NewsState of 208


Ada County works to keep up with growth in tight labor market

Posted at 11:52 AM, Aug 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-31 10:26:09-04

BOISE, Idaho — As the labor shortage continues to impact industries here in Idaho and across the country, many businesses are offering pay bumps and boosting benefits in order to stay competitive in a tight job market.

For Ada County, they're working to offer a 15 dollar minimum wage for all county positions, especially for in-demand blue-collar jobs.

"Now there's a lot of competition and the demand is far exceeding the supply, so the wages and costs of these blue-collar jobs are starting to go up," explained Ada County Commissioner Ryan Davidson.

According to data from the Idaho Department of Labor, the businesses finding it hardest to recruit workers are construction firms, home care agencies, employers of certified nurse aides, restaurants, motels, trucking, and package delivery companies.

The Ada County Landfill says they've also struggled to fill open positions. Davidson says as the county grows, they grow too--so landfill workers are crucial.

"I guess you could say it's part of our growing pains as we go through this unprecedented phase of growth. One of the consequences is we don't have enough employees to fill a lot of jobs," Davidson said. "It's putting a strain on the county, it's putting a strain on everybody so we have to be able to compete. If you want the quality of life in Ada County as you're used to, we have to fill these positions. We need to put a priority on making sure our employees stay here, they work their entire career here, and then they can retire comfortably."

Economic experts say there are a few reasons we're dealing with this shortage: one being that Idaho added jobs faster than any other state over the past year.

"Idaho and Utah were the only two states whose nonfarm payroll employment rose between March 2020 and March 2021," a report from the departmentreads. "The severe recession that began in December 2007 flipped the job market back to an employers’ market for a few years. But as Idaho’s economy has grown at an exceptional pace since 2012, the advantage has returned to job seekers."

Tom Otte has worked in the landfill industry for nearly his entire career. He says a healthy landfill is the key to a healthy community--and the staff who work there should be valued.

"We're a big important use for the county. We're environmentally essential. We make sure the trash goes to the right place and is taken care of responsibly," Otte said.

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