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Idaho Labor Long-Term Study Forecasts Rapid Growth of STEM Occupations

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IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
  • Idaho Department of Labor


The need for an increasingly tech-savvy workforce will be a defining feature of the Gem State's economy over the next decade, according to a long-term study conducted by the Idaho Department of Labor.

The study, released Aug. 10, predicts Idaho's job market will grow by approximately 20 percent between 2014 and 2024. The annual job growth rate of 1.8 percent anticipated during that period is three times the national rate of 0.6 percent, and STEM occupations (science, technology, engineering and math) will grow at 2.1 percent. Non-STEM occupations will grow at 1.8 percent per year.

By the end of the study's forecast period, 29 percent of jobs in Idaho will require a bachelor's degree or higher, and 61 percent will require educational attainment over a high-school diploma. 

According to the new data, as of 2014 there were more than 14,000 jobs in computer and mathematical fields in Idaho. By 2024, the number of those jobs is expected to increase to 18,354. Work in health care support will grow from 18,170 jobs to 22,421 jobs, while construction jobs will grow at a rate of 2.5 percent for a total of 43,300 jobs. Still, the study found construction lagging behind pre-recession levels—despite the industry's projected robust growth, total employment in the sector is forecast down 13,200 jobs from the high of 56,500 jobs recorded in August 2006. 

Changing demographics will also play a role in Idaho's shifting economic landscape. Conditional or alternative "gig" jobs like independent contractors and freelancers will expand, making "other services" the fastest-growing industry during the decade of the study. Services rendered to Baby Boomers will also play a role in the shift as that generation ages and its needs change.