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Do you remember Idaho's unemployment rate just as the recession was being noticed? It was 3%. The National Bureau of Economic Research said the great recession started in December 2007 and ended in June 2009. Since those declarations, Idaho's unemployment rate climbed to its peak of 8.8% in August 2010. By August 2011 it had dropped to 8.4%, and by August 2012 it was down to 7%.

Why Idaho Will Have Big Job Growth This Year

Mike Mozart, Flickr Creative Commons

For the past six months in a row Idaho has led the nation in job growth. That’s according to the Idaho Department of Labor, which cites data from Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The department predicts that job growth for all of 2016 will be between 3 and 3.5 percent.

That’s in line with another prediction we told you about recently from finance publisher Kiplinger which is known for making predictions in its weekly Kiplinger Letter. Last week it said Idaho would have the biggest job growth of any state this year. But it didn’t really say why. So we asked Kiplinger economist David Payne.

Payne says the main reason for Idaho’s job growth is that it’s kind of close to California.

“As California gets expensive, people and firms that want to expand look to other nearby states in order to expand,” Payne says. “And Idaho is getting its share of that.”

Payne says all the biggest American and international companies want to be in places like San Francisco. So those that aren’t quite the biggest are moving to Arizona, Utah, Oregon, Washington or Idaho.

So why will Idaho have the biggest growth of all those states? Math, Payne says. Idaho has the smallest population, and percent changes are more pronounced when you start with a smaller number.

Payne says the job growth Idaho is seeing is a decent mix of well-paying and low-paying jobs. He says Idaho needs both: High paying jobs are better for the economy overall but a state doesn't want high unemployment for low-skilled workers.

The best-paying new Idaho jobs are in tech, Payne says, either from company expansions or from people whose jobs allow them to work from anywhere and choose Idaho for quality of life reasons. Payne says most of the job growth is serving the population growth from in-migration.

“Employment is growing at a 3 percent rate or better in almost all the major Idaho cities, especially the Boise area,” Payne says. “There’s very strong growth in construction, professional and business services, healthcare, accommodations and food service.” 

Find Adam Cotterell on Twitter @cotterelladam

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