BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho Gov. Brad Little said Tuesday he wants to use federal coronavirus relief money to increase day care capacity to help alleviate the state’s worker shortage.
The Republican governor, in a speech about the future of work that was followed by several questions, said expanding day care could help get more workers back in the workforce.
Idaho’s current unemployment rate of 2.9% puts the state back at pre-pandemic levels last seen in early 2020, a span that includes a period of double-digit unemployment as COVID-19 spread and jobs evaporated. But now, many employers can’t find enough workers.
“We know part of that is parents who are staying home,” Little said. “We think we can take some onetime money and build some (day care) capacity.”
Nationally, the U.S. Department of Labor said last week that the unemployment rate last month dropped from 5.2% to 4.8%. Officials said 194,000 people found work, a tepid number and evidence that the pandemic remained a problem, with many companies struggling to fill millions of open jobs.
Idaho has had problems with the highly contagious delta variant, with the state currently on crisis standards of care due to so many unvaccinated patients filling hospitals. Crisis care standards mean that scarce resources such as ICU beds will be allotted to the patients most likely to survive.