Out-migration had a negative impact on population growth in all but one county in south central Idaho from 2010 to 2015.
That one county — Twin Falls — has seen substantial in-migration over the past five years and is likely taking in residents who are leaving other south central Idaho counties, in addition to other parts of the state, the nation and even internationally. This is a boon for the area labor force as both domestic and international in-migration provides a source of diversely skilled workers for businesses. Twin Falls County estimates more than 1,000 foreign in-migration from 2010-2015. This addition of a vibrant, young population with the drive to rise above its previous generations, both economically and academically, is a boost during current challenges posed by an aging population.
Sudden shifts in south central Idaho county populations has traditionally been tied to jobs. In the latest Population Estimate Release from the U.S. Census Bureau, most of the region’s growth over the past year has been related to jobs but not directly. Individuals are applying for jobs and transferring in to work for some the newest companies, expanding ones or research & development companies.
South central Idaho was named a manufacturing community by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker under the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership Program. The emphasis is on food production, food processing and science.
The criteria encompassed six aspects of manufacturing and required strategies and outcomes to be developed in these areas:
- workforce and training;
- advanced research;
- infrastructure and site development;
- supply chain support;
- export promotion;
- and capital access.
The program stresses mutually beneficial partnerships and participation between the community’s industry, governmental leaders both local and state, and its economic development professionals.
Industry leaders in the food production and food processing arenas will have the opportunity for assistance in navigating the governmental intricacies of exporting product — individuals who are knowledgeable on U.S. policy as well as the country that could receive commodities or products from south central Idaho.
Specific strategies will be released over the coming year to make the huge food production and processing cluster more sustainable, more efficient and more profitable, particularly in the counties of Twin Falls, Jerome, Cassia and Minidoka.
Eleven other areas nationally received the designation in this second round.
The biggest demand for workers in south central Idaho is in the second half of the year when weather is more certain. Two-thirds of all part-time and full-time job listings with the Idaho Department of Labor are placed from July to December – a favorable time of year encompassing crop harvests that underpin the regional economy as well as being conducive to completing construction projects. Retail picks up with back-to-school and the Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons.
The department’s job listings for south central Idaho have been increasing since the end of the recession as demand picked up from existing businesses that froze payrolls during the downturn and from new and expanding companies.