Bringing the Economy Home

Idaho’s Quarterly Economic Forecast Places Growth On Old Industries

United Silver Corp.

Crescent Silver Mine in Idaho's panhandle. The region is known as the "silver belt".

Idaho’s chief economist predicts the state will remain in growth mode over the next few years, but the rate of that growth has been ratcheted down.

The Division of Financial Management’s quarterly economic forecast, authored by chief economist Derek Santos, lays out employment and sector growth through 2015.

The latest report estimates Idaho will continue to add jobs, although 2,500 fewer over the next three years than predicted in April’s forecast.

“Much of the drag on the labor market comes from a few slow growing sectors, like computer and electronics, miscellaneous nondurables, and financial activities. The encouraging news is that the growth rate is still positive, and being held up by several sectors that grew stronger and had an upwardly revised forecast this quarter, like food processing, mining, and construction.” – DFM’s July Forecast

The sectors Santos anticipates will see the biggest increases are some of Idaho’s mainstays: mining, agriculture and construction.

The new Chobani Greek Yogurt facility being built in Twin Falls is to thank for the ag-related jobs growth.  As for mining, the Division estimates about 3,000 people will work in the industry by 2015, an employment level the sector hasn’t seen in more than 20 years.

“Several factors point to continued employment growth in the state’s mining sector. They include strong metal prices, increased exploration, and forecasted national metal ore production increases.” – DFM’s July Forecast

Idaho’s construction jobs were hardest-hit by the housing bust and subsequent recession. Almost half of the sector’s jobs have vanished since 2007.

“Although there was a small uptick in construction in the first half of 2012, a large scale recovery will not start until 2013. It should grow 2.8% in that year, followed by 5.3% growth in 2014 and 4.5% growth in 2015. There are expected to be over 33,000 construction jobs in the Idaho economy in 2015. Some of the projected strength in the construction sector will come from a few large scale construction projects.” – DFM’s July Forecast

You can read DFM’s full forecast here.  It also includes pessimistic and optimistic alternatives.


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