New short-term employment projections from the Idaho Department of Labor show Idaho’s healthy rate of job creation is expected to continue over the next two years. Total employment in Idaho — including self-employed and family businesses — reached a new high of 854,474 in the base period in 2022. This is projected to grow by 1.4% annually, reaching 878,100 in 2024.
The robustness and consistency of Idaho’s labor market has been a shining light in past years, with the state consistently leading the country in job growth. In 2020, COVID-19 led to significant job losses in a very short period of time — with almost all job losses occurring in March and April, but Idaho demonstrated its economic vitality with a quick rebound, returning to rapid job growth the following year. In fact, job growth in Idaho has been so strong that, even with the setback in 2020 during the pandemic, total employment in 2022 still reached and even exceeded forecasts.
Figure 1: Total employment in Idaho 2016-2022, with Idaho Labor 2024 projection
Winter weather is well underway in Idaho, bringing long-anticipated seasonal recreation to residents as well as many people across the U.S. who come to Idaho to experience the state’s top-tier ski resorts.
But despite high traffic and the boon to the surrounding economy, Idaho’s biggest winter recreation destinations face housing challenges for workers, especially those in the service sector.
Idaho ski resorts visits and staffing
Schweitzer Mountain above Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho
Nearly half (47.5%) of Idaho ski area visitors came from out of state in the winter of 2020-21 according to a report commissioned by Ski Idaho . The report highlighted Idaho ski resorts as a regional point of pride that attracts visitors from all over the United States, giving this industry an increased customer base.
For the first time, three of Idaho’s ski resorts were listed in SKI Magazine’s 2023 top 30 ski resorts in the West — Sun Valley at No. 1 (third year in a row), Schweitzer at No. 11 and Grand Targhee at No. 24 . Although officially located in Wyoming, many visitors to Grand Targhee stay, dine and shop on the Idaho side of Teton Valley.
Idaho’s continued low unemployment rate is one of many aspects of the state’s economy presented to the Idaho Legislature’s Economic Outlook and Revenue Assessment Committee Jan.5, 2023. Labor’s presentation covered the outlook for the state’s labor participation rate, its ongoing need for more workers, expected growth and decline in specific industries, population, housing issues impacting the economy and more.
Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 3% in November, edging up from October’s 2.9%.
November’s labor force – which is composed of both employed and unemployed workers — increased by 1,930 people (0.2%) to 963,380. Total employment increased by 1,474 (0.2%) to 934,756. The total number of people unemployed and looking for work increased by 456 (1.6%) to 28,624.
Labor force participation decreased by 0.1 percentage points to 62.5% as the civilian population increased at a faster rate than the labor force.
Idaho’s nonfarm jobs increased by 500 to 827,400 in November. Industry sectors with the greatest over-the-month gains include arts, entertainment and recreation (4.8%); private educational services (1.4%); construction (1.3%); state government (0.9%); and health care and social services (0.7%).
Most of Idaho experiences below freezing temperatures and is often covered under a blanket of snow between November and February. When the weather turns colder, employment levels decline in industries such as construction, mining/logging and leisure/hospitality. The holiday season and winter breaks result in fluctuations in educational services and retail. Despite the Farmer’s Almanac predicting Idaho’s 2022-2023 winter season to be dry and calm, it will still see patterns in our overall employment levels where the direction and magnitude can often be forecasted. This reduction in employment does not represent a permanent trend for analyzing the labor force but reverses in a predictable manner throughout the calendar year. Data that is seasonally adjusted helps reduce the noise of recurring seasonal fluctuation and show the true underlying employment trends present in Idaho’s labor force.Continue reading →
Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate edged up from 2.8% in September to 2.9% in October – the ninth consecutive month the state rate has been below 3%.
October’s labor force saw gains in both employed and unemployed workers. The number of Idahoans employed or looking for work grew by 1,714 people (0.2%) to 961,441. Total employment increased by only 455 to 933,268. The total number of unemployed increased by 1,259 (4.7%) to 28,173.
Labor force participation decreased by 0.1 percentage points to 62.6%.
Idaho’s nonfarm jobs increased by 1,200 to 827,900 in October. Industry sectors with the greatest over-the-month gains include accommodation and food services (4.8%); natural resources (2.3%); management of companies & enterprises (1.2%); real estate rental and leasing (1.0%); administration, support and waste management services (0.6%); and arts, entertainment and recreation (0.6%).
Mariah Aripa holds her dental assisting apprenticeship completion certificate. Photo courtesy of ICHCA.
Idaho’s labor market has been tight since the pandemic, particularly for specialized industries like health care.
Health clinics already face a heavy administrative burden and managing and paying for training is a big obstacle that gets in the way of staffing and talent recruitment. The Idaho Community Health Centers Association is trying to solve this problem through apprenticeship training and funding coordination. Continue reading →
Idaho’s construction industry practically doubled employment over the past 10 years from 2011-2021, growing by 94% or 28,525 more workers. This is the largest percentage growth among Idaho industry sectors.
The construction industry stalled nationally and in Idaho during the Great Recession of December 2007 to June 2009. A slow construction recovery finally kicked in after jobs bottomed out in 2011 and 2012, with just under 30,000 in statewide employment.
Construction has always been a volatile industry with seasonal swings based on weather and business cycles affected by financing, consumer confidence and the national economy. Idaho’s construction employment history in Chart 1 cites longer expansionary periods than downturns over the past 20 years. The Great Recession recovery coincides with competitive hiring among most industries contributing to a well-documented labor shortage.
Northwest Specialty Hospital has sold its facilities and property to a Milwaukee-based investment company. The hospital will now be a tenant in the buildings which it formerly owned. The hospital is physician owned and opted to sell as many of the founding providers are nearing retirement and wish to sell their shares. Source: Journal of Business
The Athol Retail Park is expanding, with a variety of new businesses planned for the growing commercial zone. New businesses include a Northwest Specialty Hospital clinic, a physical therapy office and a variety of retail and restaurant establishments. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
Josephs’ Clinic is now open in Post Falls. The new clinic treats ear, nose, throat and allergy conditions and offers relevant outpatient procedures and surgeries. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
North Idaho College is moving forward with its long-term expansion and renovation plans. Two openings were celebrated – including the expansion of the Meyer Health and Sciences Building and the grand opening of the new Dental Hygiene Clinic. The college’s trustees approved the purchase of additional adjacent residential property to support the college’s long-range strategic plans. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate edged up from 2.7% in August to 2.8% in September – the eighth consecutive month the state rate has been below 3%.
September’s labor force saw gains in both employed and unemployed workers. The number of Idahoans employed or looking for work grew by 2,938 people (0.3%) to 959,734. Total employment grew by 1,714 (0.2%) to 932,813. The total number of unemployed increased by 1,224 (4.8%) to 26,921. Labor force participation remained at 62.7%.
Idaho’s nonfarm jobs exceeded seasonal expectations in September, showing an adjusted increase of 3,000 jobs to 828,400. Industry sectors with the greatest over-the-month gains include information (4.9%); arts, entertainment and recreation (4.5%); private educational services (2.8%); other services (2%); nondurable goods manufacturing (1.9%); real estate and rental and leasing (1.0%); construction (0.8%); local government (0.8%); healthcare and social services (0.7%); transportation, warehousing and utilities (0.6%); and durable goods manufacturing (0.5%).