Idaho

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A Temp Agency Is The Top Employer In Rural Owyhee County

Nick KC7CBF / Flickr

An aerial view of Huston, Idaho on the border of Owyhee and Canyon Counties

One of Idaho’s largest private employers is a company with a name that doesn’t really explain what it does.  It’s called Marsing Agricultural Labor Sponsoring Committee Inc.  It’s basically a temp agency for farm workers.

The company employs between 500 and 600 people in Owyhee County according to data from the state.  And that’s a significant chunk of the local population.  Census data estimates about 11,500 people live in the county — one of Idaho’s largest at more than 7,600 square miles.  That means there are 1.5 people for every square mile.

Marsing Labor manager Robert Troxel isn’t surprised his company is the top private employer in Owyhee County.  He says Marsing Labor employs nearly 2,000 people when you count those living outside of the county, which he says many do.  “Most of the work is done in Canyon County – we have workers all over that county, from Parma to Nampa and parts in between,” Troxel says.

In fact, Troxel says the majority of Marsing Labor paychecks aren’t spent in the local economy because so many people live just across the county line.  “We’re just the base for the employment, structure,” Troxel says.  “They’re people that live in Canyon County that are hired by us, but that never come to Owhyee County, will never come to Marsing, or spend the money they earn in Marsing or Owhyee County.  We hire the workers and they get with the crew bosses, and away they go.”

2010 Census Quick Facts
Owyhee CountyIdaho
White76%89.1%
Hispanic or Latino25.8%11.2%
Median Household Income$33,441$46,423
People Below Poverty22.2%13.6%
Median Home Value $133,500$172,700

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Many of the employees at Marsing Labor are migrant or seasonal workers, and the company has housing available for about 450 people.  Troxel says work has slowed in the last couple of years, mostly because of mechanization and efficiencies in the farming process.  But as far as workers go, Troxel says there’s no shortage.  He says Idaho’s slow construction industry has sent many of those workers into farm labor.

Marsing Labor was established back in 1948.  Manager Robert Troxel says a farm labor temp agency filled a need at the time.  He says the region was just starting to become a big agricultural producer and farm owners needed help.  Then, by the 1990s, when workers’ compensation became mandatory, it was easier for a temp agency to keep track of necessary paperwork, rather than individual farmers.

Jessica Pupovac / NPR StateImpact

Click on the map to see the other top employers in Owyhee County

“So, the farmer likes me because he can pay us one check and they know everything is taken care of,” Troxel says.   “And the workers like it because they get one check from all the work they did that week, no matter how many different farms they worked at.  At the end of the year they get one W-2, its easier to deal with.”

Marsing Agricultural Labor Sponsoring Committee Inc. pays out about $7 million to workers each year.  The base pay is $7.50 an hour, and can be as high as $13 an hour.  Troxel says most of its workers stay in southwest Idaho, but he’s increasingly sending folks to other parts of the state and to Oregon.

Click here to see the top five employers in Owyhee County.

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