Economy

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State officials say Idaho's unemployment rate in April dropped a tenth of a percent to 3.7 percent.

The Idaho Department of Labor in a news release Friday says job gains in construction, professional and business services, and education and health services helped drop the unemployment rate from the previous month.

The state agency says that based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Idaho for the sixth consecutive month led the nation in percentage increase of jobs.

Total employment for Idaho grew by more than 1,900 to 777,780.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Agricultural exports, a major segment of Idaho’s economy, took a 22 percent drop last year. That’s a decline of more than $200 million. Domestic ag sales were down in 2015 as well, as were the state’s non-ag exports, but neither saw as steep a drop as agricultural exports.

Roughly a quarter of Idaho ag products go overseas. And the going over the sea part was some of the problem according to Laura Johnson, market development manager at Idaho’s Department of Agriculture. Issues at west coast ports hurt sales to Asia.

Idaho Housing and Finance Association Facebook page

The City of Boise Thursday celebrated the opening of a new apartment complex for low-income seniors. It’s called the Vineyard at Eagle Promenade, though it’s actually in Boise just across the road from Eagle. The City of Boise helped pay for the 30-unit project along with several partners, including the Idaho Housing and Finance association and New Beginnings Housing which has other low-income housing in Nampa, Caldwell and Hailey.

Idaho Gives / Facebook

Idahoans donated roughly $1 million to more than 800 nonprofits and charities Thursday as part of "Idaho Gives," the 24-hour, online fundraising blitz.

Organizers say nearly 7,500 people made donations to help the causes of nonprofits taking part in the fourth annual statewide fundraiser.

Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest gathered in around $32,000 in donations, claiming the top spot among large nonprofits. Meanwhile, The Idaho Humane Society attracted the highest amount of donors, with 358 people giving more than $19,400.

Ron Henry / Flickr Creative Commons

Workers at an Idaho lumber mill have been notified by letter that the mill has been purchased and will be shut down and dismantled.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that the letter from owner Michael F. Burns confirmed rumors that began circulating Friday.

Burns wrote that the past year has been difficult in the lumber business and especially hard for Blue North. He said he was selling the business because he couldn't sustain any more losses.

Chobani, Greek Yogurt
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Chobani says it is giving its employees an ownership stake in the privately held company.

The Greek yogurt maker says the shares being distributed would amount to 10 percent of the company's future value in the event of a sale or initial public offering. It says each of its approximately 2,000 full-time employees will receive shares based on their role and time spent with the company.

 

Chobani says CEO and founder Hamdi Ulukaya is meeting with employees this week to talk about the plan in person.

Discover McCall Facebook page

Update on April 27, 2016:  Valley County officials learned Wednesday that they will advance to the top eight in the America’s Best Communities competition. They’ll bring home $100,000 to begin implementing an economic development plan. In 11 months the contest sponsors Frontier Communications, DISH Network and the Weather Channel will assess how well the eight communities are implementing their plans. They’ll then choose three winners who will receive $1 million, $2 million and $3 million.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

We introduced you to Kutukira Mberwa about a year ago when the Boise International Market was celebrating its grand opening.

Joel Franusic / Flickr

The price at the pump is the lowest it has been in Idaho on this date since 2009. That's despite the cost of gas going up for more than a month.

Gas prices have risen for 36 of the past 41 days, says AAA Idaho. Despite that, Idaho's average price for a gallon of gas is just $2.07. It hasn't been that low on April 5 since 2009, when it hit $1.97 a gallon. In 2012, we were paying $3.78 for gas in early April.

Les Bois Park Instant Horse Racing (3)
Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho's largest horse racing operation is closing after 40 years in business.

Les Bois Park closed its doors permanently on Sunday. Treasure Valley Racing officials say the park can't afford to stay open without horse racing terminals.

Known as instant horse racing, the machines allow bettors to place wages on prior horse races with no identifiable information. The machines have spinning wheels, sounds and animations that mimic slot machines, which are illegal in Idaho. The state ruled the terminals illegal last year.

Jill Stewart / Flickr Creative Commons

Cities are looking to spend extra cash left in their budget thanks to the drop in fuel prices in 2015.

The Idaho Press-Tribune reports that Caldwell and Nampa saw major savings in their 2015 fuel budgets. In Nampa, the police department has had surplus funds in its fuel budget for the past three years.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

A developer broke ground Wednesday on a new upscale apartment building in downtown Boise. If it feels like you’ve seen a lot of these lately, you’re not imagining things. Ada County is in the middle of an unprecedented apartment building boom.

Consider a spot in southwest Boise where workers are putting siding on one of several buildings in a new apartment complex called the Asheville. They’re bundled up because the temperature is hovering right at freezing. But it’s blessedly warm inside one of the units that’s already finished.

zippia.com

Idaho Googled “Bike Repair” more than any other state according to a map going around social media. It purports to show what job each state Googles more than any other. The map was created by career advice website Zippia.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The Boise International Market had been operating less than a year when it burned down in September. Since the fire, people have been asking if the popular destination for food, imports and culture would be rebuilt. We still don’t know the answer to that, but we do know something similar is on the way.

Thunder Mountain Line/Facebook

An inability to replace business lost in the Great Recession is what operators say is behind this week’s decision to close a scenic train line in southwest Idaho.

The Thunder Mountain Line has operated train rides out of Horseshoe Bend since 1998. The company says ridership in 2015 failed to meet goals. That prompted the decision Monday to cease operations. 

Chris / Flickr Creative Commons

The rising cost of rental housing is a story being played out in cities across the country. In Idaho, the affordable housing crisis in Boise has been well documented.

Jon Preuss / Sawtooth Avalanche Center

This week, an avalanche on Bald Mountain injured a skier who was out of bounds at the Sun Valley ski resort. When it happened, the avalanche danger in the area was “high,” which means human-triggered avalanches were likely.

Every day, snow science experts from the Sawtooth Avalanche Center head out into the backcountry to figure out the severity of avalanche danger.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Update 1:55 p.m. Wednesday: A plan to relocate some of the homeless people ejected from a Boise tent city last week has fallen through after objections from potential neighbors.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

On Friday morning, Boise Police will begin clearing a homeless camp near downtown.

The camp in an alley known as Cooper Court has been around since early summer and nearly 100 people sleep there. City leaders have said for months that the camp is unsafe, unhealthy and would not be allowed to remain long term.

U.S. Census Bureau

The 2014 American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau gives a county by county and even neighborhood by neighborhood look at something most of us probably know: Idaho was in worse shape after the Great Recession. For the first time this year the census allows people to compare two non-overlapping five-year periods. Those are 2005-2009 and 2010-2014, a rough approximation of before the recession and after it.  

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