Bringing the Economy Home


Series: Jobless in Idaho


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The Idaho Department of Labor estimates there are nearly 65,000 people in the state who don’t have jobs.  Tens of thousands more are either underemployed or have stopped looking for work.

Idaho is one of a handful of states where the unemployment rate has gone up since the recession officially ended in mid-2009.  Idaho’s unemployment rate climbed to its peak in early 2011, nearly two years after the recession was declared over.

StateImpact Idaho is exploring who the unemployed are, what their struggles have been, and what they hope for.  We’ll track their job searches over the next several months and share their experiences with you.

Laid Off Mill Worker Uncertain of his Future: Allen Brown received his final severance pay check from the former Clearwater Paper mill in Lewiston on December 25th, 2011.  Brown is 44 years old, and a single father to three teenage girls.  “I’ve got my education and hoped I could ride that out until I retired,” says Brown.

Soldiers Struggle to Translate War Experience into Work: David Hampton is readjusting to civilian life after returning from deployment in Iraq earlier this year.  At 21, Hampton is now looking for his first full-time job outside a combat zone. “I’m a team player.  That’s all there is to it.  I’m just hoping they’ll give me the chance.”

A Single Mom Budgets to Keep Her Family Afloat: Kelly Barker lost her job in April 2011.  She and her young daughter are getting by on unemployment insurance benefits and food stamps.  “I’ve been blessed with so many things, but I really just want a job,” Barker says.

A Former HP Employee Struggles Through Years of Unemployment: Nathan Bussey lost his job in 2008.  So, he decided to go back to school and get an MBA.  He graduated in 2010 only to resume receiving unemployment benefits.  “You start going back and questioning months in the past, trying to figure out, ‘What could I have done better?’” Bussey says.

College Grad Starts from Scratch: Justy Thomas lost her job in the mortgage industry in 2007.  She decided to go to college and she received her undergraduate degree in December 2011.  “I wonder if I had gone back to work these last four years, and just pulled up my bootstraps and started at that ground floor again, and worked my way up, would I be satisfied, would I be more satisfied?  I certainly would be in less debt, certainly,” says Thomas.

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