The Idaho Department of Labor plans to eliminate more than half of its job service offices in the state, officials said.
Fourteen of the 25 offices will close by September, the Idaho Press reported Monday.
In the last 10 years, the department saw a 47% drop in federal funding for services at local offices, department director Jani Revier said.
The department faces high costs to upgrade local offices under the newest requirements for accessibility to the disabled.
“That’s really hard to meet in these rural communities,” Revier said.
With the new model, those requirements do not apply because workers are meeting with citizens in someone else’s facilities.
“This new approach has us out where we’re needed, as opposed to sitting behind a desk and waiting for citizens to find us,” labor manager Dave Darrow said. “We have more flexibility.”
Under the plan, there will only be six primary regional offices and five affiliate offices including in Boise, Idaho Falls and Pocatello, providing services for job seekers and employers across the state.
Moscow was the first to close its office last week.
Offices in Blackfoot, Bonners Ferry, Emmett, Grangeville, Hailey, Kellogg, McCall, Meridian, Mountain Home, Payette, Rexburg, St. Maries and Soda Springs will also close.
“It’s going to be a tremendous hardship on rural towns,” former state Sen. Shawn Keough said.
Services provided include job listings, computer access and career guidance for job seekers and recruitment, labor market information and tax credits for employers.
The department has more than 680 employees and a budget of about $94 million, the majority of which comes from federal funds to cover unemployment compensation and employment services.