The level of construction activity is one of many indicators that signal the health of an economy. Currently, Idaho’s scenery is dotted with construction projects ranging from heavy construction infrastructure ventures to commercial buildings to single- and multi-family homes and residential housing projects.
This was not the case after the Great Recession (December 2007 to June 2009) squelched Idaho’s strong housing industry, resulting in a loss of almost 23,000 jobs based on quarterly employer reports to the Idaho Department of Labor. Construction was one of the hardest hit industries during that time and continues to rebuild in all six Idaho regions.
Idaho’s construction industry has grown by 127 percent from 1991-2018. It has experienced more periods of growth than downturns in jobs since 1991, as shown in Chart 1.
Idaho’s economy has generated about 16,000 nonfarm jobs in 2013. Health care, manufacturing, leisure and hospitality and construction were the most expansive sectors, accounting for 64 percent of the growth. The majority of jobs in every case were in southwestern Idaho, the state’s population center.
The biggest share was in manufacturing, which generated 16.5 percent of the new jobs, with durable manufacturing carrying the load. Since wages are typically higher in durable manufacturing than nondurable, those new jobs accounted for two-thirds of the $300 million in new wages that sector provided. The opening of the Chobani Greek yogurt plant in Twin Falls boosted nondurable manufacturing.