Idaho may be growing overall, thanks to manufacturing and construction, but that isn’t the case in the Panhandle.
While the entire state has diversified its economy into transportation, computer chip manufacturing, insurance and government jobs, North Idaho still relies heavily on just a few industries: tourism, service and trade.
Panhandle wages did increase 3 percent from 1995 to 1996, following the increase of living costs.
However, goods-producing industries - the same sector that the governor’s administration is pushing as the state’s saving grace - isn’t growing in the Panhandle, said the Idaho Department of Labor.
The Panhandle manufacturing industry differs from the rest of the state. In North Idaho, it’s mining and construction. In the south, its computer chip manufacturing.
Panhandle manufacturing jobs decreased from 8,849 in 1995 to 8,654 in 1996.
And while job growth in the Panhandle outpaced the entire state with 5 percent compared to Idaho’s 3 percent in 1995 and 1996, the region’s high unemployment rate has followed, too.
“People are moving into the area faster than the jobs can keep up with them,” said Doug Tweedy, labor market analyst for the Idaho Department of Labor.