Tag Archives: occupations

Idaho Labor’s annual wage report is valuable resource

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).

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Idaho Long-Term Employment Growth Optimistic

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.

graph-1Source: Idaho Department of Labor

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Tapping the Power of Idaho’s Wage and Occupation Data

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.

table 1_OES

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Mix of Occupations Influences Idaho’s Median Wage

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.

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Health Care Scores High in Idaho Current, Projected Hot Jobs

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?

Hot Jobs

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.
Idaho 10 hottest jobs table

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Growing Occupations Offer Opportunities to New Idaho Grads

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.

ISU Grads pie chart_Dan

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Employers Leaning Less on Staffing Agencies to Post Jobs

The percentages of online job ads[1] 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.

Andrew chart 1

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FAQ Friday – What Are the Best Sources of Occupational Information?

occupational outlookFor 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. 

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FAQ Friday – What is the difference between occupations and industries?

It’s not uncommon for people to confuse occupations and industries. Both are about fields of work, but they look at work in different ways.

  • Industries are about the type of activity at a place of work — classifying what business, government and nonprofit units do based on their major products or services.
  • Occupations are about what individual workers do — their tasks and responsibilities.

Some occupations are found only in one or two industries, while other occupations are found across many industries. For example, tree fallers and logging equipment operators are almost exclusively found in the logging industry. Stone masons and glaziers are almost exclusively found in some construction industries. Almost all industries have general managers, secretaries and office clerks.

It is particularly easy to confuse industry and occupation where specific occupations are strongly associated with a particular industry — such as doctors, nurses and orderlies being characteristic of the health care industry.

Classification Systems

Federal and state statistical agencies in the United States, Canada and Mexico use the North American Industrial Classification System – NAICS – to classify industries.

NAICS is a hierarchical numerical coding system that begins with broad economic sectors at the top and winnows them down to narrow industries at the bottom. In between there are either two or three intermediate levels. Each level is associated with a numerical code and a title.

Sectors, such as manufacturing, agriculture and construction, are designated by the first two digits in the code. Each establishment is assigned a six-digit code based on its primary products or services. There are 1,084 specific industries.

Industries that have the same first five digits in their code can be “rolled up” into industrial groups. For example, beef cattle ranching – 112111 – and cattle feedlots 112112 – can be rolled into a common cattle-raising group – 11211. In turn, these five-digit groups can be rolled into four-digit collections and the four-digit collections can be rolled into three-digit codes. The cattle-raising group can be combined with dairy cattle and milk product – 112120 – to get a four-digit code. Then, they can be rolled up with chicken and egg, hog, poultry and related. The resulting animal production major group can be combined with growers of grains, beans, fruit, vegetables, cotton, tobacco and peanuts to become a three-digit code – 113 (agriculture) – and then combined with logging, forestry, hunting, fishing and related industries to become 11 (agriculture, forestry, fishing & hunting).

There are 20 major groups:

Federal and state statistical agencies use the Standard Occupational Classification – SOC — to classify workers into 840 occupations. Those occupations then are rolled up into 23 major groups:

One of the best ways to understand occupations is to use O*NET, an online database containing information about occupations and associated skills, abilities, knowledge, work activities, tasks and interests. O*Net is used for career exploration, vocational counseling, finding job skills for résumés or position descriptions and for aligning training with current workplace needs.

— Kathryn.Tacke@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
(208) 799-5000 ext. 3984

Some Idaho Industries Rebound During Recovery

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While the recession is long over, its effects are lingering on some occupations. Economic Modeling Specialists Inc. reported in October that nationally some occupations were rebounding faster than others, specifically those in production. Using its data, Idaho turned out to be similar to the nation, showing that occupations in production rebounded the fastest.

Of the 760 occupations that EMSI estimates employment data on in Idaho, 246 fell by 10 percent or more between 2007 and 2009. Of those, 35 have shown at least a 10 percent growth in employment between 2010 and 2012. This is in contrast to what EMSI reported for the nation as a whole. Nationally, EMSI found only 181 occupations fell by 10 percent or greater and only 14 grew by that much.

Several of the occupations in Idaho had miniscule changes though. Only 15 occupations grew by at least 10 employees during the recovery. Just like the nation, the majority of these occupations in Idaho are in production.

The occupation with the fastest recovery was mining service unit operator, which grew over 30 percent – 11 workers – after the recession ended. Three rebounding occupations added over 100 during the recovery – electrical equipment assemblers, semiconductor processors and machinists. But all three occupations have more ground to cover to reach the highs recorded in 2007.

Almost all of the rebounding occupations required some duration of on-the-job training and paid between $12.18 and $22.57 per hour.

Notably missing from this list were construction occupations, which declined severely in Idaho during the recession but have yet to rebound in any great numbers.

Andrew Townsend, Regional Economist