Idaho employers anticipate growth, show concerns about turnover in state survey

Idaho Department of Labor inaugural survey captures top concerns for business leaders

By: - September 7, 2023 4:30 am
Downtown Boise seen from the Boise Depot

The State Department of Labor released the results of its inaugural Idaho Employer Business Climate Survey for 2023. The survey is meant to measure the top concerns for Idaho businesses and understand leadership demographics, remote work trends and future growth expectations among Idaho employers. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

High turnover rates and the supply and cost of workers are among the top concerns for Idaho employers, according to a new report from the Idaho Department of Labor. 

On Tuesday, the Department of Labor released the results of its inaugural Idaho Employer Business Climate Survey for 2023. The survey is meant to measure the top concerns for Idaho businesses and understand leadership demographics, remote work trends and future growth expectations among Idaho employers. 

Craig Shaul, a Department of Labor research analyst supervisor, said the survey is meant to fill a gap to provide “real-time” statewide data that is not always publicly available. 

“There are aspects of Idaho’s economy that national studies and public data just don’t provide for Idaho, which includes an analysis of remote work and the demographics of Idaho’s employer leadership,” Shaul said in a press release. 

Below are key takeaways from the survey: 

Most employers, or 56% of respondents, said they expect to gain workers over the next five years, while about 40% of respondents reported their employment neither grew nor shrunk in the past three years despite the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Those that anticipated a decrease in employment include employers from real estate, rental and leasing industries and educational services.

The top five business concerns for Idaho employers, according to survey, include: 

  1. Supply or cost of workers, 31%
  2. High labor turnover, 22%
  3. Economic uncertainty, 16%
  4. Supply or cost of non-labor inputs, 12%
  5. Taxes, regulations, or other public policies, 9% 

With high labor turnover being a top concern, about 44% of respondents said job switching was the main reason for labor turnover. 

Employers in the arts, entertainment and recreation industries noted that many employees left their jobs to return to school or enroll in a job training program. Retirement was a top reason for labor turnover in several service industries, and only 14% of respondents cited an employer-initiated decision as a top reason for labor turnover. 

Demographic makeup of Idaho employers

The survey also looked into the demographic makeup of the state’s business leaders, finding that Idaho’s business leadership is predominantly led by white, non-Latino men. Men account for about 59% of Idaho business owners. About 87% of Idaho business leaders identified as white, compared with 81% of the state’s total population. 

Meanwhile, Latinos account for about 12% of Idaho business leaders, similar to the state’s makeup of Latinos, which is at 13%.  

According to the survey, businesses with Latino leadership look to be slightly younger than most businesses in the survey, with 36% of Latino-led businesses founded since 2018. 

Idaho industries with the highest number of Latino leadership include:

  1. Construction, 22%
  2. Health care and social assistance,  11%
  3. Retail trade, 9%
  4. Professional, scientific and technical services, 9%

The four industries above represent a combined 52% of entities with at least one leadership member identified as Latino. No Latino leadership was identified in industries including administration and support, mining, public administration or utilities industries.

Remote work in Idaho remains low, survey shows

The survey showed that most Idaho employees work in person. According to the survey, nine out of 10 people work in person rather than remotely or hybrid. 

Industries with a large share of remote workers include “those centered around the creation, exchange and curation of knowledge and data,” meanwhile industries with less remote workers include goods-producing industries and many customer service industries.

Department of Labor to continue business climate survey each year

Shaul thanked the businesses who participated in the inaugural survey. 

“We appreciate the businesses that responded to the survey and hope the results serve as a valuable resource for Idaho employers who participate in future studies,” Shaul said. “Higher participation rates lead to more accurate and useful data points to monitor the strengths and challenges of doing business in Idaho.”

Click here to read more about the 2023 Idaho Employer Business Climate Survey.

The survey was a collaborative effort of the Idaho Department of Labor’s regional labor economist team and the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs. 

It was distributed via email to 90,000 emails pooled within the Idaho Department of Labor in March with a two-week period to collect responses. The survey collected 2,360 responses, with about 95% of respondents representing private businesses. 

This year was the first time the Department of Labor conducted this survey, which was meant to capture the state’s labor trends that accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a press release Tuesday, Labor officials are planning to conduct an annual business climate survey to quantify the most current issues impacting Idaho businesses.


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Mia Maldonado
Mia Maldonado

Mia Maldonado joined the Idaho Capital Sun after working as a breaking news reporter at the Idaho Statesman covering stories related to crime, education, growth and politics. She previously interned at the Idaho Capital Sun through the Voces Internship of Idaho, an equity-driven program for young Latinos to work in Idaho news. Born and raised in Coeur d'Alene, Mia moved to the Treasure Valley for college where she graduated from the College of Idaho with a bachelor's degree in Spanish and international political economy.