Cuts in a fourth of Idaho's wages from recession

Debra Tiffany, a first-grade teacher at Meridian's Chaparral Elementary for three years, is among Idahoans facing pay cuts and difficult choices.

Tiffany, whose salary was frozen at $31,750, will likely quit tutoring women at Boise's City Light Home For Women and go after a second job instead. That's because the school district is trimming salaries 3.7 percent and ordering seven furlough days this coming school year to save $5.2 million amid the deepest public-education cuts in Idaho history.

"I don't know how teachers make a living here," said Tiffany, who was a banker and a journalist before teaching.

Since the Great Recession first gripped Idaho nearly two years ago, thousands of Idahoans have been taking home smaller paychecks - and that's not counting the thousands of workers who lost their jobs.

Between July 2008 and June 2009, employers in 35 percent of the state's 307 job sectors reduced pay by cutting hourly rates and salaries or shrinking working hours, according to the Idaho Department of Labor. About one-fourth of the state's work force was in industries where the average wage declined. The average reduction was 3.8 percent.

That cost to the economy was about $300 million on top of the $1.2 billion from jobs cut over the same period, the Labor Department said.

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