BOISE – Economic hardship is still widespread five months after Idaho re-opened the economy, with many low- and middle-income Idahoans still experiencing income loss and difficulty paying for basic household expenses, according to September and October Census survey data analyzed in a new report by the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy. This ongoing hardship is making day-to-day life difficult for many Idaho families, and hampering the economy’s full recovery. To address the hardship, Idaho lawmakers could provide direct aid to families most impacted by the recession and invest in core public services that support long-term economic growth, such as education and transportation. 

Modest-earning households bear the brunt of the hardship. Half of Idahoans earning less than $35,000 per year have experienced income loss since March, and about one-third of households earning more than $35,000 per year have experienced income loss since March.

Looking ahead, Idahoans of all income levels report that they expect to continue to lose income this fall. Nearly 1 in 4 of Idaho families earning less than $35,000 per year anticipate income loss between now and December and about 1 in 6 households earning more than $35,000 per year do.

“Continued pandemic-related hardship among Idahoans is heart-breaking. Not only does it damage lives in our communities, it hinders our state’s fragile recovery from the recession” said Alejandra Cerna Rios, director of the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy. “While it is up to federal policymakers to address another relief package that can meet the needs at scale, state policy makers can also play a role in pro-active responses. Direct assistance to Idaho households most impacted by job and income loss and investments in long-term economic growth such as public schools, transportation, and other key public services are common-sense policy goals.”

Idaho’s volatile unemployment is a considerable driver of income loss in the state. Unemployment in Idaho is more widespread for women and younger workers because industries such as hospitality, retail, and non-emergency health care are typically staffed by women and young workers.

Due to job and income loss caused by the pandemic, many Idaho families continue to have difficulty making ends meet. Over 55 percent of Idaho households making less than $25,000 per year and about a third of middle-income households report difficulty paying for household necessities.

Idaho’s post-secondary education enrollment goals are also threatened by pandemic-related enrollment drops. Over a third of Idaho households reported that a member of their household cancelled plans to attend a post-secondary institution this fall. Pandemic related barriers to post-secondary enrollment may be an additional impediment to Idaho reaching the goal that 60 percent of young adults will receive a post-secondary degree or certificate, which state policy makers set to ensure that Idaho businesses have access to the highly skilled workforce they need.

The full report can be found at: https://bit.ly/35v24sZ

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