It has taken four years for the Idaho economy to approach the job levels it boasted before the worst recession in generations.
Total nonfarm jobs have been right around 100 percent of the monthly peak before the recession took hold in Idaho in 2008. Employers were also hiring at near their prerecession levels, but the activity has shifted among the industry sectors.
Amy’s Kitchen is bringing 200 jobs to Pocatello, taking over the Heinz plant that closed last summer and idled 400 workers. A specialty frozen food processor, Amy’s Kitchen expects to begin operations before year’s end and employ up to 1,000 people within several years.
Company officials were attracted to the Pocatello plant by an available workforce with food processing skills and access to crops which represent key ingredients in their product lines. Incentives from state and county government also played an important role in recruiting the company.
Based in Petaluma, California, Amy’s Kitchen produces 88 frozen meals from pizzas and pocket sandwiches to pot pies. It does not use chemical preservatives.
Manufacturing in Idaho and the rest of the United States has grown in the past four years as the economic recovery restored some of the jobs lost during the recession.
Employment in the industry plays a slightly larger role in Idaho’s economy than it does in the U.S. economy, especially in the north central and south central regions, which have seen the fastest manufacturing growth in recent years. The average Idaho worker earned $36,829 in 2013, while the average Idaho manufacturing worker earned $53,248. Manufacturers also tend to offer generous benefits packages including health insurance, paid leave and retirement. Many provide career ladders that help workers develop new skills and earn even more.
Information provided in this article has been gathered from various sources throughout the state, including local newspapers and other media.
- The Idaho Department of Labor expects 11,000 new jobs to be created statewide each year from 2012 through 2022, according to its latest jobs forecast. Much of the growth is tied to the aging baby boomer generation, analysts said. The department expects another 16,000 jobs a year to open due to turnover, advancement and other labor conditions. Food preparation and other service jobs are expected to account for 24 percent of the 109,000 new jobs created through 2022, according to the forecast. Such jobs earned a median wage of $18,820 in 2013, or about 60 percent of the Idaho median wage that year. Department analysts predict the construction industry will account for 27 percent of the new jobs.
- Boise State University was the only four-year public institution in Idaho to see an increase in enrollment this fall. The state’s three private nonprofit universities all increased enrollment. Brigham Young University-Idaho in Rexburg grew 3.9 percent, the largest increase in the state. It is the second-largest university in the state with 16,193 students. Boise State, which grew by 1.2 percent, had 22,259 students. Both Idaho State University and University of Idaho had small drops in enrollment this fall. Idaho State was down 0.3 percent to 13,804 students, and Idaho was off 2.9 percent to 11,534 students. Lewis-Clark State College had 4,304 students, which it said was unchanged from a year ago. Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa and the College of Idaho in Caldwell both grew by just over 20 students. The College of Idaho set an enrollment record with 1,144 students while Northwest Nazarene was six students shy of a record at 2,058 students.
- Idaho’s workers’ compensation premium rates will go down by an average of 0.2 percent in 2015, the Idaho Department of Insurance recently announced. The drop was recommended by the National Council on Compensation Insurance, a rating and advisory organization. Workers’ compensation premium rates differ for each worker classification so while there is an overall decrease, some classifications may increase. Rates are affected by frequency of claims, medical costs and other factors.
Q. I filed my initial unemployment insurance claim online. Now what?
- Ensure your contact information is updated and correct. If more information is needed, we will email or call you, depending on the preferred contact method you selected on your application. We will also mail information regarding your claim. Failing to keep your address current can also result in payment delays.
- Report your Waiting Week. This is the first weekly report, and you must report your waiting week to certify your claim. File your waiting week online the first Sunday after you open your claim. If you never report your waiting week, nothing will happen on your claim.
Q. How do I give my side of the story about why I am no longer working?
Once you file your weekly report for for your waiting week, we will contact you by phone or email for information regarding your separation. Please note: It can take four to six weeks for a determination to be made during high volume months (November though February). Once a determination is made, it will mailed to you. If you are allowed benefits, you will be paid the weeks you filed for and were otherwise eligible for. Payment will be issued by debit card or direct deposit. If you have received benefits via direct deposit in the past, you may need to update your banking information. If you are denied, the determination will explain why and how to protest the decision.
Economic conditions in Idaho were strong through September, a trend that began in early 2010.
Commercial Vacancy Rates
Commercial real estate is a good indicator of whether employers are expanding or businesses are starting up or contracting or shutting down.
According to Reis Inc., a commercial real estate research firm, vacancy rates in the Boise metro area – the only area in Idaho with data – remained high through 2013. The retail market hovered around 18 percent compared with 9.5 percent throughout the country’s western region and 11 percent nationwide. Office vacancies were slightly lower, lingering around 17.5 percent to essentially mirror the 17.7 percent regionally and 17.1 percent nationally. Boise’s downtown core has a significantly lower vacancy rate at 10.6 percent than the outlying areas with 22.5 percent.
Projections by the Idaho Department of Labor indicate construction employment will grow 44 percent from 2012 to 2022, the fourth largest projected growth of any industry in Idaho and 28 percentage points above the projected growth for all industries. During that time, construction is expected to add 3,000 jobs and employ 10,000 people by 2022.
Through the early 2000s, construction was booming throughout the United States. As real estate became the golden investment with an A+ rating and home mortgages available at an all-time high, construction crews could not build houses fast enough. With some hard work and a little bit of luck, a young person straight out of high school could quickly make the kind of money typically associated with a four-year degree. As a result, laborers flooded to the market.
From 2000 to 2007, Idaho employment in the industry exploded, jumping 65 percent to dramatically outpace Idaho’s total employment growth of 19 percent. As banks continued to hand out mortgages to people who could not afford them, the housing market became saturated with available homes and the housing boom quickly turned into a bubble that popped as the first foreclosures hit the market toward the end of 2007, sending the economy into the deepest and longest recession the nation had seen since the Great Depression.
When real estate soured and the housing market dried up, construction jobs dried up with it.