One in eight Idahoans who live in a rural area works for the federal, state or local government, not including education.
For some rural communities, government jobs are essential for their economic health and offset increases in low-paying, service-oriented jobs. Many government jobs pay higher average wages and attract a skilled and educated workforce. Additionally, since the vast majority of government wages flow into a community from outside sources, these jobs function as a source of basic income for rural economies, creating wealth inside the community rather than simply recirculating it, as many service jobs do.
Compared with the seven urban counties in Idaho, the share of jobs in government is greater in the rural area of every region except south central Idaho.
When looking at the share of wages flowing into the community from state, federal and local governments, wages in every region except the rural areas of south central and southeastern are greater than the share of government employment. In other words, looking at employment number alone understates the importance of these jobs, but because almost 85 percent of these wages come from state or federal sources, these wages serve as an economic base similar to a mine or paper mill.