Randy ShumwayJanuary is an exciting month of new beginnings as we look forward to the year ahead. About one in three Americans sets New Year’s resolutions, which can range from improving interpersonal communication to changing career trajectories to achieving fitness goals.

Because losing weight is often the most popular New Year’s resolution, many businesses associated with fitness see a boost at this time of year. Employment in health-related industries and revenue from fitness establishments prove that health and fitness are vital components of Idaho’s economy.

Already, Idaho residents are pretty healthy, in part due to the state’s numerous recreation facilities and outdoor areas that are conducive to an active lifestyle. According to data compiled by CountyHealthRankings.org, 79 percent of Idahoans have access to exercise venues or outdoor areas that promote a healthy lifestyle and workforce. Idaho ranks lower than the national average in terms of adult obesity: 27 percent of residents report a BMI over 30, compared to the national average of 31 percent. Idaho also ranks lower for physical inactivity, with only 19 percent of adults age 20 and over reporting no leisure-time physical activity.

In terms of employment, good health brings economic benefits in two ways. For one, Idaho’s healthy employees contribute to productivity and minimize days missed from work for illness.  Also, as the health and fitness industry grows throughout the state, it boosts both employment numbers and revenue.

According to the 2012 U.S. Census and the Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment of athletic trainers and exercise physiologists nationwide is projected to grow 19 percent from 2012 to 2022—faster than the average for all occupations. In May 2012, the median annual wage for athletic trainers was $42,090, and the median annual wage for exercise physiologists was $44,770. In Idaho, the annual mean wage for athletic trainers was slightly below the national average at $33,130. According to that same U.S. Census, Idaho was home to 142 fitness and recreational sports center establishments. These establishments accounted for more than $76 million in sales, shipments, receipts, revenue, and business done. They employed approximately 2,993 people and provided over $30 million in annual payroll.

Health and fitness options have become increasingly important to working professionals inside and outside the state of Idaho. Millennials often seek jobs that provide perks beyond health, dental, and life insurance. For instance, companies that offer onsite gyms, exercise classes, and/or fitness competitions have higher levels of employee loyalty and satisfaction.

Here’s the bottom line: if living a healthier lifestyle is one of your New Year’s resolutions, you’ll not only be creating a healthier you, but also a healthier economy.

Housing Market. In October, the CoreLogic® Home Price Index (HPI) for Idaho, which measures home price appreciation, experienced a year-over-year increase of 6.9%.  Nationally, the HPI increased 6.8% during the same period.

Idaho Job Report. Idaho’s unemployment rate decreased 0.2 points to 4.0% in October, and the national unemployment rate declined 0.1 point to 5.0% in October. 

Inflation. The U.S. Consumer Price Index remained flat from September to October. Year over year, the index increased 0.2 percent, which is below the Federal Reserve’s target annual inflation pace of 2%.

Consumer Confidence. The U.S. Consumer Confidence Index® decreased 8.7 points to 90.4 in November. The Present Situation Index decreased 6.5 points to 108.1, and the Expectations Index decreased 10.1 points to 78.6.