This is the final article written by Alivia Metts as the Department’s northern-based regional economist. She recently moved on to other career pursuits.
Telling the story about the economy through the lens of a regional economist throughout the economic volatility of the past seven to eight years has had its challenges, but it has been far more exciting and rewarding.
I started at the Idaho Department of Labor during the depths of the recession when employment in northern Idaho dropped significantly. Today, nearly all sectors are firing on all cylinders, wage pressure is starting to ignite and economic activity is rolling.
The recession really started to take hold in 2008 and became persistent and painful for about two years. Layoffs were occurring in nearly every industry and the number of people holding multiple jobs to make ends meet increased substantially. Jobless individuals were filing for unemployment benefits at an astounding rate. The number of new claims filed in 2009 was nearly 44,000 compared with just over 18,000 in 2007.
With unemployment rates down to levels not seen since the start of the recession and job growth on the rise, job seekers are becoming more strategic when looking for work and seek jobs in demand
Overwhelmingly, the health care sector and its occupations top every ranking — growth, number of jobs in the economy, annual openings and highest wages, according to the Idaho Department of Labor’s latest long-term state and regional job projections through 2022 regional projections which look at pay and growth prospects.
Northern Idaho’s economy showed real life in 2013 and the data currently available for 2014 are stacking up well.
Despite the continued slowness of the state’s economic recovery, the most recent preliminary data for 2014 through June shows regional employment up 1.8 percent over the first half of 2013 with the same three counties leading the way: Kootenai County was up 3.6 percent, Boundary County up 2.1 percent and Bonner County increased by 1 percent. Benewah County also saw fractional employment growth but not enough to offset a 5 percent decline in Shoshone County. Continue reading
Personal income is the total of wages, business profits, investment earnings and transfer payments like Social Security and pensions, and in Idaho that total jumped 3.9 percent from 2011 to 2012.
Per capita personal income – that total divided equally among every man, woman and child – was $34,481 in 2012 in Idaho – 79 percent of the national average of $43,735. Idaho’s per capita income has been steadily declining in relation to national per capita income over the past decade, dropping from 83 percent in 2002 when it ranked 40th among the 50 states to 49th among the states in 2012.
During the same period, personal income and per capita income increased for all five northern Idaho counties. The largest increases were in Benewah and Shoshone counties, where there was a significant increase in wages and salaries. Compensation and bonuses from the mining industry was most likely the source in Shoshone County, and earnings in local government probably explains the growth in Benewah. Continue reading