The Labor Dept. said out of 50 states and Washington D.C, the gem state if 51st in total earnings by full and part-time job holders.
As the state has begun recovering from the recession. job numbers have started to return, but often in the low-wage service sector.
“Even in this region, we see low unemployment but we don’t see as many high way job opportunities as we’d like to see,” Dept. of Labor economist Dan Cravens said.
The Cravens said some of the reason behind the states poor pay comes down to another area Idaho doesn’t excel in: higher education.
“In educational attainment in 4 year degrees and post-secondary education we lag behind the rest of the country. This affects our ability to recruit those high paying employers who bring those high wage jobs,” Cravens said.
The median annual wage annual wage in Idaho is $23,000-$24,000.
Some feel the reason behind woeful worker wages in the state has more to do with business owners thinking in Idaho they can get away with poor pay.
Union supporters said laws like ‘Right to Work’ paved the way for local workers seeing less in their pay checks.
“People do deserve to make more money, and unfortunately some employers use a downturn in the economy in the wrong way. They make the people feel like they’re lucky to even be working for them,” International Brother of Electrical Workers Local 449 President Mike Meira said.
From supporting education to focusing on technology, the DOL said it is doing everything it can to get Idaho wages out of last place.
“Exploring many different avenues, many different ways that we can attract those higher paying jobs in the state. It is a top priority for the Idaho Department of Labor, a top priority for the state of Idaho as well,” Cravens said.