Bringing the Economy Home

Fact Check: Is Boise Really a ‘Turnaround Town’?

Boise Metro Chamber

A view of downtown Boise, Idaho

CNN Money and recently included Boise on a top ten list of post-recession ‘turnaround towns’.  They slated Boise in sixth place behind Sarasota, Fort Myers, Orlando, Phoenix and Miami.  While it might be nice for the Gem State’s biggest city to be recognized on this kind of a list, many of the facts supporting its placement are simply false.

Let’s start from the top.  CNN Money reports Boise’s median home price is $120,000.  They aren’t too far off.  According to Intermountain MLS, Boise’s median home price in January was $130,000.

The post’s opening line characterizes Boise’s economy as an ‘offbeat combination of old and new’.

“The logging industry still pays a lot of the bills in town, but tech jobs have also become increasingly prevalent.”

That’s not exactly true either.  Idaho’s logging and wood products industry is just a fraction of the state’s gross product.  The U.S. Department of Commerce says natural resources (which includes agriculture, logging and mining) made up just 7 percent of Idaho’s GSP in 2010.  So, Boise’s logging and wood products industries would be an even smaller percentage.  From a jobs perspective, logging and wood products manufacturing together employ about 6,100 people statewide, according to the latest available data from the Idaho Department of Labor.  There are more than 760,000 people in Idaho’s labor force.

CNN Money goes on to say Micron Technology is Boise’s biggest employer.  While that was the case back in 2005, Micron has shed some 5,000 jobs since then, allowing St. Luke’s Health Systems to grab the spot of Boise’s biggest employer .

There are signs that point to a recovering Boise.  The city’s foreclosure rate is going down and the unemployment rate is dropping.  But economists watching the state closely say Idaho’s recovery mirrors the one that’s taking place nationally, and it’s occurring at a slower clip.  The supporting facts in this CNN Money/ story just don’t add up.


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