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.
In economics, it can often seem that nothing happens for years at a time, only for years’ worth of change to happen all at once. The economy, in other words, can seem stable – or even boring – until suddenly it is not. In Idaho, for example, the changes in total nonfarm employment in April, May and June 2020 exceeded (in absolute terms) all the changes that occurred from 2015 to the end of 2019. Owing to the pandemic shock of COVID-19, three months saw more volatility in Idaho’s labor market than the preceding four years.
When economic events gain velocity, especially in the face of a serious recession, a variety of labor market indicators take on new importance, especially those updated monthly or even weekly, rather than quarterly or annually. Several labor market indicators can add to a real time understanding of economic conditions as a supplement to the Department of Labor’s headline statistics like unemployment rates and nonfarm employment numbers.