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Economy
The share of Idaho workers earning minimum wage has grown from 5 percent in 2011 to 7.7 percent in 2012. The growth has put Idaho in the top spot for the largest share of minimum wage workers in the country. How did that happen? And what’s being done to reverse the trend?

Bottom Rung: Longtime Idaho Economist Stresses Education And Healthcare To Boost Wages

Idaho has the largest percentage of minimum wage jobs in the country. That’s been the jumping off point for StateImpact Idaho’s series examining wages; we’re calling it Bottom Rung.

We know that an aging population has had an effect on the kinds of jobs available, that a shrinking construction sector has played a part, and that a decrease in education funding could also be partly to blame.

To talk more about the trend, we recently sat down with economist and director of the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy Mike Ferguson. We also planned to speak with Idaho Department of Commerce director Jeff Sayer, but Sayer canceled our conversation indefinitely.

Q: You’ve got a bit of a chicken and egg situation here. Data from Census and IRS looking at migration patterns show the younger educated workforce is leaving the state, we’ve got older retirees moving in. Which needs to come first the educated workforce in the state, or the businesses that are going to pay high wages? Click here to continue reading...