Tamarack Aerospace Group, which successfully emerged from bankruptcy this year, is expanding its operations by adding a hanger and additional office space in Sandpoint, as well as a new facility in the United Kingdom. The new hanger space will be used for the installation of Tamarack’s fuel-efficiency boosting jet winglets. Source: Journal of Business
Construction is underway on a new five-story, 62-unit apartment complex in Coeur d’Alene’s Riverstone development. Completion is anticipated for fall, 2021. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
Coeur d’Alene City Council voted to demolish two abandoned hotels in the city. The hotels were acquired by the city in a land swap with the local charity organization St. Vincent de Paul. A new use has not been confirmed for the land currently occupied by the hotels, but public parking and a pocket park have been suggested by the city’s planning officials. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
Public schools in Coeur d’Alene have pushed back the start of school to Sept. 14 and will begin with a blended learning approach that combines online learning with classroom time. Students will attend school in person on alternate days (determined alphabetically by last name) to halve classroom size on any given day. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
In economics, it can often seem that nothing happens for years at a time, only for years’ worth of change to happen all at once. The economy, in other words, can seem stable – or even boring – until suddenly it is not. In Idaho, for example, the changes in total nonfarm employment in April, May and June 2020 exceeded (in absolute terms) all the changes that occurred from 2015 to the end of 2019. Owing to the pandemic shock of COVID-19, three months saw more volatility in Idaho’s labor market than the preceding four years.
When economic events gain velocity, especially in the face of a serious recession, a variety of labor market indicators take on new importance, especially those updated monthly or even weekly, rather than quarterly or annually. Several labor market indicators can add to a real time understanding of economic conditions as a supplement to the Department of Labor’s headline statistics like unemployment rates and nonfarm employment numbers.
The annual Paul Bunyan Days festival in St. Maries has been cancelled due to COVID-19. The four-day event is normally held around Labor Day to celebrate St. Maries’ logging community. This is the first time in the 51-year history of the festival that it has been cancelled. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
The Panhandle Health District approved a public mask mandate for Kootenai County. The mandate will make it a misdemeanor to be in public places without a mask in situations where social distancing is not possible. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
StanCraft has expanded its development plans at the Coeur d’Alene Airport to include an additional hanger. The Hayden-based company has been building facilities for the retrofitting and customization of jet interiors, with two previously planned hangers expected to come online this fall and a new third hanger now planned for 2021. Source: Journal of Business
Fernan Lake has been placed under a public health advisory due to a toxic algae bloom. Residents and recreators have been advised to avoid contact with the water until the algae have subsided. Source: Spokesman Review
The 416,000 Idahoans who are in their 50s and 60s face many challenges because of the coronavirus economic impact.
Loss of business income. The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly reduced revenues of many Idaho businesses. It also is likely to lead to the permanent closure of some businesses, especially restaurants, entertainment operations, lodging and retail stores. Since older adults are more likely to run their own businesses, they are disproportionately impacted. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 24 percent of American workers 65 years and older are self-employed, while 15 percent of workers 55 to 64 years are self-employed. In comparison, 8 percent of workers under 55 are self-employed.
Joblessness. About 16 percent of Idaho’s 162,000 payroll workers 55 years and over filed new unemployment insurance claims between March 15 and June 13. Some returned to work within a month, but others experienced two or three months of joblessness.
Coeur d’Alene internet provider Intermax Networks has expanded into the Spokane market by acquiring Telwest Inc., a Spokane-based telecommunications provider. Source: Journal of Business
Kootenai County is on the shortlist of potential sites for a new manufacturing plant KORE Power – a battery manufacturer – is planning to build in the United States. KORE’s corporate operations are already located in Coeur d’Alene, but their manufacturing operations are currently in China. KORE plans to build a new plant in the United States which will employ roughly 3,000 people once fully operational. Source: CDA Press
A new report from the Environmental Protection Agency highlighted the successful completion of a variety of cleanup projects related to the Bunker Hill Superfund Site and laid out plans for an additional $20 million in cleanup work and construction through the end of 2020. Source: CDA Press
The fallout from COVID-19 has Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate soaring from a record low of 2.5 percent in March to a record high of 11.8 percent in April. With the lockdown phasing out in late May and early June in most of the state, many jobs are being restored. But the Idaho economy, as well as economies around the globe, may not rebound completely for some time.
More than one in four young Idahoans lost jobs
Teens and young adults experienced the most job losses during the first 10 weeks of the crisis. More than one in four (25.6 percent) Idaho workers under 35 years old filed new unemployment insurance claims between March 15 and May 23, while 15.7 of workers 35 years and older filed new claims.
Why did young people encounter especially large unemployment spikes? Youth make up a large proportion of the workforce of the two sectors with the most layoffs – leisure & hospitality and retail – which together accounted for 28 percent of all new unemployment claims. People under age 35 held 60 percent of leisure and hospitality jobs and 43 percent of retail jobs in 2019, according to the Census Bureau’s Quarterly Workforce Indicators. Youth are less likely to hold the managerial and professional jobs that could be done at home. In addition, employers typically lay off less experienced workers, while keeping those with greater seniority.
Schweitzer Mountain Resort executives are unveiling plans for $85 million in new development, including new runs, lifts and a previously planned boutique hotel. Resort executives said expansion is justified by robust annual attendance figures. Completion of the new hotel was slated to accommodate the opening of the 2020-21 ski season, but construction has been delayed due to COVID-19. Source: Spokane Journal of Business
The Kootenai Tribe has reopened the Kootenai River Inn Casino after nearly seven weeks of being closed due to COVID-19. The tribe paid all employee wages, including tips, during the shutdown and used the downtime to conduct improvements to the facility’s parking lot, swimming pool and casino space. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
Downtown Coeur d’Alene is in the process of reopening according to the guidelines issued by the governor’s office. Restaurants have opened dine-in service with reduced capacity, and the Coeur d’Alene Resort has re-opened. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
The Salvation Army’s Kroc Center has re-opened after the extended COVID-19 shutdown. Gym and swimming facilities will operate at a reduced capacity to limit crowding, and hours will be modified to accommodate an intensified cleaning schedule. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
Silverwood Theme Park has announced plans to open May 30, with a variety of alterations to reduce crowding. Changes include limited daily attendance, complementary masks and reconfigured waiting lines. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
Recent population estimates for 2019 show Idaho’s cities in general have been thriving although small towns in many rural areas have not shared in the growth.
The data recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau shows the population living in Idaho’s 200 incorporated cities grew 2.3 percent from 2018-2019, faster than the state’s 2.1 percent growth.
The bureau also released housing unit growth across the state, which also grew 2.1 percent for the year.
Population Changes 2018-2019
Meridian added the most population in Idaho between 2018 and 2019, adding 7,697 residents, while Nampa added 3,064 and Caldwell added 2,003. Boise and Meridian were the only two cities with more than 100,000 residents, though Nampa was not far behind with just 3,064 residents fewer than 100,000.
With social distancing measures in place to limit the spread of COVID-19, many workers are transitioning to working from home. One in three Idaho jobs are fully suited for telework. The rest are most vulnerable to unemployment during a pandemic. As Idaho’s economy rapidly adapts to remote work, access to high-speed broadband – particularly in the more rural parts of the state – is critical.
The Rise of Teleworking
The full extent of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is still to be determined, but early signs show the impact on jobs to be significant. As of May 2, 2020, the state of Idaho recorded a record high 125,306 initial claims for unemployment benefits during the seven weeks of the COVID-19 state of emergency. Nationally, the economy lost a staggering 20.5 million jobs in April, bumping the unemployment rate to 14.7 percent.
Along with the unprecedented job losses is a rapid trend towards remote work. To comply with social distancing and stay-at-home orders, employees who can are increasingly being allowed to work from home. Latest trends in online job postings show that while online job postings overall have fallen in recent months, postings specifically labeled as work-from-home are on the rise. The number of new Idaho work-from-home job postings jumped 49 percent from February to March 2020 and 2.4 percent from March to April. In contrast, Idaho job postings overall declined nearly 40 percent from March to April alone.
As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps through the nation, tracking its impact on the labor market in real-time is necessary, yet challenging, as data to capture the rapid changes occurring on a daily basis is rarely available.
Weekly initial unemployment insurance claims data is currently the best real-time economic indicator available to capture the supply side of the labor market – it gives some indication of how many people are newly unemployed every week. Job postings are another important indicator providing valuable insight into the demand side of the job market and how employers are responding to the crisis. Continue reading →