Monthly Archives: December 2016

Rural Idaho: Population Decline to Reduce Available Labor Source in Next Decade

This is the third of a three-part series about Idaho’s rural economy. This part projects how rural Idaho’s population by age group and labor force participation will look in 10 years based on the previous 10-year trends.

Part one examines elements impacting Idaho’s rural economy today, including population, educational attainment, industries, occupations and wages.

Part two evaluates which dynamics influence rural Idaho’s dwindling labor force.

The population divide between urban and rural Idaho is expected to widen over the next decade, following a national trend that favors urban areas. This will create continued challenges to the economic success of Idaho’s rural areas by limiting the human capital available to employers.

The state’s population is expected to increase by over a quarter of a million people to 1.9 million by 2025.

fig-1Source: Communications and Research Division, Idaho Department of Labor, 2016; Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016

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Rural Idaho: An Analysis of Today’s Dwindling Labor Force

This is the second of a three-part series about Idaho’s rural economy. This part evaluates which dynamics influence rural Idaho’s dwindling labor force.

Part one examines elements impacting Idaho’s rural economy today, including population, educational attainment, industries, occupations and wages.

Part three projects how rural Idaho’s population by age group and labor force participation will look in 10 years based on the previous 10-year trends.

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A lack of skilled labor is an ongoing struggle for Idaho’s rural economy. Idaho’s rural labor force has not grown since 2010; during the same period, the state’s urban labor force grew by more than 7 percent. The question of labor force is therefore critical to evaluating rural economies. Specifically, it is important to understand what caused stagnation in rural labor forces. In this analysis, we evaluate demographic and economic factors to determine whether rural labor force issues are caused by the usual suspects – aging and economic conditions – or whether there are other, undiagnosed problems. This analysis suggests that rural Idaho’s labor forces have declined for demographic and economic reasons, and not due to cultural or structural factors which are unique to rural economies.

Idaho’s unemployment rate – the ratio of the number of unemployed persons to the total number of participants in a labor market – is often viewed as the go-to measurement of economic health. Yet it can be misleading as the unemployment rate can decline both due to employment growth – unemployed persons finding work – and a decrease in the total labor force – unemployed persons stop looking for work altogether. The former case represents an increase in economic activity, while the latter does not. Continue reading

Rural Idaho Today: An Overview of Components Impacting its Economy

This is the first of a three-part series about Idaho’s rural economy. This part examines elements impacting Idaho’s rural economy today, including population, educational attainment, industries, occupations and wages.

Part two evaluates which dynamics influence rural Idaho’s dwindling labor force.

Part three projects how rural Idaho’s population by age group and labor force participation will look in 10 years based on the previous 10-year trends.

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Labor force is a key ingredient for economic success, and labor force statistics help measure how successfully the economy is performing. The demographics of Idaho’s labor force differ in fundamental ways between its seven urban counties — Ada, Bannock, Bonneville, Canyon, Kootenai, Nez Perce and Twin Falls – and 37 rural counties. These differences spell out the challenge of economic growth and development in rural areas

Older Population

The labor force in Idaho’s rural counties reflect the intensity of their aging population. The change of baby boomers from their 40s and 50s in 1995 to their 50s and 60s has resulted in a decrease in the workforce 35 to 44 years of age and a big increase in the number of people 55 and over, as the chart of workers on payrolls shows in Fig. 1. In addition, labor force participation rates for people 55 and older have risen over the past 30 years as more have enjoyed longer lifespans and better health.

In the U.S., the average retirement age rose from age 62 in 1995 to 65 in 2015.

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Around Idaho: November 2016 Economic Activity

Information provided in this article is from professional sources, news releases, weekly and daily newspapers, television and other media.

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

NORTHERN IDAHO – Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai & Shoshone counties

Bonner County

  • Thorne Research – a Sandpoint-based nutritional supplement manufacturer – announced it is pulling out of northern Idaho. The company, which employs 270 people in the region, will build a new facility outside of Charleston, South Carolina. The new facility is expected to open in 2018. At that time Thorne plans to close all its northern Idaho operations. Source: Bonner County Daily Bee

Kootenai County

  • Kootenai County’s building division has hired two out-of-state companies to conduct and plan reviews in an attempt to work through a large backlog of building permits. Permit requests in the county are at an all-time high – even surpassing the boom of 2005-2007 – and the county’s building division lacks the staff to keep up with demand. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • A toxic blue-green algae outbreak has been detected in the chain lakes along the Coeur d’Alene River. Health advisories have been issued by the Panhandle Health District, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and the Coeur d’Alene Tribe encouraging people to avoid eating fish from the affected lakes and to avoid recreating near visibly polluted water. Source: Spokesman Review

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