New research from the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy reveals wages across the country have risen by more than 21 percent in the last 40 years, while Idaho wages have barely moved at all.
Fiscal Policy Analyst Sasha Pierson says even though each dollar stretches about 7 percent further in Idaho, due to our relatively low cost of living, it doesn't make up for our difference in wages, since Idaho is more than 20 percent below the national average.
"In 1977 the average Idahoan earned about 5 thousand dollars less than the average American. Today, that difference is 14 thousand dollars. So after adjusting for inflation, we've seen the gap between Idaho wages and the national average increase by almost 300 percent."
According to the quarterly report, Idaho added nearly 11,400 new jobs new jobs in the first quarter of this year, but many of those jobs are in the food services and healthcare industries, which both have below average wages for the state.
Stakeholders point out that Idaho's relatively low college degree attainment rate may be contributing to the state's lackluster wage growth. The share of Idahoans with a 4-year degree is lower than the national average and that difference is growing.