How a changing workforce costs Idaho well-paying jobs

The problems with the state’s labor force are deeper than the loss of construction work, an economist says.



    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 one more next week 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

Not long ago, you could hear the buzz of power saws all over the Treasure Valley. It was punctuated by the steady rhythm of hammers and nail guns. More than 10,000 homes went up in Ada and Canyon counties in the two years before the recession hit. Then the sound stopped.

Construction is an easy culprit if you’re looking for an industry that has cost Idaho good-paying jobs. On average, construction workers in Idaho made just under $18.50 an hour last year. The industry employs 41 percent fewer people today than it did in 2007.

But retired University of Idaho economist Stephen Cooke says the loss of construction jobs isn’t the Idaho economy’s biggest problem.

Read the full story on the StateImpact Idaho website.

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