Anyone who wants to talk about tax and economic policy in Idaho needs to have a look at a report just out this week at the University of Idaho. The summary release on it has the provocative title, "Study Suggests Idaho Caught in Low-Skill, Low-Wage Jobs Trap."
Not too hard to intuitively understand, but this report nails the point with careful study.
Here's Bill Loftus' summary of the report, posted on the UI site:
Idaho's workforce earns nearly $11,000 less for each employee than the national average. That hurts both workers individually and the state, which suffers lower tax revenues to support basic services, a retired University of Idaho agricultural economist's analysis shows.
Economic data suggests that Idaho is caught in a low-skill, low-wage trap, said agricultural economist Stephen C. Cooke, who retired from the University of Idaho in December. He began studying the issue a decade ago.
"Why are wages so low in Idaho? That's the question I'm trying to answer," Cooke said. The answer is complex, he added, but key components include lack of a priority on educating the state's workforce and a failure to recruit enough highly paid jobs.
The consequence, Cooke said, is that Idaho's 660,000 jobs, essentially lose out on some $7.2 billion a year in wages each year compared to the national average. Idaho lags nearly $8 billion behind Colorado, where workers average $12,000 more a year.
The economy of the Rocky Mountain region in general can be characterized as caught in a low-skill/low-wage economic gap, Cooke wrote in the journal "The Review of Regional Studies" with co-author Bharathkumar A. Kulandaisamy, an agricultural economics graduate student. Their article was published earlier this year. (more…)