Editor note: The following news release is published here with permission from the Consortium for Idahoans with Disabilities. The consortium appreciates the partnership with the Idaho Department of Labor to spread the word about this issue.
BOISE – (Jan. 6, 2021) – A shortage of direct-care workers who serve Idahoans with intellectual and physical disabilities and aging seniors is becoming more acute due to multiple factors, including low wages, safety concerns related to the corona virus pandemic, and difficulty finding people to work in the direct-care field, officials said Wednesday.
More than 17,355 of these Idaho citizens, many of whom live alone, with a spouse or family in their own homes or apartments, need daily in-home support either through self-directed programs or community service providers, each funded by Medicaid. Wages for direct-care workers can range from a low of $7.25/hour at the state minimum wage to $10-$15/hour, depending on education, experience and budget.
“The workforce shortage has gotten worse with the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s extremely difficult to keep our employees,” said Becky Baily, an administrator for the Center for Independent Living in Twin Falls. “A number of our employees and staff have had to stay home in quarantine or they’ve been hospitalized with COVID. We have a number of full-time shifts to be filled.”
The Idaho Department of Labor is modifying how it publishes its weekly update of claims for unemployment insurance benefits. A new PDF report will be available that includes initial claims, regular continued claims, as well as expanded CARES act continued claims for 2021. The Unemployment Insurance Claims dashboard, and the downloadable Excel data file will both be updated on the department’s Weekly UI Claims webpage as normal. The department will no longer post the weekly claim numbers on the Idaho@Work blog.
The economic slowdown following the initial COVID-19 pandemic effects drove many industries to lose jobs temporarily – and some permanently – across Idaho and the United States. Idaho had been in the midst of a growth streak pre-pandemic, with a 2.5 percent unemployment rate in March. But shortly after, Idaho’s employment dropped nearly 10 percent from March to April – from roughly 873,000 jobs to 789,000. The impact, however, was not equally damaging across all industries. Some industries such as financial activities and construction have had over-the-year growth at a much higher rate than the nation. Nationally, employment within the financial activities industry declined.
To determine possible reasons for this disparity, the Idaho Department of Labor conducted a shift-share analysis over a 10-year period to isolate the effects of changing employment among financial sectors.
MetalQuest Unlimited, a precision machine manufacturer based in Nebraska, has chosen Post Falls for its new manufacturing facility. The company, which specializes in precision production for clients in oil, agriculture and firearms manufacturing, expects to begin production at its new Post Falls facility by the end of January, with roughly 25 employees at first. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
Health care providers in Kootenai County have received the first batches of COVID-19 vaccine and have begun vaccinating frontline medical staff. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
The JC Penny in the Silver Lake Mall is now slated to close in the spring after being included in the company’s recent list of planned store closures. The store had been an anchor tenant of the Silver Lake Mall and was the last remaining JC Penny in North Idaho following the previous closures of stores in Lewiston and Ponderay. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
The Post Falls City Council approved the purchase of a $415,000 parcel of riverfront property, which was the final privately held plot in the Post Falls Water Treatment Facility’s easement to the Spokane River. The parcel is expected to be acquired in anticipation of a future expansion of the city’s wastewater treatment capacity. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
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The number of Idahoans who filed a continued claim for regular state unemployment insurance benefits increased 14 percent for the week ending Jan. 2 to 13,338, up 1,632 over the previous week. The four-week moving average for continued claims increased from 11,028 for the week ending Dec. 26 to 11,725.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits totaled 4,612 for the week ending Jan. 2, up by 386 claims, while the four-week moving average decreased by 3 percent to 4,219.
The Idaho Department of Labor has partnered with ID.me for unemployment insurance claimant identity verification.
The information gathered from claimants is needed to make sure others are not filing claims using the person’s name and other personally identifying information. This is one step Labor is taking to help prevent fraud.
Thousands upon thousands of unemployment insurance claims have been filed by scammers using false or stolen identities across the country. It is estimated these scammers have siphoned off $36 billion in fraudulent unemployment payments from states since the start of the pandemic and the implementation of the CARES Act.
National Native American Construction Inc. of Coeur d’ Alene, Independence Indoor Shooting of Meridian and Treasure Valley Advanced Concepts LLC of Nampa each received a 2020 HIRE Vets Medallion Program Award. This U.S. Department of Labor program recognizes U.S. employers for recruiting, hiring and retaining America’s veterans.
The awards were presented in November at a virtual ceremony hosted by U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia at the Department’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Idaho nonprofit, educational, community and faith-based organizations, Indian tribes and local governments are eligible for federal funding through AmeriCorps.
Serve Idaho, the Governor’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism, announced that interested organizations have until Feb. 12 to submit an application for the grants that would support the cost of running an AmeriCorps program. Grant awards vary in size based on the size and complexity of the AmeriCorps programs.