Tag Archives: Kathryn Tacke

Why Idaho Employers Struggle to Find Workers

Editor’s note: Regional economist Kathryn Tacke passed away unexpectedly on July 2. This is the last article she submitted for publication. Her previous articles can be found at Labor’s Idaho@Work blog.

What a difference a year makes. In April 2020, the pandemic and its effects pushed Idaho’s unemployment rate to an all-time high of 11.6%. This April, media across Idaho reported on labor shortages and how some businesses are struggling to stay open because they can’t find enough workers. The labor shortages are widespread — not only showing up in the state’s fast-growing urbans areas, but also in rural communities. The businesses finding it hardest to recruit workers are construction firms, home care agencies, employers of certified nurse aides, restaurants, motels, trucking and package delivery companies and some manufacturers. School districts throughout the state are finding it difficult to hire substitute teachers and paraprofessionals.

Why has the job market become so tight? Before the pandemic, labor shortages were common. Now, thousands of Idaho employers are trying to make their normal seasonal hires and add new jobs as the state continues its recovery and growth in manufacturing and construction industries accelerates. This article explains the complex reasons for all the “help wanted” signs in Idaho and why employers are getting little or no response to want ads.

Strong job growth, low unemployment

Idaho’s good fortune is one reason for the labor shortages. Its economy has proven hardy during the pandemic. Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in April was 3.1% – just five-tenths of a percentage point higher than its all-time low of 2.6% in February 2020. Only five states had lower rates in April. Idaho’s April rate was less than half of its historic average of 5.4% from 1978 through 2019.

Idaho employers added jobs faster than any other state in the past 12 months. Idaho and Utah were the only two states whose nonfarm payroll employment rose between March 2020 and March 2021.

Since the early 1970s, Idaho’s job markets have been primarily employers’ labor markets, where relatively high unemployment gave employers more of an advantage. Around 2005, most of them transformed to job seekers’ markets, as employers found it difficult to recruit workers and workers felt more comfortable quitting jobs to take other jobs. The severe recession that began in December 2007 flipped the job market back to an employers’ market for a few years. But as Idaho’s economy has grown at an exceptional pace since 2012, the advantage has returned to job seekers.

Construction stands out for its job creation. Idaho’s construction employment rose 7% between March 2020 and March 2021, faster than any other state. Construction employment fell in 34 states during that period. Idaho construction jobs for March reached a record high.

COVID-19-caused reductions in labor availability

While jobs have grown since the pandemic’s start, some Idahoans left the labor force.

COVID-19 caused some Idahoans to temporarily drop out of the labor force. Based on responses to the Household Pulse Survey conducted in late March 2021, the Census Bureau estimates 3,992 Idahoans did not work during the two-week period because they were sick with coronavirus symptoms and another 6,845 did not work because they were caring for someone with COVID-19 symptoms. Another 6,529 did not work because they were concerned about getting or spreading the coronavirus.

Many older workers dropped out of the labor force during the last year. The Current Population Survey, the source of U.S. labor force statistics, found the number of Idahoans 55 years and older in the state’s labor force fell 11% from 257,100 in March 2020 to 227,400 in March 2021. Some of the drop occurred as seniors temporarily withdrew from the labor force because of fear of Covid-19 exposure. Much of the drop was more permanent as some people retired early. The Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey conducted March 17 through March 29 found 16,590 Idahoans decided to apply earlier than expected for Social Security benefits because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some workers dropped out of the Idaho labor force during the last year because of child or elder care issues. Microdata from the March 2021 Current Population Survey found that 5,169 Idahoans were not looking for work because of family responsibilities, compared with 2,087 in March 2020. Many of these individuals are staying home because of a lack of childcare or elder care. COVID-19 restrictions increased the costs of operating childcare centers, which already operated on thin profit margins, causing many childcare providers to go out of business. Lori Fascilla, executive director for Boise-based Giraffe Laugh Early Learning Centers, told the Idaho Statesman in early May more than 200 Idaho child-care providers closed last year. Many of those that remain open are finding it difficult to hire enough qualified staff to operate at full capacity.  As a result, finding childcare has become increasingly difficult. The pandemic also reduced the number of people willing to provide care for the elderly in their homes, resulting in some family members becoming full-time caretakers.

Long-term demographic challenges

There are more people reaching retirement age than there are youth to replace them. Despite Idaho’s rapid population growth and relatively youthful demographics, the number of teens entering the labor force has grown much more slowly than the number of people entering their retirement years. While the number of 16-year-olds grew 18%, (+3,970), between 2000 and 2019, the number of 65-year-olds grew 146% (+12,930), according to Census Bureau statistics. Half of Idaho’s counties saw their population of people between 15 to 24 years of age drop between 2000 and 2019.

Idaho employers will also be spending more time addressing retirements than they did 20 years ago. In 1992, 10% of their employees were 55 years of age and older, compared with 22% for 2020.

Contributing to the challenges posed by demographics is a decrease in youth’s willingness to participate in the labor force. The 2000 Census found 55.7% of Idaho’s 16-to-19 age group participated in the labor force. By 2019, according to the Census’s American Community Survey, their participation rate dropped to 46.9%.

Other factors

The rapid rise in housing costs — both rents and home purchases — is exacerbating Idaho’s dearth of affordable housing, making it harder to attract new workers to the state.

A reduction in international migration into Idaho also may affect employers’ efforts to fill jobs. In the era around 2005, when Idaho’s economy also was growing at a feverish pace, a surge of immigrants from Central America helped fill some of the labor gaps, especially in the construction industry. For a few years, net international migration added about 2,700 people a year to Idaho’s population. The severe recession roiling the labor market from 2009 to 2012 reduced international migration. From 2010 to 2018, net international migration added about 2,000 people a year to Idaho’s population, according to the Census Bureau. Restrictions on migration caused it to drop sharply between 2018 and 2019, falling to only 170. The pandemic is likely to have brought the flow to a trickle, as it did for the nation.  These in-migration numbers represent only the tip of the iceberg, since most foreign nationals that come to Idaho to work move from other states.

 How long will labor markets be tight?

If labor shortages persist at their current intensity, they could hamper economic growth. They also will likely add to the inflation caused by rising raw material costs, supply chain disruptions, and logistics bottlenecks. Many employers already are raising wages and expanding benefits as they bid for workers. Fortunately, some of the factors contributing to the current intensity are temporary and likely to work themselves out in the next few months—as more people become vaccinated, special benefit programs run out and availability of child and elder care improves. On the other hand, some of the current difficulties are likely to persist because of long-term demographic challenges. Most employers will be forced to spend more time and resources — attracting new workers and keeping existing workers.

What is Idaho doing to help connect employers and job seekers?

There are many programs available to help provide job seekers who need training. The Idaho Department of Labor has programs from apprenticeships to services for veterans to youth training programs such as Job Corps. Learn more about services in this video. Idaho Launch connects job seekers with Labor workforce consultants who can provide information on possible training funds available to job seekers. The Next Steps Idaho website provides information on education and career opportunities as well. And Gov. Brad Little signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Western Governors University in June to expand degree programs available to Idahoans needing additional education.

– Kathryn Tacke, regional economist, Idaho Department of Labor

Around Idaho: Economic Activity in June 2021

Information provided in these news updates is from professional sources, news releases, weekly and daily newspapers, television and other media.

Northern Idaho
North Central Idaho
Southwestern Idaho
South Central Idaho
Southeastern
Eastern Idaho

 

NORTHERN IDAHO – Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai & Shoshone counties

Kootenai County

  • Riverstone Holdings is developing a mixed-use building in the Riverstone district. The new building will include office space for rent on the ground floor, three floors of condos above and underground parking. The project is slated for completion in summer 2022. Source: Journal of Business
  • The Coeur d’Alene Ironman race was successfully completed, after COVID-19 forced a cancellation in 2021. The triathlon – which features a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run – was the first full-distance ironman race held in Coeur d’Alene since 2017 and drew about 2,100 competitors to the area. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • The city of Hayden’s Planning and Zoning Commission approved a plan to turn the Hayden Meadows soccer complex into a housing subdivision. The 10-acre field was acquired, along with two adjacent properties, by Kulka Land LLC, which plans to turn the parcel into a 53-unit single family subdivision. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press

Openings:

  • Iron Pizza Co. & Taphouse, Athol
  • Geico Insurance, Coeur d’Alene
  • Esthenique LLC, Coeur d’Alene
  • Cuppa Columbian Coffee, Coeur d’Alene
  • Backwoods Whiskey, Coeur d’Alene
  • Link Properties, Coeur d’Alene
  • Safe Splash, Coeur d’Alene
  • The Fixture Gallery, Dalton
  • Tubbs Coffee Roasters, Hayden
  • Brats & Brews, Spirit Lake

Sam.Wolkenhauer@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 457-8789 ext. 4451

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Around Idaho: Economic Activity in May 2021

Information provided in these news updates is from professional sources, news releases, weekly and daily newspapers, television and other media.

Northern Idaho
North Central Idaho
Southwestern Idaho
South Central Idaho
Southeastern
Eastern Idaho

 

NORTHERN IDAHO – Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai & Shoshone counties

Kootenai County

  • The Coeur d’Alene School District delayed the opening of a new planned magnet school until the 2022-2023 school year. District officials cited financial constraints as the reason. The magnet school will offer a hybrid learning model with a community service focus. Roughly 200 students are already enrolled in the school. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • A new four-story mixed commercial and residential building will be built in Coeur d’Alene’s Riverstone development. The building will include office spaces on the first floor with condo units on the higher floors. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • Kootenai County’s Community Development office produced a 22-page report on potential growth management strategies and is seeking public comments and participation. Kootenai County has been growing by roughly 2.5% per year over the last decade, and the Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization projects that the population of the county will grow by more than 130,000 by 2040. Source: Spokane Journal of Business

Openings in Coeur d’Alene

    • Terraza Waterfront Café.
    • The Fixture Gallery.
    • BidMore2Win Auctions.
    • Gas and Grain.
    • CDA Cremation & Funeral.
    • Cranberry Road Winery. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
    • Blue Shell Game Bar. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press

Sam.Wolkenhauer@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 457-8789 ext. 4451

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Around Idaho: Economic Activity in April 2021

Information provided in these news updates is from professional sources, news releases, weekly and daily newspapers, television and other media.

Northern Idaho
North Central Idaho
Southwestern Idaho
South Central Idaho
Southeastern
Eastern Idaho

 

NORTHERN IDAHO – Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai & Shoshone counties

Kootenai County

  • Work is now underway on a major Idaho Department of Transportation improvement project on State Route 41 between Post Falls and Rathdrum. The work includes widening the highway with additional lanes in both directions as well as new traffic lights and improved railroad crossings. The $131 million project is scheduled for completion in 2022. Source: Journal of Business
  • Coeur d’Alene Schools suspended its mask requirement for staff and students and replaced it with a mask recommendation. Mandatory masks for students have been a continued source of consternation for Coeur d’Alene parents. Source: CDA Press

Openings:

Coeur d’Alene

  • Chalice Brewing
  • Life is Good
  • ReMax Centennial
  • Lake City Vape
  • One Lakeside Hotel
  • Wallaroo’s
  • Affordable Bridal and Tuxedo
  • Prock’s Paint Bucket
  • Coeur d’Alene Wigs

Post Falls

  • The Coffee Market
  • Flippens Secured Self Storage
  • Washboard Laundromat

Spirit Lake

  • Retrofit Athletics

Sam.Wolkenhauer@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 457-8789 ext. 4451

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Around Idaho: Economic Activity in March 2021

Information provided in these news updates is from professional sources, news releases, weekly and daily newspapers, television and other media.

Northern Idaho
North Central Idaho
Southwestern Idaho
South Central Idaho
Southeastern
Eastern Idaho

 

NORTHERN IDAHO – Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai & Shoshone counties

Region

  • The Panhandle Health District has opened COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all persons 16 and older. To date, the health district has administered roughly 90,000 doses, or 85% of its 106,000 distributed doses. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • Amid falling COVID-19 case counts and dropping test positivity rates, Panhandle Health District has rescinded the masking mandate for the five northern counties. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press

Kootenai County

  • The Idaho Transportation Department has begun a multiyear improvement project on State Route 41 between Post Falls and Rathdrum. The work will include widening the highway with additional lanes and a median, as well as safety improvements including bridges over railroad crossings and new traffic signals. The $131 million multiphase project is slated for completion in 2023. Source: Journal of Business
  • Construction has begun on the Atlas Mill site in Coeur d’Alene. The first phase of work on the mixed residential and commercial redevelopment will include 30 single family homes, 24 townhomes and 150 multifamily units. Two more construction phases will subsequently add additional residential, retail and office space. Source: Journal of Business
  • J.C. Penny announced it will close its store in the Silver Lake Mall in Coeur d’Alene. This pending closure will shutter the last J.C. Penny in northern Idaho, following the closure of stores in Lewiston, Moscow and Ponderay. Source: Spokesman Review

Openings

Coeur d’Alene

  • Pilates by the Lake
  • EdgeTek
  • Five Pine Wealth Management
  • Pantry Specialty Market

Hayden

  • American Kickboxing Academy
  • Auction Depot
  • Thompson’s Custom Orthopedics & Prosthetics

Post Falls

    • Artesian Bottleless Water
    • NW Group Auto Sales

Sam.Wolkenhauer@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 457-8789 ext. 4451

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Around Idaho: Economic Activity in January 2021

Information provided in this article is from professional sources, news releases, weekly and daily newspapers, television and other media.

Northern Idaho
North Central Idaho
Southwestern Idaho
South Central Idaho
Southeastern Idaho
Eastern Idaho

NORTHERN IDAHO – Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai & Shoshone counties

Kootenai County

  • The Idaho Division of Veteran Services plans to proceed with construction of a 64-room home for veterans in Post Falls. The 83,000-square-foot skilled nursing facility is slated for completion in 2022. It will be Idaho’s fourth veterans home and the first in northern Idaho. Source: Journal of Business
  • Redevelopment of the former Atlas Mill site in Coeur d’Alene is underway, with the first phase now scheduled for the first half of 2021 to include a mix of housing. The first development phase includes 24 townhomes, 54 single family homes and 93 multifamily units along with a mix of retail and office space. Altogether, this first phase of construction will use four of the Atlas Mill site’s 13 development plats. Source: Journal of Business
  • Kenworth Trucks is planning to build a new facility in Post Falls to offer parts, sales, service and leasing. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press

Openings
Post Falls

  • Maverick Gas Station
  • Neighbors-N-Need
  • Olive’s Pastry
  • Dirt Kart

Coeur d’Alene

  • Linden Coffee Company
  • Panhandle Cone & Coffee
  • Once Upon A Fairytale
  • TK Lighting Design
  • Ziply Fiber Services
  • Becky’s Sewing Center
  • Ventura Stone

Dalton Gardens

  • SuperSprings International

Sam.Wolkenhauer@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 457-8789 ext 4451
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Around Idaho: Economic Activity in December 2020

Information provided in these news updates is from professional sources, news releases, weekly and daily newspapers, television and other media.

Northern Idaho
North Central Idaho
Southwestern Idaho
South Central Idaho
Southeastern Idaho
Eastern Idaho

 

NORTHERN IDAHO – Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai & Shoshone Counties

Kootenai County

  • MetalQuest Unlimited, a precision machine manufacturer based in Nebraska, has chosen Post Falls for its new manufacturing facility. The company, which specializes in precision production for clients in oil, agriculture and firearms manufacturing, expects to begin production at its new Post Falls facility by the end of January, with roughly 25 employees at first. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • Health care providers in Kootenai County have received the first batches of COVID-19 vaccine and have begun vaccinating frontline medical staff. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • The JC Penny in the Silver Lake Mall is now slated to close in the spring after being included in the company’s recent list of planned store closures. The store had been an anchor tenant of the Silver Lake Mall and was the last remaining JC Penny in North Idaho following the previous closures of stores in Lewiston and Ponderay. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • The Post Falls City Council approved the purchase of a $415,000 parcel of riverfront property, which was the final privately held plot in the Post Falls Water Treatment Facility’s easement to the Spokane River. The parcel is expected to be acquired in anticipation of a future expansion of the city’s wastewater treatment capacity. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press

OPENINGS

Coeur d’Alene

  • Boho West
  • Daybreak Coffee
  • Sushi I
  • CK Barrel Room
  • 208Nutrition
  • 208Massage
  • Inland Northwest Veterinary Dentistry & Oral Surgery

Hayden

  • American Kickboxing Academy.
  • MiQuelle’s Natural Bath.
  • Mode Salon.

Post Falls

  • Family Dollar.
  • Jitterz Espresso.
  • Hardwick & Sons Hardware.

Sam.Wolkenhauer@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 457-8789 ext. 4451

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Around Idaho: Economic Activity in November 2020

Information provided in these news updates is from professional sources, news releases, weekly and daily newspapers, television and other media.

Northern Idaho
North Central Idaho
Southwestern Idaho
South Central Idaho
Southeastern Idaho
Eastern Idaho

 

NORTHERN IDAHO – Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai & Shoshone Counties

Region

  • The Panhandle Health District approved a mask mandate for all five northern counties, effective for 60 days. All five counties are currently in the “red” category for COVID cases, with high test positive rates and hospitals nearing or at full capacity. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press

Kootenai County

  • Northwest Specialty Hospital has terminated an agreement with MultiCare Health System, which would have allowed MultiCare to become the majority owner of the hospital. Northwest Specialty will instead enter into a new agreement with Mountain View Hospital of Idaho Falls which will allow Northwest Specialty to remain physician-owned and operated. Source: Journal of Business
  • The city of Post Falls adopted a city-wide mask recommendation and a mask requirement on city property. The city also has begun revising guidelines to reduce occupancy at city facilities to align with Idaho’s movement back to Stage 2 COVID requirements. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press

Openings Coeur d’Alene

  • University Auto Sales
  • Pho Le 1
  • Starbucks
  • See’s Candies
  • Budget Storage
  • Five Pine Wealth Management

Openings – Post Falls

  • Premier Vendor Mall
  • UPS
  • Riverside Coffee
  • Mugsy’s Espresso

Sam.Wolkenhauer@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 457-8789 ext. 4451

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Idaho’s Economy Leads Recovery from Coronavirus

As of October, Idaho has recovered faster than most other states from the sudden, enormous economic losses caused by the coronavirus shutdowns in March and April. Idaho’s long-term population and economic growth gives it strong upward economic momentum. In addition, the shutdowns in the state at that time did not as severely restrict economic activity as it did in many other states.

Despite Idaho’s relative success, it’s not back to normal, and 26,400 more Idahoans were unemployed in October than in February, according to seasonally adjusted labor force statistics from the Idaho Department of Labor. In the uncertain atmosphere caused by COVID-19 and a global economic slowdown, it’s likely that restoring all the jobs lost during the pandemic will take several months. Continue reading

Around Idaho: Economic Activity in October 2020

Information provided in these news updates is from professional sources, news releases, weekly and daily newspapers, television and other media.

Northern Idaho
North Central Idaho
Southwestern Idaho
South Central Idaho
Southeastern Idaho
Eastern Idaho

 

NORTHERN IDAHO – Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai & Shoshone Counties

Bonner County

  • Tamarack Aerospace Group is continuing its rapid expansion and is on track to triple its space in Sandpoint with additional office and hanger facilities. The company, which successfully completed a restructuring and emerged from bankruptcy filings, is aiming to leverage the new space for intensified research and development. Source: Journal of Business

Kootenai County

  • Lakeside Capital Group LLC is planning a large new residential development on more than 1,000 acres of land, located between Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene. The land, acquired by the developer last year, was recently rezoned from agricultural land to transitional use. The planned new residential community, called Coeur Terre, could potentially include more than 2,000 units in a mixture of single and multi-family developments. Source: Journal of Business
  • Hagadone Hospitality is working on a new mixed-use development in southeastern Coeur d’Alene, which will feature three 200-foot tall towers to include a mixture of hotel rooms, apartments and condominiums. The development is still in the planning stage, has not been assigned an address and does not have a concrete timeline for completion yet. Source: Journal of Business
  • COVID masking mandates in northern Idaho are in flux, with the Panhandle Health District rescinding its mask order and the city of Coeur d’Alene implementing a mask order of its own, which went into effect on Oct. 27. Coeur d’Alene Public Schools are currently facing a significant COVID-19 outbreak, with large numbers of students quarantined. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press

OpeningsCoeur d’Alene

  • Vicino Pizza
  • 2 Ravens Tattoo Studio
  • Gas and Grain
  • Magpie Home Goods
  • Hank’s Hatchets

OpeningsPost Falls

  • Ricardo’s Baja Tacos

Sam.Wolkenhauer@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 457-8789 ext. 4451

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