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
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
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.
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.
The city of Coeur d’Alene is moving forward with a bike share program. The city council reached an agreement with Zagster, a Massachusetts-based company that has created more than 140 bike share programs around the country. City officials stressed the focus of the program is on commuters and is not designed to compete with companies that rent bicycles to tourists. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
The landmark Dingle Building in the heart of downtown Coeur d’Alene is under new ownership, and the new owners have proposed to turn the property into a boutique hotel. This plan would include retail and restaurant space on the ground floor of the building with and an added fourth story to provide additional hotel occupancy. The plans have been submitted to the city and now await approval. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
North Idaho College has asked the state legislature for $594,900 to provide two free courses at NIC for Idaho residents during the summer quarter of 2017. NIC officials expressed hopes that providing free courses during the summer will raise their fall enrollment numbers. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
The city of Rathdrum has announced plans to form an urban renewal agency. The goal of the agency will be the development of Rathdrum’s large vacant areas which are currently zoned for light industrial. Rathdrum is home to two technical schools, and city officials expressed hope that development of the industrial areas will help keep graduates from these schools working in the city. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
Empire Unmanned – a northern Idaho manufacturer of unmanned aerial vehicles – has announced that it will offer a certification course for commercial drone pilots. The company’s sales tripled in 2016 as commercial uses for drones have proliferated. The certification course, which will be offered at North Idaho College, will reflect the evolving regulatory requirements promulgated by the Federal Aviation Administration. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
The Coeur d’Alene school board voted in favor of a $35.5 million bond measure and a $32 million operating levy, both of which will be put before votes in March. The measures come amid rapid enrollment growth which has left Coeur d’Alene schools significantly overcrowded. Due to rising assessed property values, tax rates would not increase even if both the bond and the levy are approved. Source: Spokesman Review
STCU credit union opened a new branch in downtown Coeur d’Alene after remodeling a former Bank of America Location. The new location, which offers business services and consumer and commercial lending, is STCU’s 20th branch overall and its third in northern Idaho. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
The Coeur d’Alene Planning Commission approved a permit for Lake Drive Apartments to build a 30-unit, five-story apartment complex in the underdeveloped East Sherman neighborhood. Lake Drive expressed hopes that construction could be completed in the summer of 2017. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
The city of Coeur d’Alene relaxed its rules governing child care business licenses and will now grant licenses to applicants with marijuana charges more than five years old. The change was made to address a serious local shortage of child care providers. The city expressed optimism that the relaxed rules will help address the shortage. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
This is the second of a three-part series about Idaho’s rural economy. This part evaluates which dynamics influence rural Idaho’s dwindling labor force.
Part oneexamines elements impacting Idaho’s rural economy today, including population, educational attainment, industries, occupations and wages.
Part three projects how rural Idaho’s population by age group and labor force participation will look in 10 years based on the previous 10-year trends.
A lack of skilled labor is an ongoing struggle for Idaho’s rural economy. Idaho’s rural labor force has not grown since 2010; during the same period, the state’s urban labor force grew by more than 7 percent. The question of labor force is therefore critical to evaluating rural economies. Specifically, it is important to understand what caused stagnation in rural labor forces. In this analysis, we evaluate demographic and economic factors to determine whether rural labor force issues are caused by the usual suspects – aging and economic conditions – or whether there are other, undiagnosed problems. This analysis suggests that rural Idaho’s labor forces have declined for demographic and economic reasons, and not due to cultural or structural factors which are unique to rural economies.
Idaho’s unemployment rate – the ratio of the number of unemployed persons to the total number of participants in a labor market – is often viewed as the go-to measurement of economic health. Yet it can be misleading as the unemployment rate can decline both due to employment growth – unemployed persons finding work – and a decrease in the total labor force – unemployed persons stop looking for work altogether. The former case represents an increase in economic activity, while the latter does not. Continue reading →