Report Details Idaho's Hispanic Labor Force and Economic Status

Friday, December 3 2010

Written by Bill Loftus

MOSCOW, Idaho – The recent recession doubled the unemployment rate for Idaho's Hispanic workers to 15 percent in 2009 from 7 percent in 2007, according to a report prepared by the University of Idaho in partnership with the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs.
The November report on Hispanics in the state’s labor force and economy is part of the university’s "Idaho at a Glance" series and the second of three issues devoted to Idaho’s Hispanic population.
Idaho’s 63,000 Hispanic workers make up 9 percent of the state's civilian labor force, proportionately less than Hispanic workers' 14 percent share of the national civilian workforce, according to the report. From 2000 to 2009, the number of employed Hispanic workers in Idaho grew by 47 percent, compared to 5 percent among non-Hispanic workers.
Undocumented workers, defined as those who are foreign-born, non-citizens without legal immigration status, make up 3 percent of the state's labor force compared to 5 percent nationally. Estimates on undocumented workers – who can be of any nationality or ethnicity – are developed by the Pew Hispanic Center for all 50 states.
Idaho's Hispanic workers most commonly work in low-skill occupations that reflect lower educational levels compared to the state's non-Hispanic workers.
In 2009, just over half of Hispanic adults ages 25 years and older had a high school diploma and 7 percent had a college degree. Among non-Hispanics, 92 percent had a high school diploma and 25 percent had a college degree.
"The purpose of our 'Idaho at a Glance' report series is to get objective, timely data from credible sources into the hands of Idaho's policy makers," said Priscilla Salant, the university's Boise-based outreach and engagement coordinator and an economist in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. “Our three-part series on Hispanics is intended to inform policy discussions and program development on a wide range of topics with implications for this growing part of Idaho’s population.”
"The University of Idaho’s reports on Hispanics provide basic, easy to understand information that isn’t available elsewhere. The reports provide legislators and others with a good snapshot of what our population looks like economically and its importance to Idaho," said Margie Gonzalez, the commission's executive director at Boise.
About 11 percent of Idaho's Hispanic workers hold agricultural jobs, compared to 1 percent of the state's non-Hispanics. Nationally, about 2 percent of Hispanics hold agricultural jobs.
Manufacturing employs 17 percent of Hispanic workers compared to 9 percent of non-Hispanics in Idaho. Nationally, manufacturing employs 11 percent of Hispanics and 10 percent of non-Hispanics.
The report showed the number of Hispanic workers and businesses grew rapidly during the past decade. Hispanic-owned businesses grew 40 percent between 2002 and 2007. Business receipts grew 28 percent to $450 million from $352 million during the same period.
Idaho Hispanics' buying power, the money people can spend after taxes, equaled $2.5 billion in 2009 compared to non-Hispanics' buying power of $41.3 billion.
The first report in this three-part series was issued in June and focused on the size and characteristics of Idaho's Hispanic population. The third report will be released in 2011 and will focus on Hispanics and education.
This "Idaho at a Glance" report is part of a series issued by the University of Idaho's Indicators Team and the James A. and Louise McClure Center for Public Policy Research in partnership with the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs. The reports on Idaho’s Hispanic population and other topics can be found at