Tag Archives: idaho economy

Idaho’s economy and labor market: A decade of growth and change

Idaho’s economy and labor market have undergone significant changes in the last 10 years. The state has experienced a population boom after its recovery from the Great Recession, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Population growth and the labor market

One of the most striking features of Idaho’s economy in the last decade is the surge in its population. According to the Census Bureau, from 2012 to 2022, Idaho witnessed an increase of 343,000 residents inside its borders raising its total population to 1.939 million. If all of the additional residents collected themselves to start a new city in Idaho, it would be 45% larger than Boise, Idaho’s largest city with a population in 2022 of 236,632. This thought experiment demonstrates not only the magnitude of the population increase but the incredible economic change it drove.

From 2016, Idaho’s population growth rate held a streak as first in the nation with the highest percentage increase in population from year to year. In 2022, Idaho was second only to Florida with a 1.8% growth rate that was more than double the national average of 0.7%.

New residents to Idaho over the last decade also resulted in a civilian labor force increase of 178,400 or 23.1%. The civilian labor force includes people in the civilian population who are working or looking for work if unemployed. This increase helped drive Idaho’s total nonfarm employment up by 110,000, or 17.9%, from 2012 to 2022.

Idaho long term industry projections and industry performance

One method we can use to examine Idaho’s economic performance is to compare its growth with the Idaho Department of Labor’s long-term industry projections (LTIP). The LTIPS are produced every two years from historical data and economic models to provide an outlook of employment trends for the next ten years. They provide information on the growth or decline of each industry sector in Idaho.

It is important to note these projections offer a conservative forecast from which to make this comparison. The resulting data are not a prediction of the future, but a thought-experiment about what the economy may look like in ten years if running at full-capacity.  Disruptions, such as a financial crisis or a pandemic, are not anticipated, nor are technological advancements (except when there is a known major industrial expansion in the works at the time the projections are developed).

The core intent is simple. Long-term industry projections are used to provide strategic information to people planning their careers and educational path. Educational institutions use industry projections for administration planning purposes. The projection process involves researching over 100 individual Idaho industries. Each industry projection involves a number of techniques and variables, with unpredictable changes that are harder to project.

Economic context is essential when comparing actual employment data from 2012 to 2022 with Idaho’s long-term industry projections developed in the first half of 2014. At that time, the U.S. and Idaho were emerging from the aftermath of the Great Recession. The projected increase of 109,700 jobs from 2012 to 2022 represented an annualized percentage growth of 1.7%. This projection was a conservatively optimistic model-driven estimate.Idaho total employment and 10-year projections

Figure 1

Idaho’s actual annualized growth rate of 2.9% from 2012 to 2022 with 206,400 more employment, turned out to be nearly twice that projection. The difference proved to be the surge in Idaho’s population growth. While making the projection in 2014, department analysts reviewed several population forecasts from a number of different sources. Two examples are included in the chart below. The most conservative projection was 0.8% annual growth, and among the most optimistic, 1.2%. No projection came close to the annual average population growth rate of 2%.Changes in Idaho's Resident Population

Figure 2

In addition, nearly every industry sector exceeded the national average. Some of the particularly strong sectors included construction, education and health services, leisure and hospitality and other services. The only Idaho industry sector that showed a decline was information, which includes publishing, broadcasting, telecommunications and data processing.

2012-2022 U.S. and Idaho Comparative Industry Changes

Figure 3

Idaho’s population boom increased the demand for housing and the projections for construction wildly surpassed the actual change as shown in Figure 4, which nearly tripled the employment increase. Employment increases in health care and social services were very close to the long-term projections for 2012-2022, arriving at a 3.1% annualized growth versus the 3% projected rate. Health care and social services (Figure 5) was Idaho’s only private industry sector that did not experience job declines during the Great Recession.Construction jobs compared with long term projections

Figure 4

Health care and social assistance jobsFigure 5

Idaho’s economic diversification attracted new businesses and industries, such as Amazon, which opened a fulfillment center in Nampa in 2020 and created over 2,000 jobs. Adaptation to the COVID-19 pandemic benefited some industry sectors where Amazon is included like trade, transportation and utilities. Home delivery of online shopping saw an accelerated expansion of distribution in Idaho for the company and raised the growth trajectory of this sector above the projection as shown in Figure 6.

Trade, transportation and utilities jobs

Figure 6

These are just a few examples of how and why Idaho’s economy has performed exceedingly well compared to the 2012-2022 long-term projections. Idaho has outperformed the national averages in most industry sectors, and our state’s economy has shown remarkable growth and change in the last decade, driven by its nation-leading population growth. The long-term projections provide a useful tool to understand future trends and challenges of the labor market and creates context for a dynamic and unpredictable nature of the economy. This is why Idaho’s long-term industry projections are updated every two years and serve as useful informational tools for stakeholders.


The Idaho Department of Labor is funded by the US Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration to produce long-term industry and occupation projections. Every state in the nation receives funding for the same effort. The national data use for this process can be found at the Bureau of Labor Statistics website, and tools such as O*Net. Long-term projections are produced every other year with the 2020-2030 set being the most recent.  The next set will be produced and released mid-2024 covering the 2022-2032 period.

The Idaho Department of Labor also produces an annual economic report cataloging the changes of the previous year. The most recent report covers 2022 and can be found here: Idaho_Labor_Market_Report_2022.pdf

Click here to view a live version of this webinar.

Craig.Shaul@labor.idaho.gov, research analyst supervisor
Idaho Department of Labor
208-332-3570 ext. 3201

This Idaho Department of Labor project is 100% funded by USDOL as part of $695,785 in Workforce Information Grant funds from the Employment and Training Administration.

Idaho’s resilient tourism sector and the increasing costs of travel

As the holidays are upon us, many look forward to traveling and recreational activities as they spend time with friends and family. Idahoans and others from across the country come to see the state’s natural beauty and famous winter sports during the holiday season. The tourism industry is crucial to Idaho’s economy, being Idaho’s third largest industry (behind agriculture and technology) as of 2021¹. Tourism is also a rapidly growing industry. In 2021, $4.8 billion dollars were spent by visitors on direct travel spending (up 12.2% from 2019) with 84% of tourism spending generated by out-of-state visitors (up 8% from 2019)¹. However, with increasing costs of transportation and other economic headwinds, travel and tourism may see some challenges this holiday season.

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Nov. 14 webinar explores positive economic changes in Idaho since 2013


For Immediate Release: Oct. 7, 2023
Media ContactCraig,Shaul@labor.idaho.gov

With the new year on the horizon, Idaho Department of Labor Research Analyst Supervisor Craig Shaul will explore the many economic changes the Gem State has experienced since 2013.

Shaul will guide the conversation based on the long-term projections of Idaho’s industries and occupations to provide context into the past 10 years – including the state’s growth and labor market developments.

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Survey highlights improvement in Idahoans’ economic situation


For Immediate Release: Sept. 22, 2023
Media ContactJan.Roeser@labor.idaho.gov

The number of Idahoans with health care insurance in 2022 increased from 89.2% to 91.8% compared to pre-pandemic data for 2019, according to the recently released American Community Survey (ACS).

Nearly all of Idaho’s larger counties reported a greater share of the population covered by health care insurance, except for Bonneville County.

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The Idaho Department of Labor eases job postings with hiring event in Post Falls


For Immediate Release: Sept. 15, 2023
Media Contact: Keeler.Crawford@labor.idaho.gov

With a high demand for workers and almost 1,700 job postings in Kootenai County, the Idaho Department of Labor is hosting its annual monthly hiring event Wednesday, Sept. 20 to share job opportunities.

64 different economic sectors have active job postings right now in northern Idaho. The top three categories are: delivery and messenger services; professional, scientific, and technical services; and administrative and support services. Over 35 employers attending the hiring event will be trying to fill openings in some of these industries on Wednesday.

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Top Idaho employer concerns revealed in inaugural survey


For Immediate Release: Sept. 5, 2023
Media Contact: Matthew.Paskash@labor.idaho.gov

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.

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How Idaho’s birth rates, shifting population affect school enrollments

Idaho’s population growth has been growing fast – so quickly that the state had the No. 1 growth rate in the nation at 21.5 % from 2012-2022, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Close to 90% of the state’s population growth stems from rapid net domestic migration into Idaho and not from Idaho residents suddenly deciding to have lots of babies. Idaho’s birth rate of 11.8 births per 1,000 population in 2021 (12th highest in the nation) was a 29% decline compared with 16.6 in 2007, fourth highest in the nation at the time). The rate remains higher than most of Idaho’s bordering neighbors, such as Oregon at 9.6 (fourth lowest), Montana at 10.2 and Washington at 10.8. Nationwide, birth rates per 1,000 population have decreased 23%, from 14.3 in 2007 to 11.0 in 2021 [1].

Migration is contributing to a higher number of school-age students in Idaho today than expected based on Idaho births alone but is still unable to reverse the trend that Americans in general are having significantly fewer babies than in the past.

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Business Profile: Labor shortage not so easily solved

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.

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.”

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Labor market webinar, Aug. 8, will explore Idaho’s economic resiliency


For Immediate Release: Aug. 2, 2023
Media Contact: Craig,Shaul@labor.idaho.gov

“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.

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Apprenticeships offer alternative source of labor supply, career for workers

Apprenticeships are a valuable workforce training option to help combat Idaho’s current labor challenges. Apprenticeship’s “earn while you learn” method allows for a more financially viable education than a traditional degree by combining classroom and on-the-job training for a more holistic educational experience.

As technology changes how and where we work, apprenticeships have the ability to adapt to changes in employer needs faster than a traditional degree and can be a win-win workforce solution for employees and employers.

Current labor market and future needs of employers

The following graph helps illustrate how the current labor market has evolved since 2015. Before the pandemic, the number of job postings and unemployed persons had a stable trend. When the pandemic hit, the number of unemployed spiked, but returned to its pre-pandemic level fairly soon. Job postings did not fall back to pre-pandemic levels, leaving the demand (job postings) outstripping supply (available workers), creating a current labor shortage of roughly 1.75 job openings per unemployed person in Idaho.

Graph: Idaho unemployed compared with job postings 2015-2023

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