Economy

Young Invincibles

A national group working to engage young people on issues like education and health care gives Idaho a D- when it comes to state support for higher education.

Pew Charitable Trusts

Here’s a new way to measure Idaho’s fiscal health: tax volatility. Idaho is in the top third of most-volatile state tax revenues. That’s according a report released Thursday from the Pew Charitable Trusts, which Pew calls a first-of-its-kind national comparison.

If you haven’t yet clicked away, but you’re about to because reading the phrase ‘tax volatility’ made you think a trip to the dentist or DMV might be pleasant about now, here’s why it’s important.

Kevin Rank / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho’s annual legislative session starts next week, but some lawmakers are already at work. Each year, just before the session, a group of lawmakers meets to try and get an idea of what Idaho’s economy will be like in the coming year. They use what they hear to inform their budgeting decisions.

Of course, what the state’s economy will do in the future is something that’s important to most everyone in Idaho, not just lawmakers. So here’s a preview of what legislators will hear.

UGA College of Ag / Flickr Creative Commons

The J.R. Simplot Company is partnering with a Texas-based company to build a 300,000-square-foot beef processing facility near Kuna, Idaho, creating up to 600 new jobs.

Simplot and Caviness Beef Packers announced Tuesday it expects to open in the fall of 2016, pending regulatory approval.

In a press release, Simplot officials say the processing plant will be called CS Beef Packers, LLC. The two companies say they're investing $100 million to build the facility.

Mike Mozart / Flickr Creative Commons

The bankruptcy of national clothing retailer Coldwater Creek last spring posed a serious challenge to the northern Idaho city of Sandpoint, as more than 300 jobs vanished.

But The Spokesman-Review reports that the community is getting a second wind — thanks in part to former workers at the company who stuck around and started or joined new firms.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho lawmakers will once again review state employee salaries as they continue to fall behind market rates.

The Spokesman-Review reports that a joint panel, made up of members from the Idaho House and Senate, will convene next Thursday to discuss compensation, turnover and employee morale.

The panel will submit a recommendation to the Idaho Legislature by Jan. 16 after reviewing reports and proposals from the governor, budget writers and evaluators.

Uber
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The city of Boise has issued a cease-and-desist order to Uber, the app-based car service company. City officials say Uber is violating an agreement not to charge passengers until the city gives it the go ahead.

Uber has been operating in Boise since October under a temporary agreement with the city. Boise and Uber were in negotiations for a permanent contract.

Aspen Skiing Company, artist rendering

Aspen Skiing Co. plans to build a hotel in Ketchum, Idaho, modeled on its Limelight Hotel in Aspen.

The company said Tuesday the hotel will be near Sun Valley's River Run base at Bald Mountain. It will also be called the Limelight.

Aspen Skiing bought the property from Bald Mountain LLC. No cost figures were released.

The company says the site has approval for 119 rooms and suites and 11 residential units. The company says it will ask Ketchum city officials for minor modifications in the plans, including a reconfiguration of the main floor.

Five of Idaho's neighboring states will ring in the New Year with an increase in their minimum wage. Idaho, meanwhile, hasn't seen an increase in its minimum wage since 2009.

Idaho's wage is the federal minimum, $7.25 per hour.

Not only is Idaho nearly surrounded by states with a minimum wage above the federal baseline, but it's nearly surrounded by states with the highest minimum wages in the country.

Sun Valley Resort

Ski season is now in full swing, but the lodge at one of the region’s most famous destinations is closed for the season.

The owners of Idaho's Sun Valley Resort are hoping a major renovation will keep them competitive among wealthy travelers. Sun Valley’s reputation as a destination among the jet-setting class goes back decades. But the iconic 1936 lodge hasn’t kept pace with the area’s star-studded image.

The new year will mean higher pay for low-wage workers in Oregon and Washington. The minimum wage in both states is set for an increase.

Daniel Go / Flickr

An agreement has been reached to build a new $2 million fertilizer plant in American Falls.

The Idaho Statesman reports ConAgra Foods and Magnida also announced an agreement on groundwater Tuesday.

The two companies say arrangements for financing the new fertilizer plant have been in the works for more than six years. Construction on the new plant could begin in 2015.

Jeremy Conant / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho is among the top 10 states for estimated population growth between 2013 and 2014, recording the strongest population gain since the recession, according to the Idaho Department of Labor.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows Idaho’s 2014 population is up 1.3 percent from 2013. That’s higher than the national average population growth of 0.7 percent.

Census puts Idaho’s estimated population at 1,634,464 million. That’s an increase of 21,000 people.

Get ready to shell out more money for eggs. Some Northwest stores are warning of higher egg prices as new regulations on hen houses take effect in California next month.

tdlucas5000 / Flickr Creative Commons

Farmers in Idaho say hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of beef, potatoes, apples, cheese and other products are languishing in storage because of problems at West Coast ports. The state’s agriculture officials are trying to pressure dock workers and their bosses to resolve a labor dispute and resume normal operations.

Idaho potato farmers say the port delays have prompted some overseas customers to cancel their orders altogether.

Jim Mertz of the Symms Fruit Company in Caldwell says only about 20 percent of their shipments this fall made it out of port on schedule.

Gene Han / Flickr

Idaho’s unemployment rate dropped in November to its lowest rate in nearly seven years, in part because the labor force is shrinking.

Idaho Department of Labor spokesman Bob Fick says November's 3.9 percent jobless rate was down two-tenths of a point from October.

“There’s usually a decline in jobs from October to November and that decline was less than in the past and there continue to be people who left the labor force,” says Fick. “So the combination of steady jobs and lower labor force was responsible for driving down the unemployment rate under four percent.”

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The school day is over at Boise’s Whitney Elementary but the playground is full of children. About 140 kids each day take part in the afterschool program at the adjacent Whitney Community Center.

It has tutors to help with homework. There’s book clubs, arts and crafts, board games, basketball, outside activities, and pool and computer games for the older kids who walk over from South Junior High. Director Barbara English says some kids stay until the center closes at 7:00, but not because of all the stuff to do.

philanthropy.com

A recent report from the finance website Wallet Hub says Idaho is the third most-generous state (tied with Kansas). Utah and South Dakota topped the list. Wallet Hub looked at volunteer time and money donated using IRS statistics and survey data.

New York Times, unemployment, jobs, men
New York Times

The New York Times reports there are nine counties in Idaho where at least 25 percent of men are not working. The report draws on data about men aged 25 to 54. The Times says they averaged data from U.S. Census Bureau American Community Surveys taken between 2009 and 2013.

An investment group is pitching a plan to build a commercial nuclear power plant in southeastern Idaho near the Idaho National Laboratory research facility.

The Post Register reports that Twin Buttes Enterprises LLC presented its plan to the Butte County Commission on Monday.

Twin Buttes was approved for a certificate of organization by the Idaho Secretary of State on Nov. 21.

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