- Associated Press - Saturday, May 31, 2014

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Idaho’s population grew 1 percent from 2012 to 2013, but a decrease in job activity caused the state’s larger cities to lose residents or not grow as fast, according to state labor officials.

The Idaho State Journal (https://bit.ly/1rgXNjO ) reports that Idaho’s population increased by more than 16,500 during that time frame, with most of the growth taking place in the state’s 10 largest cities.

Idaho Department of Labor regional economist Dan Cravens said the exception was in Pocatello -the state’s fifth-largest city- which lost nearly 400 people during the same time frame. Chubbuck and Blackfoot, also in southeastern Idaho, lost residents, but on a smaller scale.

Cravens noted that while the overall state population grew, bigger cities aren’t growing as fast as they have in the past, adding that low wages and a lack of jobs may be driving residents away. Data on where the residents are moving, however, are not available, Cravens said.

In 2013, Bannock County, home to Pocatello, had just about 37,500 jobs. Before the Great Recession, the county had more than 40,400, according to the state’s labor department.

Southeastern Idaho also hasn’t kept pace with the rest of the state’s or nation’s per-capita income. In 2012, Bannock County fell below the national $43,000 average per-capita income by as much as $13,000. Bonneville County was slightly above the state’s $34,000 average per-capita income.

“People need to work, and if they can’t find a job in a given community or given area, they (may have to) leave that area or community,” Cravens said.

Health care fields, like registered nurses, physical therapists, physician assistants and dental hygienists, have grown since the economic downturn in 2008. But young people studying math, science, engineering and technology are leaving the state, Cravens said.

The labor statistics coincides with a recent Gallup poll that also showed a large portion of Idaho residents are likely to move within the next year because of work or business-related reasons. Only a small portion reported that they wanted to move because of a need to change or to improve their quality of life.

“We want them to be happy and to do well. But we also want them to have the ability to stay in the area,” Cravens said.


Information from: Idaho State Journal, https://www.journalnet.com

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