Here is a roundup of regional economic news compiled by the Idaho Department of Labor in February:
Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai & Shoshone counties
- North Idaho College, the Idaho Department of Labor and the three largest wood products manufacturers in northern Idaho have teamed up to develop an NIC Wood Products Manufacturing Center of Excellence. The center will train the next generation of workers in an industry that provides nearly one in four manufacturing jobs in Idaho’s 10 northern counties and has strong potential for growth. The Wood Products Manufacturing Center for Excellence is funded through a $281,000 Idaho Department of Labor grant. Idaho Forest Group, Potlatch Corp. and Stimson Lumber Co. are matching 25 percent of the grant. Beginning in March, the program will enroll 116 participants over two years with the focus on training workers for industrial controls, saw filing and log scaling.
- Northern Idaho faces a shortage of primary care physicians within the next five to seven years, but local medical professionals have a plan to provide them. Idaho doesn’t have its own medical school. It partners with Washington, Wyoming, Alaska and Montana to fund a medical school at the University of Washington in Seattle to educate doctors. Historically, Idaho has funded about 20 positions for Idaho students. Last year, the Legislature expanded that to 25, and many hope it will add five more this year. Kootenai Health in Coeur d’Alene recently created a primary care residency program, which will allow more of those medical school graduates take residency in Idaho. Idaho has the best retention rate in the nation. About 51 percent of resident doctors stay in Idaho to practice.
While many 16-year-olds are thinking about getting their driver’s licenses and passing pre-calculus, one southern Idaho high school student has much larger aspirations. Jared Lott, a junior from Filer, has big dreams of one day becoming a pediatric oncologist.
In addition to his full high school class schedule, Jared is taking college level medical terminology and health occupation classes and works at a local assisted living facility. In the midst of this, he had been fighting a two-year battle with leukemia.
On June 5, 2010, Jared was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. In and out of hospitals, Jared missed out on a lot of school, but that didn’t stop him. He began teaching himself the subjects he was missing, even enrolling in a dual credit honors English class through the University of Idaho so he could begin to receive college credits.
Community leaders and economic development professionals are typically interested in the types of businesses that should be added to their local economies. Any answer comes against the backdrop of the existing business mix that is the result of a century or more of economic evolution and market forces.
But in some cases industry growth struggles to keep up with population growth.
Madison County was Idaho’s fourth fastest growing county between 2000 and 2012 when its population increased 36 percent – almost 10,000 residents. Much of the growth was spurred by the transition of two-year Rick’s College into four-year Brigham Young University-Idaho. But neighboring Jefferson and Teton counties were also in the top-five fastest growing counties in the state.
A long-range plan called Envision Madison is under way in Madison County to ensure the community remains economically viable while maintaining its quality of life as growth continues. City planners and government leaders – and entrepreneurs looking for the next business idea – are hunting for strategies to facilitate continued natural growth. Fortunately there are a few statistical tools that can aid the process. Continue reading
Idaho has not escaped the persistent shift from goods production to service sector employment that has dogged the national economy for over 30 years. But Idaho has maintained a larger share of its economy in goods production through the 1990s and up to the Great Recession than most other states.
And even with the significant recession loss – primarily in manufacturing and construction – Idaho still has a greater share of its economy in goods production than the nation overall – a distinction the state has had since the mid-1980s.
Production jobs are important because they average about $10,000 a year more in wages than service jobs.
As measured by the percentage of personal income earned, goods production peaked in the United States during World War II when it accounted for over half of the income earnings generated by private businesses. Idaho also peaked then at just under 50 percent in 1942. Continue reading
Personal income is the total of wages, business profits, investment earnings and transfer payments like Social Security and pensions, and in Idaho that total jumped 3.9 percent from 2011 to 2012.
Per capita personal income – that total divided equally among every man, woman and child – was $34,481 in 2012 in Idaho – 79 percent of the national average of $43,735. Idaho’s per capita income has been steadily declining in relation to national per capita income over the past decade, dropping from 83 percent in 2002 when it ranked 40th among the 50 states to 49th among the states in 2012.
During the same period, personal income and per capita income increased for all five northern Idaho counties. The largest increases were in Benewah and Shoshone counties, where there was a significant increase in wages and salaries. Compensation and bonuses from the mining industry was most likely the source in Shoshone County, and earnings in local government probably explains the growth in Benewah. Continue reading
Finding financial aid for school can be hard work, but don’t be intimidated! Free, reliable help is available.
First, go online to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) site. Not only is this application required by federal aid programs, a great many other sources of aid, private and public, utilize it for processing requests.
Filling out and submitting this form is free. All you need are your or your parents’ 2013 tax information. Be sure to use the https://fafsa.ed.gov web address. Many sites charge a fee for “professional FAFSA help” but this is often an unnecessary expense and may put your personal financial information at risk.
2013 was a solid year for the recovery, both in Idaho and nationally. The recovery appears to be continuing into 2014. Employment is up, the unemployment rate is down and hard hit sectors like construction and manufacturing are starting to show year-over-year employment gains. Job postings are also at an all-time high, even when compared to the boom years before the recession.
Using the Conference Board Help Wanted Online Data Series, which collects job posting information from a myriad of online sources, both the nation and Idaho are showing strong improvement in the number of jobs being advertised. Nationally, the peak month in 2013 had 34 percent more online job postings than the peak month in 2007. In Idaho, the percentage is over 50 percent higher. Some of these increases can possibly be attributed to an increase of companies using online tools to recruit workers, but given the other positive metrics of the last year it is a solid assumption to believe that a sizable portion of the growth is genuine.
The majority of the occupations posted in the last 120 days are similar both nationally and in Idaho. Over a quarter of all ads are for sales and office and administrative support positions. Computer jobs rank next nationally followed by management and health care practitioners. For Idaho the effect of the Silver Tsunami – the strong increase in the 55-and-older population – and the state’s large proportion of food manufacturing and agricultural goods requiring transportation is showing up in job ads for health care practitioners, which ranked third followed by transportation and management jobs.
Among the state’s regions, southwestern Idaho with its large population and employment base accounts for the majority of job ads. The other regions have similar proportions of ads although the recovery of job postings has varied since 2005. North central Idaho has recorded a smaller gain against its prerecession ad level but has had a strong increase the last three years. Northern Idaho, in contrast, had a high level of prerecession job ads, and while the last three years have seen improved listings over 2009 and 2010, the region is not back to levels experienced during the expansion. South central Idaho’s 2013 performance was drastically different from any previous year, most likely due to the expansion in food products manufacturing.
Comparing the regional percentages of the labor force and jobs ads, however, shows that southwestern Idaho had an exceptional 2013. The region has 47 percent of the state’s labor force but almost 56 percent of the online job ads. North central Idaho is the only other region where the percentage of ads exceeded the share of workforce.
Q. How much should a part-time worker earn compared with a full-time worker?
A. We often hear questions from employers and job seekers about wages. Some employers assume part-time workers should receive lower hourly wages than full-time workers. Others think the wage should be higher because part-time workers don’t receive the same benefits as full-time workers.
Who’s right? It depends. Ultimately, the labor market is like any other market. If a business is not finding a high quality product (skilled workers) at a price (wage) it currently offers, then it needs to up the ante. Employers should also consider the difference in benefits, when making the decision what salary to offer. Local labor market wages can be found on the Idaho Department of Labor’s labor market information website.
If the part-time workers need less experience or skills than full-time workers, perhaps they will accept a lower compensation package—including wages and benefits.
There are signs that the economy is improving – declining unemployment rates and new jobs. And many of those new jobs are in retail trade, which promises strong growth. It is the second largest employment sector behind government with just over 80,000 workers – about one in every eight across the state.
Retail growth can be a barometer of how the economy is doing. Generally when people have more disposable income retail sales grow and more workers are needed to meet that demand.