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Idaho Department of Labor dives into statewide workforce trends with survey

The first statewide Idaho Employer Climate Survey found that employer's top business concerns involve finding and retaining employees.

IDAHO, USA — Overall, employers and business leaders across the state are most concerned with finding and retaining employees, according to a new survey conducted by the Idaho Department of Labor

The department did its first statewide Employer Climate Survey to dive into current trends in the workforce. 

The department gets data from partners like the U.S. Census Bureau, but it says that information typically lags behind a few years. So, it conducted this survey in March to get real-time insight into Idaho's labor force. 

Labor economists presented some of their findings in a webinar Tuesday morning

"There's been a lot of changes in the economy and kind of landscape for Idaho in the last couple of years after COVID," Craig Shaul, research supervisor for the Idaho Dept. of Labor said. "It was kind of happening before, but the pandemic really kind of accelerated some things."

This Spring, the department surveyed about 2,300 business owners and leaders across the state to better understand what they're currently seeing in the workforce.

More than half of those surveyed said their top concern involved the ability to find and keep workers.

"Just under a quarter had said high labor turnover was their top concern," Matthew Paskash, a labor economist for the Idaho Dept. of Labor said. "While just under a third of respondents said that the supply or cost of workers was their top concern."

Almost two-thirds of employers surveyed who had job openings reported that their listings were up for longer than a month.

The Idaho Dept. of Labor found that the top reported reasons for employee turnover were employees leaving for another job, followed by retirement. 

"The large share of labor concerns across industries for the most part, it's stuck out more than I would have anticipated," Paskash said.

In the survey, the department also found that across all industries in the state, about 89% of businesses require in-person work, and about 11% of businesses have employees working remote or hybrid. 

Those numbers vary a lot depending on the industry.

"The only two industries that have a minority of in-person work arrangements for the state include professional scientific, and technical services; and information," Shaul said. "Which kind of makes sense because those industries are concentrating mostly on transferring information, analyzing - those types of things." 

Labor economists say the growth of remote and hybrid work since COVID have change the landscape for both employers and workers.

"For the workers themselves, it became an option in terms of, working from home that kind of helps alleviate some, some pressure in terms of reporting to work each day," Shaul said. "Also, for the employer, especially those that can offer remote or hybrid, it's a way to kind of expand their hiring pool."

A hiring pool employers said is shrinking.

"Scarcity issues were forefront for employers, that's certainly confirmed in the data," Shaul said.

The Idaho Dept. of Labor also surveyed business leaders on worker skills. Employers and business leaders report that over the next five years, they expect to see increased demand for soft skills - including leadership skills, time management, and teamwork.

The full webinar can be watched here. The Idaho Dept. of Labor expects to release the rest of the survey in mid-July.

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