Annual Manual 2018: Boise's Unfilled Labor Pool 

A new Idaho Department of Labor report breeds occupational optimism

"Americans," wrote The Economist in 2017, "are admirably optimistic about shaping their own future." That's especially true in Boise, where people are relocating in droves, searching for a higher quality of life, good schools, safe neighborhoods, outdoor recreation and, of course, a gig to put food on the table.

Its rapidly expanding economy makes Idaho—and particularly the Treasure Valley—a great place to live and find work, and though it has a national reputation as "The Potato State," it's also gaining traction as a tech hub, and there's high demand for workers in the medical sector. That's good news, since more irons in the economic fire means more prosperity for more people—a better life for everyone.

"The more diverse your economy is, the more healthy it is," said Craig Shaul, a regional economist with the Idaho Department of Labor. "The last recession we had was focused on the housing bubble that burst, and construction was kind of overheated. ... A more diverse economy—you're more resilient to different shocks."

click to enlarge JASON JACOBSEN
  • Jason Jacobsen

In mid-June, the Department of Labor reported Idaho's unemployment rate had held steady at or below 3 percent for the last nine months, and while that may entail stiff competition for some open positions, there are more than enough jobs to go around, especially for applicants with tech and medical education or experience.

Particularly in demand on the tech side are general computer occupations, software developers, application developers, market research analysts and web developers—jobs bolstered by legacy employers like Micron and, increasingly, a vibrant startup culture that has sprung up across the Treasure Valley.

"In the last four or five years, [tech jobs] certainly grew faster than they [did] in the last decade," Shaul said, adding that many computer-related occupations cross-apply to other sectors of the economy. "They get plugged into any industry."

An aging population is driving growth in the medical field, and in Boise, there is an urgent need for registered nurses and nurse practitioners, health educators, physician assistants, physical therapists, medical technologists and pharmacists.

"Healthcare—we project it's going to be our fastest-growing industry, and it's going to be the largest industry. It's still in demand," Shaul said.

To help folks get their Job Market Researcher Badge, we've pulled info from the Idaho Department of Labor's Hot Jobs report, which uses its own data and a D.C.-based think tank to compile a list of the hottest underfilled jobs.

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