Bringing the Economy Home

Emilie Ritter Saunders

Multimedia Reporter

Emilie Ritter Saunders was StateImpact Idaho's multimedia reporter until the project merged with the Boise State Public Radio site in July 2013. She previously worked as the Capitol Bureau Chief for Montana Public Radio and was a Senior Fellow with NPR's Economic Training Project from 2009 until 2010. She graduated from the University of Montana School of Journalism in 2007.

Idaho’s Underemployment Rate Drops, But It’s Still Well Above Pre-Recession Levels

The number of Idahoans who don’t have enough work declined between 2011 and 2012, but the state’s underemployment rate is still well above pre-recession levels.

The Idaho Department of Labor writes in its latest newsletter the 2012 underemployment rate was 16.9 percent. That means nearly 17 percent of Idaho’s workforce had part-time or temporary jobs when they wanted full-time work. That measure also includes people with associate’s degrees or higher, who are registered with an unemployment office and are searching for a different job.

Idaho’s underemployment rate in 2007, the year before the recession, was 10.9 percent. As this chart from the Idaho Department of Labor shows, as the economy worsened, those rates increased.

Idaho Department of Labor

Click the chart to enlarge.

Continue Reading

Idaho Budget Writers To See Policy In Action

Joe Jaszewski / Idaho Statesman

JFAC co-chairs Dean Cameron (R-Rupert) and Maxine Bell (R-Jerome).

The lawmakers who shape Idaho’s annual budget will tour the northern part of the state this week to get a glimpse of their policy decisions in action.

Members of the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee, or JFAC, will spend three days at north Idaho businesses, landmarks, and schools.

Legislative budget and policy analyst Keith Bybee says it’s a chance for lawmakers to see how budget policies and decisions are working, instead of just hearing about it when they’re in a committee room at the Capitol in Boise.

Bybee says it’s important for lawmakers to understand how staffers like him spend the legislative off-season. “We spend a lot of time writing reports and making sure they [legislators] have the best information possible,” says Bybee. Continue Reading

Is Idaho A Good Place To Be Unemployed? Yes, Says Bloomberg

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 is one of the best states to be without a job. That’s according to government data analyzed by Bloomberg.

The online business news site says it considered average unemployment insurance benefits as a percentage of average per capita income, the jobless rate, wealth disparity, and the ratio of households earning at least $200,000 to those earning less than $10,000 annually. Continue Reading

Uninsured Idaho Veterans Affected By Decision Not To Expand Medicaid

Stateline | Urban Institute

Click on the map to enlarge.

Nearly 4,000 uninsured Idaho veterans would be eligible for health insurance if the state expanded Medicaid coverage. That’s according to new analysis from the Urban Institute, reported by Stateline.

Idaho isn’t expanding Medicaid coverage to more low-income residents, although the governor has said he isn’t ruling it out.

As Stateline reports, in states that expand the program, adults at 138 percent of the federal poverty line (that’s earning $15,415 annually) will be eligible for health care in January through Medicaid. But not in Idaho. Continue Reading

First Round Of Idaho’s Public-Private Innovation Grant Winners Selected

Idaho Technology Council

The Idaho Department of Commerce announced yesterday the first round of Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission, or IGEM, grant recipients.

The Department reports 18 groups applied for the grant funding. Seven will receive the awards totaling $844,093. An additional $105,907 will go to the Idaho Commerce Business and Jobs Development fund.

Here’s the list of grant recipients from the Department of Commerce: Continue Reading

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.

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

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: Idaho Has More Minimum Wage Workers Than 18 States

We know Idaho has the largest percentage of minimum wage workers in the country; 7.7 percent of Idaho’s hourly workforce earns $7.25 or less.

The same data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics also show Idaho has more minimum-wage earners, in raw numbers, than 18 other states. Many of those states have fewer people living in them, but six of the states have larger populations.

Connecticut, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, and West Virginia all have more people than Idaho, but fewer people making minimum wage or less.

Continue Reading

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »