The last 10 years were quite a ride for the nation’s construction industry. Employment grew 13 percent nationally between 2003 and 2007 – Idaho experienced 41 percent growth. There is no doubt that Idaho’s tremendous population growth fueled the increased demand for housing.
Idaho’s population grew 10.4 percent between 2003 and 2007 while the nation only grew 3.8 percent. When ratios of construction employment to population are compared for each year, Idaho had – and still has – a higher concentration of construction jobs than the nation.
Employers are increasingly concerned about their ability to find workers with the skills they need to keep their companies successful. They call it a skills gap, and much of the attention has been on middle skills – those that require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year college degree. Typically that means one or two years of training or study beyond high school – associate degrees, certificates or even apprenticeships – and usually some on-the-job training.
Based on data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s O*NET database of occupations and education, experience and training requirements, about 53 percent of the jobs in the Idaho economy are considered low skilled – those needing no more than a high school diploma. Twenty-six percent fall into the middle-skills category while 22 percent are considered high skilled.
For decades food manufacturing has been a critical source of employment and economic vitality in southeastern Idaho. Multiple generations have worked in this industry. However, recent trends show a clear decline in employment levels.
Historically, food manufacturing has been an economically resilient industry. “People always have to eat regardless of the economy” was the view, and southeastern Idaho has some of the best potatoes in the world. Many food manufacturers took advantage of the crop by locating large processing plants in the region.
Despite signs of an economic recovery nationally, the last several months regionally have seen some food manufacturing plants close and others lay off workers. The local economic impact will likely be severe. Continue reading
While it seems the national housing market is moving again, there’s little evidence of that in eastern Idaho.
While the U.S. Census Bureau reports national construction spending rose 9.3 percent in January from a year earlier, marketing statistics from the Snake River Multiple Listing Service show no improvement in the combined housing market of Bonneville, Jefferson, Madison and Fremont counties. Continue reading
AmeriCorps members touch Idahoans in many ways.
Barbara J. Cunningham
From mid-2012 to mid-2013, the Idaho Health Care For Children and Families AmeriCorps group provided health screenings and follow-up care for over 3,200 children, ran over 400 health education sessions and recruited more than 450 volunteers to assist in various service projects throughout the state.
Clearly, they invested their time so Idaho’s future will be brighter. Like the scores of other AmeriCorps members serving across Idaho every year, they made a difference in their communities.
But their service also made a difference for two AmeriCorps members. In addition to the modest stipend they received during their AmeriCorps service, both members later found full-time jobs with Idaho Health Care for Children and Families – one as an interpreter and the other as a health education specialist.
Barbara J. Cunningham is a native of Idaho. She is project director for the Idaho Health Care for Children and Families AmeriCorps grant. Her primary responsibilities are to conduct the day-to-day management and administrative functions of this project and to coordinate activities with participating non-profit organizations. She is finishing her doctorate in political science and writing her dissertation about the self-attitudes of AmeriCorps members in Idaho and seven other states. She hopes to graduate with her doctorate in 2015.
The best source of wage information is the Occupational Employment and Wage Survey, a large survey of employers conducted in every state by the state workforce agencies such as Idaho Department of Labor, Oregon Employment Department and Utah Department of Workforce Services using the same procedures as developed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That allows us to compare data from one state to another and know the results are reliable.
Despite the housing market contraction that helped ignite the recession, Idahoans continued moving to other states at the same annual rate between 2007 and 2011, but the number of people from other states moving to Idaho dropped dramatically, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates.
The new 2011 census figures, for the first time, included estimates of educational attainment and annual income for those moving in and out. In Idaho, those moving into the state were a little more prosperous than those moving out but a little less educated, on a percentage basis.