The Idaho Economy

Why an influx of retirees to Idaho is creating more low-wage jobs

Retirees don’t need high-paying jobs. They need services that pay minimum wage.

Boise State Public RadioAugust 13, 2013 

  • Bottom Rung

    This article is part of the “Bottom Rung” series produced by StateImpact Idaho, a reporting project of Boise State Public Radio and NPR focused on explaining how economic issues affect you. StateImpact Idaho has ended. Business Insider is publishing this article and a few more in coming weeks as the project’s final contributions to the magazine. For continued coverage of Idaho’s economy, tune in to KBSX 91.5 FM or visit


    As defined by the U.S. Census Bureau’s North American Industry Classification System, these job categories fall under the “service sector” heading:

    Transportation and Warehousing


    Finance and Insurance

    Real Estate

    Professional, Scientific and Technical Services

    Company Management

    Administrative Support

    Waste Management

    Educational Services

    Health Care and Social Assistance

    Arts, Entertainment, Recreation

    Accommodation and Food Service

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 31,000 Idahoans earned minimum wage or less last year. That’s up 63 percent from 2011. The increase in minimum wage jobs here has given Idaho the unwanted distinction of having the largest share of minimum wage workers in the country.

The biggest reason is the rise of service employment, according to the Idaho Labor Department, is the recent growth in retirees here.

“The fact that we’re getting older so fast is something that will really have a huge impact, a profound impact on our economy and the kind of jobs we’ll have in the future,” says Bob Uhlenkott, the Idaho Labor Department’s chief researcher.

Read the full story on the StateImpact Idaho website.

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