Bringing the Economy Home

Idaho’s Underemployment Rate Drops, But It’s Still Well Above Pre-Recession Levels

The number of Idahoans who don’t have enough work declined between 2011 and 2012, but the state’s underemployment rate is still well above pre-recession levels.

The Idaho Department of Labor writes in its latest newsletter the 2012 underemployment rate was 16.9 percent. That means nearly 17 percent of Idaho’s workforce had part-time or temporary jobs when they wanted full-time work. That measure also includes people with associate’s degrees or higher, who are registered with an unemployment office and are searching for a different job.

Idaho’s underemployment rate in 2007, the year before the recession, was 10.9 percent. As this chart from the Idaho Department of Labor shows, as the economy worsened, those rates increased.

Idaho Department of Labor

Click the chart to enlarge.

The Labor Department says more than 20,000 Idahoans who were underemployed, found full-time work between 2011 and 2012. Idaho’s jobless rate has also declined steadily since the peak of the recession.

Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in April was 6.1 percent. That marks nearly two straight years of decline, but some of that recent decline is thanks to a shrinking labor force, which isn’t a good thing.

Like the unemployment rate, the underemployment rate isn’t a perfect measure. It doesn’t include seasonal workers.

The Labor Department says job listings with local employment offices have also increased. Last year, the number of full-time job listings increased 4 percent.

“Even with those gains, however, underemployment across Idaho remained at its second highest level of the past decade. Compensation is one of the key factors in determining underemployment, either in the case of involuntary part-time workers or those who took pay cuts after layoffs just to maintain a regular paycheck.

During the 12 months that ended in September 2012, the average weekly wage in Idaho was $691.04 for jobs covered by the unemployment insurance system – over 90 percent of all Idaho jobs. That ranked 49th among the states, ahead of only Mississippi, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.” – Idaho Dept. of Labor

As we’ve reported extensively in our Bottom Rung series, Idaho workers are among the lowest-paid in the country, and the state now has the highest percentage of minimum wage workers in the U.S.

The Idaho Department of Labor’s report also mentions the state has one of the largest shares of people with more than one job. The 2012 data won’t be released until later this year.

You can read the full report from the Labor Department, here.


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