See our other posts on the top jobs in various states.
For this post, we’re going to identify the best jobs in Idaho for 2012, which means we’ll be looking at the jobs that pay the most, have grown the most since 2007 (when our economic troubles began), and are the most concentrated. Our observations are based solely on labor market data analysis from EMSI’s 2011.4 Complete Employment release, which is drawn from more than 80 state and federal data sources and includes workers not covered by unemployment insurance (e.g., self-employed workers).
An important note: Our most recent years of proprietor data (2010, 2011) are still estimates because of the lag time in Bureau of Economic Analysis releases. Thus, any numbers that have to do with 2010 and 2011 are approximate.
So first, the big picture. Jobs in Idaho have declined 5% since 2007, dropping from over 922,000 to an estimated 875,000 — a loss of about 48,000 jobs. For a state with a relatively low population, this is a lot, so finding the best jobs might be something of a challenge. (See this post for more on Idaho’s relatively poor performance since 2007.) Unemployment stands at just over 66,000 in a population of nearly 1.6 million. The average earnings for an Idaho employee is $40K a year. In 2010, there were 18,000 completions in higher ed programs.
Table 1 shows all the jobs that earn more than $40 per hour (2011 median hourly wage). Six of the top ten are healthcare-related: physicians & surgeons ($77.84), dentists, general ($68.03), orthodontists ($56.27), oral & maxillofacial surgeons ($56.01), pharmacists ($47.62), and dentists, all other specialists ($45.47). The highest-paying non-healthcare jobs are chemical engineers ($52.10), engineering managers ($49.28), physicists ($48.48), and nuclear engineers ($47.91).
Some helpful definitions:
Oral & maxillofacial surgeons perform surgery on mouth, jaws, and related head and neck structure to execute difficult and multiple extractions of teeth, to remove tumors and other abnormal growths, to correct abnormal jaw relations by mandibular or maxillary revision, to prepare mouth for insertion of dental prosthesis, or to treat fractured jaws.
Engineering managers plan, direct, or coordinate activities in such fields as architecture and engineering or research and development in these fields.
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- The best job on this chart is probably nuclear engineers. Besides paying well, it has the highest concentration — 2.54 LQ. (For more on LQ, click here.) It hasn’t added that many jobs (63 in the past five years), but it’s had a lot of growth, and the number of new jobs matches that of both pharmacists and education administrators — much larger occupations for whom 60-odd jobs aren’t nearly as big a deal.
- The only healthcare job with a concentration above 1 is dentists (1.28 LQ), which means Idaho is below the national average for the majority of healthcare jobs.
- Most of the highest-paying jobs haven’t actually grown that much, and some have actually declined. Ten of the 16 jobs inched up by single digits, while judges dropped -5%, engineering managers -11%, and computer hardware engineers -22%.
- Four of the highest-paying jobs are related to engineering (SOC Code 17), and these have all grown since 2007.
- Every single one of the jobs on this table requires a first professional degree, a bachelor’s degree, a doctoral degree, or a degree plus work experience.
Here we want to examine two things: the percent growth, and the total number of new jobs since 2007. We also will use a filter on the next two tables which gives us only the jobs that earn above $25 per hour and employ more than 500 workers. The analysis will not include educational occupations like “elementary school teacher.”
Growth by percent:
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- Healthcare occupations dominate.
- Electrical power-line installers & repairers grew the most — 17% growth since 07. However, the occupation category only added 230 new jobs.
- Registered nurses grew by 16%, adding over 1,500 jobs. There are currently over 11,000 RN jobs in Idaho.
Growth by numbers:
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- As we might have expected, registered nurses comes out on top with 1,556 new jobs.
- The other jobs aren’t even close: electrical power-line installers & repairers (230 new jobs), medical & health services managers (192 new jobs), financial managers (170 new jobs), and physical therapists (143 new jobs).
Some handy defs:
Medical & health services managers plan, direct, or coordinate medicine and health services in hospitals, clinics, managed care organizations, public health agencies, or similar organizations.
Financial managers plan, direct, and coordinate accounting, investing, banking, insurance, securities, and other financial activities of a branch, office, or department of an establishment.
Putting both tables together: which job has the best growth? In Idaho, we’d have to give it to registered nurses, and this supports another conclusion we can draw based on this analysis: most of the fastest-growing jobs (both percent- and jobs-wise) are in the healthcare camp—just like the top high-wage jobs.
Concentration is measured by location quotient (LQ), and is basically another way of saying regional specialization. In other words, high LQs reveal the most compelling jobs for a particular region. The bad news is that when we look at the most concentrated jobs in Idaho, we see almost nothing but decline. Table 4 gives us the picture (again, with a filter that limits us to just the jobs with 500+ employees):
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- Forest & conservation technicians has a very high LQ in Idaho (15.16), but has only gone down since 2007 (-1% growth, down 26 jobs).
- The worst plunges are in sawing machine setters/operators/tenders, wood (-32%, down almost 500), logging equipment operators (-27%, down 300), mechanical engineering technicians (-24%, down 180), and electrical engineers (-23%, down 465).
- Farming, fishing and forestry occupations (SOC 45) — three out of four are in decline.
- Architecture and engineering occupations (SOC 17) — all four are in decline.
- Production occupations (SOC 51) — two out of three are in decline.
- Management occupations (SOC 11) — these three jobs have grown a tiny bit.
- Most of the highly concentrated jobs don’t pay that well; 19 of them make only $10 to $20 per hour. The highest-paying job is electrical engineers at $39.17, but — as we just saw — it has dropped by 23% and 465 jobs in the past five years.
- Sixteen of 25 jobs require some sort of on-the-job training or related experience. Only nine require a degree of any kind.
- Overall, the best job on the table is electrical power-line installers & repairers. It earns $29.85 an hour, has grown by 17% (230 new jobs), and has pretty strong concentration at 2.66.
For the curious:
Forest & conservation technicians compile data pertaining to size, content, condition, and other characteristics of forest tracts, under direction of foresters; train and lead forest workers in forest propagation, fire prevention and suppression. May assist conservation scientists in managing, improving, and protecting rangelands and wildlife habitats, and help provide technical assistance regarding the conservation of soil, water, and related natural resources.
The top jobs in Idaho are going to be in the healthcare family (especially registered nurses), plus nuclear engineers and electrical power-line installers & repairers. RNs have the best pay and have seen the best growth over the past five years. Nuclear engineers and power-line installers haven’t grown quite as much, but their pay and concentration are still solid. Especially when you factor in the overall occupational decline in Idaho, these three stand out as the best jobs for 2012.