Economy

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.

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.

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.

Department of Interior

In an address at the National Geographic Society in Washington D.C., Interior Secretary Sally Jewell stressed the need for what she characterized as a "major course correction" in conservation. Despite her location at the nation's capital, the majority of her comments were about places thousands of miles away. 

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.

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.

Imagine a world where you are driven to work by a driverless car, your morning news is written by a computer, and your lunch is prepared by a robot. In such a world, it would not be a stretch to wonder if humans were about to become obsolete. We’ve already seen this scenario play out in movies and popular novels.  But according to today’s guest, there are reasons to worry about how new technologies are reshaping the real world right now.

Those of us who grew up playing the board game “Monopoly” likely remember the thrill of landing on an up-for-grabs Boardwalk or Park Place, and buying the pricey properties with our stash of brightly colored fake money. We might also recall the feeling of trepidation when we landed on those same properties after they had been purchased and improved by someone else, knowing we would have to pay an exorbitant rental fee before we could once again pass “Go” and collect our much-needed $200.

Kyle Green / Idaho Statesman

The September fire that destroyed the Boise International Market has been deemed an act of arson, according to the Boise Police and Fire departments.  

A four-month joint investigation included the use of private fire investigation experts and forensic analysis. Officials say additional information uncovered during the investigation led investigators to conclude the fire was intentionally set.

For nearly a century, The Bassett Furniture Company was the center of life in the town of Bassett, Virginia, just as its wealthy namesake family was the foundation of the town’s prosperity. But that all changed in the 1980s, when cheaper Chinese products began flooding the American furniture market. The imports threatened the Bassett family legacy, as well as the livelihoods of hundreds of Virginians.

Chris Harrison / Flickr Creative Commons

It took a while, but Idaho motorists are finally getting to save big at the pump. The average gallon of gas in the state costs $2.26, compared to $2.21 nationally.

Dave Carlson with AAA Idaho says prices have dropped especially in the last two months.

“Idaho is slow to react to other market factors," says Carlson. "Part of that makes sense because we’re isolated from any other competition. So it seems like we’re always slow – especially getting to the lower prices.”

Paylocity.com

Economic development officials in Boise have announced a publicly traded company that offers cloud-based payroll and human capital management software has selected the city for its next expansion. 

Paylocity says it plans to create 500 jobs in the city over the next five years. Areas of employment include client services, implementation, technical services and software development. 

A company official says Paylocity picked Boise because of its “expanding tech presence and a flourishing community and culture.” 

Indiana Stan / Flickr

Gas prices in Idaho are falling fast, compared to the rest of the country. Idaho’s prices have dropped 30 cents in the last 30 days, while the U.S. average price has dropped just a nickel over the last month.

Triple A Idaho’s Dave Carlson says Idaho’s gas prices were well above where they should have been. A month ago, they were 46 cents higher than the national average.

Carlson says there are five refineries that serve the southwestern part of the state and they may not have been able to keep up with the need in this part of the country.

thinkpanama / Flickr

A two-day conference that starts Tuesday in Boise will address everything from housing trends to homelessness. The Idaho Housing and Finance Association’s Conference on Housing and Economic Development is the largest of its kind in Idaho.

Micron Technologies

Boise-based Micron is the rumored focus of a takeover offer from a Chinese company.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the possible interest from Tsinghua Unigroup, a Shangai company with ties to the Chinese government.

Dan Gallagher is a writer with the Journal, and has been following the story. He says Micron’s median share price is $29 a share, but the Chinese company is interested in buying it for $21 a share.

USEPA / Flickr Creative Commons

If you’re thinking about making a trek to the country’s first national park this summer, you are far from alone. About 1.3 million people have visited Yellowstone National Park so far this year, which represents a nearly 20 percent increase over last year.

Yellowstone officials say almost 800,000 visitors came through in June, which broke that month’s previous record by 12 percent.

Construction Worker
Molly Messick / StateImpact Idaho

Idaho workers saw the largest per capita income increase in the country in 2013, according to data recently released by the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis. The 2.4 percent increase was substantially higher than 0.1 percent increase seen nationally.

John Penny / Flickr Creative Commons

If you’re in Boise, take a look around. There’s a very good chance some of the people you see are out-of-towners. June and July are Boise’s busiest months for tourism.

The Boise Convention and Visitors Bureau keeps track of how many hotel rooms get rented and when. Visitors bureau director Carrie Westergard says both in June and July the city could have as many visitors as residents.

Kyle Green / Idaho Statesman

Partnerships between public universities and private companies – called technology transfers – have the potential to solve some of the world's most difficult problems. The idea is to have researchers at universities do their work, and then the institution will help them obtain a patent. At that point, the product can be sold to a private company for distribution. Think of the iconic Gatorade story at the University of Florida. 

Karina / Flickr Creative Commons

A couple of weeks ago, we reported on the increase in median home values across Ada County. The county assessor says the pace of growth is sustainable at a little more than 5.6 percent. After the housing market rebounded after the Great Recession, buying a home has become more competitive.

One of the places that's seen a boost in popularity for home buyers — and increased home values because of the competition — is the Boise Bench.

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