The Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy released a research brief on how the state’s job growth has failed to bring Idaho wages in line with the nation.
Idaho added nearly 11,400 new jobs according to the quarterly report released this week, but many of these jobs are in sectors with below average wages for the state. Sasha Pierson, policy analyst at the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy, states, “We’re seeing Idaho get left behind. Wages across the country have risen by more than 21 percent since 1977 while Idaho wages have barely moved.”
The difference between Idaho private industry wages and the national average increased by nearly 283 percent from 1977 to 2017. Last year Idaho wages fell $14,000 short on average compared to the rest of the country after adjusting for inflation. Two of Idaho’s top three industries for job growth had below average wages for the state – a sign that the problem may persist.
Idaho’s relatively low cost of living makes only a small dent in the problem. Each dollar stretches about 7 percent further here, but this still leaves Idaho wages more than 20 percent lower than the national average.
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. If Idaho matched the national average there would be 58,100 more residents over 25 years old with at least a bachelor’s degree – more than enough to fill Albertson’s Stadium with Broncos and the Kibbie Dome with Vandals.
To continue reading this report, please open the PDF here.