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Idaho Jobs Pay Less, But Cost Of Living Also Lower

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By Jay Michaels

Twin Falls, Idaho (KMVT-TV / KTWT-TV) When it comes to working in the Gem State, there's good news and there's bad news. The Idaho Department of Labor says that workers here rank dead last in the nation when it comes to individual median earnings.

A Department of Labor economist says the Gem State lost many of its higher paying jobs during the great recession, including mining and logging jobs. She says many of those jobs have taken a back seat to high tech jobs in the Northwest US.

Regional Economist Jan Roeser says, "In Idaho we have a lot of agriculture these days, and ag is a lower paying job. We have a lot of jobs that are seasonal, so those jobs also wind up and we're stuck without a job for a certain time period."

Roeser says the US Census figures were used to calculate the individual median earnings of all full and part time workers, which averages out to just over $23,000 a year. She says when people look at overall wages, they often don't factor the cost of living into the equation.

Roeser says, "We have very moderate housing and real estate costs. Our electricity is some of the lowest in the nation. So we can get by on a little lower wage."

Roeser says in both the entire state and the South Central Idaho region, roughly 20 percent of workers are under employed. In other words, many people are working, but are still looking for another job.

Roeser says, "So we've had some major losses in the recession, but overall, we're never been a real high wage state." She says right now food processing is the biggest growth industry in Idaho, which is tied to high commodity prices.

Dec. 31, 2012.


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