The City Of Lewiston

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Labor Information
Lewiston's Labor Pool

Size of labor force: The Lewiston labor force has a great reputation for its work ethic.  The Lewiston MSA is made up of Nez Perce County and Asotin County (whose largest city is Lewiston’s sister city, Clarkston) in Washington. They have a combined labor force of 31,600.  As well as drawing workers from the two counties, the Lewiston labor market also draws workers from Clearwater, Latah, Lewis, and Idaho Counties, which have a combined labor force of 26,600.   For simplicity sake, the “Lewiston labor market” will be Nez Perce, Asotin, and Clearwater Counties, but it should be remembered that many Latah, Lewis, and Idaho County residents rely on the Lewiston area for jobs.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics officially designates the Lewiston MSA and Clearwater County as labor surplus areas, indicating strong labor availability.

Labor Shed : Where People who Worked in Nez Perce County in 2009 Lived





Nez Perce County, Idaho



Asotin County, Washington



Latah County, Idaho



Clearwater County, Idaho



Idaho & Lewis Counties, Idaho



All Other Locations




Source: Local Employment Dynamics, U.S. Census Bureau

Many of those who are residents of other locations are students at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston or the University of Idaho in Moscow (30 miles from Lewiston in Latah County), whose official residences are in other counties but who live most of the year in the Lewiston or Moscow areas and work in the Lewiston MSA.

Long-term Unemployment
The Lewiston labor market is heavily influenced by forest products jobs. Over the last three decades, forest products employment has declined.  In the current recession, it has fallen to new lows.  As a result, many of the surrounding counties, especially Clearwater and Idaho Counties, have labor forces accustomed to hard work that have struggled with long-term high unemployment.  The decline in jobs in those counties has made those counties’ residents increasingly reliant on the Lewiston area for jobs. 

Current Unemployment (Setpember 2011)

In September 2011, the Lewiston labor market’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 8.5 percent, and the unemployment rate for Latah, Lewis, and Idaho Counties also was 8.8 percent.  Currently, 2,700 residents in the Lewiston labor market are unemployed and looking for work and 2,400 residents of Latah, Lewis, and Idaho Counties are unemployed and looking for work.

The Underemployed, Another Source of Workers
Several major employment sectors—agriculture, logging, and federal and state management of forests, public lands, fish, and wildlife—are highly seasonal.  In addition, two of the Lewiston area’s fastest-growing sectors—retail and tourism—have marked seasonal patterns and high levels of part-time employment.  As a consequence, the Lewiston labor force is eager to find year-round, full-time jobs.  Many people who currently are employed, but who consider themselves underemployed, would apply for manufacturing jobs that become available.  A 2009 study of underemployment in Idaho counties found that Nez Perce and Clearwater Counties had about 3,700 underemployed people, giving them an underemployment rate of 18.2 percent.  The rise in unemployment and the fact that many jobs have been cut from full-time to part-time since 2009 have increased underemployment there.

Low Turnover
Turnover rates tend to be low in the Lewiston MSA. According to the Census Bureau’s Local Employment Dynamics quarterly workforce indicators, Nez Perce County’s turnover rate for all industries was only 7.5 percent in 2010, while Idaho’s was 8.7 percent.

Education of Workers
The Lewiston MSA has an exceptional high school graduation rate, and many local residents have received training at Lewis-Clark State College.  The college on Lewiston’s Normal Hill offers four-year degrees, as well as associate degrees, professional-technical training, and training customized for individual employers.  The college’s enrollment is around 4,700.  In addition, students at the University of Idaho, with an enrollment of 11,040 only 30 miles away in Moscow, often look for work in the Lewiston area. 

Professional and Technical Workers
It is easy to find and attract professional and technical workers, since there are so many residents of northern Idaho and eastern Washington that go to college in the area.   Most would like to stay in the area, but many cannot because of a lack of professional opportunities here. In Lewiston, Lewis-Clark State College offers bachelor and associate degree programs, as well as professional-technical training including manufacturing skills and customized training for individual businesses.  Across the river in Clarkston is a branch campus of Walla Walla Community College providing academic and professional-technical programs.  About 40 miles north of Lewiston, the University of Idaho provides a full range of bachelor’s through doctorate degree programs.  It has more than 11,000 students.  The University of Idaho has an excellent reputation for its engineering programs.  Most engineering graduates cannot find jobs in the region. Washington State University, located in Pullman about 45 miles northwest of Lewiston, has more than 21,000 students. In addition to the large number of college graduates that would like to live in the area, the Lewiston area has a reputation as a safe, inexpensive place to live and raise children and provides a wide range of outdoor recreational opportunities that makes it easy to attract people to the area.

Relatively Low Wages

The statistics below come from the Occupational Employment and Wage Survey published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2010. “Median” means that half the people in that occupation get paid more than the median wage and half get paid less.

Median Hourly Wages by Occupation


Lewiston MSA

United States

All Occupations



Accountants & Auditors



Assemblers, Electrical & Electronics



Assemblers, Team



Bookkeeping, Accounting, & Auditing Clerks



Computer Support Specialists



Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators



Customer Service Representatives



Engineering Managers



Engineers, Electrical



Engineers, Industrial



Forklift, Industrial Truck & Tractor Operators



Helpers - Production Workers



Human Resources Assistants



Industrial Machinery Mechanics



Industrial Production Managers



Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, & Weighers



Janitors & Cleaners



Machine Feeders & Offbearers






Maintenance & Repair Workers, General



Network & Computer Systems Administrators



Order Clerks



Purchasing Agents



Receptionists & Information Clerks



Retail Sales Clerks



Secretaries, Except Legal, Medical, & Executive



Shipping, Receiving, & Traffic Clerks



Supervisor of Production Workers, First-Line



Supervisors, Office Support & Administration






Truck Drivers, Heavy & Tractor-Trailer



Weighers, Measurers, & Checkers, Recordkeeping



Welders, Cutters, Solderers, & Brazers