Economy

Wages
4:45 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Idaho's Average Hourly Wage Ticks Up, Doesn't Keep Up With National Growth

Credit 401(K)2013 / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho's average wage increased by almost 20 cents last year. But wage growth isn't keeping up with the national average. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Employment Survey finds Idaho's average hourly wage for all jobs was $18.67 last year, that's up 19 cents from 2012. Still, Idaho's average wage was almost 84 percent of the national average, which is $22.33 an hour.  

The survey also found that half of Idaho's hourly employees earned $14.68 or less in 2013. That's a 10 cent increase from 2012. 

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Affordable Housing
1:11 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Report: It Takes A 73 Hour Work Week To Pay Rent On Idaho's Minimum Wage

Credit National Low Income Housing Coalition

An Idaho worker earning the minimum wage would need to work 73 hours per week in order to afford a modest two-bedroom rental according to a report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

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Wages
10:43 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Idaho's Share Of Minimum Wage Workers Declines, Now 2nd Highest In U.S.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports most hourly workers earning at or below the minimum wage work in the service sector, largely in food preparation.
Credit Gorgeoux / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho’s share of minimum wage workers declined 0.6 percent from 2012 to 2013 according to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The drop means Idaho no longer has the largest share of minimum wage workers in the country; Tennessee has taken Idaho’s spot.

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Economy
6:45 am
Mon March 24, 2014

The Number Of Idaho Fur Trappers Doubles As Pelt Prices Soar

Patrick Carney sets his traps in a gated community pond near Eagle, Idaho.
Credit Jessica Murri / For Boise State Public Radio

Just four years ago, bobcat fur sold for about $200. Now, that same bobcat pelt can be sold for almost $2,000. Higher prices come from a rise in demand for fur in Asia, and it has led to more trappers in the field here in Idaho.

Patrick Carney, president of the Idaho Trappers Association, gets calls almost daily from folks who want advice on how to get into commercial trapping.

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Economy
11:42 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Idaho's February Jobless Rate Drops To Five Year Low

Idaho's unemployment rate dropped another tenth of a percentage point in February to 5.3 percent, the lowest rate in more than 5 years.

That decline came as the participation rate - which is the percentage of the population 16 and older working or actively looking for work - fell a tenth of a percentage point to 63.7 percent.

Idaho's participation rate dropped below 64 percent last October - the first time in over 30 years - and has been gradually sliding since.

Food Stamps
6:47 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Some States Working To Negate Federal Food Stamp Cutbacks

File photo of a woman using her EBT card in Portland, Ore., to purchase food.
Brian Duss Bread for the World

In Olympia, Washington policymakers are pondering whether to make an end run around looming cutbacks in the federally-funded food stamp program.

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Business
3:48 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Boise-Based Albertsons To Merge With Safeway Stores

Credit RoadsidePictures / Flickr Creative Commons

Safeway says it has agreed to be acquired by an investment group led by Cerberus Capital Management, the owner of Albertsons and several other supermarket chains.

The acquisition is worth about $7.64 billion in cash, and pending other transactions could top more than $9 billion.

It comes amid ongoing consolidation in the supermarket industry, which is facing growing competition from big-box retailers, specialty chains, drug stores and even dollar stores.

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Business
2:15 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Federal Court Approves $311 Million Settlement Involving Micron

Credit Micron Technology

Attorney General Lawrence Wasden says Idaho and other states have obtained court approval of a $311 million settlement involving Boise-based Micron Technology and other computer chip makers.

The court approval announced Tuesday means consumers can start filing claims to recoup the money they overpaid as a result of chip makers engaging in unlawful anti-competitive practices to inflate prices.

The approval involves the settlement of a lawsuit Idaho and 34 other states brought against 12 makers of dynamic random-access memory, or DRAM.

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Economy
10:41 am
Wed March 5, 2014

North Idaho Landowner Selling Waterfront Property For Bitcoin

Credit Antanacoins / Flickr Creative Commons

A North Idaho man is selling lake-front property for bitcoin, a digital currency that isn't regulated like the U.S. dollar.

The Coeur d'Alene Press reports Hayden resident Alen Golub has joined with neighbors to sell 660 waterfront acres. Golub tells the paper he's selling his 50 acres in exchange for bitcoin.

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Business
10:39 am
Wed March 5, 2014

Twin Falls Approves Chobani Expansion

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Twin Falls officials in south-central Idaho have approved a $3.5 million expansion of a Greek yogurt plant operated by Chobani.

The Times-News reports in a story on Wednesday that the addition to the $450 million plant will add to its packaging and filling rooms on the east side.

Company officials say the plant reached full production in December, producing 1 million cases of yogurt a week.

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Economy
5:03 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

National Parks Report: Nearby Towns Lost Nearly $500M In October Shutdown

File photo of an entrance to Mount Rainier National Park
Tom Banse Northwest News Network

According to a National Park Service report, towns around national parks lost an estimated $414 million during the partial government shutdown last October.

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Idaho Legislature
3:25 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Plan To Slash Idaho's Income Tax Passes House

Credit Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

A plan to snip Idaho income tax by $126 million over the next six years passed the House over objections that the state can't afford to lose that much revenue for the general fund.

The bill seeks to drop rates in all brackets from the current 7.4 percent to 6.8 percent, starting with a .1 percent cut in January.

Republican Rep. Mike Moyle, from Star, says that could make the state more attractive to businesses and put Idaho more in line with neighboring states.

Montana has an income tax rate of 6.9 percent and no sales tax.

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Agriculture
1:07 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Hummus Popularity Has Idaho, Washington Farmers Growing Huge Chickpea Crops

The rising popularity of hummus across the nation has been good for farmers like Aaron Flansburg.

Flansburg, who farms 1,900 acres amid the rolling hills of southeastern Washington, has been increasing the amount of the chickpeas used to make hummus by about one-third each year to take advantage of good prices and demand.

"I hope that consumption keeps increasing," he said.

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Agriculture
1:21 am
Fri February 28, 2014

Drought Could Dry Up Nevada Dairy Farmers' Expansion Plans

There are about 2,000 dairy cows on Pete Olsen's fifth-generation farm in northern Nevada. A new milk processing plant is now putting pressure on Olsen and other dairy farmers to expand the size of their herds. But with the ongoing drought, farmers are struggling to get enough feed for the cows they already have.
Kirk Siegler/NPR

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 1:13 pm

When Pete Olsen talks about drought on his fifth-generation dairy farm in Fallon, Nev., he's really talking about the snowpack 60 miles to the west in the Sierra Nevada.

The Sierras, Olsen says, are their lifeblood.

That is, the snowmelt from them feeds the Truckee and Carson rivers and a tangle of reservoirs and canals that make this desert bloom. Some of the highest-grade alfalfa in the world is grown here. And it makes perfect feed for dairy cows, because it's rich in nutrients.

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Jobs
1:16 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

Boise Health Insurance Exchange Call Center Lays Off 1,600

A Boise call center that helps people sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act is laying off nearly its entire work force as the federal exchange open enrollment period ends.

Maximus Inc. hired about 1,800 people for the Boise facility last year.

In a letter to employees on Monday, company officials announced that 1,600 employees will be laid off in April because they won't be needed when the federal enrollment period ends. Company officials say some employees may be hired back this fall, in preparation for the next enrollment period.

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Agriculture
8:25 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Idaho Farm Profits Up, Number Of Farms Continues To Fall

In 2012, crops accounted for $3.4 billion dollars of Idaho's ag sector. Livestock and related products totaled $4.3 billion.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The value of Idaho’s agriculture products grew from $5.7 billion to $7.8 billion between 2007 and 2012. That’s according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA.) It released preliminary results from its Census of Agriculture Thursday.  The USDA provides the update every five years and the latest covers 2012.  

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Wages
4:23 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

CBO: Minimum Wage Hike Could Boost Paychecks – And Cut Jobs

Darlene Handy of Baltimore holds up a banner at a rally supporting a pay measure in Maryland. More than 20 states have raised minimum pay rates above the federal level.
Jose Luis Magana AP

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 4:42 pm

Whatever you already believed about raising the federal minimum wage, you now have more ammo for your argument, thanks to a report released Tuesday by the Congressional Budget Office, titled "The Effects of a Minimum-Wage Increase on Employment and Family Income."

Yes, you're right: Raising the wage in steps to $10.10 an hour by 2016 would push employers to cut jobs — about 500,000 of them, says the CBO, the nonpartisan research arm of Congress.

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Wages
1:09 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Idaho Legislative Panel To Hear Minimum Wage Increase Proposal

Michelle Stennett is Idaho's Senate Minority Leader.
Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

A plan to put more money in the pockets of Idaho's lowest-paid workers cleared its first hurdle Monday when the Senate State Affairs Committee voted to send it forward to a full hearing.

The proposal would increase the state's minimum hourly pay from $7.25 the federal requirement— to $8.50 July 1, then raise it again to $9.75 in 2015.

But Republicans who control 81 percent of the Legislature immediately criticized the plan, throwing its future into doubt.

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Winter Olympics
5:30 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

U.S. Olympians Wearing Northwest Wool For Opening Ceremony

Woolgrower Jeanne Carver with the 2014 U.S. Olympic parade sweater
David Nogueras OPB

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 6:41 pm

When Team USA marches into the stadium for the Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony Friday, they'll be swathed in the warmth of the Northwest, quite literally.

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Business
5:15 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Applesauce-Maker GoGo SqueeZ To Open Idaho Facility Creating 230 Jobs

Credit TheImpulsiveBuy / Flickr Creative Commons

Applesauce-maker GoGo squeeZ says it plans to open an $85 million food processing facility in Nampa, Idaho that will employ at least 230 people.

The Idaho Department of Commerce announced the company's Idaho investment in a press release Thursday.

The Idaho Statesman reports the average wage at the new facility will be $16 an hour, more than double Idaho's minimum wage.

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