Idaho had significantly fewer workers earning at or below the minimum hourly wage in 2014, according to recently released data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“The labor market is tightening,” said regional economist Christopher St. Jeor. “As more people find work, it’s limiting the number of applicants available to take those lower paying jobs. It’s forcing those wages up. That’s a good sign for a healthy, growing economy.”
Between 2013 and 2014 the number of Idaho workers who say they earned at or below the federal minimum wage declined from 7.1 percent to 5.1 percent. Fifty-seven percent or 12,000 of the 21,000 Idahoans earning the federal minimum wage or less in 2014 were women. These women represent 5.8 percent of all working women paid hourly in Idaho, compared with 4.4 percent of all men (9,000) with hourly earnings at the minimum wage or less.
Idaho businesses also are reporting higher wages through the Occupational Employment Statistics program. Employers, like Scott Lynch, say they’ve been working to offer higher wages for workers, but worry inflation will minimize their efforts.
“If anyone goes around town and sees how much food is or even just as you’re buying everyday essentials, you’ll notice that they’re expensive and the minimum wage sometimes doesn’t cut it,” Lynch said.
Median wage data collected from Idaho employers by the department show the average hourly wage paid in 2014 was $19.12, up from $18.67 an hour in 2013. Idaho’s overall hourly median wage – where exactly half of Idaho workers make more and the other half make less – is $14.93, up slightly from 2013’s median wage of $14.68.
Detailed wage and employment data for more than 600 occupations in Idaho can be found by state and by region at http://lmi.idaho.gov/oes. This occupational dataset also includes employment levels for occupations across the state. Three of the occupational groupings – office and administrative, sales and food preparation – make up more than a third (35 percent) of all employment in Idaho.