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Wages in eastern Idaho below national average

If you live in eastern Idaho, it looks like you may be making less than most Americans.

New statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show people in the Pocatello area make 19 percent less than the national average, while those in the Idaho Falls area make 24 percent less.

According to the report, the average worker in Idaho Falls makes $16.95 an hour while the average worker in Pocatello makes $18.02 an hour. The national hourly average wage is $22.33.

Linda Martin, CEO of Grow Idaho Falls, an economic development agency, said lower wages could bring more businesses to the area.

“If we have competitive wages, it may attract other companies to come in, and that means new money,” said Martin.

According to the BLS report, the largest chunk of jobs in the local economy are in the office and administrative support sector which accounted for nearly 17 percent of all jobs in the Idaho Falls area.

“Those tend to be a little bit lower skill. So if your largest share of employees is in a lower skill set, then those would reflect in the averages for the average worker as a total,” said Martin.

Martin said there are a lots of people who want to live in eastern Idaho so badly that in some cases they’re taking jobs they’re overqualified for.

“We have a lot of people that live here that want to be here for other reasons, so we have a higher underemployment rate,” said Martin.

Martin said wages in Idaho Falls are increasing – even if growth is slow.

“Part of the statistic said that the average worker was $16.95 an hour, which actually is an increase from previous statistics that I have. So I would say we’re moving in the right direction,” said Martin.

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