The supply and cost of workers and high labor turnover are among top concerns of Idaho businesses who participated in an Idaho Department of Labor survey this spring.
This inaugural Idaho business climate survey was designed to uncover significant business concerns, desired labor force skills, leadership demographics, remote work trends and future growth expectations among Idaho employers.
Economist Lisa Grigg says building more housing in north central Idaho could help fill crucial job openings in the area
This article originally was published in the Lewiston Tribune. It is republished here with permission.
By Elaine Williams, The Lewiston Tribune
Lisa Grigg, labor economist with the Idaho Department of Labor, poses for a photo at her desk Wednesday in Lewiston. August Frank/Tribune
Constructing more housing might help ease a labor shortage in north central Idaho driven by an aging population.
That observation comes from Lisa Grigg, an economist with the Idaho Department of Labor who is based in Lewiston.
“Our area has under-built for the past decade,” she said. “We just don’t have space for those people who are in their 20s and have a great job and are making a solid income. There’s no places for them to rent and housing prices are out of reach for most.”
“Is the U.S, headed for a recession?” has been making headlines for some time, in part from COVID-19 pandemic fallout. Inflation has slowed, which is a positive sign, but how resilient is Idaho’s economy.
Currently, unemployment in Idaho is at 2.7%, and the monthly job reports are robust and the state has seen strong GDP growth.
The Idaho Department of Labor, will explore this data during our monthly labor market webinar on Tuesday, Aug. 8 from 11 a.m. to noon (MDT) over Zoom.
Eastern Idaho employers with the highest number of job openings in the region will be at a hiring event Wednesday, June 14 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Idaho Falls Department of Labor office located at 1515 E. Lincoln Road.
Labor demand in northern Idaho remains robust, with elevated levels of unfilled jobs. There were 1,937 job postings in northern Idaho in May 2023 – 1,545 in Kootenai County– according to data from the Conference Board. The most in-demand occupation by far was freight, stock, and material workers, followed by registered nurses and a variety of high-turnover and common service sector positions.
High-speed internet, or broadband internet, once seen as a luxury service, is now understood to be a critical utility that brings equitable economic opportunity to many.
Broadband not only brings social connectivity, but can raise property values, increase job opportunities, boost education access and expand health outcomes through telehealth.  However, the difference in access between urban and rural America continues and was especially apparent once the pandemic set in.
This gap, known as the “digital divide,” is a gap rural America is all too familiar with. From 2017-2021, rural households in Idaho have seen smaller percentage increases in internet subscriptions (1.3% fewer) and computing devices (0.5% fewer) than urban households. With the pandemic highlighting this issue to a broader audience, lawmakers are working on closing this gap, increasing economic opportunities for rural households.
Broadband’s impact on Idaho’s labor market – including how many Idahoans work in the industry, how much they are paid, the number of Idaho companies that install broadband, and the impact of broadband jobs on Idaho’s economy – will be the focus of a May 9 webinar hosted by the Idaho Department of Labor.