As Idaho’s employment projections indicate an increased demand for STEM jobs in the next decade, the state’s employers will face even more challenges when filling those positions in the near future if supply does not increase to match the growing need.
With record low unemployment rates in Idaho and the nation as a whole, help wanted ads have languished unfilled for longer stretches of time. Close to 70 percent of the job postings in a given month were unfilled/reposted from the previous month, and more than 50 percent of them have remained unfilled for more than 90 days.
Employers looking for STEM applicants are facing even tougher times given the relatively smaller pool of STEM workers available and the higher educational and training requirements for these jobs. Openings of lengthy duration can be interpreted – with some caution – as a shortage. In that case, targeted occupational and regional STEM training and education would have enormous benefits in addressing a growing need. Continue reading
Some of the best paying and best prospective occupations in Idaho are associated with bringing ideas into reality – creating prototypes and manufacturing the product for the market.
Domingo Angeles from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a national perspective on these occupations and their outlook. While Angeles uses the design and manufacture of automobiles as his example, Idaho companies engaged in the manufacturing and design of all manner of products pull together the same mix of occupations to staff the teams that put in the hard, collaborative work to bring ideas to market.
In Angeles’ article, he identified careers related to developing prototypes include software developers, graphic designers, mechanical and electrical engineers and industrial designers. Table 1 provides employment, wage, projected openings and typical education levels for each occupation on a national level.
Table 1a shows similar data for Idaho.
What does the average machinist in Idaho make? How many people are working in Idaho as diesel mechanics? What is the entry-level wage for fast food cooks? What’s a reasonable wage range for carpenters? Would I get higher pay as a registered nurse working in Boise or in Idaho Falls? Would I earn more as a plumber or as an electrician?
Once a year, the Idaho Department of Labor publishes answers to those questions and thousands of others in the form of the Occupational Employment and Wage Survey (OEWS).
The Idaho Department of Labor has recently published long-term projections forecasting what Idaho’s labor market will look like in the year 2024. The outlook is very optimistic. Idaho’s employment is projected to grow by 1.8 percent annually through 2024. This compares favorably to the national growth projections of only 0.6 percent annually over the same time period, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. This forecast would surely put Idaho in a familiar place among the fastest-growing states.
Optimism is warranted by more than just the overall growth rate. Within the projections program, Idaho Labor has forecast scenarios for dozens of different major sectors and industries in the economy, with accompanying forecasts for occupations. According to these projections, Idaho’s economy will see significant growth in two important areas: service sectors and STEM occupations – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The graph below shows the projected growth rates across various sectors of the economy.
Source: Idaho Department of Labor
Occupational wages are one of the most useful and sought after data elements provided by the Idaho Department of Labor. Whether someone is exploring careers, preparing for wage negotiations or researching the competitiveness of a company’s wage against the market, wage information is readily available on more than 750 Idaho occupations and 800 nationally.
Several websites offer varying types of wage data, but the source that is the most encompassing – including data for the U.S., the 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Washington, D.C. – is the Occupational Employment Statistics program on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website at www.bls.gov.oes. Each state and territory publishes this data on their own labor market information websites. For example, lmi.idaho.gov is the primary online source for Idaho-specific data.
Comparing median wage data for each area of the state is a good place to start. A median wage is the point where 50 percent of workers make more and 50 percent make less. Using welders as an example, the median wage in the Boise metropolitan area is $14.72 per hour, about 11 percent lower than the state’s median of $16.44, as shown in Table 1. By city, Idaho Falls offers the highest median wage at $19.61 per hour – 19 percent above the state’s median wage and 33 percent above Boise’s.
Idaho’s median hourly wage ranks seventh to last among the 50 states. Almost one in five Idaho jobs are in food preparation, serving and sales and related occupations. At first, it might appear that Idaho’s low wage ranking is the result of too many food prep and sales jobs, which require less education and training and typically pay far less than Idaho’s median wage of $14.93 an hour. But that story is incomplete.
The Idaho Department of Labor’s new list of “Hot Jobs” details the occupations that pay the most, have the highest number of jobs and are projected to grow the most over the next eight years. The questions are: What companies are hiring people for these jobs? and Where are they located?
Idaho’s top 10 “Hot Jobs” include registered nurses, who have the highest level of employment; physician assistants, who are the fastest growing; and pharmacists, who have the highest median wage. These rankings signify the importance of health care in the growth of Idaho’s economy.
Click graphic to enlarge.
Thousands of collegians have received their degrees and are starting – or hoping to start – careers for which they have spent four or more years studying. In the past year 1,248 students graduated from Idaho State University, many entering an economy showing signs of growth.
The tight job market graduates experienced during the past several years has loosened up.
The percentages of online job ads posted by staffing agencies nationally and in Idaho have been declining in recent years as the economy has improved. In 2010, 14 percent of online job postings in Idaho, 18 percent nationally, were being posted by staffing agencies. The most recent data from January 2014 shows that the percentages have declined to 9 percent in Idaho, 13 percent for the country.
For 66 years, Americans have relied on the Occupational Outlook Handbook when making decisions about their future careers. Since 1948, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has published a new version of the handbook every two years. Since the mid-1990s, the book has been published online.
In December, the bureau unveiled the 2014-15 publication. For the next two years, when you read articles or hear presentations about occupations in the U.S., the information will likely be based on the handbook. It is the ultimate source of information about tasks, conditions of work, wages, outlook, skills and training for hundreds of occupations.