If you're driving through the Treasure or Magic Valley in search of a "we're hiring" sign, you don't have to go far.
Idaho hit historic high rates of unemployment last year--but according to the latest data from the Idaho Department of Labor, Idaho's unemployment rate is now resting at 3.2%.
Bob Vetter, Manager of the Idaho Department of Labor's Caldwell Branch, says it's become a competitive job market--in a different way than years past.
"In years past, recessions past, it's been the other way around--there were lots of job seekers looking for a small number of jobs," Vetter says. "Now it's the other way around and job seekers should come and take advantage."
Boise Dev reports Craig Shaul, research supervisor with the Idaho Department of Labor, said the workforce fought to keep up with demand from employers prior to the pandemic. Then, COVID-19 broke out and Idahoans left the workforce due to childcare issues, early retirements due to health concerns and some workers took advantage of training programs to step into higher-paying careers.
“There’s just a lot more competitors for that pool of workers employers are looking for,” Shaul told Boise Dev's Senior Reporter, Margaret Carmel. “They have higher wage opportunities now.”
According to IDOL, Idaho is the first state in the country to see job growth recover to and even exceed pre-pandemic levels in almost all industries. IDOL reports seasonally adjusted jobs (except agriculture-related jobs) were up 1.4% over March of 2020. Six industries are showing the greatest job gains include financial activities (+9.4%) construction (+7%) and trade, transportation and utilities (+5.0%).
In order to help fill those jobs, the Idaho Department of Labor is holding several hiring events across the state--including a huge hiring event in Caldwell on May 19th with more than 100 employers with 3,000 jobs to fill. The all-day event starts at 10 a.m. and runs until 2 p.m. at the GALS Quad softball fields, 4700 Skyway St., in Caldwell.
"Large employers including Ada County, St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, St. Luke’s Hospital, Amazon and Capitol Distributing are looking for engineers, certified medical assistants, customer service reps, maintenance technicians, superintendents, forklift drivers, custodians, landscaping staff and more," IDOL said. "Many of the jobs pay between $11 and $29 per hour and include benefits. Several employers are offering signing bonuses."
As Idaho News 6 has reported, Gov. Brad Little announced Tuesday Idaho will stop participating in three federal pandemic unemployment compensation programs. A news release from Little says the decision is to help employers get people back on the job.
“Employers are telling me one of the big reasons they cannot recruit and retain some workers is because those employees are receiving more on unemployment than they would while working. We see ‘Help Wanted’ signs everywhere. Idaho has the strongest economy in the nation, and we are a top 10 state for best employment, but there is more we can do. It’s time to get back to work,” said Little. “My decision is based on a fundamental conservative principle – we do not want people on unemployment. We want people working. A strong economy cannot exist without workers returning to a job.”
On June 19, the following federal programs will end in the state:
- Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation – provides an additional $300 weekly payment
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance – benefits those who would not usually qualify for unemployment, such as the self-employed and others
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation – extends benefits once regular benefits have been exhausted
As Idaho News 6 has reported, work requirements are now back to what they were before the pandemic, according to the Idaho Department of Labor, which means if you're getting unemployment, you also have to be looking for full-time work.
"Unemployment insurance claimants are required to apply for two jobs per week or complete two work activities per week," explained Leah Reeder, an unemployment spokesperson with IDOL.