Here is a roundup of economic news compiled by the Idaho Department of Labor in May:
Photo courtesy North Idaho College in Sandpoint
North Idaho College has surpassed its $100,000 fundraising goals for a science wet laboratory at its new satellite campus in Sandpoint. The drive has raised $135,000 so far, enabling the school to set up the lab this summer in time for the fall semester. Students on the satellite campus can complete two-year programs and potentially earn bachelor’s degrees. With the new laboratory, students in Sandpoint will never have to leave that campus to get their associate degrees.
- Engineering and development work has been started as part of Potlatch Corp.’s capital improvement project at its St. Maries Complex this year. A new warehouse and equipment upgrades to improve efficiency are among the projects to help local mills remain competitive.
- The Idaho Land Board has approved a timber sale plan for 2014 that calls for 249 million board feet to be harvested from state endowment lands – the highest logging level in more than a decade. The plan increases the harvest of recent years by 2 million board feet. The economic downturn brought significant drops in prices starting in 2008. But rising demand and a shortage of private timber is improving prices.
Idaho’s high technology industries had a difficult time during our most recent downturn and have yet to fully recover. The Idaho Department of Labor’s latest Idaho High-Tech Business Scan, found Idaho ranked last among the surrounding states in high-tech employment growth between 2007 and 2012 with a 4.9 percent decline. This decline was great enough to land Idaho near the bottom of all states as well – just above New Jersey and Delaware.
Before the recession, Idaho was doing much better. From 2002 and 2007 Idaho’s high-tech industries grew 11.4 percent. This still placed Idaho near the bottom among the border states, but the state was ranked above most in the nation at 16th. Four out of the six surrounding states landed in the top 10.
Looking at Idaho regionally, the southwestern part of the state, unsurprisingly, has the majority Continue reading
Kailamai Hansen had a difficult childhood. She moved in and out of foster care during her teen
years and after her mom’s death, struggled with her school studies. After she transferred to an alternative high school at age 17, she began to focus on her schoolwork and graduated early.
Kailamai Hansen (Photo by Lisa Nagrou photography)
At age 18 – Kailamai like many young people who “age out” of the foster system – lacked the knowledge and skill to care for herself financially and she relied on churches and family friends. Eventually she was put in touch with the Idaho Department of Labor.
Workforce consultant Bonnie Niles worked with Kailamai and signed her up to participate in the department’s youth employment program. Funded by Workforce Investment Act dollars from the federal government, the program provides education, training and employment opportunities for low-income youth. In Kailamai’s case, it provided support for tuition and books at North Idaho College.
“I started to realize that education was my ticket to success,” Kailamai said. “It was my one way ticket to a bright future. Through your (Bonnie’s) help I have come to realize that should I dedicate myself to a task, there are people out there that will believe in me and assist me along the way.”
Kailamai received her associate degree and plans to move to Lewis Clark State College to work toward her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. After that, she would like to go to Gonzaga University and either pursue a law degree or a master’s degree in criminal justice or social work.
Punxsutawney Phil took some heat this year for falsely predicting the early onset of spring. All the while thousands of Idaho retail workers were prepping so potential customers can get started on projects around the house.
Home Depot has big hopes this year, announcing plans to hire 80,000 seasonal workers nationwide – 10,000 more than last year. Local media outlets reported plans for Home Depot to add 100 workers in eastern Idaho, 225 in the Boise area and 30 to 40 in Twin Falls.
Employment typically averages a little more than 30 per home center in Idaho. But that average is likely skewed by both the larger number of smaller local business and big box stores like Lowes and Home Depot in more urban areas. Employment at a lawn and garden center, however, barely hits 10 during the peak season between the second and third quarters each year.
Idaho businesses are again being solicited by private companies to pay for required labor law posters that the Idaho Department of Labor provides for free.
No changes have been made to existing labor law posters, and any businesses needing the posters can download them free from the Labor website.
“Employers are doing everything they can to bolster Idaho’s recovering economy, and the last thing they need is some unscrupulous person trying to dupe them into paying for posters that are free,” Labor Director Roger B. Madsen said. “The people of Idaho already pay for these posters through their taxes, and businesses should download them free of charge from our website.”
Employers are encouraged to place the legally mandated posters on safety, wages and discrimination in the workplace where they can easily be seen by employees.
A complete package of all the posters Idaho businesses are required to display can be found on the Labor Department website.
Packets are available in either English or Spanish and contain the following posters:
- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Law
- Idaho Minimum Wage Law
- Job Health and Safety Law (OSHA)
- Employee Polygraph Protection Act
- Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993
- Idaho Unemployment Insurance Benefits
- Federal Minimum Wage
- Idaho Anti-Discrimination
- Military Family Leave
Other federal employment posters for specific employment situations are also available.
Employee turnover in Idaho slowed during the recession but is beginning to pick up again as workers become more comfortable in a reviving labor market. But the rate of turnover and characteristics of the workers changing jobs can have a significant economic impact on businesses.
Employees stay on the job an average of 23 to 24 months before jumping ship or being laid off, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ labor turnover survey, and at a cost that can substantially affect a business’s bottom line.
According to the Census Bureau’s Quarterly Workforce Indicators, employee turnover was 9.1 percent for all jobs in 2011. That is up from 8.8 percent in the depths of the recession in 2009 but still below prerecession levels approaching 11 percent.