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IDAHO FALLS — Idaho Gov. Brad Little and Idaho Department of Labor Director Jani Revier met with local professionals Friday as Idaho faces a massive worker shortage.

The two spoke at an Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce lunch held at Riverbend Ranch. Revier said Idaho has approximately 58,000 posted job openings while about 26,000 people are unemployed. Statewide only 2.9% of people are unemployed, but River says of those people, only about 2,000 are receiving unemployment insurance.

“We are one of only two states that have positive job numbers above pre-pandemic,” Revier said. “Even though Idaho’s economy has rebounded in disruption quicker than any other state the course of the pandemic had the effect of intensifying or accelerating the conditions (before) the pandemic.”

Revier explained across the country baby boomers are retiring and younger people to fill the ranks of America’s workforce are not up to those numbers. People are also increasingly reevaluating their career choices and new normals in the workforce have all disrupted the job market, Revier said.

She advised business leaders to be aware of their high-performing employees as they could more easily find better-paying or more desirable jobs.

“It’s no secret that if you look at the graph and where we are, particularly in eastern Idaho relative to the rest of the state, and even more than the rest of the country, things are good here,” Little said.

Janie Revier
Idaho Department of Labor Director Jani Revier speaks at an Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerace Lunch Friday. | Eric Grossarth, EastIdahoNews.com

While things are “good,” Little said top issues facing Idaho are a shortage of affordable housing and quality daycare. The Associated Press reported earlier this month that Little wants to use federal coronavirus relief money to increase daycare capacity to help with Idaho’s worker shortage.

“We’re working with some of our legislative partners to see what we can do with some of this one-time money to create more affordable housing,” Little said. “It’s not easy … I think we can do it. It’s not going to be as fast as everyone wants it.

Specifically challenging is the building of all the infrastructure needed for the housing, and cooperation by multiple agencies from the state, local and contractor levels to get the affordable housing built in Idaho.

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