The biggest demand for workers in south central Idaho is in the second half of the year when weather is more certain. Two-thirds of all part-time and full-time job listings with the Idaho Department of Labor are placed from July to December – a favorable time of year encompassing crop harvests that underpin the regional economy as well as being conducive to completing construction projects. Retail picks up with back-to-school and the Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons.
The department’s job listings for south central Idaho have been increasing since the end of the recession as demand picked up from existing businesses that froze payrolls during the downturn and from new and expanding companies.
Transportation and warehousing had the most job openings. Agricultural production and new companies drove the transportation industry along with other occupational clusters. Transportation and warehousing require a lot of workers, but barriers to employment include driving under the influence of alcohol convictions and a history of speeding violations that raise company insurance costs. Physical requirements such as sitting for extended periods or lifting a certain amount of weight can also disqualify candidates. With an aging workforce, companies need to become more creative when finding capable workers.
Occupational groups posting the most openings reflect a growing population and economy. Office and administrative support openings rank second to transportation and warehousing. The demand for these jobs is a sign of a lively economy that needs back office staff to meet business needs, especially in smaller operations.
Manufacturing and production occupations have seen a marked increase from large food processors moving into the area and existing processors expanding, putting upward pressure on the labor market. There continues to be a significant increase in the skill level needed in processing plants as they become more automated to achieve greater production with fewer workers.
Health care continues to lead the industries in growth and opportunity for job seekers. In many cases health care practitioner and technician jobs are open for long periods of time, leaving providers to rely on traveling health care professionals to fill the void. The costs of these contract professionals are significant so it makes sense to hire staff to meet the needs of clinics, hospitals and assisted living and care homes.
Outdoor work and a wide range of skills necessary for troubleshooting problems are making agricultural jobs harder to fill. Crop production relies more on seasonal labor than livestock operations, particularly dairies that milk three times a day and require stable, dependable and knowledgeable workers.
Jobs that receive the most attention from job seekers are among job clusters that seem to require less education or experience. Management – a skill many people believe they possess because they have management experience, good people skills or an ability to manage a budget – are also gaining interest.
Call centers have tremendous hiring needs but also have a high turnover rate as the job duties can be tedious when dealing with difficult people and situations not easily resolved.
There are opportunities for advancement either laterally into a job with different duties or upward with promotions yielding more money and skill development. There are more opportunities for employment in south central Idaho, but job seekers may not be taking the time to develop a clear idea of what makes a satisfying work experience. Short assessments are available online at the Idaho Career Information System. Signing up is easy, and the time to complete the assessments is less than half an hour. Employers could test their best employees to see what they enjoy about their work environment and duties as well as select interests to determine a broad profile for future hiring.
Jan.Roeser@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
(208) 735-2500 ext 3639