Is the Magic Valley workforce big enough to handle the increase in employer demand?

The unemployment rate in the Magic Valley is well below the national average
The unemployment rate in the Magic Valley is well below the national average
Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 11:53 AM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — By Saturday, June 19, federal unemployment insurance will be no more in the Gem State. The $300 a week payment is being ended by the governor’s office.

The Department of Labor in Idaho is also taking steps to get more people back into the workforce. On June 1, the Department of Labor reinforced its referral program. If someone receiving unemployment benefits and is referred to a job opening, they must apply within two business days to stay eligible for the benefits.

Putting you first, KMVT wanted to see how this could impact the Magic Valley, given the strong current economic conditions.

IES Custom Staffing, a staffing agency in Twin Falls, has had a real problem this year finding workers for their clients.

“It’s been a very discouraging year, I think for us, for the employers, for the people in the Magic Valley, the businesses,” said Frankie Woodworth, branch manager of the Twin Falls location.

But is it an issue of people making more money on unemployment?

“I have said a million times, I can’t compete with the government wages, and I can’t compete with their job, which means they let them stay at home and not work,” Woodworth said.

However, Woodworth said the companies she’s worked with have been willing to raise their wages.

“I’ve had employers who have said, ‘how many extra hours do I need to pay them a day to get these said carrots in the ground?’” Woodworth said. “For the most part, it didn’t matter, at that point in time, it didn’t matter how many hours they paid, you still couldn’t find them to go to work.”

The Idaho Department of Labor says the labor participation rate could be part of the issue.

“There seems to be fewer people participating now than there were before the pandemic started,” said Idaho Department of Labor Magic Valley Labor Economist Bonang Seoela.

The rate was around 66% pre-pandemic, but now it is about 64%.

In the Magic Valley, the unemployment rate was 3.2 percent in April. This is extremely low, considering full employment is considered to have an unemployment rate of 4-6%.

“A lot of folks who are in that labor pool, frankly, are unemployable, so really making sure we can get some of those other people who maybe are just taking a little pause, maybe they’re thinking about a career change, maybe they’re going back to school and they want to pick up some part-time work,” said President and CEO of the Twin Falls Area Chamber of Commerce Shawn Barigar.

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