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.
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.
Gov. Brad Little has proclaimed the entire month of November as Idaho Apprenticeship Month.
Registered Apprenticeships are a proven pathway for job seekers to join the workforce and receive paid, on-the-job training leading to a recognized certification or credential in a working industry of their interest.
Apprenticeships have a 90% success rate of apprentices remaining as an employee in an industry after completing their program.
“There are multiple pathways to success,” Little said. “We need more young Idahoans to go on to postsecondary education, and we’ve been very intentional about expanding ‘go-on’ to include opportunities outside of the traditional four-year college degree – including apprenticeships.”
Where does the water from our faucet go? Or maybe the water from the toilet?
Wastewater travels down our pipes to individual water districts across Idaho, where it is treated by Idaho Rural Water Association workers.
As a leader of dedicated employees in wastewater treatment, the organization trains and creates specialists who play a critical role in providing healthy water for our communities.
Job vacancies in the wastewater treatment industry are tough to fill. Idaho’s retirement rate in this industry is slightly above average compared to the United States, according to Idaho Department of Labor economist Jan Roeser.
In total – 40% over the national average.
But on the other end of the spectrum, there are many people employed as water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators in Idaho — 1,410 to be exact. Breaking that up geographically, there are about 500 employed operators in rural Idaho.
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.
Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased in August, rising by two-tenths of a percent from 2.8% in July to 3%. This is the first time the state’s unemployment rate has been at or above 3% since November 2021.
August’s labor force increased by 1,874 people (0.2%) to 967,145.
Idaho’s labor force participation rate – the percentage of people 16 years of age or older who are employed or looking for work if unemployed – remained at 62.4% in August.
Total employment was effectively unchanged with an increase of 121 to 938,190 while unemployment increased by 1,753 (6.4%) to 28,955.
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.