Idaho jobs recovery makes headway, report says

The economy should return to prerecession employment levels next year, according to the state's latest quarterly forecast.



The state Division of Financial Management says growth for the next few years in Idaho employment, housing starts and wages is expected to be slightly less robust than it previously thought. That's partly because a slight decline in statewide employment the last half of last year led to a downward revision in projections for growth over the next four years.

But employment is still expected to grow to about 670,000 in 2015, making up numbers-wise for the 50,000 jobs lost from 2007 to 2011. By 2017, employment is expected to have climbed 11 percent from last year's 639,000.

Idaho "is finally showing signs of the kind of recovery that the state has been waiting on since the Great Recession's official end in 2009," said the forecast, which is prepared four times a year by State Economist Derek Santos.

Other highlights:

Personal income has grown at 2.4 percent a year on average since 2009, about half as fast as it grew from 2004 to 2007. That's a reflection of the slow recovery.

But the forecast says personal income should grow at an average of 3.7 percent through 2017.

Wages are expected to grow, too, by 2.4 percent this year and 2.9 percent for each of the next three years.

The construction sector, which was among the hardest hit in the nation after 2006, has rebounded, with annual new-home starts doubling since 2011. Housing starts are expected to rise another 23 percent per year this year and next - an unsustainable growth rate that must eventually shrink, the forecast said.

Home construction fuels not only construction employment but also retail and service jobs.

Private employment is forecast to grow, but government employment is not.

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