A Slowing Global Economy and The Great Recession Continue to Impact Idaho’s Economy

Recessions are natural in any economy and are commonly defined as two or more successive quarters of negative economic growth. Since the end of WWII, the United States has experienced 10 recessions – each with its own unique impact.

And in December 2007, the U.S. entered a recession unlike any other.

The Great Recession

After six consecutive years of significant economic growth – largely spurred by a hyper-inflated housing market – the U.S. economy crashed into an 18-month recession. Worthy of its name, the Great Recession was the worst U.S. financial crisis since World War II. While the foibles of those who played the housing market are well documented, what was it that made the Great Recession so bad?

Continue reading

Future Workforce to Rely on Millennials

Millennials – people born between 1980 and the late-1990s – are the largest generation in the U.S. population and critical to economic success of the nation and Idaho. Today, there are almost 73 million millennials in the U.S. and over 365,000 in Idaho, where they are growing faster than the rest of the nation. This particular demographic also represents the workforce of the future.

Employers often characterize millennials as lacking soft skills, entitled, unmotivated and having a tendency to “job-hop.” While there is undoubtedly a need for this cohort to meet an employer’s expectation for soft skills, it is also worth taking a deeper look at the root cause of these stereotypes and identify any underlying circumstances that might influence the ability of millennials to succeed in today’s job market.

Idaho millennials are more likely to have a job, but on average, earn about $3,000 less than their national counterparts and are more likely to live in poverty. While education rates have increased in Idaho and nationally since 1980, Idaho millennials are also significantly less likely to hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, which could explain the below-average wages they earn compared to their counterparts.

Nationally millennials are living at home with a parent and the rate of those living alone has remained stable and low. Compared to the US, Idaho millennials are less likely to live alone or with a parent and much more likely to be married. They are also slightly more likely to be veterans and significantly less likely to be minorities.

According to a report from the President’s Council of Economic Advisors, “With the first cohort of millennials only in their early thirties, most members of this generation are at the beginning of their careers and so will be an important engine of the economy in the decades to come.” The report continues to assert the future success of millennials is essential to the economic success of the nation and Idaho – because 1) millennials represent the future workforce on which productivity depends and 2) any income they earn represents a significant source of local expenditures on essentials such as housing, food, utilities, entertainment and discretionary spending.

Understanding this segment of the population can help predict the direction of future economic activity, making it worth the time to examine how the young adult age cohort have changed over time and how Idaho’s millennials stack up against the rest of the nation.

Using data from the 1980, 1990 and 2000 censuses and the five-year average American Community Survey for 2009-2013 we compared the population aged 18-34 for Idaho and the nation across four points in time. Let’s look at the details: Continue reading

Despite Losses, Idaho Manufacturing Sees Improvements

In recent years, the manufacturing industry in the United States has been a skeleton of what it once was. As some manufacturers outsourced work to foreign countries in pursuit of cost savings, others simply struggled to stay alive, unable to keep up with increasing competition in an ever-expanding global economy.

From 2000 to 2010, manufacturing posted net job losses each year. Manufacturing jobs decreased 30 percent, losing more than 5 million jobs over the decade. Regardless of the cause, once proud cities like Detroit are left desolate by the relative death of the industry.

US man jobs in thousands

People previously employed by the industry do not have much hope their jobs will return. Despite modest growth from 2011 to 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently projected the industry will lose an additional 5 percent of its jobs nationwide by 2022.


While manufacturing accounts for approximately 11 percent of total employment in Idaho, the industry has seen a decline similar to that of the U.S. From 2000 to 2010, the industry fell 25 percent, dropping more than 18,000 jobs. It posted net job losses seven of the 10 years over the decade – the greatest coming in 2009 when the economy lost more than 8,000 manufacturing jobs. Beginning in 2011, however, jobs in manufacturing began to stabilize.

Idaho man jobs

Manufacturing Concentration

Despite the job losses Idaho sustained during the recession, data indicate manufacturing has potential for significant growth, deviating from the national trend.

Location quotients, which measure a state’s industrial specialization relative to the nation,  highlight differences in employment concentrations to show strengths and weaknesses. Location quotients greater than one typically indicate an industry of strength, specialization and exporting ability.

The location quotients for manufacturing jobs in Idaho are positive, indicating the industry’s table of LQability to expand. Despite the job loss in manufacturing, its location quotient is greater than one and has increased.

In 2000 the location quotient was 1.22 with employment topping 71,000 in the state. By 2013 the location quotient increased to 1.37 even though employment had dropped to 59,000. The increase in the location quotient despite the job loss would identify manufacturing as an industry of experience and specialization in Idaho.

Recent Growth

Manufacturing has begun to stabilize in Idaho. From 2010 to 2013, manufacturing added over 6,000 jobs , nearly a third of the jobs lost during the previous decade.

Since 2010, four of six regions in the state experienced double-digit percentage growth in manufacturing. The only region with losses was southeastern Idaho, where multiple food processing plants such as Heinz and Simplot closed. Amy’s Kitchen, however, recently announced it would take over the Heinz plant, adding a significant number of jobs and further bolstering growth statewide.

percent change in man jobs

Percent change by region

Over the past three years, manufacturing had the second largest percentage increase in available jobs of any industry in Idaho. Jobs in manufacturing grew by 11.4 percent, second only to mining at 11.5 percent. These were the only two industries to have double-digit percentage increases during that time. Manufacturing, however, grew by more than 6,000 jobs, while mining only grew by 260 jobs.

Industry growth in idaho

Projected Growth

While manufacturing jobs are expected to decrease 5 percent in the U.S. by 2022, Idaho appears to be heading down a different path. The Idaho Department of Labor projects Idaho’s economy will add 109,000 jobs from 2012 to 2022. Of those, over 6,000 will be in manufacturing, an 11 percent increase in the industry and the fifth largest in the state.

Growth in manufacturing will not only bring good jobs to the economy but jobs with high wages. According to the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages survey, manufacturing wages are much higher than the state average. In 2013, the average Idaho manufacturing wage was $53,248 while the average wage for all industries was $36,713.


One possible area of concern is Idaho’s future workforce. While the economy is projected to add an additional 109,000 jobs, the workforce is projected to be short 95,000 workers. For Idaho to achieve the projected growth, the state’s human capital will have to grow. As more people enter retirement and more firms move their business into the state, increasing demand will be placed on skilled occupations such as machinists and welders. Trade schools will play a critical role training the workforce to meet industry’s future needs. Those who possess the needed skills will become increasingly valuable, but if Idaho’s workforce is unable to fill the projected jobs, industry may be forced to look elsewhere.

Christopher.StJeor@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
(208) 557-2500 ext. 3077

Hot Jobs Different Mix in South Central Idaho

Idaho’s hottest jobs over the next decade – identified by the Idaho Department of Labor’s 2012-2022 Long-Term Occupational Projections – continue to place health care occupations at the top even in the south central region, but the other top occupations differ, reflecting the unique qualities of the region’s economy and labor pool.

Hot jobs are identified as those greatest in number, with the strongest growth rate and the highest wage. Continue reading

Idaho Economy Settling Into Sustainable Growth Pattern

The following is the text of the Idaho Department of Labor presentation to the Idaho Legislature Economic Outlook and Revenue Assessment Committee on Jan. 8, 2015.

After a slow start, Idaho’s economic recovery from the worst recession since World War II picked up significantly in late 2012. Job creation exceeded the national rate by more than a full percentage point during spring 2013.

The unemployment rate has been steadily falling from the recession high 8.8 percent in late 2010 to 3.9 percent in November. Unemployment is now approaching the record lows before the recession although these rates are typically revised in March after additional data gathered over the past year are assessed.

unemployment ratesRecognizing that adjustments will be made to the employment data for the past year, based on current data the department estimates the average annual unemployment rate for FY2015 at 4.1 percent, down from 5.5 percent the previous fiscal year. Barring unexpected economic events the following 12 months, the rate should continue falling to average 3.6 percent for Fiscal Year 2016.

Continue reading

North Central Idaho: 2014 in Review

North central Idaho continued its economic recovery in 2014. Unemployment rates fell to relatively low levels, and nonfarm payroll employment reached an estimated 45,100, but jobs were still 3.5 percent – about 1,280 jobs – lower than in 2007.

Unemployment Rates by County Continue reading

January Economic Activity Around Idaho

Information provided in this article has been gathered from various sources throughout the state, including weekly and daily newspapers, television and other media.

Northern Idaho
North Central Idaho
Southwestern Idaho
South Central Idaho
Southeastern Idaho
Eastern Idaho

Statewide Developments

  • A recent report from the finance website Wallet Hub says Idaho is the third most-generous state – tied with Kansas, according to Boise State Public Radio. Utah and South Dakota topped the list. Using IRS statistics and survey data for the report for the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Wallet Hub looked at volunteer time and money donated. Idahoans’ high rate of giving was attributed in part to the state’s large Mormon population. About a quarter of Idahoans identify as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Giving money to a church counts as a charitable contribution in most studies. A University of Pennsylvania study found that 88 percent of active Mormons report giving 10 percent of their income to the church. That’s higher than any other religion in America.

Continue reading