View the chart: Idaho Industries
While there is great variation in population density and urban or rural character across Idaho’s counties there is more commonality on economic measures than one might expect. The sector employing the most employees in the majority of Idaho counties is government, with trade, utilities, and transportation (combined) employing the most people in the second most counties. No other sector is the largest employer in more than a few counties. There is more variation among Idaho’s counties in average wages, with Butte County constituting a notable outlier. Its average wage of $77,531 per year is more than $30,000 higher than the county with the next-highest average income. Idaho’s per capita income has been between $5,000 and $8,000 lower than the national per capita income for the past ten years. On the whole, unemployment is higher in the northern counties of Idaho than in the southern counties. 2011 is the first year since 2001 that Idaho’s unemployment rate has been higher than the national rate.
The State of Idaho Department of Labor compiles reports on wages and employment for each county in Idaho. While this data gives a fascinating picture of the state’s economy, some caveats should be kept in mind. First, a county’s average wage can give the impression than most people in the county earn more money than they actually do. This is because one or a few individuals with exceptionally high income can raise the average a great deal. There is a similar problem with the per capita income. Also, instead of dividing the total amount of wages by the total number of wage-earners, per capita income is divided by the total population, including children and retirees. A county will have lower per capita income if there are more children than if there are fewer children, even if the average wage remains the same.
To explore the data firsthand, visit our Idaho Industries interactive graphic.
For further information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Graphics and briefing by April Hoy.