The Idaho Department of Labor’s new list of “Hot Jobs” details the occupations that pay the most, have the highest number of jobs and are projected to grow the most over the next eight years. The questions are: What companies are hiring people for these jobs? and Where are they located?
Idaho’s top 10 “Hot Jobs” include registered nurses, who have the highest level of employment; physician assistants, who are the fastest growing; and pharmacists, who have the highest median wage. These rankings signify the importance of health care in the growth of Idaho’s economy.
Who’s Hiring, Which Occupations and Where?
The Conference Board’s Help Wanted Online Series identifies the companies with jobs to fill and where they want to fill them. The number of posted openings for a specific occupation can indicate the demand for that skill.
Every day Help Wanted Online compiles job postings from more than 16,000 sources including traditional job boards, corporate boards and social media sites, removing any duplicates. This analysis compares openings for the 10 hot jobs posted between Oct. 8 and Nov 6 with openings posted between Sept. 7 and Oct. 7 and openings between Oct. 8 and Nov. 6, 2013. Weekly posting volumes dating back to October 2010 are used to show the four-year demand trend for each occupation.
Employers posted 37 openings for pharmacists between Oct. 8 and Nov. 6. Walmart and other retailers topped the list. There were also a number of health care providers. Staffing companies accounted for several postings. They specialize in the personnel processes required to hire workers, which saves the employing business time and resources that might be better used elsewhere.
The number of postings during the target period was below the previous 30-day period, and both were below the year-earlier level. But there has been a positive trend in openings for pharmacists over the past four years despite significant seasonal and year-to-year variability. The comparative increase in postings over time indicates increasing demand.
For a city to be a hot spot for any occupation, the city’s share of the openings should be higher than its share of the state’s total incorporated population.
Boise fit the bill for pharmacists. It has 19 percent of the state’s incorporated population – the population that lives within city limits – but 31 percent of all pharmacist openings during the target period. As the state’s largest city – its population is more than twice any other city – Boise provides services to much of southwestern Idaho including neighboring Nampa, the state’s second largest city, and Meridian, the third largest.
There were 1,182 postings for registered nurses over the target period. While St. Luke’s Health System topped the list, these postings were primarily offered through staffing agencies, likely due to the high volume of hiring in this occupation. High volume postings for occupations like registered nurses, who are consistently in demand, are often subject to a practice called trolling, where businesses maintain job postings indefinitely in case qualified applicants inquire. This practice distorts the true volume of hiring depending on market conditions.
Reflecting the growth projection of 2.4 percent per year, the weekly number of postings for registered nurses has generally increased over the past four years subject to seasonal and year-to-year variability, but the variability of postings over time is significantly less than other hot job occupations, suggesting a relatively constant demand or the use of trolling practices – or both.
Boise and Idaho Falls were the two hot spots for registered nurse postings followed by Coeur d’Alene and Caldwell.
Physical therapist postings are also provided primarily by staffing agencies. Trinity Health – the nonprofit parent of St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center – was the first nonstaffing employer on the list. Overall, postings were down from the previous 30-day period, which was down from the previous year.
The four-year trend shows a slight decrease in the volume of physical therapists postings over time, indicating demand is contracting, but seasonal and year-to-year variability make it difficult to assess the overall direction of this trend.
The geographic distribution of physical therapist postings does not follow the population share. Idaho Falls, Coeur d’Alene and Lewiston all rank well ahead of Boise in the number of postings during the target period despite combining for only 12 percent of the state’s incorporated population. Orofino, which has only three-tenths of the incorporated population, accounted for 9 percent of the physical therapist postings, possibly because both a medium-security prison and one of the two state mental hospitals are there.
Software Developers, Applications
Staffing agency Adecco posted the most software developer jobs, but the vast majority of those openings were posted on behalf of other employers.
The total number of postings from Oct 8 to Nov. 6 was higher than either the previous 30 days or a year earlier, but the number of weekly postings over the past four years has remained relatively stable, increasing very slightly during that period.
Boise businesses accounted for the lion’s share of software developer postings. Outside Boise and Meridian, no city had more than 2 percent of postings.
St. Luke’s Health System posted four physician assistant openings during the target period, the most of any employer. Total postings were down from the previous month and a year earlier.
While physician assistant postings experienced a significant increase in late 2011 and 2012, by 2013 they had returned to pre-2011 levels. The trend has been flat and slightly decreasing over the past four years.
The geographic distribution of the postings is relatively diverse, reflecting the necessity of small communities to employ health care providers. Physician assistants offer a lower cost alternative to doctors for small areas that may not be able to support the skills a doctor provides.
Industrial Machinery Mechanics
Vestas, a wind turbine manufacturer with projects throughout southern and southeastern Idaho, and KCO Resource Management, a staffing company, both posted two jobs for industrial machinery mechanics. Within the October-November 2014 target period, there were only 27 postings for this occupation.
The weekly postings over the past four years suggest rapid growth for industrial machinery mechanics despite seasonal and year-to-year variation.
For the target period, industrial machinery mechanic jobs were primarily posted in the Boise area. Jobs were also posted in northern, southern and southeastern Idaho.
Premier Technology, Extreme Electric Inc. and the U.S. Army each posted three electrician openings in the October-November period. The Department of Defense posted two openings, but over two-thirds of the listings came from “unspecified” employers, a category that includes Craigslist and other informal job postings.
While the seasonal trend associated with the construction industry is reflected in the four-year job posting trend for electricians, the overall trend shows an increasing number of postings over time.
About one-third of all job postings for electricians were in Boise, but not surprisingly, the resort towns of Hailey and Ketchum near Sun Valley made up 7 percent of all postings, reflecting the importance that construction plays in these local economies.
With only 18 job postings, dental hygienists are the lowest-posted among the hot jobs, and most of these jobs were from “unspecified” employers.
Despite the few postings, the four-year trend for hygienist jobs is increasing.
Boise, Twin Falls, Lewiston and Parma have the highest number of postings in the state.
Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists
Firms in diverse industries posted jobs for market research analysts and marketing specialists during the target period. The tech firm Oracle and Thompson Reuters, a mass media and information company, posted the most. Marketing firms, universities and government agencies were all represented.
Total postings were down from the previous 30-day period but significantly higher than a year earlier. The general, four-year trend is for postings to increase over time.
Over two-thirds of the posted openings were in Boise followed by Moscow, home to the University of Idaho.
Enterprise Medical, a medical staffing firm, Comphealth Inc., a health care staffing service, and Nimiipuu Health, the Nez Perce Tribe’s health center, posted the most openings for nurse practitioners during the October-November 2014 period.
While postings are down from both the previous 30-day period and a year earlier, there is a positive four-year trend for nurse practitioner postings.
Nurse practitioner postings were relatively evenly distributed around the state with Lapwai, the location of the Nimiipuu Health Center, accounting for the largest number.
Ethan.Mansfield@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
(208) 332-3570 ext. 3455