Patchwork of Paychecks: Idaho

There are not enough jobs to go around in Idaho. There are 64,000 job seekers, but only about 26,000 total job openings. Of those, only 46 percent pay a living wage for a single adult and only 15 percent pay enough for a single adult with two children to make ends meet. This means there are five job seekers for every job opening that pays a living wage for a single adult and 17 job seekers for every job opening that pays a living wage for a single adult with two children.

Additionally, women and people of color in Idaho are more likely to work part-time than are workers overall. While nearly 28 percent of all workers reported working part-time, 33 percent of Latina and Latino workers and 41 percent of female workers reported working fewer than 40 hours per week.

Testimonial: ABBY WEST | LAPWAI, ID

ID - Abby

I am a 24-year-old single mom with three children, a 3-year-old and twins who are almost 14 months. I have lived in Idaho all my life. I work part time as a Community Support Specialist and I make $17 an hour. Unfortunately, my job only offers me 13.5 hours a week. I receive no benefits and am unable to purchase a subsidized health plan through the state exchange.

Yesterday, I interviewed for another job at an optical shop as a receptionist. That job would not pay as much per hour, but I could work nearly 40 hours a week there. That would help out a lot. Right now my rent is $595 and my utilities are about $50. I also have a phone and that is $70. I pay about $120 each month for transportation. The kids receive Medicaid and we also get SNAP benefits that total $620.

I also have some student loans, but they are not due yet, so I am holding my breath that I get this job. I did take out a small loan at my credit union to consolidate three medical bills into one $100 per month payment.

I do not receive child support, which makes everything harder for me right now. It’s even harder because one of my twins has health issues that will require long-term care, and specialists that are over in the Seattle area. That means soon I will be driving over there for my daughter to get the care she needs. It will be expensive and I am planning now for the visit.

I come from an LDS family with a lot of support. My mom and siblings help with childcare so I don’t have to pay for it, and my mom also covers the cost of my rent. With hand-me- downs, we don’t have a large expense for clothes right now, but my kids are outgrowing my sister’s children and pretty soon I will have to start buying them clothes.

Many workers have good jobs and still need help. I am working, my job pays $17 an hour, it just doesn’t provide enough hours.