Idaho Leads Nation In Job Growth, But Trails In Wages

Via the Idaho Business Review

Idaho’s nation-leading job growth has been widely reported, but a report by the Idaho Department of Labor says that Idaho isn’t as far ahead of its neighbors as it appears.

Idaho added the most jobs in the country between March 2015 and March 2016. The number of Idaho jobs increased by 3.6 percent. But several of Idaho’s neighbors kept close pace. Oregon and Utah both grew by 3.3 percent and Washington grew by 3.2 percent, according to the department of Labor.

But the wages for Idaho’s new hires are significantly lower than those in neighboring states, said Ethan Mansfield, regional economist with the Idaho Department of Labor.

“I’m just trying to point these things out in order to move Idaho into the 21st century,” Mansfield said. “There are ideas in the surrounding states (which employers to attract) that are providing higher earnings and are high-powered job engines.”

Idaho’s average wage for new hires in 2014 and 2015 was about $1,900 a month. That was $237 less than the average wage for new hires in Utah, $436 less than in Oregon and more than $1,000 less than in Washington.

The biggest difference between the four states is the type of jobs each state saw the most growth in. Most of the states saw a large increase in construction jobs (6.5 percent increase between March 2015 and March 2016), which paid wages well above Idaho’s average ($2,621 a month). Idaho’s top five industries also included hospitality and food service jobs, an increase of 6.2 percent paying an average of only $971 a month. Idaho also saw a large increase in educational services, 5.3 percent and an average salary of $1,451 a month; and retail trade, a 3.8 percent increase and an average salary of $1,556 a month.

Educational services?