Economy

Idaho's unemployment rate in July slightly bumped up from last month to 3.8 percent.

The Idaho Department of Labor in a news release Friday says continued demand for workers and an increase in people looking for work caused the rate to move from the previous 3.7 percent. The last time state's unemployment increased was in April 2015.

However, Idaho has regained its status as number one in the nation for job growth in July with nearly 23,000 more jobs.

Total employment for Idaho grew by more than 1,000 to 781,000.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

In 2014, Idaho ag exports hit a record value of more than $1 billion. Levels like that now seems like a distant memory.

Kyle Green / Idaho Statesman

Numbers from the Economic Policy Institute show that the average Idaho family spends about $7,200 a year for infant child care and $6,900 a year for preschool-aged children. The Idaho Statesman reports that's more than a year's tuition at a public college.

Katy Lightfield told the Boise newspaper that she and her husband expected the $30,000 pay cut they took when they moved from Texas to Idaho. But they were surprised to find that child care costs are the same between the two states.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The State of Idaho has $125 million sitting in the bank that doesn’t belong to it. It belongs to state residents. In fact, more than 800,000 people are entitled to some of it. That’s equivalent to about half the state’s population.

This reporter got a tiny fraction of that money, which raised a lot of questions for me. A while ago I got a check in the mail from the State of Idaho. I wasn’t expecting a check and for I while I had no idea what it was for. Just as surprising though was the amount: 6 cents. 

Benjamin Nolan / Flickr Creative Commons

Despite Idaho’s “world famous” potatoes, the International Potato Center is actually in Lima, Peru. After all, that's the part of the world where the potato originated. The center has the largest potato gene bank, with the goal of conserving biological diversity of the plant.

The organization’s overall mission is a lofty one: to battle global poverty through partnerships and technology. 

Stethescope, Health Care, Doctor, Medical
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho lawmakers are eligible for the same health care benefits as full-time state employees even though they are considered part-time workers.

The Idaho Statesman reports that 90 out of Idaho's 105 lawmakers are enrolled in the state's health care plan. State records show that 30 of the 35 Senate members and 60 of the 70 House members are enrolled.

The 14 percent opt-out rate inside the Legislature is higher than the state's workforce, where just about 8 percent of employees don't take the state-provided benefits.

C. Holmes / Flickr Creative Commons

A police chief in northern Idaho is proposing hiring incentives to attract more officers to his department.

The Coeur d'Alene Press reports Police Chief Lee White has proposed adding incentives to entry-level positions for people who have experience at other law enforcement agencies.

Micron Headquarters Building
Dan Greenwood / Boise State Public Radio

We learned last week that Harvard University is suing Micron Technology over patent infringement. Micron isn’t commenting on the suit. If it goes to court, the company will likely argue that the technology it uses is based on a patent it owns, not the one developed by Harvard.

Screengrab Idahowines.org

The Idaho Wine Commission will be working to promote and expand Idaho's wine industry thanks to two grants from the Idaho State Department of Agriculture.

The Capital Press reports that the grants, totaling about $118,000, are for two of 15 specialty crop projects submitted to USDA's Specialty Crop Block Grant Program for funding approval, expected in September.

Idaho has more than 50 wineries and 1,300 vineyards. According to the wine commission, the Idaho wine industry has about a $170 million economic impact.

Northwest Nazarene University

There may soon come a day where the vineyards in Canyon County are tended to by a robot.

Northwest Nazarene University engineering professor Josh Griffin is helping to lead a team of researchers and students building a prototype. They received an $81,000 grant from the Idaho Department of Agriculture to create the aptly named “IdaBot.”

Jimmy Emerson / Flickr Creative Commons

After the United Kingdom voted last month to leave the European Union, the decision hammered world markets. The British pound fell to a 30-year low after the vote. The euro also faltered while the U.S. dollar strengthened. Having a higher valued dollar is not all bad, of course – especially if your summer includes European adventure plans and you want to save some cash on vacation.

Nathan Feir / Flickr

Going somewhere over the July 4 weekend? You are not alone. AAA Idaho says 215,000 Idahoans will be traveling over the holiday period.

AAA Idaho says Independence Day is typically the busiest summer travel holiday, thanks to summer vacations and kids out of school.

Around the country, 43 million Americans are expected to travel over the weekend. That’s five million more than Memorial Day. Idaho and other mountain states will see 3.2 million holiday trips.

Thanks to low gas prices, 173,000 Idahoans will take their car when they travel this weekend.

Adelpha Photography/Flickr

Idaho’s Hispanic population is growing. That’s according to the Idaho Department of Labor.

Using Census Bureau numbers, the department found that the Hispanic population grew 2.9 percent between mid-2014 and mid-2015. That’s an increase of 5,696.

Janell Hyer is a research analyst at the Labor Department. She says Idaho’s Hispanic population went up 15.1 percent since the 2010 census.

“We added over 26,000 Hispanics to our community and living in this area you’re seeing more and more commercial businesses that are targeting Hispanics.”

For Sale Coldwell Banker House Sold
Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Home ownership in Idaho’s two most populous counties is getting less affordable. That’s according to a report released Thursday by real estate data company RealtyTrac.

How affordable your home is has to do with the percentage of your income you have to spend on it. RealtyTrac says home prices are going up faster than income in Ada and Canyon Counties. So homes are getting less affordable.

As the price of mustard rises, growers in Idaho have expanded the average devoted to the crop by 250 percent.

The Capital Press reports that at 33.1 cents per pound delivered, mustard prices are up about 2.5 per pound from last year, making it one of the few crops to have increased in value in 2016. Idaho growers have seized on the opportunity to turn a profit.

Mike Mozart, Flickr Creative Commons

For the past six months in a row Idaho has led the nation in job growth. That’s according to the Idaho Department of Labor, which cites data from Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The department predicts that job growth for all of 2016 will be between 3 and 3.5 percent.

Jeremiah Clark

Farmers in Peru and Bolivia have been growing and eating quinoa for a long, long time. But over the last decade, the grain’s high nutritional value has made it a popular food in countries like the U.S. and Canada. South America quinoa production has more than doubled since 2010 as producers have tried to meet international demand.

neetalparekh / Flickr Creative Commons

According to business and finance publisher Kiplinger, Idaho will be the state with the biggest job growth this year. Kiplinger predicts 23,580 new jobs in Idaho in 2016. That’s a growth rate of 3.5 percent, which beats Arizona, the next state on the list, by a third of a percentage point.

Molly Messick / Boise State Public Radio

You can now fly non-stop from Boise to Dallas. American Airlines opened that service last Thursday. With that, the Boise Airport comes within one flight of its pre-recession high.

Airport director Rebecca Hupp says before the recession hit in 2008 there were 21 non-stop flights in and out of Boise serving nearly three million passengers a year. Hupp says when she came on board in 2012 there were only 15 non-stop flights and passenger numbers were down a couple hundred thousand.

Lacey Daley / Boise State Public Radio

You have to make nearly twice the state’s minimum wage of $7.25 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment in Idaho. It’s more than double the minimum wage if you want to rent in Ada or Canyon counties and closer to triple for Blaine County. That’s from a study out last week from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Pages