Urban Advantages with a Rural Lifestyle
Southwestern Idaho is Idaho’s largest region, maintaining close to half of Idaho’s population and labor force. It is comprised of 10 counties Ada, Adams, Boise, Canyon, Elmore, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, Valley and Washington.
The region’s northern boundary is Adams and Valley counties. These two counties maintain a highly seasonal work force and have seen several major losses to employment over the years, each occurring when a major employer left the area.
To the west, bordering Oregon, are Payette and Washington counties. These two counties have seen a great interest in energy over the years with Payette County wrapping up
gas power plant that will be fed by major natural gas reserves located in Washington County.
The Boise metropolitan area is Idaho’s largest metropolitan area with a labor force of roughly 250,000. It has seen a major population boom over the last 10 years with many small communities such as Kuna in Ada County experiencing a tripling of the population.
The population boom spurred major increases in construction-related jobs, which in turn experienced major losses when the housing bubble burst in 2007. One of every two jobs in construction has disappeared since 2006. Another major decline in employ
ment has occurred in manufacturing as Idaho’s former largest employer, Micron Technology Inc. shed roughly 5,000 jobs since 2006.
Another important component of southwestern Idaho is Elmore County, which is home to Idaho’s only military base – Mountain Home Air Force Base. The county is driven by the economic stimulus provided by the influx of federal dollars into the surrounding community. Many times, servicemen remain or retire in the area upon discharge from the military, which helps provide population and labor force growth in the region.