Monthly Archives: August 2015

Around Idaho: August Economic Activity

Information provided in this article has been gathered from various sources throughout the state, including professional sources, news releases, weekly and daily newspapers, television and other media.

Northern Idaho
North Central Idaho
Southwestern Idaho
South Central Idaho
Southeastern Idaho
Eastern Idaho

NORTHERN IDAHO – Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai & Shoshone counties

Kootenai County

  • Hagadone Hospitality plans to build a 200-room hotel tower to adjoin with The Coeur d’Alene Resort. The new tower will bring total resort capacity above 500 rooms, which is considered a key number to book large conferences and events. (Source: Coeur d’Alene Press)
  • Viking Construction’s proposed construction of an 87-lot subdivision in Post Falls received city council approval. The new subdivision will consist of single family lots spanning 37 acres. (Source: Coeur d’Alene Press)
  • AccraFab, a Washington-based manufacturer, and North Idaho College failed to reach an agreement on the sale of 11.4 acres of land at the center of AccraFab’s effort to relocate to Coeur d’Alene. Negotiations ended after neither side was willing to concede on a $65,000 price difference. (Source: Coeur d’Alene Press)
  • The Avista Foundation awarded a $45,000 grant to Kootenai Health to expand the medical center. The grant will assist Kootenai Medical Center’s efforts to create a dedicated neonatal intensive care unit. (Source: Coeur d’Alene Press)

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Mix of Occupations Influences Idaho’s Median Wage

Idaho’s median hourly wage ranks seventh to last among the 50 states. Almost one in five Idaho jobs are in food preparation, serving and sales and related occupations. At first, it might appear that Idaho’s low wage ranking is the result of too many food prep and sales jobs, which require less education and training and typically pay far less than Idaho’s median wage of $14.93 an hour. But that story is incomplete.

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Manufacturing Driving Idaho’s Expanding Economy

Best known for potatoes and dairy, agriculture has long been viewed as the staple of Idaho’s economy. While agriculture continues to play an important role, manufacturing has quietly become one of the leading industries driving the economy forward. In recent years Idaho has gained a unique competitive advantage in the industry with an increased concentration of manufacturing jobs being added to the economy. Although growth in manufacturing has struggled nationally, Idaho is poised to see continued growth in the industry.

Since the end of the recession in 2010, Idaho’s manufacturing industry has fueled the state’s economic expansion. Of the jobs added to Idaho’s economy between 2010 and 2014, manufacturing had the second highest growth rate at 12.7 percent – nearly doubling the state’s total job growth of 6.9 percent. The 6,700 jobs added in manufacturing accounted for 16 percent of the state’s total job growth since the end of the recession.

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Wildfires Expose Idaho’s Vulnerability

Idaho’s economy and population are heavily exposed to fires, both literally and figuratively. Numerous factors make the state exceptionally vulnerable to the effects of wildfire. In a literal sense, a large share of Idaho’s population lives in areas with no barriers against forested areas, giving a potential fire an easy conduit to burn from the forest to residential areas. According to analysis of U.S. Census data, this makes Idaho’s population the most vulnerable of any state when it comes to wildfires. In addition, the size and importance of Idaho’s recreation and logging industries make local economies susceptible to damage from wildfires.

2015 has been a severe year for forest fires. According to the National Interagency Fire Center (https://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/nfn.htm), fires across the nation in 2015 have burned three times the acreage as the 2014 fire season did. In fact, year-to-date, 2015 is the second worst fire season in the past decade.

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Considering a College? Rate Them on Your Own Terms.

If you search the Internet for  “college rankings” you’ll get hundreds of results, including rankings of best colleges from well-known sources such as US News & World Report, Princeton Review and the Washington Post. Rankings from lesser-known sources such as Mother Jones, SB Nation and various blogs and Facebook pages also exist, along with worst-colleges lists, rankings of online schools and lists of schools rated solely on athletic performance, weather, parking and concert venues. It seems like everybody else knows best where YOU should take this important next step in your life!

Take control of the decision by knowing the specifics about schools that also take your personal requirements into consideration.

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Government Jobs Promote Economic Health in Rural Idaho

One in eight Idahoans who live in a rural area works for the federal, state or local government, not including education.

For some rural communities, government jobs are essential for their economic health and offset increases in low-paying, service-oriented jobs. Many government jobs pay higher average wages and attract a skilled and educated workforce. Additionally, since the vast majority of government wages flow into a community from outside sources, these jobs function as a source of basic income for rural economies, creating wealth inside the community rather than simply recirculating it, as many service jobs do.

Compared with the seven urban counties in Idaho, the share of jobs in government is greater in the rural area of every region except south central Idaho.

When looking at the share of wages flowing into the community from state, federal and local governments, wages in every region except the rural areas of south central and southeastern are greater than the share of government employment. In other words, looking at employment number alone understates the importance of these jobs, but because almost 85 percent of these wages come from state or federal sources, these wages serve as an economic base similar to a mine or paper mill.

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Workshop in Northern Idaho Helps Businesses with Succession Planning

With the nation’s unemployment rate hovering just above 5 percent, employers are finding it difficult to recruit and keep talented workers. Baby boomers will continue retiring over the next 25 years, leaving both a shortage of workers and a deficit of valuable traditional skill sets. Employers are looking for ways to attract and keep the transitioning generation of workers.

Earlier this summer, the Idaho Department of Labor Kootenai County office held a workshop for area employers about building succession plans as one means of keeping those talented workers.

Succession planning involves identifying and developing current employees with the potential to fill key leadership roles in the business.

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Unemployment Claimants Can Now Use Internet Chat Tool for Help With Claims

Blog post updated July 27, 2016.

Unemployment insurance claimants are able to use an online chat tool to speak with a claim specialist.

How do I access Click to Chat?

We recommend first reading the frequently asked questions at labor.idaho.gov/uifaqs. If you are unable to find the answer to your question, simply select the Click to Chat link located near the bottom of the page.

Is Click to Chat secure? 

Click to Chat utilizes the same security measures and protocols currently used by the Labor Department to keep information secure.  It is as safe as using our website or phone system.

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Misclassifying Workers as Independent Contractors: What Employers Need to Know

Idaho businesses often use independent contractors because they think it saves them money, but if these same businesses don’t follow the rules, it will cost them a whole lot more than they bargained for with potential criminal issues and severe monetary fines.

kiel_110810_4988“That’s why we’re here,” explained Idaho Department of Labor Director Ken Edmunds. “We can help clarify when an employee is an employee or an independent contractor. If an Idaho business is considering the option of using independent contractors, the business should call us first so we can walk through the rules and make sure workers and independent contractors are properly classified. “

A memorandum of understanding signed by the Idaho Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division in August of 2015 means the two agencies will work together to protect Idaho workers by preventing their misclassification as independent contractors or other nonemployee statuses. Both agencies will share information and coordinate law enforcement under the agreement.

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Employee or Independent Contractor: Which Are You?

Government figures estimate 25-30% of all employees are misclassified as independent contractors, which is why workers need to understand the difference between working as an employee and an independent contractor.kiel_110811_1-22

Part of the difference boils down to who is liable for paying a worker and who is liable for withholding federal income tax, Social Security and Medicare taxes and federal unemployment tax.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, an employee is defined by meeting three primary factors:

  1. Behavioral Control: The company has control over all aspects of the individual and how s/he performs the job, such as when, where and how the work is performed.
  2. Financial Control: The company has control over all financial-based business aspects such as how and when the worker is paid, whether or not expenses are reimbursed, the type and cost of benefit packages and any other financial matters concerning the job.
  3. Type of Relationship: The work being performed is a key aspect of the business’s daily operations and the working relationship between the individual and the company extends beyond the duration of a particular job.

In order to be legally classified as an independent contractor, a worker must:

  • Be free from the right of direction or control in performing work – under contract of service and in fact.
  • Be engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, profession or business.

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