Category Archives: Employment News

Washington State’s Minimum Wage Hike Affects Idaho Businesses

The state of Washington’s high minimum wage puts pressure on wages in northern Idaho, especially in the communities closest to the border — Lewiston, Moscow, Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls and the Priest River area. With Washington’s jump from $9.47 to $11 per hour on Jan. 1, 2017, wage pressures on the Idaho side increased.

In November 2015, the Washington Legislature approved Initiative 1433, which will increase its minimum wage incrementally until it reaches $13.50 an hour in 2020. After that, it will automatically increase with the cost of living. Three other states – Arizona, Colorado and Maine – also passed initiatives in November increasing their minimum wages. All three will raise their wages incrementally until they reach $12 in 2020. Prior to the election, California, New York and Oregon already established pathways to $12 an hour or more in the coming years. Altogether, 29 states and the District of Columbia now have minimum wages above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. In addition, some cities impose minimum wages above their states’ minimum wages. For example, Seattle’s minimum wage for larger employers is set to increase to $15 by 2020.

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Around Idaho: May 2017 Economic Activity

Information provided in this article is from professional sources, news releases, weekly and daily newspapers, television and other media.

Northern Idaho
North Central Idaho
Southwestern Idaho
South Central Idaho
Southeastern
Eastern Idaho

NORTHERN IDAHO – Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai & Shoshone counties

Kootenai County

  • The city of Coeur d’Alene entered into an agreement to purchase 47 acres of waterfront property, which was vacated when Stimson Lumber closed its operations there in 2005. Several private sector efforts to develop the property have fallen through over the years due to ambiguity regarding the lot’s zoning and environmental cleanup requirements. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • The city of Post Falls plans to pursue an Idaho Community Development block grant to add additional parking in the city center. Inadequate public parking has led to a several cases of illegal parking and damage to private property. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • Kootenai County Commissioners approved several changes to the Citylink bus system, including new fares and reduced hours of operation. The changes reflect the need to pursue a more sustainable and effective public transportation service. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • The Innovation Collective plans to turn the historic Elks Building in downtown Coeur d’Alene into the “Innovation Den,” which will include office space, a coffee shop, meeting space and a private bar. Among the tenants already lined up are a robotics company, a venture capital firm and an intellectual property law firm. Source: Spokane-Kootenai Journal of Business

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Around Idaho: April 2017 Economic Activity

Information provided in this article is from professional sources, news releases, weekly and daily newspapers, television and other media.

Northern Idaho
North Central Idaho
Southwestern Idaho
South Central Idaho
Southeastern
Eastern Idaho

NORTHERN IDAHO – Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai & Shoshone counties

Kootenai County

  • North Idaho College received a $482,000 grant from the Idaho Department of Labor to train more than 200 workers in wood products manufacturing. The grant is a partnership with Lewis-Clark State College and a consortium of wood product manufacturers in northern Idaho. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • Work has begun on a $5.44 million revitalization of the Seltice Way arterial. The project – which is expected to continue into 2018 – will provide a new streetscape, roundabouts and bike lanes, as well as upgraded water and waste utilities. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • Kootenai County continues to have a banner year for building permits in 2017. At the conclusion of the first quarter, the cities of Hayden, Rathdrum and Post Falls were all at or near record paces for issued building permits. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press

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Demographics Contribute to Idaho’s Digital Divide

The term “digital divide” was popularized in the late 1990s and described a growing gap between those individuals with access to the internet and other information and communications technology, and those without. Since then, concerted effort has been made to provide physical access to close this gap.

Today, most households, workplaces and classroom computers are internet enabled. Data from 2015 showed that more than 80 percent of Idaho’s civilian population ages 3 and up used the internet, more than double the rate in 1998. Digital technology has evolved rapidly to incorporate a wide range of uses from emailing to blogging to online and blended learning in classrooms. Digital hardware and software are constantly in flux with the more recent shift to mobile devices and cloud storage.

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Declining Rental Vacancies Put Pressure on Eastern Idaho

While demand for rental units in eastern Idaho has steadily increased since the 2008 recession, supply has not kept pace.

Leading into 2008, rental vacancies were at an all-time high peaking at roughly 10.5 percent across the nation (Figure 1). Although more vacancies frustrate landlords who are unable to fill rentals, it creates a preferable – or buyer’s – market for consumers. Before the recession there were abundant rental options, competitive prices and space for populations to expand.

Whenever the economy takes an economic downturn, especially a severe instance like 2008, there is a stagnation in construction. Rental property construction took a huge hit during this time and almost stopped completely. At the same time many people were losing their homes and being forced into rental units. Within the first few months of 2008, rental units became a hot commodity and, as shown in Figure 1, rental vacancies drastically declined.

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Around Idaho: March 2017 Economic Activity

Information provided in this article is from professional sources, news releases, weekly and daily newspapers, television and other media.

Northern Idaho
North Central Idaho
Southwestern Idaho
South Central Idaho
Southeastern
Eastern Idaho

NORTHERN IDAHO – Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai & Shoshone counties

Boundary County

  • A large mudslide derailed a Union Pacific train near Moyie Springs on March 15. No injuries were reported, though 12 railroad cars loaded with grain were involved in the derailment. Due to the steep terrain in the area, it was not immediately possible to bring in equipment to move the derailed cars. Multiple mudslides and floods have been reported since then, leading to a state of emergency declared by Boundary County and the city of Bonners Ferry. Source: Bonner County Daily Bee

Kootenai County

  • The city of Post Falls will use an Idaho Transportation Department grant to improve pedestrian pathways and trails and construct new pathways in the city center.
  • Kootenai County declared a state of emergency on March 16 in response to extensive flooding caused by heavy rain and melting snow pack. Areas affected by flooding include Cataldo, Fernan Lake Village, Hayden and Rathdrum.
  • School levies around Kootenai County were successful in March. Plummer-Worley, Post Falls, Coeur d’Alene and Lakeland school districts all passed their respective levies.

Source for all: Coeur d’Alene Press Continue reading

‘Routine’ Jobs More Susceptible to Automation

 

Automation and how technology will change the way we work is an overarching theme in economic analysis today. Computing power has made workers more effective and efficient in a variety of industries, and in some settings human workers have been replaced altogether.

Manufacturing is a prime example. Products assembled by long lines of robotic equipment are a visible reminder of how technology has changed the way Americans work. Since 2000, American industrial output – defined as the total value of the country’s factories, mines and power plants – has grown by just over 10 percent, adjusted for inflation. In that same period, total employment – the number of working hours required to create that output – has shrunk by 29 percent. Technology has made American industry more efficient than ever, and factories are getting increasingly more production out of a shrinking workforce.

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