Corridor of Opportunity
Eastern Idaho’s nine counties – Bonneville, Butte, Clark, Custer, Fremont, Jefferson, Lemhi, Madison and Teton – are diverse. Between the 2000 and 2010 census, only seven Idaho counties had annualized growth rates higher than the state, and four are in the eastern region – Madison, Teton, Jefferson and Bonneville. The city of Ammon has grown by 123 percent – the fifth fastest growing city in the state. Bonneville and Jefferson counties were established as the Idaho Falls metropolitan statistical area following the 2000 census.
The unemployment rate for east central Idaho is historically lower than the state and nation. In 2009 the annual unemployment rate in seven of the nine eastern counties was below the state rate. Since the start of the recession in December 2007, the largest percentage decrease in employment was felt by the construction industry. Total construction employment has fallen by 40 percent. In 2010 construction made up roughly 5 percent of jobs in the region. Professional, scientific and technical services make up the largest share of jobs - 13 percent. Retail trade along with health care and social assistance jobs each account for over 12 percent. Unemployment rates in 2010 and start of 2011 have stabilized and shown signs of improvement.
Diversity in the economy along with the Idaho National Laboratory keeps the area from experiencing major fluctuations in the labor force, especially when the national economy is suffering. The INL is one of the state’s largest employers and attracts workers from all of the region’s counties.
Easy access to postsecondary education has created a highly educated population. Eastern Idaho Technical College and branches of the University of Idaho and Idaho State University are all located in Idaho Falls. Brigham Young University–Idaho is located 30 minutes north in Rexburg.
The region is close to two of America’s most renowned national parks – Yellowstone and Grand Teton. Many area businesses thrive on tourist visits to the parks and fishing on the world famous Henry’s Fork and South Fork of the Snake River to the east and the Salmon River to the north. The area is rich with history. Famous explorers who traveled the region include Lewis and Clark with their guide Sacajawea, who was reunited with her tribe and family near the current city of Salmon.