Krista Fletcher dreams of being a stay-at-home mom who can attend all the school events of her 4-year-old son, Jonathan.
To get there, the 30-year-old Boise resident is working multiple jobs that keep her punching a time clock from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. most weekdays and several hours on many Saturdays.
The only day I wont schedule anything is on Sunday, Fletcher said. Thats just purely family day.
Fletcher is among thousands of Idahoans who bring home more than one paycheck. Idaho ranked 10th in the nation in 2011 in the percentage of workers who hold multiple jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rate rose slightly from 2010.
Among the top 10 states, six showed reductions in the number of people holding two jobs between 2010 and 2011.
The reasons some people must hold several jobs vary widely, depending on peoples circumstances. Agricultural states tend to have more people working multiple jobs because its tough to make a living solely off the farm, say Idaho Department of Labor officials.
Some people who work part-time jobs came to Idaho for lifestyle reasons and put higher priority on those than on a full-time career. As a result, you end up with a lot of multijob holders, said Brian Greber, director of the Center for Business Research and Economic Development at Boise State University.
But Idahos well-documented low wages could be playing a big role. Companies that move to the Treasure Valley often talk about the low cost of business here as a prime reason for coming.
Sixty-four percent of the jobs in Idaho didnt pay enough to provide a couple with sufficient income to support themselves and two children in 2011, according to the Idaho Department of Labor. Thats up from 60 percent in 2006. The livable wage for a four-person family was $18.23 an hour in Idahos metro areas in 2011.
A Seattle-based advocacy group that calculates living wages differently says 88 percent of the jobs advertised in Idaho dont pay the $26.44 an hour needed for a single parent with two children in 2009.
There is a fundamental ideal that hard work should get you a paycheck to survive, said Ben Henry, senior policy associate with the Alliance For A Just Society, an organization working to eradicate social injustices. What we are seeing in practice is that is a myth.
Idahos median hourly wage was $14.51 in 2011, ranking 43rd in the nation.
The recession also hit Idahos median household income, which dropped 9 percent from 2008 to $43,259 in 2010.
Stephen Cooke, a retired University of Idaho agriculture economist, said Idaho is caught in a low-wage trap.
Wages in low-paying jobs, such as those at call centers and discount retailers, are only about 1 percent less than the national average, Cooke says. But the greater the skills required for a job, the wider the gap becomes. Pay for Idahoans with professional, scientific and tech-services jobs, for example, averages nearly a third less than the nation, according to a study Cooke did in 2011.
Boisean Patrick Macaw stepped away from a job he had at a company where he was part-owner in 2009, just as the recession hit. He was without work for just four days before going to work at a manufacturing plant in Garden City. Three years later, and with three jobs hes also a security guard and a maintenance man for five apartment houses Macaw is making about 60 percent of what he did before.
He sometimes works 80 hours a week, operating on a couple of hours of sleep a night. Right now everybody has got to make ends meet one way or the other, he said.
Fletcher earns a little more than $50,000 a year from her jobs. She has worried about wages at times, but shes fixed on a goal that she and her husband, Matthew, set for themselves to reduce their debt, and they are making progress.
Fletcher said she has debt left from her younger years, and her husbands early retirement from the National Guard in June created a fiscal disruption. They turned to credit cards to help pay bills for several months.
Fletcher, a staff sergeant in the Idaho National Guard, works at Gowen Field handling community relations and preparing paperwork to ease the transition of guardsmen who are sent to other regions. She is also a freshman girls volleyball coach at Mountain View High School in Meridian. When that season is over, she works with children who need to develop anger-management and other social skills.
Her husband is building a business in construction management and expects to start working on energy-efficient homes. They are following the tenets of personal-finance guru Dave Ramsey, whose column runs Saturdays in the Idaho Statesman, knocking down debt on everything from a mortgage to a time share. They finished off a top bill on their snowball list and are working on another one. They are also socking money into savings each month.
One big thing we wanted to do was make sure we got out of debt as fast as we could, she said.
Fletcher is up at 6 a.m. to work out and get to work by 7. She finishes at the National Guard around 4 and heads to Mountain View for volleyball practice or meets with child clients in her other job.
When the bills are paid off and the mortgage paid down, she might reach her goal of being a stay-at-home mom. In the meantime, her busy days offer one benefit.
It definitely helps me sleep better, because Im exhausted, she said.
Bill Roberts: 377-6408, Twitter: @IDS_BillRoberts