Wages

Oregon could leapfrog Washington to have the highest state minimum wage in the country if the Democratically-controlled legislature approves a proposed increase.

Kyle Green / Idaho Statesman

An annual accounting of Idaho government payroll shows the state last year paid $1.47 billion in salaries, taxes, healthcare and insurance costs.

The annual report from the Idaho Controller’s Office shows more than a third of the state’s 25,033 workers are earning less than $40,000 each year. About 10 percent earn more than $70,000.

Idaho Capitol Dome
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

For a second year, a joint legislative committee has unanimously supported increasing wages for Idaho's 17,000 state workers in fiscal year 2016.

The bipartisan Change in Employee Compensation Committee proposed awarding a 3 percent pay boost on a merit basis. This means, however, not everyone is guaranteed a raise.

The recommendation —estimated to cost nearly $30 million— now needs full legislative approval but is already expected to be supported by the governor.

Idaho Democrats predict more common ground than usual at the state Capitol this year. That’s because Idaho’s minority party leaders say many of the Republican proposals on the table are things Democrats have been pushing -- for years.

Democrats make up only 20 percent of Idaho’s Legislature. House Minority Leader John Rusche says they’re used to their bills not even being printed.

Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter is kicking off the 2015 legislative session with his annual State of the State address and budget proposal, where he outlines increased spending for schools, boosting state employee pay, cutting income taxes, and leaving some tough decisions up to the Legislature.

An idea Otter returns to repeatedly in his speech is that "Idaho learns."

Five of Idaho's neighboring states will ring in the New Year with an increase in their minimum wage. Idaho, meanwhile, hasn't seen an increase in its minimum wage since 2009.

Idaho's wage is the federal minimum, $7.25 per hour.

Not only is Idaho nearly surrounded by states with a minimum wage above the federal baseline, but it's nearly surrounded by states with the highest minimum wages in the country.

The new year will mean higher pay for low-wage workers in Oregon and Washington. The minimum wage in both states is set for an increase.

The State Board of Education has endorsed legislation that would set Idaho teacher pay based on performance standards and experience.

Board member Richard Westerberg says the state needs higher teacher salaries, and the plan would allow district to reward their best teachers.

Beginning teachers would see salaries increase from about $31,000 a year to about $40,000 a year over the next five years, and top-level teachers would see their base salaries rise from $47,000 to $58,000.

philanthropy.com

A recent report from the finance website Wallet Hub says Idaho is the third most-generous state (tied with Kansas). Utah and South Dakota topped the list. Wallet Hub looked at volunteer time and money donated using IRS statistics and survey data.

bea.gov

In 2013, per capita personal income rose 2.9 percent in Idaho according to a report out Thursday from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Nationally, per capita personal income grew 1.3 percent. Even with the growth, Idaho’s average per capita personal income of $36,146 remains nearly $9,000 below the national average.

Blaine County, home of Sun Valley, had Idaho’s highest personal income in 2013. Here are the top five counties:

firetruck, boise, firefighters
Nicholas D. / Flickr Creative Commons

The City of Boise and the Firefighters Union are negotiating a new labor contract. At issue is how much firefighters should be paid.

Last year, the average department employee made $85,000, plus another $50,000 for insurance and retirement, according to the Idaho Statesman. That’s up 24 percent from a decade ago. However, two years ago, firefighters refused a contractual raise.

Dan Popkey
Otter For Idaho Twitter

The news business as we know it is in crisis. It's been well reported that revenue has been drying up as advertisers move online, causing newspapers to shrink their staffs. Something that's less-often reported is how much the public relations business has been booming.

Census data released by the government this week show individuals and women in Idaho have the lowest median incomes in the country, while household and family median incomes are in the bottom third among states.

The data release is part of the U.S. Census Bureau's 2013 American Community Survey.

Idaho's median household income in 2013 was $46,783, meaning half the residents here earned more and half earned less.

This interactive map is shaded based on median household income.

Tax Credits / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho residents have among the lowest personal incomes in the nation but spend a higher percentage of their money on basic essentials compared to most others, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Idaho's per-capita consumer spending was $30,190 — just a few dollars higher than the per-capita spending in Utah and Hawaii. Nevada, Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi all came in lower.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The State Board of Education unanimously approved Monday pay increases for three Idaho university presidents.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that presidents of Boise State University and Idaho State University will receive 5 percent raises starting Sunday. The Lewis-Clark State College president will receive a 3 percent pay increase.

The raises follow performance evaluations conducted in May.

BSU President Bob Kustra's salary will become $371,000, up from his current annual salary of about $353,000.

money, dollars, wages
401(K)2013 / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho's average wage increased by almost 20 cents last year. But wage growth isn't keeping up with the national average. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Employment Survey finds Idaho's average hourly wage for all jobs was $18.67 last year, that's up 19 cents from 2012. Still, Idaho's average wage was almost 84 percent of the national average, which is $22.33 an hour.  

The survey also found that half of Idaho's hourly employees earned $14.68 or less in 2013. That's a 10 cent increase from 2012. 

fast food, kitchen, minimum wage
Gorgeoux / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho’s share of minimum wage workers declined 0.6 percent from 2012 to 2013 according to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The drop means Idaho no longer has the largest share of minimum wage workers in the country; Tennessee has taken Idaho’s spot.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

A plan to give the governor, secretary of state, treasurer, controller and superintendent of schools 2.5 percent increases next year and each year thereafter has passed the Senate.

The Spokesman-Review reports the Senate voted 30-5 Thursday. The bill now goes to the House.

The bill calls for the attorney general's pay to rise next year to that of district judges, a 16 percent increase.

The lieutenant governor would receive a 19.6 percent increase next year, followed by 2.5 percent annual increases.

Whatever you already believed about raising the federal minimum wage, you now have more ammo for your argument, thanks to a report released Tuesday by the Congressional Budget Office, titled "The Effects of a Minimum-Wage Increase on Employment and Family Income."

Yes, you're right: Raising the wage in steps to $10.10 an hour by 2016 would push employers to cut jobs — about 500,000 of them, says the CBO, the nonpartisan research arm of Congress.

capitol, JFAC
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

About 17,000 Idaho government employees are a step closer to getting a 2 percent raise in fiscal year 2015.

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee voted Wednesday to build $11 million more into state worker pay starting next July.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter didn't recommend the raises.

But Republican Sen. Dean Cameron of Rupert said the timing was right to direct more money to government salaries for the first time since 2012.

Cameron says the budget panel is simply following recommendations of an employee pay committee.

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