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New study puts INL employment at 8,000

The Idaho National Laboratory directly employs 8,000 people, making it one of the state’s largest employers, according to a new study.

INL commissioned Boise State University to carry out an economic impact study of the nuclear research laboratory in the eastern Idaho desert.

The study, released Dec. 9, put the economic impact of the laboratory and its operations at more than $3.5 billion. Researchers included the U.S. Department of Energy Idaho Operations Office and the four private contractors working at the site: Battelle Energy Alliance (INL R&D and support services), Bechtel Marine Propulsion (Naval Reactors Facility operations), Bechtel BWXT Idaho (Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project) and CH2M-WG Idaho (Idaho Cleanup Project).

State government is the largest employer in Idaho. As of January, there were 19,276 full time, 4,566 part-time and 757 appointed or elected employees, for a total of 24,599, according to the Department of Labor.

But most of the funding for INL comes from outside of the state, said Geoffrey Black, chairman of the Department of Economics at Boise State and a researcher on the project.

“INL is not only the second largest source of jobs in the state, but nearly all of its funding comes from outside Idaho. This provides a huge shot in the arm to the state’s economy,” he said. “Particularly in the eastern part of the state, nothing else comes close.”

The Boise-based St. Luke’s Health System employs 8,641, according to spokesman Ken Dey. Wal-Mart employs 6,000 to 7,000 in Idaho, according to the Labor Department.

INL’s direct tax payments are higher than the cost of state-provided services used by the lab, the report said.

About Anne Wallace Allen

Anne Wallace Allen is the editor of the Idaho Business Review.