Idaho Workers on Government Assistance Among Lowest in the U.S.

The depth of the recession and a slow early recovery nearly doubled the percentage of Idaho workers who had jobs and were still receiving government assistance through Medicaid and other programs for the low income and disabled.

In jumping from 2 percent in 2008, or about 14,400 of the 727,000 employed, to 3.6 percent in 2012, or about 25,700 of 711,000 employed, Idaho still had one of the nation’s lowest percentages of workers on welfare, even with the state’s comparatively low wages. According to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, Idaho ranked 40th among the states and the District of Columbia in 2012, up from 49th in 2008. Only Nevada at 1.4 percent and Virginia at 1.8 percent had lower percentages of workers on welfare in 2008.

Nationally, the percentage of workers receiving assistance rose from 3.9 percent in 2008 to 5.4 percent in 2014.

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Labor Department Staff Recognized with Outstanding Service Award

Five Idaho Department of Labor employees were recently recognized with Outstanding Service Awards.

Nominated by fellow staff members, these exceptional employees were chosen based on the extra care they put into their work and their drive to improve the communities where they live and work.

“It is obvious to me our employees care deeply about their work, the people they work with and their communities, well beyond any normal requirements or expectations,” said Director Ken Edmunds.

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FAQ Friday – What are My Unemployment Insurance Work Search Requirements?

If you are receiving unemployment benefits, you should develop a realistic plan to become re-employed.

You are required to make a good faith effort to seek full-time work each week you claim benefits, even if you are employed part time. We require at least two employment contacts per week.

Never assume that you are not required to look for work.

How do I report my work search?

When you file your weekly report at, you will be asked to enter your work search contacts. We will ask how you applied for the position and for the companies’ contact information. You can save yourself some time by using our work search log to gather the information so you have it ready when you file your weekly continued claim report online.

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What Can I Do if I Don’t Have Job Experience?

So what is all the fuss over experience – and why do employers set it as a requirement for various positions they wish to fill?

How do I get experience – and even more importantly, how can I break into a field if I don’t have traditional experience in that field? 

Why do employers ask for experience when they hire?

If you are changing careers or coming out of school, these questions are likely on your mind. So let’s look first at what employers are really asking for when they experience.

One thing we know about learning is that actively participating in an experience is the ultimate teacher. You may learn about things, but until you actually do the tasks necessary to accomplish something, your ability has limits. We also know that many mistakes happen early while the person is in a learning curve. So employers use experience as a general indicator of a candidate’s ability to do a job.

Given those realities, when employers ask for experience, what they really want is:

  • To feel comfortable that the candidate knows how to do the job and can get “up to speed” fairly quickly
  • To see that you have demonstrated skills relevant to the job.

Employers are not interested only in you performing the job task, they also want to see evidence of those “soft” skills that are needed to succeed:

  • To avoid having to do expensive up-front training
  • To avoid the “beginner’s” mistakes

If you can convince the employer of your ability to do the job, your lack of experience will likely not be an issue.

So how do I convince the employer?

It’s about skills. Every job requires several skill sets. And skills are transferrable! So start by identifying the skills the job is likely to require and then take a look at the skills you have. If there is a reasonable match, you may be a good candidate for the job – even if you have never held a similar position.

Here are some of the traditional ways of getting experience – think beyond your job titles.

  • Other jobs. Take a lower paying job that requires you to use the skill set you want to develop for a higher position. Never take the attitude that you are “too good” for any job. That may cause you to lose out on valuable learning experiences.
  • Volunteer. Volunteer experience can provide skill levels every bit as valuable as paid work – and in addition, volunteering demonstrates your character in a way that employers are likely to find attractive in an employee.
  • Career Services. Take advantage of services offered at your school or at the Idaho Department of Labor.
  • Internships. Often businesses are willing to provide experience and training.
  • Military. If you are considering the military, you will, of course, consider the commitment involved – but these are great organizations in which to participate – and you will come out with a wide variety of skill sets.
  •  Student Leadership Opportunities. As a student you have many opportunities to take a leadership role in your school’s activities. Take advantage of the chances available to develop your leadership skills.
  • Clubs and Organizations. Participating in club activities allows you to put your skills to work on a regular basis and develop many new skills.
  • Work as a Temp. Working as a temp in various organizations is really a unique opportunity to both develop a wide range of skills and sample different organizations or types of organizations. It is likely to help you understand what kinds of organizations are a” good fit” for you.

The list above identifies some of the traditional sources of experience. Here are some of the more creative ways:

  • Work with an Expert/ Job Shadow.  If you can locate someone who does the kind of job you want and obtain a mentor even for one day, you will learn a lot. Hone your observation skills, watch what they do and how they do it, ask intelligent questions,  learn the lingo.
  • Develop Your Inner Entrepreneur. Develop your own idea. Plan and conduct a project either to make extra money or to provide assistance to others. Create your own experience if others will not provide if for you.
  • Participate in Field Studies/ Conduct Research. Have you been a participant in field studies or done research as a part of your education.What skills did you develop as a result?
  • Learn from a Coach. Have you participated in a team sport or any organized activities?What skills did you develop through those kinds of activities?
  •  Informational Interviews. These interviews are conducted with someone doing the kind of job you are targeting. Ask him what tasks he does, what skills he needs, how he got started. Which of those skills do you have?
  • Take Lessons. Have you studied music, dance, taken golf lessons, marched in the band, learned to ice skate? What skills were involved in learning and participating in those activities?

What should I do about my resume if I have no work experience?

Think about it – everyone has to start somewhere. The purpose of putting your work experience on your resume is to provide a potential employer with a level of confidence that you will be able to perform the tasks required in a job with. Experience proves your competence. However, another viable approach is to point out your potential. Here are some ways you can show potential:

  • Show a Genuine Interest in the Field. If you have never joined a club or organization related to the field you want to work in – do that now. Volunteer to do tasks related to your field. Point out the courses you have taken related to the field. Read journals, articles and web pages related to your field.
  • Demonstrate a Clear Direction on Your Resume. It is important that your resume shows what you are looking for. Tailor your resume to the position for which you area applying. Don’t send out generic resumes designed for broad categories. You can show direction by writing a short and clear objective statement. Identify the job you are seeking.
  • Use Youth to Your Advantage. It is true that you may be competing for a job with experienced professionals. Give the employer a reason to consider a “new professional.” Those experienced workers may have more demands on their time and energy. Highlight your flexibility. And highlight the skills you have that relate to the most current technology. Individuals who have been in the workforce for several years may not be as knowledgeable as you are about current trends and technologies. Use any courses  that may make you stand out. Employees with a global perspective are particularly desired in today’s workplace.

Remember, it’s not about you – it’s about them.  Focus on the job and show that you are a good match. In many cases employers will want to hire “new professionals” – those with little experience but with potential. These new employees are often able to learn quickly, gain new skills and adjust to new work environments – all qualities that are attractive to an employer.

Around Idaho: March Economic Activity

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

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

Statewide Economic Highlights

  • North Central Idaho’s Clearwater Economic Development Association launched its “Dream It – Do It” at its annual meeting in February. Southeastern Washington is also part of the initiative which uses materials from the Manufacturing Institute to focus on developing the next generation of manufacturing employees by encouraging greater career awareness of manufacturing. The initiative is also supported by Idaho-Lewis County Technical Education Foundation, Lewis-Clark State College, the Northwest Intermountain Manufacturers Association, the Southeast Washington Economic Development Association and Valley Vision.
  • Idaho Power Co. reported 2014 net income of $189.4 million, up from $176.7 million in 2013. Last year’s high returns will allow Idaho Power to share earnings of approximately $25 million with Idaho customers under the Idaho regulatory settlement, according to Darrel Anderson, president of the utility’s parent company. Net income in the last quarter was $34.2 million, compared with $27.4 million a year earlier.

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Northern Idaho Shares Hot Jobs Demand

With unemployment rates down to levels not seen since the start of the recession and job growth on the rise, job seekers are becoming more strategic when looking for work and seek jobs in demand

Overwhelmingly, the health care sector and its occupations top every ranking — growth, number of jobs in the economy, annual openings and highest wages, according to the Idaho Department of Labor’s latest long-term state and regional job projections through 2022 regional projections which look at pay and growth prospects.

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New IdahoWorks FAQ for Job Seekers

Beginning June 1, 2015, the Idaho Department of Labor is launching a new IdahoWorks, the free online system job seekers use to find jobs, create resumes and profiles that can be matched to employers and career exploration options. ​As the launch date nears, more information will be added to this list, so please check back often.

Q. What is the new IdahoWorks?

A. It is a user-friendly Web-based workforce development system that connects job seekers to jobs, employers to qualified talent and workforce professionals to tools that improve efficiency and employment outcomes. It is powered by the America’s Job Link Alliance. Continue reading