Monday, June 8, 2009

Agriculture: Driving Economic Force in Idaho

Agriculture Accounts for One in Six of all jobs in Boise

Boise--Despite PR efforts showing Boise as a high-tech, metropolitan hub,one in six of all jobs in the city of trees is tied to agriculture, and that might be why the metro area is not suffering as bad as other urban centers during the country's economic slow down.

Overall, agriculture accounted for 46,300 of the metro area’s 272,000 jobs in 2008, generating $958 million of the region’s $10.1 billion payroll. Statewide, agriculture accounted for 129,000 of 653,400 jobs, providing paychecks totaling $2.8 billion of the $22.1 billion paid in wages last year.

The Boise metropolitan statistical area is comprised of Ada, Canyon, Boise, Gem and Owyhee counties.In 2008 as the national recession impacted the economy overall, agriculture offered some stability even if the wage rates are significantly below much of the rest of the economy. Total wages statewide dropped fractionally from 2007 and average employment was off more than 7,000 across all sectors – 5,000 of that in the five-county area. But agriculture posted fractional increases in both employment and wages in the metro area and statewide.

The U.S. Agriculture Department identifies 197 specific industries in the economy’s agriculture sector. They range from direct crop and stock production, processing, supplying producers and processors with goods and services and wholesaling and retailing the end products.

Crop and animal production on farms and ranches accounted for only a fraction of the agriculture jobs – 3,600 in the metro area and 16,500 statewide. Both were up slightly from 2007, when they generated sales of nearly $1 billion, according to estimates from Economic Modeling Specialists Inc.

Agricultural services like veterinary care, processors, marketers not to mention input providers like fertilizer and machinery makers provided only a slightly larger number of jobs – 8,800 in the Boise area and 29,400 statewide. That was an increase of 5 percent to 6 percent in both areas with sales estimated at $2.7 billion in 2007.
The vast majority of the agriculture sector employment was in the peripheral and indirectly related businesses like retailing and wholesaling, the mining of the raw materials for farm inputs and the production of containers for food products at various stages in the commercial chain. Those jobs accounted for 74 percent of the agriculture sector jobs in the metro area – 34,000 – and 64 percent statewide – just over 83,000. Sales were estimated at $2.1 billion in 2007.

While jobs in that part of the sector were up fractionally statewide, they were caught in the substantial contraction of the metropolitan economy in 2008, dropping nearly 1 percent from the year before.

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