Economy

400 Civilians Furloughed At Mountain Home Air Force Base

Jul 12, 2013
Official U.S. Air Force

Furloughs have begun at Mountain Home Air Force base. Friday is the first day many civilian workers had to stay home after across-the-board budget cuts – known as the sequester – take effect.

Chief Master Sergeant Alex del Valle says the furloughs are already changing base operations. He says the civilian airmen work alongside the military airmen, and their support is essential.

Housing, Construction, Sold Sign
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho is one of five states that saw housing prices climb by more than 12 percent from the first quarter of 2012 to the first quarter of 2013.

In Idaho, home prices are up 15.1 percent over the first quarter of last year. But as the State Economic Monitor from the Tax Policy Institute points out, Idaho is among states that saw the sharpest decline in home prices during the recession.

ImahinasyonPhotography / Flickr Creative Commons

It costs more to get by in rural Idaho than it does in Boise, the state's population center. That's according to the Economic Policy Institute's family budget calculator.

A family of four living in Boise needs $56,491 per year. A family of four in rural Idaho needs $58,071.

Here's a comparison of what it costs for a family of four, two parents and two children, to live in four different parts of Idaho.

Gas Pump
FutureAtlas.com / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho motorists are paying some of the nation's highest prices when it comes to filling the gasoline tank.

AAA Idaho says the average price for a gallon of unleaded on Tuesday was $3.75. While that's down about five cents from a month ago, it's well above the national average of $3.48.

Compared to other states, Idaho has the 7th highest prices at the pump.

AAA Idaho Spokesman Dave Carlson says Idaho — like other western states — has not yet seen the summer price decline reported in many other markets.

More than 800 Idaho National Guard employees will start taking furlough days mandated by federal budget cuts.

Idaho National Guard spokesman Col. Tim Marsano says about 860 full-time employees will have one unpaid day off each week between now and the end of the federal fiscal year on Sept. 30. Marsano says the federal budget cuts affect 860 military technicians and civilian workers.

The federal budget cuts took effect when Congress failed to reach an agreement on a deficit reduction plan.

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

Idaho is one of four states that will participate in a program to offer Greek yogurt as a meat substitute in meals served at public schools.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday announced it was taking bids through July 22 to supply orders for schools in Idaho, Arizona, New York and Tennessee.

The USDA decided in January to classify Greek yogurt as an accepted meat alternative because of its high protein content. If the pilot program succeeds, Greek yogurt could become a permanent part of the school lunch program nationwide.

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

An Idaho pro-business lobbying group says a decision by Idaho lawmakers not to expand Medicaid to cover more low-income residents will cost $12.3 million to $18.5 million a year in penalties for large companies that don't insure their employees.

The Idaho Statesman reports that the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry also says it will cost an unspecified amount for businesses whose insurance and taxes subsidize care for the uninsured.

The parent company of a polysilicon manufacturing plant in eastern Idaho has filed for bankruptcy in Pocatello federal court.

The Idaho State Journal reports Hoku Corp. made the Chapter 7 filing Tuesday. It put the company's debt at nearly $1 billion.

Hoku Corp. is the parent company of Hoku Materials, which built the $700 million plant in Pocatello.

Bullets, Guns, Ammunition
Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

Ammunition has been selling at historic levels in recent months.  Fears of tighter government gun and ammunition control have meant retail giants like Wal Mart all the way down to mom-and-pop gun shops haven’t been able to keep bullets on their shelves.  That lack of availability has led more and more shooters to take up the hobby of reloading.  

Alaska Airlines

The Boise airport will add a new non-stop flight to its list beginning this fall. Daily, non-stop service from Boise to San Diego starts Nov. 1.

Baby, Baby Bottle
Katerha / Flickr Creative Commons

A change in income guidelines means more Idahoans could qualify for food assistance through the WIC program.

The supplemental nutrition program Women, Infants and Children, or WIC provides certain foods to pregnant or breastfeeding moms and families with children under age five. Starting July 1, a cost-of-living adjustment goes into effect.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

The Canadian dollar is dropping in value. At the close of currency trading Monday, the Canadian dollar hit its lowest point in nearly two years in comparison to the U.S. dollar. If the trend continues, it'll be cause for concern in border states.

For the first time since June 2011, Idaho’s unemployment rate ticked up one-tenth of a percentage point in May.

The Idaho Department of Labor says the workforce grew last month, contributing to an increase in the jobless rate from 6.1 percent in April to 6.2 percent in May.

Justy Thomas, Jobless in Idaho
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Two years, several temporary jobs, 15 interviews, and countless applications later Justy Thomas has landed a permanent job. “I feel blessed I have a stable job,” she says. Thomas is now working in the human resources department of a local utility company.

Traffic is rolling across the repaired Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River Wednesday morning, marking the end of  a hasty, round-the-clock salvage and reconstruction job.

Work started less than four weeks ago, when an oversize load brought down the vital bridge.  Northwest Washington drivers and businesses are relishing a return to normal.

Editor's Note: Many of you noted that the price for a 10-pound bag of potatoes cited in the lawsuit seems ridiculously high. So we look into the matter further — you can read what we found in this follow-up post.

High-tech spying with satellites. Intimidation. Price fixing.

Idaho Transportation Department

Idaho has named the highway department headquarters in Boise after former Governor Phil Batt. 

At a ceremony Thursday, Batt told the crowd the building is over 50 years old. “They been hunting for the oldest person to name it after.  I’m 86. They found me," Batt joked. "Of course I’m highly honored, there are many more deserving people than I, I have only one thing to say to them, tough luck it’s mine.” 

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The U.S. Senate passed a $955 billion Farm Bill Monday.  It covers everything from crop insurance to conservation, to commodity programs. 

But by far the largest part of the bill is for food stamps known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP.  States receive $760 billion for  those in need.  Right now, Idaho gets $29 million a month from the federal government for SNAP benefits.

How Genetically Modified Crops Could Affect Weeds

Jun 13, 2013
EarthFix

After unauthorized, genetically modified wheat was found in an Oregon field, scientists have been trying to figure out what that means for wheat crops. Beyond farmers’ fields, a few pesky plants could also benefit as more genetically modified crops come into play.

An invasive weed called jointed goatgrass mingles with wheat in fields across the Northwest – and throughout the United States.

Carol Mallory-Smith has studied wheat and jointed goatgrass at Oregon State University for years.

Price Parities 2011
Data: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis | Chart: Emilie Ritter Saunders

Data released today from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis show personal income in Idaho hasn’t fully rebounded from the recession, though growth has been measured in the last two years.

The personal income data from 2007 through 2011 offers a closer look at real-time incomes in relation to the state-specific cost of goods and services during that same time period.

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