What one type of business in Idaho supports almost every other business in the state? Here’s a hint: it is responsible for bringing domestic and international business travelers, tourists, and cargo into and out of the region. 

Answer: the airports. Idaho’s airports have a significant economic impact—in addition to providing reliable transportation, they employ many Idaho residents and support critical services like medical care and fire-fighting. 

Every 10 years the Idaho Department of Transportation conducts a study that analyzes the air industry in Idaho. The most recent study, conducted in 2009, found that 75 of Idaho’s 119 airports represented 87 runways; 38 airports offered fuel service; and 8 airports had more than 100 based aircraft. Eighteen airports utilized onsite automated weather reporting, and 14 airports logged more than 25,000 annual operations.

The functions of each airport vary from commercial service to regional business, community business, local recreation, or basic service. It is projected that by 2017 Idaho airports will have a total of 3,889 based aircraft, 1.74 million annual operations, and 2.96 million commercial airline enplanements. These numbers indicate that Idaho is well equipped to transport business travelers to and from the state—many of whom may consider relocating their operations to the Gem state. Idaho’s airports also serve tourists, who bring critical revenue to winter sports, touring, and other recreation industries. According to airport data, 60 percent of Boise airline passengers travel for pleasure while 40 percent travel for business.

In addition to supporting business and tourism, Idaho’s airports provide employment for many residents. According to the 2009 study, approximately 23,000 Idaho citizens owed their jobs to aviation, directly or indirectly. This figure represented 2.9 percent of all jobs in the state at that time. Annual payroll totaled $718.5 million that same year, and the airports generated $2.1 billion in economic activity. Aviation’s total economic output comprised 4 percent of the state’s estimated gross domestic product in 2009. Looking specifically at the Boise airport—the largest commercial service airport in the state—total employment in 2011 comprised 15,559 jobs, total payroll was $510.7 million, and total economic activity represented $1.3 billion.

Idaho’s airports clearly have a significant economic impact in the state. They play a key role in critical medical care, agriculture, search and rescue, wild land fire-fighting, recreation, and environmental services. By providing access to the global market, Idaho’s airports support industries and commerce across the state. They enable smooth transit for business travelers, citizens, and tourists. Add the aforementioned factors to the fact that they create stable jobs for residents in airline operations and maintenance, and it is clear that Utah’s airports have a significant economic impact in the state.

Economic Notes:

Housing Market. In November, the CoreLogic® Home Price Index (HPI) for Idaho, which measures home price appreciation, experienced a year-over-year increase of 0.4%.  Nationally, the HPI increased 5.5% during the same period.

Job Report. Idaho’s unemployment rate decreased 0.2 percentage points to 3.9% in November, while the national unemployment rate remained at 5.8% in November.

Consumer Confidence. The U.S. Consumer Confidence Index® increased 1.6 points to 92.6 in December.  The Present Situation Index increased 4.9 points to 98.6, while the Expectations Index decreased 0.8 points to 88.5.

Inflation. The U.S. Consumer Price Index decreased 0.5% from October to November.  The Index saw a year-over-year increase of 1.3%, which is below the Federal Reserve’s target annual inflation pace of 2–3%.