Idaho unemployment drops to historic low, worker shortage in construction and skilled labor

Posted at 5:26 PM, Oct 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-23 19:26:59-04

Idaho's unemployment rate has dropped to historic low numbers, according to the Dept. of Labor. 

September's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 2.8 percent, the lowest on record dating back to Jan. 1976. 

The booming economy is great for job-seekers as employers battle for the best Idaho has to offer.

"They are, most likely, trying to attract them from other employers through either wage increases or cultural amenities," Craig Shaul, Dept. of Labor research analyst supervisor, said.

Holding on to and attracting more workers is becoming a growing issue in construction and skilled labor positions. 

"Employers are having a hard time finding enough workers to fill the jobs that are open," Shaul said. 

Some businesses have to turn down work because they don't have the employees on hand to complete the requested job.

"Our industry growth this year has been a little bit slower than it has been in the previous two years, and that's not because employers are finding less demand for what they're trying to do," Shaul said. "In fact, in the case of construction, they can't fulfill their projects fast enough. They're having to let projects go, because they just don't have the work force to fill it."

The Dept. of Labor is working with employers and potential employees to address the need through grants and their Registered Apprenticeship program.

"We try to connect job seekers with education and education with employers," Shaul said. "We're constantly trying to be the middle man and bridge the gap between those universes." 

Local employers aren't alone in the struggle to find the employees they need.

"It's not just an Idaho challenge," Shaul said. "It's a national, it's a regional, it's a United States challenge."