The Best Places in Idaho for Job Seekers

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Idaho’s economy is on the rise – its unemployment rate was only 6.7 percent in October 2013, lower than the national average of 7.3 percent. However, certain places provide more economic opportunity than others. To help, NerdWallet crunched the numbers to find the best places for job seekers in Idaho.

We found the best places for job seekers in the state by asking the following questions:

  1. Is the county growing? We assessed growth in the working-age population, ages 16 and older, from 2009 to 2011 to ensure that the county was attracting workers and exhibiting a trend of upward population growth.
  2. Can you afford to live in the county comfortably? We measured a county’s median household income to see if workers made a good living. We also analyzed the monthly homeowner costs, including mortgage payments, to see if the county had a reasonable cost of living.
  3. Are most people employed? We looked at the unemployment rate.

What makes these counties great? Let us know in the comments.

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The Best Places in Idaho for Job Seekers

1.     Jefferson County

Jefferson County is located in southeastern Idaho and is a part of the Idaho Falls metropolitan area. The county was named after the third president, Thomas Jefferson, and is the 14th-largest county in Idaho by population. Jefferson County saw a working-age population growth of 9.2 percent between 2009 and 2011 while its households earned a median income of $52,799 in 2011. Major employers in Jefferson County include Larsen Farms, Idahoan Foods and Rigby Produce. The Rigby Chamber of Commerce serves Rigby and the surrounding Jefferson County by helping local businesses grow.

2.     Gooding County

Gooding County is located in south-central Idaho, north of the Snake River. The county is home to a robust dairy industry as well as a tourism industry supported by boating and fishing. The city of Gooding is the county seat and the largest city in the county. The county saw a 6.4 percent increase in the working-age population from 2009 to 2011 while its unemployment rate was only 4.8 percent in August 2013. Major employers in Gooding County include dairy companies such as Box Canyon Dairy, Jack Verbree Dairies and Double A Dairy. Other large employers include the Idaho School for the Deaf and Blind, Helena Chemical Company and North Canyon Medical Center.

3.     Jerome County

Jerome County, created in 1919, is located in south-central Idaho. Its county seat, Jerome, is also the largest city in the county and is a part of the Twin Falls metropolitan area. The city is located 15 miles north of Twin Falls. Between 2009 and 2011, the county saw a working-age population growth of 8.2 percent while its unemployment rate in 2013 was only 5.5 percent. Major employers in the area include Commercial Creamery Company, Hilex Poly and Rich Thompson Trucking.

4.     Franklin County

Franklin County is located in southeastern Idaho, on the Utah border. The county seat and largest city is Preston, and the county is a part of the Logan, UT metropolitan region. Franklin County’s households earned a median income of $46,344 in 2011, and the county’s unemployment rate was only 4.1 percent in August 2013 – the lowest on our list. Major employers in Franklin County include Bear River Publishing, West Motor Company and Lundahl Ironworks Company. The Greater Preston Business Association is committed to advancing Franklin County’s local economy by supporting local businesses and helping them expand.

5.     Bonneville County 

Bonneville County is a part of the Snake River Valley in southeastern Idaho, bordering Wyoming. Idaho Falls is the largest city in the county, the county seat and the fourth-largest city in Idaho. The county saw 6.0 percent growth in the working-age population between 2009 and 2011 while its households earned a median income of $51,311 in 2011. Major employers in Bonneville County include Battelle, Bechtel BWXT Idaho and Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center. Idaho Falls is home to Development Workshop, a community rehabilitation program that helps individuals with disabilities. The program helps them find job-training opportunities, paid employment and other job-search services. Eastern Idaho Technical College is also located in Idaho Falls and provides specialized programs on Workforce Training & Community Education. There, students can find apprenticeships, online instruction and other job-training programs.

6.     Minidoka County

Minidoka County is located in south-central Idaho, in the Magic Valley region. Its county seat and largest city is Rupert, while Burley, the largest city in Magic Valley after Twin Falls, is partially located in the county. Minidoka County saw a working-age population growth of 6.6 percent from 2009 to 2011 while its households’ median income was $43,194 in 2011. Major employers in the region include Amalgamated Sugar Company, Budget Motor and Gossner Foods.

7.     Cassia County

Situated in south-central Idaho, Cassia County is on the Snake River Plain and a part of the Magic Valley region. Its county seat is Burley, which is also the largest city in the county. Cassia County saw 6.4 percent growth in its working-age population, and its unemployment rate was a low 5.5 percent. Major employers in Cassia County include Ag Express Electronics, Cassia Regional Medical Center and McCain Foods. Along with its neighboring county, Minidoka, Cassia County is a part of the Mini-Cassia Chamber of Commerce, which aims to boost the region’s economy by attracting new businesses while supporting local industry.

8.     Ada County

Ada County is located in southwestern Idaho and is the state’s most populous county. The county is home to Boise, the state capital and most-populous city, and Meridian, the state’s third-largest city. Ada County experienced 4.7 percent growth in the working-age population from 2009 to 2011, and its households earned a median income of $55,304 in 2011. The county’s major employers include St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center, DirecTV and Idaho Power. Additionally, Micron is headquartered in Boise. Boise is home to many higher education institutions, including a branch of the College of Western Idaho and ITT Technical Institute. Boise State University, the largest public university in Idaho, helps its students in their Career Center. There, students can find career-planning help, job search assistance and career fair information.

9.  Fremont County

Located in eastern Idaho, Fremont County borders Montana to the north and Wyoming to the east. The county is located in the Rexburg metropolitan area and is home to part of Yellowstone National Park. From 2009 to 2011, Fremont County saw an increase of 4.3 percent in the working-age population, and its median household income in 2011 was $42,178. Fremont County’s major employers include Walters Produce, Fall River Electric Cooperative and Broulim’s Foodtown. Fremont County government is focused on its economic development, with an entrepreneurship development goal designed to retain and expand existing businesses as well as mentor and nurture entrepreneurs.

10.    Twin Falls County

Twin Falls County is located in south-central Idaho. The county was named for the waterfalls on the Snake River, which forms the northern border of the county. The county saw a working-age population increase of 4.3 percent between 2009 and 2011, and its households earned a median income of $43,146 in 2011. Major employers in the county include Seneca, St. Luke’s Magic Valley Regional Medical Center and ConAgra. Additionally, companies such as Glanbia Foods and LMS Defense are headquartered in Twin Falls. Twin Falls is home to the College of Southern Idaho, which offers a Career Center that prepares students with job-search training and experiential education.

Rank County Largest City in County Working-Age Population Change (2009 to 2011) Median Household Income (2011) Monthly Homeowner Costs (2011) Unemployment Rate (2013) Overall Score
1 Jefferson County Rigby 9.2% $52,799 $1,210 5.7% 80.4
2 Gooding County Gooding 6.4% $40,854 $1,051 4.8% 76.2
3 Jerome County Jerome 8.2% $39,232 $1,008 5.5% 75.8
4 Franklin County Preston 2.5% $46,344 $1,192 4.1% 74.0
5 Bonneville County Idaho Falls 6.0% $51,311 $1,211 5.7% 73.5
6 Minidoka County Rupert 6.6% $43,194 $891 6.3% 73.5
7 Cassia County Burley 6.4% $39,551 $970 5.5% 73.4
8 Ada County Boise 4.7% $55,304 $1,428 5.7% 70.0
9 Fremont County St. Anthony 4.3% $42,178 $1,052 6.2% 66.4
10 Twin Falls County Twin Falls 4.3% $43,146 $1,111 6.8% 62.9

Methodology

The overall score for each county was derived from the following measures:

  1. Population change from 2009 to 2011 from the U.S. Census (2009 and 2011 U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS))
  2. Median household income from the U.S. Census (2011 ACS, half-weighted)
  3. Monthly homeowner costs with mortgage payments from the U.S. Census (2011 ACS, half-weighted)
  4. Unemployment rate from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2013)

23 counties and equivalents designated as places by the U.S. Census were included in this analysis. Only counties with populations over 8,500 were considered for this analysis.

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