The agricultural sector in Idaho plays a major role in the state economy, contributing $3 billion – about 5 percent of the total state gross domestic product.
Idaho is ranked first in the nation in the production of potatoes and barley – the state production accounts for more than 30 percent of the national production – and ranks fourth in the nation for milk and milk cow production. Farm productivity continues to advance and exports are increasing, yet farm income has fallen over the past several years. In the face of declining profit margins, low agriculture commodity prices and a farm labor supply shortage, the farmworker demographic is undergoing a change.
Agricultural Labor Worker Types
Source: Idaho Department of Labor
Agricultural labor estimates show a stable and consistent pattern of seasonal farm employment with peaks around October each year. In 2016, average annual employment was 51,240 with a peak employment of 61,100 in October 2016. Continue reading
As Idaho’s economy continues to flourish, wages are also increasing. Accounting for statewide job growth from 2012 forward, Idaho has seen a 2 percent to 3 percent increase in total annual private sector wage growth, up 17 percent over the past decade. Wage growth rate variances depend on an array of factors including economic situation, location, industry, job growth and demand. Demographics also show a distinction in wage appropriation and growth with gender as a demographic that is frequently discussed.
Traditionally, men and woman have held different, but essential roles in America’s economic success. Initially women filled specific, ‘white collar’ service occupations such as clerical and administrative. As time passed women integrated themselves into all industries, especially during World War II when they stepped into jobs typically held by men. Another shift occurred when men returned from the war to their jobs.
by Idaho Department of Labor Director Melinda S. Smyser
Not too long ago, St. Mary’s Hospital in Cottonwood found itself in need of a medical lab scientist. After searching eight months for a qualified applicant, hospital officials worked with their local Idaho Department of Labor office to develop a registered apprenticeship program. Today the program is working so well St. Mary’s plans to set up a second apprenticeship for the same skill set.
As I meet with Idaho employers, they tell me they all have one thing in common with St. Mary’s Hospital. They need a pipeline of skilled workers with industry-specific training and hands-on experience.
Registered apprenticeships are a proven strategy for successfully building that pipeline and benefits both businesses and job seekers. Most employers see reduced turnover costs, greater employee retention, increased productivity and an average of $1.05 returned for every dollar they invest in their employees.
Apprentices benefit by on-the-job training and earn while they learn, reducing student debt. They see increased opportunities for promotion and higher wages over the course of their careers. Nationally, nine out of 10 find themselves gainfully employed at an average starting salary of $60,000 per year, and over the course of their careers, earn $300,000 more than their non-apprenticed peers.
Idaho’s new business establishments have added more than 10,000 private sector jobs per year over the past two decades, accounting for between 20 to 30 percent of private sector gross job gains and nearly all net private sector job growth. Since the end of the last recession, the share of private sector new businesses in Idaho’s economy has risen faster than surrounding states and the nation as a whole, growing from 7 percent of all establishments in 2010 to more than 11 percent in 2016. Job creation by these private startup businesses, however, remains in decline.
Idaho startup rates and failure rates are higher than national averages
In Idaho, as with the rest of the nation, the rise in the number of businesses entering the economy was significantly stymied by the most recent recession that started in December 2007. At the end of the first quarter of 2010, the number of establishment entries in Idaho had sunk to less than 3,000 from its prerecession peak of 5,073. Since then, the downward trend reversed and establishment entries have returned to pre-recession levels.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistic – Business Employment Dynamics. Startups are establishments less than a year old and do not include non-employer establishments
The construction industry suffered disproportionate job losses during the course of the Great Recession as property values plummeted and the over-heated housing market contracted. An oversupply of housing in many parts of the country caused construction to shrink for several quarters even after other industries had begun to grow again. During the post-recession growth period, however, Idaho’s construction industry has outperformed the rest of the country, fueled by the state’s high rate of population growth and the associated demand for housing and commercial space.
Beginning in late 2007, construction in Idaho began to shed jobs at an alarming rate. The industry contracted by almost 24,000 jobs between October 2007 and March 2009 – about 42 percent of the industry’s total pre-recession employment. While construction suffered across the country, Idaho’s sufferings were particularly acute; the state’s 42 percent industry contraction dwarfed the 29 percent loss experienced nationwide. Continue reading
Information provided in this article is from professional sources, news releases, weekly and daily newspapers, television and other media.
NORTHERN IDAHO – Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai & Shoshone counties
- Northern Idaho witnessed at least 21 reported wildfires in July. While the actions of the forest service and other authorities prevented any of the fires from forcing evacuations or threatening structures, the number of fires was above average for July. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
- Construction work began on a new commercial complex in Athol, which will eventually include the town’s first grocery store as well as a hardware store, a hotel and additional light industrial and commercial space. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
- The Idaho Transportation Department and North Idaho College are partnering to offer a free three-week heavy equipment operator course, which aims both to fill labor needs in the construction industry and offer career opportunities to veterans, women and minorities. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
Recent tariffs imposed on Canadian softwood lumber should reduce the amount of lumber the U.S. imports from Canada and boost the Idaho lumber industry this year. Softwood lumber — made from pine, fir, cedar and spruce — is mostly used for framing new houses.
Last year, according to Wood Resources Quarterly, imports from Canada accounted for 32 percent of lumber used in the United States. Less competition from Canada should boost U.S. mills’ profits, production and employment.
The countervailing duties on Canadian lumber imported to the United States range from 3 percent to 24.12 percent, averaging 19.88 percent. The U.S. Commerce Department plans to impose additional fees that would mean some lumber importers would face duties as high as 30.88 percent. Commerce says Canada is unfairly selling lumber in the U.S. below production costs, aided in part by improper government subsidies.
The new tariff is the latest step in a 35-year-old trade dispute between the two nations. U.S. lumber producers argue that the Canadian government unfairly subsidizes its lumber industry, since most timber cut in Canada comes from provincial forests. Provincial governments set prices administratively and are lower than if they were set in a competitive market. Under U.S. trade remedy laws, foreign trade benefiting from subsidies can be subject to a countervailing duty tariff to offset the subsidy and bring the price of the commodity back up to market rates.