Economy

Why One Idaho Company Is Growing Its Own Workforce

Jul 16, 2012
Emilie Ritter Saunders / StateImpact

About half of all Idaho jobs fall into the middle-skills category.  Think mechanics, welders, police officers, or air traffic controllers.  These are jobs where you need more than a high school diploma, but less than a college degree.

According to the National Skills Coalition, not quite half of Idaho’s workers are trained for these jobs.  While many Idaho schools are ramping up efforts to train workers, the pipeline isn’t full yet, so one Idaho business has taken training into its own hands.

Boise's "Hole" Will Get New Building

Jul 12, 2012

Men in suits and ties and women in heels and blazers grasped the rail as they walked carefully down a set of rickety metal stairs Thursday afternoon. They gathered under the hot sun in a hole in the ground, surrounded by construction equipment and hard hats. They celebrated that the infamous hole in Boise's downtown on Eighth and Main will finally be filled.

Idaho Housing Market Shows Steady Improvement

Jul 12, 2012
Molly Messick / StateImpact Idaho

RealtyTrac’s midyear foreclosure report gives emphasis to the mantra we’ve been hearing all year about Idaho’s housing market: it’s improving.

A Rancher, A Logger, And Economic Fate In Rural Idaho

Jul 11, 2012
Molly Messick / StateImpact Idaho

In Idaho, the timber and ag industries are heavy hitters.  They play big roles in the state’s history and identity.  But the recession has dealt them different hands, dividing rural Idaho into winners and losers.  StateImpact Idaho takes a look at two industries, two counties, and two economic fates. 

USDA

A recent discovery in an Idaho potato field has Northwest spud growers worried. Researchers this week reported that insects from the Twin Falls area tested positive for bacteria that cause “zebra chip disease.”

The disease doesn’t pose a health risk to humans but potato researcher Andy Jensen says it can render entire crops un-marketable.

“If you take an infected tuber and you slice it and fry it like a potato chip -- it develops stripes that look just like zebra stripes," Jensen explains. "I mean a farmer can’t sell something that’s affected by this.”

The Brookings Institution

Boise home values have improved by nearly five percent from their post-recession low.  That’s enough of an increase that a recent Brookings Institution report ranks the city first for its house price recovery.  StateImpact reported that finding early this week.

Molly Messick / StateImpact Idaho

Boise earned sixth place in a recent ranking of cities’ economic recoveries, a strong finish that’s based largely on improvement in local home prices.

Courtesy Dick Vinson

It’s a rare thing for a small sawmill to try to get up and running while a crucial market driver for lumber — housing construction — remains in a national slump.

So when the Emerald Forest Products mill reopened in Emmett, Idaho this month, something unusual was happening.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The committee that oversees compensation for state legislators today attempted to clarify when lawmakers may claim the $122 per diem payment intended for those who maintain a second residence during the legislative session.  That payment became a source of controversy last fall, after the AP reported that one state senator claimed it while staying with his parents, and another claimed it while staying on his law firm’s couch.

Courtesy Dick Vinson

Stories about mill towns tend to go something like this: generations of families work at the local sawmill.  Then, the mill shuts down, taking hundreds of jobs with it.  Emmett, Idaho is one of those towns.  Boise Cascade closed its mill here in 2001.  But that’s not where this story ends.  Instead, it picks up with a Montana entrepreneur and millions in stimulus funding.

The expanse of ground where Boise Cascade used to operate is quiet and overgrown.  Buildings are boarded up.  A pair of quail struts across an open lot.  But on one corner of the property, there’s activity again.

State Controller Donna Jones Recovering

Jun 19, 2012

State Controller Donna Jones is getting better. That’s the word from her staff and Idaho Governor Butch Otter.

Jones, who's 73 - years - old was injured in a one-car rollover May 25th. She broke her neck and was taken to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in critical condition for surgery. Now Jones has been moved to a rehab facility and is receiving daily therapy.

Franz Jantzen / supremecourt.gov

Northwest tribes stand to receive big payments from the federal government after a U.S. Supreme Court decision Monday. Here’s the upshot of the ruling: the government has to uphold contracts with American Indian tribes -- even if Congress shortchanges those deals.

Mirroring the national jobless rate increase, Idaho’s unemployment rate rose one-tenth of a percentage point last month, ending a nine-month decline in the economic measure.

Jobless In Idaho: Short-Term Work Is A Short-Term Fix

Jun 14, 2012
Molly Messick / StateImpact Idaho

For months now, our “Jobless in Idaho” series has followed people here in Idaho as they search for work against hard odds.  Kelly Barker, a single mom from Meridian, had been out of work for the better part of a year when we met her last winter.  Since then, she’s made do with a combination of temp work, food stamps and unemployment benefits.  In April, those benefits were running out.

Barker was scouring the web for job possibilities when we last met.  It was a tense time, and Barker knew there was only one option.  She had to find work.  “I don’t have a contingency plan,” she said.  “You know, a mortgage payment – you’d have to have a lot of savings to sustain you for a long period of time, and I don’t, so I have ten weeks to find a job.  Period.”

Jobless In Idaho: Short-Term Work Is A Short-Term Fix

Jun 13, 2012
Molly Messick / StateImpact Idaho

For months now, our "Jobless in Idaho" series has followed people here in Idaho as they search for work against hard odds.  When we last talked to Kelly Barker, her unemployment benefits were running out.  Continue reading...

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