive year. The U.S. Census Bureau will release state population estimates for 2021 on Dec. 21, 2021, and will reveal if Idaho’s population growth will continue to lead the nation. Figure f-1: Population growth by state, 2019 to 2020, ranked

Even though Idaho’s real gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate declined 1.1% from 2019 to 2020, it was the fourth least affected state in the nation by this measure. The U.S. average declined 3.5%. GDP data for all states in 2021 will be available from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis in late March of 2022.

Figure 5-2: Gross domestic product growth by state, 2019-2020, ranked

Idaho nonfarm jobs were the least affected of all states by the pandemic in 2020 – with a decline of 0.7% from 2019 to 2020 — considerably better than the U.S. average decrease of 6%. Nonfarm data is one of the leading economic indicators with only a one-month lag. The full-year estimate for 2021 will be released Jan. 21, 2022.

Figure 5-3: Nonfarm employment growth by state, 2019 to 2020, ranked

Idaho’s 5.4% average unemployment rate for 2020 was the seventh lowest in the nation, while the U.S. average was 8.1%. Unemployment rates are another leading indicator released at the same time and frequency as nonfarm job estimates. December’s 2021 unemployment rate is scheduled for release Jan. 21, 2022.

Figure 5-4: Unemployment rates by state, 2020, ranked

Idaho’s strong spirit of entrepreneurship propelled its rate of 2.5 entrepreneurs per 1,000 to the fourth highest among the states for the first three quarters of 2020. The national average was 1.6 per 1,000. This data set has a considerable lag time, which means the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the 2021 data for this metric in late April 2022.

Figure 5-5: Entrepreneurship rates by state 2020, Q1 to Q3, ranked

Idaho’s per capita personal income was $48,616 in 2020, ranking as the 44th highest in the nation. The U.S. average stood at $59,729. The Bureau of Economic Analysis will release fourth quarter and full year 2021 data in late March of 2022.

Figure 5-6: Personal income by state, 2020, rankedThis article is an excerpt from the “Idaho Labor Market and Economic Report 2020″ which is based on data available through March 2021.