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Idaho job growth projected to be sixth fastest in the nation through 2024

Published: Aug. 12, 2016 at 11:35 AM MDT
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The Gem State's job market is forecast to grow by 20 percent from 2014 through 2024, according to new long-term industry and occupational projections released Thursday by the Idaho Department of Labor. Annually, the projected rate is 1.8 percent per year – three times the national projection of 0.6 percent growth over the same time period.

Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona and Texas are projected to have the fastest job growth over the next decade.

Growth in STEM occupations – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – is expected to be particularly strong at a rate of 2.1 percent, compared with 1.8 percent for non–STEM occupations. According to the department's research analysts, the projected increase is encouraging for Idaho’s future, as historically, Idaho's growth in STEM occupations has fallen below national average growth rates.

Educational attainment by occupation reveals that by 2024, 61 percent of Idaho's new jobs will require an education level greater than a high school diploma with 29 percent requiring a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Projected job growth by industry mirrors Idaho's projected population makeup and its associated needs. The consumption of services expected from aging and retiring Baby Boomers, as well as expansion of a gig economy,* contributes to other services being listed as the fastest growing industry from 2014 to 2024. Construction follows with a projected 2.5 percent annual growth rate and an additional 43,300 jobs, but still 13,200 short of the industry's peak of 56,500 in August 2006, the height of Idaho's housing boom.

*A gig economy is defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as an economy of contingent or alternative employment arrangements, or both. Contingent workers are those who don’t have an implicit or explicit contract for long-term employment. Alternative employment arrangements include independent contractors, freelancers or consultants, on-call workers and workers provided by temporary help agencies or contract firms. Gig workers may also be included in counts of workers who are part-time, self-employed, or hold multiple jobs.

Idaho's projected hot jobs - jobs that are numerous, fast-growing and well-paying - reinforce the strong growth and demand for occupations that require education beyond high school and/or are a STEM occupation. Half of the top 20 hot jobs are STEM occupations and all but two require a bachelor’s degree or higher. Software developers top the list followed by lawyers, management analysts, accountants and auditors, and civil engineers. Demand for health care occupations is expected to remain strong and make up 13 percent of the state's top 100 jobs, with registered nurses claiming the 11th position.

Idaho's long-term projections are updated and released biennially, on every even year under the guidance of the U.S. Department of Labor. Projections are developed for jobs by industry and occupations with the primary goal of providing the public with valuable career information for sound decision-making. These employment projections are not a prediction of the future, but a model-based projection of what the economy will look like if it were running at full steam by 2024.