Author Archives: Idaho Department of Labor

About Idaho Department of Labor

Our vision is to be Idaho’s first choice for employment services. We connect job seekers with Idaho employers, deliver employment services to Idaho businesses and support people during career and life transitions.

Agriculture Prominent Factor in Idaho’s Economy

The agricultural sector in Idaho plays a major role in the state economy, contributing $3 billion  – about 5 percent of the total state gross domestic product.

Idaho is ranked first in the nation in the production of potatoes and barley – the state production accounts for more than 30 percent of the national production – and ranks fourth in the nation for milk and milk cow production. Farm productivity continues to advance and exports are increasing, yet farm income has fallen over the past several years. In the face of declining profit margins, low agriculture commodity prices and a farm labor supply shortage, the farmworker demographic is undergoing a change.

Agricultural Labor Worker Types

Source: Idaho Department of Labor

Agricultural labor estimates show a stable and consistent pattern of seasonal farm employment with peaks around October each year. In 2016, average annual employment was 51,240 with a peak employment of 61,100 in October 2016. Continue reading

Retail Evolving; Web-Based is Small But Growing Portion

The retail industry has been on a roller coaster ride over the past 25 years with a slightly negative trend line as shown in Figure 1. The housing bubble created tremendous demand for household furnishings and goods, which then plummeted with the Great Recession that caused shuttering of a handful of furniture stores and car lots in Twin Falls. Small retail businesses throughout south central Idaho suffered from the economic downturn ending in fewer local retail outlets available in rural areas.

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Around Idaho: Economic Activity in November 2017

Information provided in this article is from professional sources, news releases, weekly and daily newspapers, television and other media.

Northern Idaho
North Central Idaho
Southwestern Idaho
South Central Idaho
Eastern Idaho

NORTHERN IDAHO – Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai & Shoshone counties


  • Several area ski resorts have begun their winter seasons. Lookout Pass opened the first weekend of November, while Silver Mountain and Schweitzer opened Thanksgiving weekend. Source: Spokane Journal of Business

Kootenai County

  • Water Solutions Inc. is building an office building with an attached manufacturing space in Rathdrum. The company, which sells drinking water purification units, began as a sole proprietorship in 2001 in Rathdrum and anticipates a workforce expansion commensurate with their growing business and new facilities. Source: Spokane Journal of Business
  • The city of Hayden issued building permits for a $13.7 million, 96-unit apartment complex. The complex is the first phase in a larger development plan by Coeur d’Alene-based Hayden Village LLC, which will eventually develop 64.4 acres in Hayden. Source: Spokane Journal of Business


  • Les Schwab, St. Maries
  • Gateway Cafe, Plummer
  • Inspire Physical Therapy, Coeur d’Alene, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 457-8789 ext 4451

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State Focuses on Training Idaho’s Workforce

Last year Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter proposed and the 2017 Idaho Legislature approved $2.5 million in general funds to be added to the Idaho Workforce Development Training Fund, a key economic growth program administered by the Idaho Department of Labor. To make sure those dollars were spent based on industry input the governor appointed an industry-based task force to make recommendations on how the money could be used to “close the gap between the training and education Idaho job seekers have and the skills that Idaho employers need.”

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Idaho Women Fare Better in Traditional Trades

As Idaho’s economy continues to flourish, wages are also increasing. Accounting for statewide job growth from 2012 forward, Idaho has seen a 2 percent to 3 percent increase in total annual private sector wage growth, up 17 percent over the past decade. Wage growth rate variances depend on an array of factors including economic situation, location, industry, job growth and demand. Demographics also show a distinction in wage appropriation and growth with gender as a demographic that is frequently discussed.

Traditionally, men and woman have held different, but essential roles in America’s economic success. Initially women filled specific, ‘white collar’ service occupations such as clerical and administrative. As time passed women integrated themselves into all industries, especially during World War II when they stepped into jobs typically held by men. Another shift occurred when men returned from the war to their jobs.

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Do You Know How to Meet Your Work-Search Requirements While Receiving Unemployment Benefits?

People who receive unemployment insurance benefits must meet ongoing requirements while receiving benefits. One of those requirements is to make at least two work-search contacts each week, but not everyone understands how to meet this requirement.

Here are a few tips that will help you to meet the requirements and avoid having your claim for benefits denied.

The Top 10 Things You Need to Know

1. Actively look for work

Almost everyone collecting unemployment insurance benefits is required to actively look for work each week.

In very few cases, some people may not be required to look for work if they are scheduled to return to full-time employment soon, and they are considered to be job attached. Never assume you are job attached or are not required to look for work. If you think these situations may apply to you, please call a claim specialist at (208) 332-8942.

Unless you have specifically been told that you do not have to actively look for work, you are required to look for a full-time job. In fact, you are required to make two valid work search contacts each week you file a claim for unemployment benefits.

You MUST comply with the work-search requirements you agreed to when you completed your online application. These requirements can be viewed, and verified, online at our Claimant Portal. Log in to your account at, and then go to Manage Claims to view this information.

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Developing a Skilled Workforce Through Registered Apprenticeships

by Idaho Department of Labor Director Melinda S. Smyser

Not too long ago, St. Mary’s Hospital in Cottonwood found itself in need of a medical lab scientist. After searching eight months for a qualified applicant, hospital officials worked with their local Idaho Department of Labor office to develop a registered apprenticeship program. Today the program is working so well St. Mary’s plans to set up a second apprenticeship for the same skill set.

As I meet with Idaho employers, they tell me they all have one thing in common with St. Mary’s Hospital. They need a pipeline of skilled workers with industry-specific training and hands-on experience.

Registered apprenticeships are a proven strategy for successfully building that pipeline and benefits both businesses and job seekers. Most employers see reduced turnover costs, greater employee retention, increased productivity and an average of $1.05 returned for every dollar they invest in their employees.

Apprentices benefit by on-the-job training and earn while they learn, reducing student debt. They see increased opportunities for promotion and higher wages over the course of their careers. Nationally, nine out of 10 find themselves gainfully employed at an average starting salary of $60,000 per year, and over the course of their careers, earn $300,000 more than their non-apprenticed peers.

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