Bringing the Economy Home


Bottom Rung: Living On Low Wages In Idaho


The share of Idaho workers earning minimum wage has grown from 5 percent in 2011 to 7.7 percent in 2012. The growth has put Idaho in the top spot for the largest share of minimum wage workers in the country.

How did that happen? And what’s being done to reverse the trend?

Our series Bottom Rung will try to answer those questions, and introduce you to the people living on low wages and consuming Idaho services, and experts who monitor these trends.

Latest Posts

Bottom Rung: Construction Jobs Gained And Lost, And Their Place In Idaho’s Economy

This week, StateImpact‘s “Bottom Rung” series is looking at low-wage work in Idaho. We’re asking why the state has an outsized share of minimum wage jobs. Construction employment was the starting point for the broadcast story that aired this morning. The construction industry suffered especially steep losses in the recession. In Idaho, the number of […]

Bottom Rung: The Workforce Shift That’s Costing Idaho Good-Paying Jobs

Not long ago, you could hear the buzz of power saws all over the Treasure Valley. It was punctuated by the steady rhythm of hammers and nail guns. More than 10,000 homes went up in Ada and Canyon counties in the two years before the recession hit. Then, the sound stopped. “’08 and ’09 were […]

Bottom Rung: Gov. Otter Touts Idaho’s Low Wages To Attract Gun Companies

Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter is using Idaho’s low wages as a selling point. In a letter sent to out-of-state gun manufacturers last month to encourage them to relocate to Idaho, Otter touts the comparatively low cost of labor here. This week we’re reporting on wages in Idaho. The governor portrays as an asset the wage […]

Bottom Rung: Migration By The Numbers

The latest driver’s license data suggests more 20-somethings are leaving Idaho than ever before. The net loss of Idahoans aged 21-30 last year was 149. The data show 11,530 young people moved to Idaho from other states in 2012, while 11,679 left. Source: Idaho Department of Labor | Idaho Department of Transportation The Idaho Department […]

Bottom Rung: Why An Influx Of Retirees To Idaho Is Creating More Low-Wage Jobs

There’s a brand new pizza joint in southeast Boise. It’s nestled in a mini-strip mall with a gas station, dry cleaner and hair salon. On a recent Friday evening, Franco’s Pizzeria was just starting to pick up. It’s a tiny place. The cash register is only a few steps away from the industrial pizza ovens. […]

Bottom Rung: Expenses Are Tough To Pay On Idaho’s $7.25 Minimum Wage

One in 13 hourly workers in Idaho earned minimum wage last year. That’s $7.25 an hour.The share of Idaho workers making minimum wage has increased from 5 percent in 2011 to 7.7 percent of the hourly workforce in 2012. That bump means Idaho has a larger share of minimum wage workers than any other state […]

Bottom Rung: Two Idaho Workers Talk About Life On Low Wages

Wages are lower in Idaho than in nearly ever other state. That’s often chalked up to Idaho’s rural nature and low cost of living. But recently, the state has lost ground. A federal Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows that Idaho has the largest share of workers earning minimum wage in the country. And that share […]

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