Idaho

Bringing the Economy Home

How Rejecting Medicaid Expansion Could Hurt Health Outcomes In Idaho

Emilie Ritter Saunders / StateImpact

Idaho is one of 24 states on track to reject expanded Medicaid coverage for more low-income Idahoans. A recent article by the Los Angeles Times finds states without plans to expand Medicaid have higher rates of colon cancer and breast cancer deaths, and higher rates of gum disease.

The article says the health gap will continue to widen between the states with more Medicaid availability and those without.

Today, for example, about 94% of adults under 65 in Massachusetts have health coverage, the highest rate in the nation. The state guarantees coverage through Medicaid or commercial insurance under a plan developed in 2006 by then-Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, and Democratic state lawmakers. By contrast, only 68% of working-age Texans are insured, the lowest rate. Continue Reading

StateImpact Idaho Wins 12 Idaho Press Club, SPJ Awards

Emilie Ritter Saunders / StateImpact

StateImpact Idaho picked up 12 local and regional journalism awards over the weekend. At the risk of being too boastful, we wanted to share these accolades with you.

At the annual Idaho Press Club awards we took home six 1st place prizes, two 2nd place, and one 3rd place.

“Demand For Ammunition Is Up. Why Aren’t Prices?”


An economics textbook would say this shouldn’t happen. It would say that Bob Viden, who has run the shop for almost 50 years, should respond to the increase in demand by raising prices. But, Viden told me, “We don’t want to do that. We want to be fair.”

Apparently so do some of the best-known ammo sources across the country. At the sporting goods store Cabela’s and at Wal-Mart, shelves are empty but prices are mostly flat. During my conversations at Bob’s Little Sport Shop, the word “fair” came up about two-dozen times. Or, as one customer put it, “There’s no reason to make a profit off of our misfortune.”

Read more at: www.npr.org

Idaho’s Labor Force Drops To Two-Year Low, Jobless Rate Unchanged

Molly Messick / StateImpact Idaho

Wells Fargo representative Josh Plummer talked to dozens of would-be call center workers at a recent job fair in Boise.

Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stayed at 6.1 percent in April as the state’s labor force continued to shrink.

The Idaho Department of Labor reports 1,300 people left the workforce last month. That’s four straight months of labor force decline. Idaho’s workforce is now at its lowest level in two years.

The Department says more than one third of the 16,000 new hires in April were for newly created jobs.

Analysts say the continued labor force decline and the drop in total employment are further proof young workers are leaving the state to find jobs while retirees from other states are moving to Idaho. Continue Reading

Federal Sequester Turns Idaho Employment Workers Into Job Seekers

Molly Messick / StateImpact

Job seekers line up at a recent Idaho Department of Labor job fair in Boise.

In the next couple of months, many employment office workers in the northwest will join the unemployed.

State labor agencies are having to make cutbacks in staffing. It’s due to a combination of the economy getting better and federal budget cuts known as the “sequester” setting in.

Staffing at the local employment office usually moves in the exact opposite direction as the rest of the economy. When times are tough, unemployment rolls are booming. Continue Reading

‘Til We Meet Again

Molly Messick / StateImpact Idaho

The high adventure of reporting in Owyhee County

Today is my last at StateImpact Idaho. After better than four years spent reporting in the West, next month I’ll make good on a longtime goal. I’ll take a couple of months away from reporting for intensive Spanish study in Central America, something that will benefit my work in the future.

There are many things I’ve valued about this job. I’m grateful to have met fascinating people with stories to tell in towns and communities all over this state, from Laclede to Council to American Falls. (I’ve reported four feature stories from that one little town of 4,500 since StateImpact Idaho launched in September 2011!) Continue Reading

Idaho Lawmakers Could Have More Money To Spend Than Expected

401K / Flickr Creative Commons

Thanks to higher-than-expected tax collections last month, Idaho lawmakers could have more money in the bank to allocate to things like education, road repair, and health care services.

That’s the hypothesis from the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy director Mike Ferguson who analyzed the monthly revenue report and state budget. Ferguson says lawmakers could have as much as $162 million more to spend during the 2014 legislative session.

As The Idaho Statesman’s Dan Popkey notes, that’s about 6 percent of the state’s annual budget. Continue Reading

Bottom Rung: Readers And Listeners Share Their Stories

Molly Messick / StateImpact Idaho

A job-seeker signed in at call center recruitment fair held by the Idaho Department of Labor last week.

StateImpact Idaho recently took a run at a big issue: the state’s low wages and its comparatively high fraction of workers who earn the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. The full series, called “Bottom Rung,” is available here.

Many readers and listeners have weighed in, in some cases sending their own stories. For example, Monday’s feature focused in part on a McDonald’s franchise that’s just across the Idaho border, in Washington, where the minimum wage is considerably higher than Idaho’s, at $9.19 per hour.  Continue Reading

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