The Idaho Labor Shortage of 2024

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Strategies for Employers of Entry-Level Workers in Idaho

Idaho’s labor shortage created challenges for businesses seeking to hire entry-level workers since the state’s growing economy and low unemployment rate have led to fierce competition for talent, making it increasingly difficult for employers to fill vacant positions.

Businesses had to retain low-performing employees for longer, recruit employees with fewer qualifications, reject new clients, and maintain waitlists for their services due to labor shortage.

Idaho has 53 available workers for every 100 open jobs.[1]

In March 2024, Idaho’s unemployment rate was 3.3%.

The number of unemployed Idahoans increased by 18.5%, equal to 5,054 people, while the total number of employed people increased by 1.2%, equal to 11,222.

Idaho observed an overall increase of 3.7%, or 30,800 jobs, in the nonfarm sector, the highest percentage change in the nation.

Most of the primary industry sectors experienced a surge in job opportunities, except for other services (-1.8%), information (-1.1%), and finance and insurance (-0.3%).

In March, all of Idaho’s MSAs or Metropolitan Statistical Areas saw an increase in nonfarm job opportunities compared to the previous year.

Coeur d’Alene observed the highest percentage increase at 4.8%, followed by Lewiston (4.1%), Boise (3.2%), Idaho Falls (3.2%), Pocatello (2.3%), and Twin Falls (1.6%).[2]

The labor shortage in Idaho is attributed to several factors, including a rapidly expanding economy, low benefits, and shifting workforce preferences.

With a thriving tech sector, a strong agricultural industry, and a growing service sector, the state’s demand for workers has outstripped the available supply.

The state’s population is growing faster than the national average, increasing demand for goods and services.

An aging workforce is retiring, creating a challenging gap for employers to fill, particularly in industries that rely heavily on entry-level workers.

Younger generations increasingly seek jobs that offer flexibility, career advancement opportunities, and an excellent work-life balance.

Strategies for Employers of Entry-Level Workers to address the labor shortage in Idaho

1. Offer Competitive Compensation and Benefits:

Employers must offer competitive compensation packages and a comprehensive benefits program to attract entry-level workers.

A survey among direct care workers revealed that 70% needed access to a retirement plan, and 60% were not eligible for health insurance, even if their employer provided it.

Out of the respondents, only 18% had health coverage through Medicaid expansion.

The survey also found that the average hourly wage of direct care workers is $14, and most workers said they would continue in their jobs if the wage increased to $19 an hour.[3]

Conducting market research to determine industry standards for wages helps to ensure that wages are fair and competitive.

Offering benefits such as healthcare coverage, retirement plans, and paid time off can entice top talent to join your team. These benefits help establish a positive and supportive workplace culture.

2. Invest in Training and Development:

Attracting and retaining top talent is critical for any business since the market is competitive. Training and development opportunities can be a powerful way to attract and retain entry-level workers looking to build their skills and advance their careers.

By offering on-the-job training, mentorship programs, and tuition reimbursement, businesses can demonstrate their commitment to employee growth and development.

These opportunities help employees improve their skills and knowledge and increase job satisfaction and engagement, leading to higher retention rates and better performance.

Training and development programs can help businesses stay competitive and adapt to changing market conditions by ensuring their workforce has the skills and knowledge to meet evolving customer needs and industry trends.

3. Enhance Workplace Culture:

Employers prioritizing employee satisfaction and well-being can build a reputation as desirable employers and increase their chances of retaining top talent.

Businesses should promote teamwork, communication, and employee recognition to create a supportive and inclusive work environment.

Encouraging team members to collaborate and communicate openly can foster a sense of belonging and connection among employees, improving job satisfaction and productivity.

Recognizing and rewarding employees for their hard work and contributions can boost morale and motivation.

Employers can offer incentives such as bonuses and promotions to show appreciation for their employees’ dedication and commitment.

4. Hire Non-Resident Workers using the EB-3 visa program[4]:

In the face of a persistent labor shortage, employers in Idaho can sponsor foreign workers through employment-based visas such as the EB-3 visa category.

The EB-3 visa is designed for skilled workers, professionals, and other workers who can fill positions for which qualified workers are unavailable in the United States.[5]

Employers can leverage the EB-3 visa program to access a broader talent pool and address critical staffing needs in their organizations.

5. Implement Flexible Work Arrangements:

Many entry-level workers are increasingly seeking jobs that offer flexibility regarding work hours and location.

Employers can attract a wider pool of candidates with other obligations, such as school or family responsibilities, by providing options such as remote work, flexible schedules, or job-sharing opportunities.

Flexible work arrangements also benefit employers by increasing employee satisfaction and productivity, reducing absenteeism and turnover rates, and improving work-life balance, leading to better mental health and overall well-being.

Employers can then create a positive and supportive work environment that fosters collaboration, innovation, and growth.


2024 Idaho warehouse workers labor shortage, warehouse workers labor shortage, EB-3 Visa green card jobs for warehouse workers

Employers across various industries face a significant challenge in Idaho, where the need for more entry-level workers is high.

Businesses can adopt strategies such as offering competitive compensation and benefits, investing in training and development, improving workplace culture, and exploring visa sponsorship options like the EB-3 visa program.

By implementing the strategies, employers can attract and retain talent, strengthening their workforce and maintaining market competitiveness.

As Idaho’s economy continues to grow and evolve, addressing the labor shortage remains a top priority for businesses seeking to thrive in the state.

Employers can position themselves for a long-term success and sustainability by understanding the underlying causes of the shortage and adopting targeted strategies to overcome it.

Through competitive compensation and benefits, training and development opportunities, workplace culture enhancement, and visa sponsorship options, businesses can navigate the challenges posed by the labor shortage and secure the talent they need to drive growth and innovation.

Employers must take a strategic and proactive approach to addressing the current labor shortage.

By embracing recruitment practices prioritizing diversity and inclusion, employee development initiatives, and a commitment to creating a strong and resilient workforce, businesses can position themselves as employers of choice in the region.

These strategies are keys to Idaho’s economic growth and prosperity as the state continues to attract businesses and residents seeking new opportunities and a high quality of life.

The state could remain a vibrant place to live and work if the above strategies were implemented.


[1] US Chamber of Commerce. “Understanding America’s Labor Shortage: The Most Impacted States”.

2 Idaho Department of Labor. “Idaho’s March unemployment rate remains at 3.3%”.

3 Ruth Brown. “Direct care workforce report finds shortages in Idaho. ”

4 USCIS. “Employment-Based Immigration: Third Preference EB-3”.

5 EB-3 Work.