Monday, May 21, 2012

Idaho Falls leads state in weekly wages, Pocatello in wage growth

Last week's numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed another decrease in Idaho unemployment, for the ninth straight month. But while trends in employment are the typical gauge of economic well being, earnings can provide a deeper measure of the value of economic change. All jobs are not equal and earnings are a measure of productivity and economic contribution.

Another set of BLS numbers, compiled in February, show earnings and jobs on the rise throughout the nation, with the Idaho Falls Metropolitan Statistic Area leading in Idaho. According to the data, the average weekly wage in Idaho Falls was $803, making it 64th in the nation. The weekly wage for Boise was $701 and Pocatello was $678.

Is there anyone who would dispute the effect the Idaho National Laboratory and the cleanup work at the Department of Energy site have on local wages? It would be interesting to see what average weekly earnings would be for the area absent the lab-related jobs.

On the six-month earnings growth front, Pocatello led the state, with at rate of 6.9 percent, 94th in the nation. Idaho Falls followed with 5.7 percent, while Boise posted a loss of -4.6 percent, ranking 326th.

Overall, 241 U.S. metros (64.7 percent) had experienced positive earnings growth over the year, but when inflation was factored in the number dropped to 179 metros (48.1 percent).

To eliminate single month abnormalities or disruptions, the average annual change in earnings over the previous six months was calculated. Before adjusting for inflation, 239 metros (64.2 percent) showed positive earnings growth. After inflation adjustment, the number of metros with real earnings growth dropped to 162 or 43.5 percent.

Alexandria, La., had the highest annual percentage growth in earnings, up 33 percent on average. Midland, Texas, was second at 27 percent. On the downside, Kokomo, Ind., experienced an average annual earnings decline of 24.8 percent, followed closely by El Centro, Calif., with a drop of 22.2 percent. Economics Average Earnings in US Metros 0412.pdf