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Mining industry still has great impact in Idaho

By Alivia Metts

Although there are only 175 employers in Idaho’s mining industry, their impact on the state’s economy is much greater.

Mining employs 2,600 people directly, but because of the higher-than-average wages the industry pays, another 6,300 workers owe their jobs indirectly to mining because of the economic activity those high wages generate in what is called the multiplier effect. Idaho mining employment

Mining also has the potential to pay, on average, higher wages than any other sector. In 2011, the average wage of a mining industry worker was $68,000 compared to $35,500 for all other industries. A shortage of skilled miners, and the higher risks they face on the job, factor into the high paychecks, stock investments and bonuses.

The average wage in the mining industry jumped 12.6 percent from $60,412 adjusted for inflation to $68,021 by 2011 while the average wage in all other sectors declined 2.4 percent in the continuing fallout from the recession. Half of the total wages in 2011 in mining was paid in northern Idaho, where several larger mining headquarters are located and bonuses are common.

Mining experienced a net loss of jobs from 2011 to 2012, but it was just 78 jobs, a far cry from the contraction in other sectors.

Mining depends significantly on the world market prices for silver and gold as well as the supply and demand for other minerals such as silver, iron ore, molybdenum, cobalt and garnet for industrial uses – making it one of the most volatile industries.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s 2012 Mineral Commodity Summaries, Idaho produced a record $1.29 billion in nonfuel minerals in 2011, up from 1.2 billion in 2010. That ranked Idaho 17th among the 50 states.
The leading commodities in order of value were molybdenum, phosphate rock, silver, sand and gravel for construction and lead.

nonfuel mineralsMolybdenum is used to make automotive parts, gas pipes, stainless steel and, as a pure metal, filament supports in light bulbs, metalworking dies and furnace parts. Phosphate rock is used to produce phosphate fertilizers – one of Idaho’s top exports – and feed additives for livestock. Phosphate rock is only mined in four states. The others are Florida, North Carolina and Utah.

Mining will continue to prosper throughout Idaho in the coming years. The Idaho Division of Financial Management projects that the industry’s employment should grow at an annual average rate of 3.9 percent from 2012 through 2016., Regional Economist

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Idaho Employers: Did you know you can post your job openings for free?

Did you know that the Idaho Department of Labor has a free self-service recruitment tool?

Once you have registered in the eJobs system, you can post your job opening, including a description and details. Job seekers can then search IdahoWorks to find your listing.

You can search the database for qualified job seekers by using criteria such as experience or education. And you can review candidates who are interested in your job opening.

Need more details? They can be found on the Labor website here.

Managing Your Finances While You Look for Work

Kim Thompson of the Houston Chronicle interviewed personal finance author Dave Ramsey for ideas on keeping your finances in order while continuing your job search. Ramsey provided some ways to stretch finances while searching. As Thompson puts it in the article, “When finances are so tight you can’t pay for the basics, your emotional well-being is affected, and that has a direct impact on the impression you make during an interview.” You can read the full article here.

Do you have tips for saving money while looking for a job?

FAQ Friday – New hires: Who counts as an employee?

Idaho’s hire reporting law requires all Idaho employers to report their new employees to the Idaho Department of Labor within 20 days of the date of hire. Make reporting part of your hiring routine – reporting new hires reduces fraud and lowers unemployment insurance tax rates.

Who counts as an employee?

An employee is an individual who qualifies for Federal Income Tax withholding from wages.

So do I have to report independent contractors to the Department of Labor?

If the work performed is based on a contract rather than an employer/employee relationship, you do not have to submit a New Hire report. In such cases, the contractor is responsible for reporting his or her new employees.

What is considered the “date of hire?”

The date of hire is defined as the first day the employee works for wages. Do not report a new hire if the employee has not yet started working for you.

Landing a Job Interview

Are you having trouble getting a job interview? Have you sent out lots of resumes without getting a nibble? Alison Green, who writes the Ask a Manager blog, lists four reasons why you might not be getting the attention of potential employers, including having a boring cover letter. You can read her full article here.

Idaho’s November Jobless Rate Drops to 6.8 Percent

Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in November dropped below 7 percent for the first time in three and a half years as more than a thousand idled workers found new jobs. Thirty-six of the 44 counties posted declines in their jobless rates from October and all but Custer County had rates lower than a year ago.

The two-tenths of a percentage point decline statewide to 6.8 percent marked the sixth time in 13 months the jobless rate has fallen by more than a single tenth. The last time the rate was lower was March 2009. The post-recession high was 8.9 percent in July 2011.

Total employment was up 1,500 from October to over 722,200, the highest total since mid-2008 and 14,000 ahead of a year ago, as employers maintained payrolls at a stronger pace than normal for November. The number of workers without jobs fell 1,800 to below 52,400, down over 13,000 from a year ago.

But more than 300 workers dropped out of the labor force in November. It was the sixth straight month the state’s workforce has declined, essentially returning to the level it was in November 2011.

Idaho’s two-tenths of a point decline in the unemployment rate matched the national rate decline to 7.7 percent in November. Idaho’s rate has been below the national rate since September 2001.

Regular unemployment insurance benefit payments totaled $13.4 million in November paid to an average of 10,800 idled workers a week. That was down 19 percent from November 2011, and the number of claimants had fallen over 22 percent. In addition $8.3 million in federal extended benefits was paid to an average of 6,800 workers a week, about half the federal payments made a year earlier. The number of people claiming claimants extended benefits was down 42 percent.

Employers are hiring again, but the pace is slow. The 14,000 new hires Idaho businesses reported in November were almost exclusively for filling vacancies created by firings, retirements or other reasons. At their current pace, employers will hire just over 180,000 workers this year, essentially matching their hires during 2008, the first year of the recession.

In its November report, the Washington, D.C.,-based Conference Board, a business think tank, estimated there were just over two jobless workers for every job posting in Idaho. While still extremely competitive, the employment picture has significantly improved from late 2009 when nearly five unemployed workers vied for every job posting.

Read the full report here

Some Idaho Industries Rebound During Recovery


While the recession is long over, its effects are lingering on some occupations. Economic Modeling Specialists Inc. reported in October that nationally some occupations were rebounding faster than others, specifically those in production. Using its data, Idaho turned out to be similar to the nation, showing that occupations in production rebounded the fastest.

Of the 760 occupations that EMSI estimates employment data on in Idaho, 246 fell by 10 percent or more between 2007 and 2009. Of those, 35 have shown at least a 10 percent growth in employment between 2010 and 2012. This is in contrast to what EMSI reported for the nation as a whole. Nationally, EMSI found only 181 occupations fell by 10 percent or greater and only 14 grew by that much.

Several of the occupations in Idaho had miniscule changes though. Only 15 occupations grew by at least 10 employees during the recovery. Just like the nation, the majority of these occupations in Idaho are in production.

The occupation with the fastest recovery was mining service unit operator, which grew over 30 percent – 11 workers – after the recession ended. Three rebounding occupations added over 100 during the recovery – electrical equipment assemblers, semiconductor processors and machinists. But all three occupations have more ground to cover to reach the highs recorded in 2007.

Almost all of the rebounding occupations required some duration of on-the-job training and paid between $12.18 and $22.57 per hour.

Notably missing from this list were construction occupations, which declined severely in Idaho during the recession but have yet to rebound in any great numbers.

Andrew Townsend, Regional Economist