Idaho’s economy has been producing jobs faster than the nation and most states over the past two years.
Between October 2011 and October 2013, the number of nonfarm jobs in Idaho increased 4.2 percent, seven-tenths of a percentage point higher than the national increase, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only nine other states posted higher increases.
From October 2011 through March 2013 – the most recent period figures are available for – Idaho’s average wage on an annualized basis increased from $35,832 to $36,186, or by 1 percent according to federal estimates.
Nationally, the average wage rose 2.3 percent over the same period to $49,368.
Wage changes in the midst of Idaho’s economic recovery reflect a job shift over the past seven years. Using Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, 81.4 percent of Idaho’s nonfarm jobs in October 2007 were in the service sector, which at the time paid on average, about $31,500 a year. The rest of Idaho’s jobs were in goods production – primarily manufacturing and construction – which paid around $40,000 a year.
Using October estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the recession claimed over 31,000 production jobs and about 17,000 service-sector jobs. By October 2013, Idaho had picked up over 30,000 service-sector jobs, which were paying about $33,000 on average, but fewer than 7,000 production jobs, which, at the time were paying about $41,000.
That shift pushed the share of nonfarm jobs in services to 84.9 percent and the 3½-percentage-point increase over six years was the fourth largest of any state. Only Nevada, North Carolina and Arizona posted larger gains. Nationally, services grew from 83.9 percent in October 2007 to 86.2 percent in October 2013.
The effect of the recession and recovery – at least through October 2013 – was that Idaho replaced 24,000 production jobs paying around $44,000 a year with 14,000 service sector jobs paying around $35,000 a year.
The impact of the recession on wages has been seen across the occupational spectrum when measured by the median wage, which is the wage where 50 percent of the workers get paid more and the rest get paid less.
An analysis of the median wage in every state for 400 comparable occupations for 2002, the year after the 2001 recession, and 2012, the most recent year available, found that Idaho’s median wages moved from the 70th percentile among the states and the District of Columbia to the 74th percentile. To account for the fact that some occupations have thousands of jobholders while other have fewer than 100, the analysis weighted wages based on the percentage of jobs each occupation contributed to total jobs in Idaho.
Job growth appears to have occurred in occupations where Idaho has a wage advantage, and wages typically are a major, if not the major, cost of doing business.
Over the same 10 years, Idaho’s median wage for all occupations rose 21.2 percent from $25,000 to $30,300 a year while the national median wage for all occupations rose 25.5 percent to $34,750.
Even wages in Idaho’s wealthiest households felt the recession.
In 2007, the average income of the wealthiest 20 percent of Idaho households was $145,591. By 2012, the average income of the top 20 percent of households had fallen 9 percent to $132,490. Income rebounded slightly in 2012 to $138,442.
The hit on the richest 5 percent of households was even greater. Average income for that group dropped 17 percent, from $260,993 in 2007, to $216,223 in 2011.
The gap between the richest and poorest 20 percent of households was also smaller in Idaho than in most states. In 2007 the income of the richest 20 percent of households was 11.2 times higher than the poorest 20 percent.
By 2012, that gap increased to only 11.5 times.
Those kinds of income declines combined with Idaho’s continuing population growth – even if it has been modest in recent years – has also driven per capita income down.
Per capita income – all personal income divided among every man, woman and child was at $26,685 in 2000 increasing by about 29 percent through 2012. Nationally per capita income grew 44 percent over those 12 years.
Bob.Fick@labor.idaho.gov, Communications Manager
(208) 332-3570, ext. 3628
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This article originally appeared in the December issue of the Idaho Department of Labor’s monthly economic and employment newsletter. Interested in reading more articles like this? Please send an email to Donna.Corn@labor.idaho.gov to subscribe to the newsletter.