More Minimum Wage Workers In Idaho Since Recession Began

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - New numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor show more Idahoans are working for minimum wage since the onset of the recession.

The increase may be hitting eastern Idaho particularly, because the most recent economic downturn hit industry hardest. With large local employers like the Idaho National Lab making workforce cuts, more people are now turning to minimum wage jobs.

"There is a big attitude adjustment that you have to take," said Idaho Falls waitress Jamie Tinker.

Tinker works at Smitty's Pancake House in Idaho Falls.

"In this economy, a job's a job and you need to be happy with what you get," she said.

Tinker is working minimum wage, and raising two kids on the pay.

"I live very small," she said.

Tinker isn't alone. The U.S. Bureau of Labor released new statistics that show during the economic recession, Idaho experienced a dramatic increase in folks working for minimum wage.

In 2007, 12,000 of Idaho's 424,000 hourly workers were paid minimum wage. By 2010 there were less workers -- just under 400,000 -- but 30,000 were minimum wage workers.

"In the past, the economy, the past recessions have forced people out of those low paying jobs have been the ones laid off in past recessions," said Wade Virgin from the Idaho Department of Labor.

This time, industry and specialized jobs were more affected. The Idaho National Lab's layoffs put about 600 people out of work over the past year, and more folks are looking for whatever they can get.

"You just got to get used to a different way of living and it's really not that hard," said Tinker. "I can make it."

Virgin said taking a minimum wage job may not be ideal, but it doesn't have to turn into a career. He said if you're out of work, a minimum wage job may be a viable option right now.

U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics show the recession-time increase of minimum wage workers between 2007 and 2010 amounts to a nearly 8-percent jump.

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