Economy

Mary Esch / AP Photo

A new statewide Community Assessment has some dramatic findings, especially for Idaho kids.

The United Way of Treasure Valley released their latest Community Assessment Thursday. Conducted every three years, the research is a snapshot of local issues, from health to education to financial stability.

The decades after World War II were a golden age when many people around the world enjoyed an increasingly good quality of life. But by the early 1970s, the good times had all but vanished as energy shortages, financial crises and rising unemployment shook economies in America and around the world.

Rural schools, Idaho County, bus
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Skip Hall has been a teacher at Grangeville High School for 31 years. His early American history class with freshmen and sophomores will be one of his last: he’s retiring at the end of the school year.

As Hall’s class works together on projects, he takes a moment to reflect on the state of education in his district.

“The biggest thing I see is lack of choice for the students," Hall says.

Roadsidepictures / Flickr

Malls across the country have been closing in recent years as consumers prefer the ease of online shopping or go to big box stores that offer practically everything. Nationally, malls may be in jeopardy, but in Idaho, they’re still flourishing.

In the 80s, there was nowhere cooler than the mall. But changing times and a shifting retail landscape have altered that – almost everywhere.

Justin Lynham / Flickr

Idaho’s unemployment rate is now down to 3.5 percent.

The figure has inched south from 3.6 percent in February.

According to the Idaho Department of Labor, this is the 78th straight month with labor force gains. The total labor force participation rate in Idaho – that’s the percentage of people over 16 holding down a job or looking for work – dropped a tenth of a percent to a solid 64 percent.

Of 23,600 jobs posted online last month, 4,200 were classified as “hard to fill.” 14 percent of those hard-to-fill jobs are in the healthcare field.

screenshot

Update, April 20: The Valley County team did not take home one of the top prizes in Denver, despite making it to the finals. 

Interfaith Sanctuary

Boise’s Interfaith Sanctuary is holding a musical benefit Thursday night at the Record Exchange. Its directors say they’ve changed how they look at homelessness and now rely more than ever on the generosity of the community.

Interfaith Co-Director Jodi Peterson says in the past, the Sanctuary had two licensed social workers to serve 164 guests at night at the shelter. But Peterson says that wasn’t enough. So they upped the budget from $650,000 to one million dollars, and now employ 10 case managers.

Julio Cortez / AP

Gas prices have been flat for a month, except in Idaho. The Gem State’s prices are up.

AAA Idaho says the state’s average price went up seven cents in February to $2.44 a gallon. The national average is $2.30 a gallon.

The price hike began when Plains All American Pipeline had to shut down its Wasatch gas pipeline. That cut off the supply of crude oil from Wyoming to Salt Lake City where it gets refined into gasoline. Without a pipeline, the oil is being sent by truck, which takes time and costs more.

Tom Michael / Boise State Public Radio

Many agree the immigration system is broken, and there’s a national debate on how best to fix it. This debate is sometimes based on emotions, not on data. But a new study released Tuesday is taking a closer look at the numbers.

Asmaa Albukaie was Boise’s first refugee from Syria, arriving in late 2014.

"For me as a refugee, I came searching for safety and peace," Albukaie says.

She found that. She also found work.

capitol, statehouse, idaho
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Governor Butch Otter said Monday during his State of the State address that education is his top priority for his fiscal year 2018 budget request.

His speech focused on education, tax relief and Idaho’s economy.

“Our finances are secure. Revenue is exceeding expectations. Economic growth is outpacing the overall growth of government and our own operations are more transparent and efficient than ever,” says Otter.

He is also proposing some tax relief.

PNC Financial Services Group

The slow recovery of the U.S. economy is continuing to keep the cost of Christmas from spiraling out of control. 

Pittsburgh-based PNC Financial Services Group has tracked the cost of the gifts mentioned in the "Twelve Days of Christmas" song for the last 33 years. Think of it as a way spice up the otherwise dry topic of inflation.

real estate, home for sale, housing market
Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has increased the price of mortgages they will insure in 2017.

This is the first time since 2009 that HUD has increased the amount for federally backed mortgages. Growing demand for housing in Idaho is a factor.

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.

Peter Barker / Flickr Creative Commons

A lumber mill in northern Idaho has closed down, leaving about 40 people without work.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that Tri-Pro Forest Products closed its Orofino mill on Tuesday. Resource Manager Mike Boeck says a lack of cedar logs forced the company to curtail operations at the Clearwater County mill over the past few weeks.

For much of the 20th century, private and public enterprises worked as both partners and adversaries to drive economic growth in our country. But in recent years, the balance within this so-called “mixed economy” has shifted away from public investment and regulation. Today, the term “Big Government” is widely considered a pejorative – despite the role public institutions have historically played in laying the foundation for social development and prosperity.

Pages