Tag Archives: idaho department of labor

2017 Total Solar Eclipse: Infrastructure Challenge or Economic Windfall?

-Idaho Communities Prepare for Both Scenarios-

Nineteen Idaho counties – from Washington County in western Idaho to Teton County in eastern Idaho – are within the “path of totality” and are expected to see a large influx of visitors during this year’s total eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017.

Preparing for the total solar eclipse is taking center stage locally, regionally and nationally. Experts from Great American Eclipse.com anticipate anywhere from 93,000 to 370,000 visitors across the path of totality in Idaho, including Sun Valley, Stanley and Washington County. But the majority of visitors are expected in eastern Idaho, with NASA estimating upwards of 500,000 in eastern Idaho alone. Anyone trying to book a rental property in the region for that weekend using Airbnb will see a message that “2167 percent more people are looking for rental properties in Idaho Falls now (Aug 18-22) than on average.”

Image: Google

Eastern Idaho can provide roughly 8,000 units of rental sleeping spaces including hotels, motels, rental homes, lodges, campsites and RV parks. If each space is shared by an average of three people, the accommodation capacity is around 24,000 people – less than one half to one sixth of the visitor count expected to spend the night prior to eclipse day. Putting this into perspective, if 90 percent of the visitors are around only long enough to see the eclipse, using the region’s resources and infrastructure the economic benefits for the hotels, restaurants and retail outlets may be less than if they were to spend the night.

Regionally, eastern Idaho has approximately 222,432 people spread across more than 19,000 square miles – much of it vacant without roads and little access to emergency services. The area’s infrastructure – roadways, cell towers, sewer systems, hospitals, emergency teams and more – is engineered to serve the residential population with capacity for anticipated tourism and economic activity. If the number of visitors  for the eclipse are realized for a condensed period of time, as estimated by NASA, the infrastructure will experience up to three times the number of people it was built to support.

While late August is still part of the heavy tourist season, the eclipse attendance will be the largest concentration of visitors the region has ever seen. Travel accommodation businesses, retail businesses and restaurants may see increased foot traffic and higher purchasing volume, but according to department economists, the benefits may pale in comparison to the actual visitor count. The Idaho Transportation Department anticipates seeing roads that would normally carry 1,100 cars per hour, increased to 1,800 or 1,900 cars per hour around the eclipse date. With many visitors intending to leave directly after the eclipse, a heavy increase in traffic may dissuade drivers from spending additional time at local restaurants and shops.

The average hotel room rate in eastern Idaho was $123.97 per day in 2016. With the eclipse, hotel rates are expected to increase significantly depending on the demand. In this case, eastern Idaho travel accommodation businesses are advertising rental spaces for $350 to $2,500 per night. Airbnb claims to have less than 19 percent availability currently open in the area. This is likely comparable to camping and RV site reservations. With an estimate of more than 3,700 rooms total in the region, some hotels, motels, lodges and inns throughout the region are already booked.

In addition, due directly to the sheer volume of visitors expected, the infrastructure costs the region may incur may exceed the profit margins private leisure and hospitality businesses will see.

That’s why Idaho businesses and government agencies within the path are holding frequent meetings in their communities to prepare and create the best possible plans available to accommodate the increase of businesses and at the same time benefit from the event.

For example, with so many small towns right in the path of ideal viewing, the Idaho Department of Commerce is working with the state’s Office of Emergency Management, local law enforcement and area hospitals to ensure all are prepared for the influx of people. In addition to holding a series of workshops in June, with one hosted by Idaho Falls the department has launched a website to serve as an information hub for both communities and travelers.

The website also features resources for businesses, visitors, residents and links to other resources, as well as plans and resources created by the Bureau of Land Management, the Idaho Transportation Department, the US Forest Service and the Idaho Tax Commission.

A quick glimpse at the eclipse impact on the hotel and rental industries can be found below:

Source: Statistica 2017
**The data above represents national averages, in conjunction with Idaho hotel/rental pricing and occupancy estimates for Aug-17.

For more information on what Idaho businesses and government agencies are doing to prepare for the eclipse, visit the Idaho Office of Emergency Management Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/IdahoOEM/) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/IdahoOEM) accounts. Twitter users will find updates using the hashtag #IdahoEclipse2017.

Additional information can be found at these websites:

Hope.Morrow@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 525-7268 ext. 4340

 

Idaho’s Lumber Industry Gets Boost from Trade Tariffs

Recent tariffs imposed on Canadian softwood lumber should reduce the amount of lumber the U.S. imports from Canada and boost the Idaho lumber industry this year. Softwood lumber — made from pine, fir, cedar and spruce — is mostly used for framing new houses.

Last year, according to Wood Resources Quarterly, imports from Canada accounted for 32 percent of lumber used in the United States. Less competition from Canada should boost U.S. mills’ profits, production and employment.

The countervailing duties on Canadian lumber imported to the United States range from 3 percent to 24.12 percent, averaging 19.88 percent. The U.S. Commerce Department plans to impose additional fees that would mean some lumber importers would face duties as high as 30.88 percent. Commerce says Canada is unfairly selling lumber in the U.S. below production costs, aided in part by improper government subsidies.

The new tariff is the latest step in a 35-year-old trade dispute between the two nations. U.S. lumber producers argue that the Canadian government unfairly subsidizes its lumber industry, since most timber cut in Canada comes from provincial forests. Provincial governments set prices administratively and are lower than if they were set in a competitive market. Under U.S. trade remedy laws, foreign trade benefiting from subsidies can be subject to a countervailing duty tariff to offset the subsidy and bring the price of the commodity back up to market rates.

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Around Idaho: June 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

Bonner County

  • Intermax Networks is now serving Sandpoint’s new city-owned fiber optic cable service. Access to the city’s cable allows Intermax to nearly double its service in Sandpoint and supports the city’s goals of expanding the availability of fiber. Source: Idaho Business Review

Kootenai County

  • Construction on The Crossings – a new 37-acre business complex in Athol – began in June with the first work on a new Super 1 Foods grocery store. The complex is designed to serve the significant rural population of northern Kootenai County and may eventually include medical and financial service providers. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • The Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce has curtailed its financial support of the CDA Ironman competitions. After 14 years of full Ironman races, the city will instead begin hosting half-Ironman competitions beginning in 2018. Source: Spokesman Review
  • Silverwood Theme Park has fully ramped up for the summer season after opening its Boulder Beach water park. A representative from the park noted that sales of both season passes and individual tickets are up significantly from the previous year, when Canadian traffic dropped due to a weaker Canadian dollar. Season pass sales are up 23 percent over 2016, while individual ticket sales are up 20 percent. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • The city of Coeur d’Alene will postpone its planned widening and reconstruction of Government Way. The city received only one bid for the project, which was 34 percent higher than the city’s initial estimate. A city spokesman indicated that the narrow timeframe associated with the project was contributing to high costs, as the project would have required significant overtime work. Source: Spokesman Review

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Community College to Impact Spending in Eastern Idaho

A community college can fill educational, community and social needs in a region. Spending the first two years of a four-year degree at a community college and increased educational attainment levels could add $5.2 million in annual spending to eastern Idaho’s regional economy.

In May, Bonneville County voters approved a tax measure allowing Eastern Idaho Technical College to become a community college. Continue reading

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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Looking for Your First Job? These Resume Tips Can Get You Started

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As the school year and graduation festivities end, many graduates may find themselves without a job or direction on how to find one. Whether looking for a summer job or your first professional entry-level position, there are many things to consider when creating your resume. A resume highlights skills, accomplishments, knowledge and experiences.

Getting Started

Before creating a resume, collect all information on previous job history, educational background and skills, as well as other accomplishments that will relate to the position for which you are applying. Make sure you tailor your resume to fit each position.

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