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Canyon County lost a fifth of its manufacturing jobs during the Great Recession, but the sector has been bouncing back over the last decade, according to the Idaho Department of Labor.

The county's labor market overall has seen notable growth in the past 10 years. That includes 6.6 percent growth in the manufacturing sector, said Robert Kabel, research analyst supervisor for the Idaho Department of Labor.

“While 6.6 percent can be considered strong industry growth, this is even more impressive after considering this sector lost close to 20 percent of its manufacturing jobs during the recession,” Kabel said.

The largest industry sector in Canyon County is manufacturing, followed by retail trade, and health care and social assistance.

The county's unemployment rate is at a record low, averaging 3.5 percent in 2017, Kabel said.

“While there has been positive over-the-year growth in this sector since 2010, the majority of the growth has come over the last three years,” Kabel said. “This fast expansion of manufacturing jobs contributes to Canyon County’s tightening labor force.” 

Kabel said this tightening labor force has also been reflected in a 14 percent decline in the number of job postings in the area compared to last year.

Jose DeLeon, regional business specialist for the Idaho Department of Labor, said there is a shortage of entry-level workers in manufacturing.

“We’re seeing growth in manufacturing, but it's sustainable growth because we don’t have enough people,” DeLeon said.

DeLeon said businesses are “growing as much as they have the manpower to take on that work.”

“A lot of smaller companies say, ‘I have work coming out of my ears, I just don’t have people to get it done,” DeLeon said.

Janell Hyer, research supervisor at the labor department, said construction companies in the area are hard-pressed to find enough skilled workers. Kabel said construction wages have increased, but not enough to attract a sufficient number of workers to the area. 

According to an Idaho Department of Labor report, construction is one of four industries that have not fared as well over the last decade — with mining, manufacturing and financial activities being the other three.

The report said that although each have seen gains in the past year, they continue to struggle in recovery efforts. Construction jobs remain 25 percent below the 2006, pre-recession levels, the report said. Trade, utilities and transportation has added more than 1,800 jobs. Education and health services; leisure and hospitality; and government each added more than 1,600 jobs, according to the report.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, commuting patterns have also changed in the area, including an increase in the number of Canyon County residents commuting to a job outside the county and a decrease in the number of people who live outside Canyon County commuting to a job within the county.

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