Idaho is in ‘death spiral’ of poor education, low wages, executive says

broberts@idahostatesman.comJanuary 9, 2014 

Idaho is trapped in a toxic cycle with an insufficiently educated workforce that can’t break free of low-paying jobs, a Boise business executive told Idaho lawmakers Thursday.

Bob Lokken, CEO of WhiteCloud Analytics, said highly educated Idahoans are leaving the state and being replaced by people with less education.

“I would contend that puts us in a little bit of a death spiral,” said Lokken, whose company specializes in health-care software. He spoke at the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce's annual luncheon for legislators.

Idaho ranks at the bottom of the states in per-capita income and leads the nation in the percentage of its workforce earning the minimum wage.

“This is the death spiral: I am trying to grow a knowledge-era business in the state of Idaho, and I can’t find the critical knowledge workers I need,” he said.

Lokken said the new Idaho Core Standards, a rigorous set of goals for what students should know, give the state a chance to break free from an education system that sends too few students to college and requires a high rate of remediation for those who do go.

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Bill Roberts: 377-6408

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