Monthly Archives: June 2014

June Economic Activity in Idaho

Idaho department of labor county developments

NORTHERN IDAHO

Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai & Shoshone counties

Regional Developments

  • Idaho Forest Group, operator of five mills in northern Idaho, is expanding into cross-laminated timber – a super-strong engineered wood called CLT. The expansion is a partnership with the Johann Offner Group, a global manufacturing company headquartered in Wolfsberg, Austria. Idaho Forest Group will be the first in the United States to sell CLT, which is layers of lumber oriented at right angles to one another and glued together to form rigid panels with exceptional strength and stability. Together, the two family-owned companies  will market and distribute CLT building systems in the U.S. as soon as this year. Idaho Forest Group will initially import CLT with an eye toward manufacturing it within three years.
  • North Idaho College trustees accepted the college administration’s proposal to fill a budget shortfall of $352,000 for fiscal year 2015 by raising tuition $2 per credit hour for Kootenai County students and $6 per credit hour for out-of-district students. Local students taking 12 credits will now pay $1,511 per semester, a 1.6 percent increase.
  • New Jersey Mining Co. of Coeur d’Alene, which owns the New Jersey Mill in Kellogg, bought 13 patented mining claims covering 220 acres near Elk City from Vancouver, B.C.-based Premium Exploration Inc., for $425,000. PennStarter, a newly formed division of Coeur d’Alene-based stock brokerage Pennaluna & Co., had raised more than $1 million for New Jersey Mining through its online equity funding portal launched last November so people could invest mainly in startup companies. New Jersey Mining was one of three companies that PennStarter initially included on the website. PennStarter specializes in the mining and natural resources industry.

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Marriage Customs in Idaho, Nation Changed Significantly Since 1960s

Since the 1960s, Idaho, like the rest of the United States, has seen dramatic changes in marriage customs. They, in turn, affect the makeup of households, which determines the strength of consumer spending, home stability for children and the educational attainment and size of the available workforce.

 Marriage

Attitudes toward marriage have changed dramatically in the past two or three decades.

While marriage once was a first step into adulthood, it now is one of the last steps. Andrew J. Cherlin, a professor of sociology and public policy at Johns Hopkins, wrote in an April 27, 2013, New York Times article that “marriage has become the capstone experience of personal life — the last brick put in place after everything else is set. … Young adults with greater earning potential, who can afford the capstone celebration, are still marrying in large numbers while those with poorer economic prospects are holding off. According to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research, 88 percent of 35- to 44-year-old women with four-year college degrees have married, compared with 79 percent of those without high-school diplomas. In fact, young adults without college degrees are increasingly likely to put off marriage and have their first children in cohabiting relationships, sometimes years before they marry. Nearly all of the increase in childbearing outside of marriage in the last two decades is from births to cohabiting couples, most without college degrees, rather than to single mothers.

“More than 90 percent of American women with four-year college degrees wait until after they are married to have children. … Moreover, their marriages are lasting longer — since 1980 the divorce rate has dropped faster for those with college degrees so that about one in six of their marriages ends in divorce in the first 10 years compared with nearly one in two marriages among people without high school degrees.”

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Unemployment Claims May Indicate Emerging Employment Trends

Large decreases in initial claims imply impending employment strength and economic growth for Idaho.

Workers who lose their jobs and are covered by the unemployment insurance program usually file an initial unemployment claim, serving notice that they are beginning a period of unemployment. In 2008 only 36 percent of the total unemployed received unemployment insurance benefits nationwide, but information from those initial claims can indicate labor market conditions and provide insight into the direction of the economy.

Large increases in claims draw attention because they suggest looming employment weakness, which could spread throughout the economy. In the depths of the recession, the number of initial claims in Idaho hit a record 28,314 in December 2008. Employment levels were plummeting and the number of workers filing continuing benefit claims each week was climbing. Continue reading

Nightforce Optics: Using WorkForce Training Funds Help Employees Advance

Nightforce Optics1

In 1992, Nightforce Optics was established in Orofino with only two employees. As of 2013, the business passed its 100-employee mark, a success company officials attribute largely to participation in the Workforce Development Training Fund. Nightforce Optics produces a variety of high-end precision rifle and spotting scopes.

“The options for Nightforce without the Workforce Development Training Fund would have meant fewer monies available to fund capital expenses, which in turn would have curbed our growth,” said Debbi Duffy, human resource manager with Nightforce Optics. “It would have also meant less money to support hiring and the ability to provide annual cost of living increases for the existing workforce.”

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Idaho Ag Business Recovering, Changing

Idaho agriculture has bounced back from the decline it experienced between 2002 and 2007 according to the new 2012 Census of Agriculture. But the composition of Idaho farms is shifting.

While agricultural acreage increased more than 2 percent since 2007 to regain 2002 levels, the number of farms declined since 2007 by about the same percentage, and the commodities being grown have changed.

Ag chart 1

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One-Third of Idaho Jobs Pay Self-Sufficiency Wages

The percentage of Idaho jobs paying enough to support a household at a minimal standard of living without any government or private assistance continues to decline.

Only three jobs in 10 pay enough to meet just the most basic needs of the traditional family of four. The percentage of jobs paying enough to meet what is called the Lower Living Standard Income Level fell in 2014 for all other household sizes as well.

FYI graph 1

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Growing Occupations Offer Opportunities to New Idaho Grads

Thousands of collegians have received their degrees and are starting – or hoping to start –  careers for which they have spent four or more years studying. In the past year 1,248 students graduated from Idaho State University, many entering an economy showing signs of growth.

The tight job market graduates experienced during the past several years has loosened up.

ISU Grads pie chart_Dan

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