Idaho workers' earnings are nation's lowest

Published: Thursday, Dec. 27 2012 9:16 p.m. MST

NAMPA, Idaho — The Idaho Department of Labor says the state ranks last in overall earnings by full- and part-time job holders.

The median annual wage in Idaho is $23,192. The department estimates a family of four needs $39,000 a year to sustain itself, but only about a third of Idaho jobs last year paid that much.

Labor Department spokesman Bob Fick says that is due in part to higher job growth in the low-wage service sector than the production sector, where mining, logging and manufacturing jobs pay more.

"The production side of the economy is where the money is," Fick said.

The Idaho Press-Tribune reports that since 1990, Idaho has gained 10,000 production jobs while the service sector grew by 210,000 jobs.

"You look at manufacturing in general in Idaho, and the only thing that's really held its own is food processing," Fick said.

As for construction jobs, there were 56,000 in 2007 compared to 31,000 now.

"It'll be another 20 years before we get back to where we were before the recession as far as construction goes," Fick said.

Fick says as a result, Idaho has one of the highest rates in the nation in which people work more than one job. He also noted that can be difficult for women with children with no child support.

"That's another tough situation when you have these low-wage jobs and the economy is evolving away from the higher wages to the lower wages," he said.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare said it has experienced an increase in requested services.

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