Idaho had a good month. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics September 16 report, Idaho employment increase from July to August by 0.5 percent, which translates to an increase of 3,200 jobs. While the August numbers sound promising, Idaho failed to make statistically significant job increases from August 2010 to August 2011.
Of course one month doesn’t make for a great year. A September report from the Brookings Institute shows that shows Boise is one of the 20 weakest metropolitan areas in the country for the second quarter of 2011. It’s no surprise to Idahoans that housing has been a major culprit, but according to the Brookings report, housing prices were 40 percent below their peak levels.
So it seems Idaho is sort of a mixed economic bag at the moment. Of course, according to Brookings, 21 other states have housing markets just as negative as the market in Idaho. So at least we’re not alone. And while the August increase in employment may seem slight compared to Arizona’s increase of 15,000 workers, it’s actually quite positive given the size of Idaho’s population. Arizona increased 0.6 percent while we increased 0.5 percent. That’s telling about our population and the growth we accomplished over the summer.
The key thing these indicators tell us, though, is that no matter how much impatient we are, things will not turn around quickly—but they will turn around.
One of the benefits of living and working in Idaho is the quasi-isolation we have from the rest of the world. We can worry a little less than other states about the European debt. We don’t live and die with every 300 point swing of the Dow, at least not most of us. The challenge is to remember that.
No one will say things are perfect. The Brookings report confirms that we still face an uphill battle. But the more we focus on what we have in the state, the better our growth will be.