Monthly Archives: October 2013

Focus on Your Goals During Career Development Month

Career development is a lifelong process of learning, exploring, making decisions and preparing for the future. The answers to the questions “Who am I?” “Where am I going?” and “How do I get there?” change as our lives progress.

Career development begins in early elementary years when we first decide what we will be when we “grow up.” However as we learn more about ourselves and what opportunities are available to us, our career goals evolve.

Career Development Month, beginning Nov. 1, brings awareness to this process and celebrates the mentors, educators, advisors and others who help us every step of the way. On Nov. 15, Lt. Gov. Brad Little will formally announce Gov. Butch Otter’s proclamation of November as Idaho Career Development Month.

At the same ceremony, the Idaho Department of Labor and the Idaho Career Development Association will present the Leadership in Career Development award to Idahoans who make a significant difference in helping others progress in their career development.

You can increase your understanding of your career goals and the steps for achieving them by:

  • Improving your current job skills. Find out about training at your workplace, online or in a class that will help you do your current job better or prepare you for a promotion.
  • Learning about an occupation that might be a great fit for you. Use the Idaho Career Information System (CIS) to find out about the skills, preparation, wages and outlook for any occupation that interests you.
  • Clarifying your goals. Work with a school counselor or Idaho Department of Labor workforce consultant to plan your next steps.

— Terry Mocettini, technical & support materials coordinator, Career Information System

October Economic Activity

Here is a roundup of economic news compiled by the Idaho Department of Labor in October:

Northern Idaho

  • Two of the bigger real estate players in the region’s residential market, Coldwell Banker Tomlinson and Century 21 Beutler & Associates, have consolidated some operations under a common ownership group. The offices collectively have roughly 400 real estate agents and support employees. The offices include two Coldwell Banker offices in Spokane, C21 offices in Coeur d’Alene and Spokane and two Sotheby’s International Realty offices in Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint.
  • Associated Painters Inc., a Spokane-based aircraft painting company, is building a second 32,000-square-foot hangar for approximately $5.5 million price tag at the Spokane International Airport and expects to grow its workforce by 30. The company currently employs 70, up from 52 one year ago.
  • Whiteman Lumber was named Idaho Small Business of the Month for September by Sen. Jim Risch. The Cataldo-based company has been a fixture in the region for 85 years and is now the oldest continuously operating sawmill in Idaho.

North Central Idaho

  • The Nez Perce Tribe is exploring several potential ventures to promote economic growth on the reservation. Among the products under consideration are agricultural goods, forest products and biofuels. The tribe may choose to quarry a rich deposit of limestone along Mission Creek near Culdesac. The tribe is considering distribution, manufacturing or retail ventures for 60 acres in Spalding that it acquired two years ago. The industrial property is between the Spalding Bridge and the Nez Perce National Historical Park along U.S. Highway 95.
  • Pine Tree Community Credit Union broke ground in September on additional office and lobby space at its Grangeville branch. The expansion, which will be completed in early 2014, will allow the credit union to provide additional services as well as support the increased demand for loans.
  •  Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, the manufacturing company that employs more than 1,900 people in Pullman, Wash., received a $9.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to research ways to increase security for energy delivery systems. The fast-growing company designs and manufactures products to monitor, control and protect power systems.
  • St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Lewiston unveiled plans to build 66,400-square-foot addition to the 400,000-square-foot hospital in September. The $42.7 million expansion will house outpatient services including an oncology center now on Idaho Street, new technology and physician offices. Construction on the hospital’s west side will take up to three years. The first phase is the $14 million construction of a central energy plant, which will replace aging heating and air-conditioning systems. The second phase will be construction of the building addition to allow the hospital to provide more procedures in an outpatient setting.

Southwestern Idaho

  • The Packaging Corporation of America has agreed to acquire Boise-based Boise Inc. for $1.99 billion and assume Boise Inc.’s outstanding debt. The Chicago-based company said the acquisition will support the company’s corrugated products growth and give them a presence in the Northwest. The acquisition should be complete late this year.
  • Gordmans has leased the former Kmart building on Parkcenter Boulevard. This will be the third Gordmans in the valley. Construction and improvements are expected to be completed in early 2014.
  • Balihoo received another round of venture capital funding. OpenView Venture Partners invested $5 million in the Boise-based firm. The money will be used by the company’s engineering, sales and marketing teams. This is the third investment in the company from the group.

South Central Idaho

  • Fruit processor Zentis announced on businesswire.com that it will build a 100,000-square-foot plant in Idaho. The company is headquartered in Aachen, Germany, and employs more than 500 people in the United States. Zentis also has plants in Germany, Poland, Hungary and Russia. It has not announced specifically where it will build although it has established business relationships with Dannon yogurt in Utah and Chobani Greek Yogurt in Twin Falls, according to Capital Press.
  • Frulact, a fruit processing company based out of Maia, Portugal, announced its first plant in the United States will be built in Rupert. The company plans to break ground before year end and open its doors toward the end of 2014, hiring 100 workers initially. The company plans to expand its workforce in the future. Fruit processing is a wet industry so the waste water treatment plant upgrade to the tune of $14.2 million, a bond approved by voters in 2012, contributed significantly to the selection of Rupert.
  • The Southern Idaho Economic Development Organization staged its second announcement in one week with the news that Clif Bar & Company, maker of energy bars and snacks, will open a plant in Twin Falls. The Jayco Industrial Park is the site developed utilizing Urban Renewal Agency money with the company planning to initially employ 250 workers to start with expansions planned in the future. Idaho Department of Labor’s Workforce Development Training Fund is providing training funds up to $4 million. The company is based out of California and plans to invest $90 million in the construction and equipment, commonly referred to as cap ex, culminating in a 300,000-square-foot plant.
  • Valiant Firearms & Ammunition recently opened the Gun Room in Twin Falls. The business started by making ammunition and selling custom-ordered tactical rifles and hand guns. The revamped space makes room for inventory and allows customers to take a defensive training course for shooting the guns. All guns are manufactured by Intacto Arms of Boise, and Valiant makes the precision ammunition at its 5-year old factory, selling to law enforcement agencies and retailers.

Southeastern Idaho

  • Hess Pumice located in Malad recently celebrated an expansion that increased its workforce to 105, and the addition of a nearly related business, Creative Stone. That group employs 20 with plans to add 10 more jobs in the coming months. Hess Pumice, which has manufactured products for abrasives since 1958, has developed a strengthening concrete additive for building material.
  • The Preston Police Department recently received a surplus Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Personnel Carrier from the U.S. Army. The vehicle, an armor-plated 2007 Navistar that holds up to 10 people, was used in combat operations in the Middle East and is designed to handle shelling, bullets and damage from other explosive ordinance. It will be used in SWAT team operations. The department will loan out the vehicle when needed to other law enforcement departments in the area.
  • American Falls opened a skate park this past month after eight years in the planning, according to Mayor Marc Beitia. A group of private citizens called AM ImPact raised the funds that made the new attraction a reality. The skate park is 5,500 square feet and offers steps and grinding rails. City leaders hope the new skate park will attract more visitors to American Falls.

Eastern Idaho

  • Premier Technology and Westinghouse are teaming up to host the first small modular reactor conference in Idaho Falls Oct. 30 through Nov. 1. The conference will feature Idaho companies and nuclear resources. About 100 people are expected to attend. For more information about the event call Liza Scalf at (414) 221-1700 ext. 120 or lscalf@acius.net.
  • The Idaho Falls Regional Airport received a $500,000 grant to fund efforts establishing eastbound commercial flights. Airport officials are hopeful they can establish a new nonstop flight between Idaho Falls and the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport.
  • Brigham Young University-Idaho will undertake two major construction projects. The university is constructing new 868-bed single-student dormitories for male and female students. The complex is not coed. A new natural gas powered central heating facility is also under construction. The university is phasing out the current coal fired heating plant. The new facility will also generate about half of the university’s electrical power. The plant will also comply with newer federal environmental regulations.

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Interested in reading more articles like this? Subscribe to the Idaho Department of Labor’s monthly economic and employment newsletter. Please send an email to Donna.Corn@labor.idaho.gov

Professional Networking Groups Lead to Jobs and Future Employees

There’s no question: Networking helps increase your social connections. It’s also a great way to find a new job or identify your next employee.  Just ask Bob Roehl.

Roehl found employment twice with the help of professional networking group hosted by the Idaho Department of Labor. “I made contact with Clearwater recruiters at one of the meetings and it led directly to my job here at Clearwater,” Roehl said. “I also found my previous job at Transform Solar, due to my attendance at a meeting. I credit the Boise and Meridian groups for helping me hone my elevator pitch and my interviewing techniques. They were invaluable and I recommend them frequently.”

Several hundred professionals have participated in the Idaho Department of Labor’s Professional Networking Group meetings since they were first established in 2009. And if you are a professional looking to strengthen your job search skills, find a new career or wish to talk with an employer wanting to identify future employees, you should plan to attend the next session in your area.

Tracey Stone, recruitment director for Sage Wealth Management LLC, was the guest speaker at a recent Boise Professional Networking Group meeting.

Tracey Stone, recruitment director for Sage Wealth Management LLC, was the guest speaker at a recent Professional Networking Group meeting in our Boise local office.

Finding a New Job

The department’s professional networking groups exist because they work and have proven their ability to enhance a professional’s job search. Meeting topics are diverse and informative. From mock interview panels to teamwork challenges, participants are challenged to learn new job search strategies and networking techniques as a way of helping them land their next job.

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Public Service Jobs Mainstay of Many Local Economies

bachelor degree

In tough economic times when governments become strapped for operating revenue, the public – and their representatives – often focus on public employees during debates over tax increases and spending cuts.

Higher-than-average government salaries draw quick attention, but advanced education and experience is required for many government jobs that dictate those salaries. Some government technical or financial jobs require master’s degrees or doctorates.

At the same time, communities are always looking for more higher-paying jobs to fuel their local economies – jobs like those many government workers hold down. These workers help the local economy by spending their paychecks in the community, although increased Internet sales have siphoned off some of that local activity.
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Unemployment Benefit Information for Federal Employees Who are Back at Work

Q. I am a federal worker who was furloughed under the federal shutdown. I have since returned to work and learned that I would be paid for the time I was off. Do I need to report this for unemployment?

A. Yes, this is considered back pay and reportable for unemployment for the week covered by the payment.  Please contact us at 332-8942 to have this corrected.

 Q. Will this result in an overpayment?

A. It could. If you are a federal employee who claimed benefits during the federal shutdown, you will be sent a letter advising you to call us at (208) 332-8942 to report your income during the period of time you were claiming benefits. If an overpayment results, you will be sent another letter with specific overpayment and repayment information.  You may send the repayment to:

Idaho Department of Labor
Attn: Compliance
317 Main St
Boise ID  83735-0730

 Q. Can I make a payment over the phone?

A. Yes, we accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. Access Idaho charges a 3% handling fee if you pay with a credit card or a flat rate of $2.50 for E-checks. Please call 1-80­0-672-5627 or (20­8) 332-3573

Q. I want to cancel my claim since I returned back to work.  What do I need to do?

A. You may not need to withdraw your claim. If you simply stop filing your weekly report, the claim will go inactive on its own after two weeks of non reporting.  If you would, however, like your claim removed from our system, you must submit a letter asking us to withdraw the claim. It must be signed with a handwritten signature (an email signature is not acceptable). You would be responsible for repaying any benefits received on the claim.

Q. Is there any reason I need to keep my address current in your system?

A. Yes. We will mail important overpayment and year-end tax information.

Read the earlier blog post on furloughed federal workers and unemployment benefits here.

Idaho’s National Lab Provides High-Wage Job Opportunities

The Idaho National Laboratory is one of the most important employers in the 16 counties of eastern Idaho. Despite recent and highly publicized layoffs, about 6,400 people work at the national research laboratory for the government and its contractors.

The INL in the coming years will experience an increasingly aging workforce. Large numbers of employees are in their 50s and 60s, representing both a challenge for the INL and an opportunity for many Idahoans seeking high-wage technology jobs.

wagesbyspecificoccupation
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Putting the Job Search Puzzle Together

Kevin Mansfield believes he has been under-employed since moving from California to Idaho nearly five years ago. He worked as a private investigator for the past 12 years, traveling all over the West when assignments came in, expending a lot of personal money just to work a case and then waiting two to three weeks to get paid.  While the pay was good, the work was sporadic.

After being randomly selected for an Idaho Department of Labor job search assessment as an unemployment claimant, Kevin was required to attend a class outlining what services were available from the Labor Department and how to look for work.

“The guy who taught the class was fabulous (Frank Garcia), said Kevin. “He obviously had to deal with  ‘students’ who could have cared less about being there and were just going through the motions because if they didn’t show, they would lose their UI benefits.”

“I was engaged and asked a lot of questions. I really wanted a different life,” Kevin said. After  class, Kevin had a discussion with Frank, who recommended that Kevin talk to the local veterans representative.

Kevin was told about VRAP (Veterans Retraining Assistance Program), which pays a monthly stipend for education in a critical career. He was accepted into the program and began school at North Idaho College as a medical billing specialist with an emphasis in medical coding. Kevin said it was important that the majority of the classes were online, so he could continue to work as a private investigator.

Kevin was told about a new-hire program at Kootenai Health for medical coding students. “In a nutshell, they were going to pay for the training and for me to continue to go to school full time,” Kevin said. He was one of 13 selected for the program for the fall semester.

According to Kevin, there were “two critical pieces of the puzzle pieces coming together” to get him on the way to his new career.

  • “I learned about the VRAP program and everything started to come together after that.”
  • “The people involved all took an active, interested look at my circumstances and we came up with a plan.”

Higher Percentage of Idahoans Work Multiple Jobs Than Nation

multiple jobholders
National data have been showing the economy adding jobs slowly but at a consistent pace since 2010. The same is true for Idaho although the pace has been even more sluggish.

At the same time, the unemployment rate has been more stubborn. Any positive changes in the rate for both the nation and the state have not been at the same rate the economy appears to be adding jobs. Much of this discrepancy can be chalked up to the different survey methods used to calculate unemployment and jobs. Multiple job holders taking some of these new jobs does seem possible although the data on multiple job holders are limited.

Nationally, the percentage of employed workers holding multiple jobs has steadily declined since 1995. In 2012, 4.9 percent of workers had at least a second job. In 1995, it was 6.2 percent.

Idaho has had a similar downward trend, but the rate has been consistently higher than the nation’s. The state peaked in 1996 at 10.3 percent before dropping to 7.6 percent in 2002. The rate has fluctuated since then but is trending downward. For 2012, the annual average was 6.5 percent.

jobholders as percentageIdaho ranks in the middle compared to its border states. Montana topped the region with 7.8 percent in 2012 while Nevada was the only state in the region below the national average.

Total number of multiple job holders has fluctuated with the economy. In 1997, the nation had almost 8 million people working more than one job. That declined through the 2001 recession before picking up with the rest of the economy in 2003. The total continued increasing during the expansion before dropping off in the Great Recession. The total rose slightly in 2012 to 2.8 million.
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FAQ Friday – Can federal workers receive unemployment benefits?

Unemployment insurance Information for furloughed federal workers about the 2018 federal government shutdown can be found here.

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Unemployment Benefit Information for Federal Employees Who are Back at Work

• • •

Q. I am a federal worker who has been furloughed. Am I eligible for unemployment?

A.  You are eligible to file for unemployment insurance compensation. You would need to meet personal and monetary eligibility, but would be considered laid off due to lack of work.

Q. How do I file for benefits?

A. You must file online at labor.idaho.gov/iw. We do not file claims over the telephone. If you do not have Internet access or need help filing online, you may file at your nearest local Idaho Department of Labor office. If you are filing a claim against Idaho, but live in another state, you may also file your claim online at labor.idaho.gov/iw.

After you have successfully filed your initial claim, you will file your weekly continued claim reports at labor.idaho.gov/cc. You may want to check out these helpful videos. ow.ly/pEO6P ow.ly/i/3nvw0

Q. When should I file for benefits?

A.  To use the current week as your waiting week, file this week, by Saturday at midnight.

Q. What if I don’t have a computer or Internet access?

A. We have computers available in all of our local offices. Twenty-three of the 25 department local offices are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 9 a.m. to noon on Friday. The Wood River office in Bellevue is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and closed Thursday and Friday. The Soda Springs office is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday and closed Friday.

Q.What information do I need in order to file?

A. You will need your work history information for the past two years including: employer names, addresses, phone numbers, supervisors and dates of employment; your current contact information; your driver’s license or state ID number and work authorization information, if applicable; and bank account information if you choose direct deposit to receive your payments.  Once you gather all of the information, filing a claim online should take about 30 minutes. Copies of your leave and earning statements are not necessary.

Q. Do I have to look for work if I file for unemployment benefits?

A.  Yes. If you do not have a definite return to full-time work date, you must apply for jobs. You must make at least two job contacts per week and keep record of your contacts.

Q. When I file my claim, what option should I choose as my reason for separation from the federal government?

A.  If you are unemployed because of the federal government shutdown, please select “laid off due to lack of work” for your separation reason.

Q. What should we put in the “approximate date to start full-time work” section? 

A. When you file your online application, you will be asked if you have a definite date to return to full time work. If your employer has provided you this date, select yes and enter the date. If not, answer no to this question. If your employer has not provided you a return to full-time work date, you will be required to seek work (see the ‘Do I have to look for work?’ question above.

Q. I am about to be furloughed. The employer has given me the option of using my accrued vacation pay while we are shut down. Can I still collect unemployment if I don’t use my vacation pay?

A. Yes. For unemployment insurance purposes, you are not required to use vacation pay.

Q. If I chose to use vacation pay, can I collect unemployment insurance?

A. It depends on how much you are paid in vacation. If your vacation pay is an amount that is one and a half times your unemployment insurance weekly benefit payment amount, it is not a compensable week — meaning you received too much money for an unemployment insurance payment or waiting week credit that week.  In order to be eligible for benefits, you must also be fully available for work.  It is important that you remain available for work and express your availability for work to your employer, even though you have elected to be paid vacation.

Q. When will we (federal employees) who claimed 9/30 as the last day work get the first check?

fed when do i get paid1A. If you applied for benefits this week, it would be your first week of unemployment and potentially serve as your waiting week (see waiting week criteria above). The next week would be your second week of unemployment and the first potential payable week. Payment is normally available within three to four business days after Waiting Week and First Payment. If you signed up for direct deposit, payment is normally available within four business days of filing your weekly report. If you did not sign up for direct deposit, you will be mailed a debit card. Normally people receive this debit card 7-10 business days after filing their 2nd weekly report. After you receive your debit card, payment will then normally be available within four business days of filing your weekly report.

Q. I received a letter from the unemployment office titled “monetary determination” and it shows that my weekly eligibility amount is $ .00 and my maximum benefit amount is $ .00. Does this mean I do not receive any unemployment while I am furloughed?

A. If you are a federal employee, your wages are not immediately available to us when you file your claim. We have to request your wage information from the federal government. When you  file a claim, you will be sent a letter called a monetary determination stating you are eligible for $0 with an explanation there are wages pending from the federal government. Once we receive wage information, we will send you a second monetary determination with the wage information they reported to us. Despite the federal shutdown, we are getting responses to wage requests. It is important you continue filing your weekly reports at www.labor.idaho.gov/cc, while you wait for your new monetary determination. If you have filed your weekly reports and are otherwise eligible, you will be sent payments for compensable weeks filed once we receive your wage information. It can take up to three weeks to receive your wage information. If your monetary determination did not state that federal wages are pending, please call us at 208-332-8942.

Q. Once the shutdown is over, if the federal government pays us for our time away from work, is this income reportable?  And if so, how should I report my income?

A. Yes. This income is reportable. It would be treated as back pay and reportable for the weeks you were furloughed and could likely create an overpayment. When you receive payment, call us at 208 332-3842 to inform us of your back pay. If you have been paid any unemployment benefits, you will be required to repay those benefits.

Q. Are unemployment insurance benefits taxable?

A.  Yes. Unemployment benefits are treated as taxable income. When you file your claim, you will have the option to have either 10% or 0% federal taxes withheld from your payment. If you have to repay benefits, you will have to repay the gross amount however, as we are unable to recoup the 10% for you. You will receive a 1099G at the end of the year with your tax information.

Q. How do I cancel my claim once I return to work?

When you return to work, simply stop filing your weekly reports. Once you haven’t filed for two consecutive weeks, your claim will go inactive.  Even though you are no longer claiming, be sure to keep your contact information up to date to receive year-end tax information

For additional questions, contact an unemployment staff member at (208) 332-8942 or visit labor.idaho.gov/uitips

Metro Boise Outpaces Rest of Idaho in Post-Recession Job Growth

Following the Great Recession there was an apparent divergence in employment recovery rates between urban centers and smaller cities, according to the authors of a recently published discussion paper.

nonfarm jobsLarger metropolitan statistical areas were experiencing more robust job growth than smaller ones. Analysis of Current Employment Statistics Total Nonfarm Employment data for Idaho, Oregon and Washington – each dominated by one large metro area – conform, demonstrating better employment growth in the dominate metro area compared to the other smaller cities and the states overall.

Nationally, most metropolitan areas experienced declines in jobs from peak to trough through 2007 to 2010. Ryan Howley, a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics economist now at the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and Toby Paterson, a Washington State Employment Security Department economist point out in their June 2013 paper “Employment Recovery in Urban Areas following the Great Recession”  that in the recovery period following the Great Recession trough, a pattern of steady but geographically uneven recovery emerged with larger urban centers experiencing higher job growth than medium and small areas.
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