Bringing the Economy Home

Jessica Robinson

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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

Bottom Rung: Why One Idaho Border Business Chose Washington

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Tim Skubitz stands in front of his McDonalds in Newport, Washington. It's right across the street from Oldtown, Idaho.

The border between Washington and Idaho is like a petri dish for what the minimum wage does to the economy. That’s where two extremes meet. Idaho has the federal minimum wage: $7.25 an hour. Meanwhile, Washington’s is nearly $2 more.

At $9.19, Washington has the highest minimum wage in the nation. You might expect that wage gap to send Washington border businesses fleeing over to Idaho. But that’s not what’s happening.

Idahoans like Ron Mendive pride themselves on having a business-friendly state. The Republican state representative from Coeur d’Alene shares the view of many about the minimum wage. Continue Reading

Jobless in Idaho: National Guard Soldiers Seek Deployment In Face Of Job Market

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Spc. David Hampton, 21, returned to Hayden, Idaho, in September and is still looking for work.

The Idaho Department of Labor estimates there are at least 63,000 people in the state without work.  That doesn’t include thousands more who are underemployed or have stopped looking for a job.  This is the latest story in our “Jobless in Idaho” series, that follows several Idahoans in their search for work.

We brought you a story a few months ago about two soldiers from the Northwest. They had just returned from Iraq with their National Guard unit. Both started looking for new civilian jobs. Neither is satisfied with what they found. Both soldiers are now thinking about signing up for another overseas tour with the military. Continue Reading

Idaho Miners are in High Demand, Despite Lucky Friday Closure

Courtesy of Hecla Mining

Lucky Friday Mine workers in Mullan, Idaho are valued for their skill at "jackleg" mining, using hand-held equipment seen here.

They say the days when you could go from high school to a high-paying, blue collar job are long gone. But there are places in the Northwest where those days still exist — that is, if you’re willing to work a mile underground.

For gold and silver miners, it looks like boom times right now. Rising salaries, more job opportunities.  Even a recent layoff in north Idaho doesn’t look like other layoffs.

Idaho Miners are in High Demand, Despite Lucky Friday Closure

Don Kotschevar teaches at the tiny high school in the small north Idaho town of Mullan. He’s the assistant principal/ basketball coach/ shop teacher.

But lately Kotschevar has been questioning his career path. His students are parlaying the skills he teaches them in this industrial mechanics class into mining jobs.  Continue Reading

Jobless in Idaho: Veterans Look For Work After War

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Name: David Hampton

Age: 21

Unemployed Since: September 2011

“I’m a team player.  That’s all there is to it.  I’m just hoping they’ll give me the chance.”

The Idaho Department of Labor estimates nearly 70,000 people in the state don’t have jobs.  That doesn’t include thousands more who are underemployed or have stopped looking for work.  This latest story in our “Jobless in Idaho” series is from Northwest News Network Correspondent Jessica Robinson.

Here’s a line most entry-level job seekers don’t have on their resume: “Operated a high-caliber machine gun, in Baghdad, Iraq.”  Many of the 2,700 National Guard soldiers from the Northwest who just returned from Iraq aren’t old enough to have much of a pre-deployment work history.  Now, many soldiers struggle to translate their war experience into a civilian career.

Jobless in Idaho: Soldier Struggles to Translate War Experience into Employment

In Iraq, Specialist David Hampton was an IT guy.  His formal job title was information management officer.  But back in Idaho, it’s a different story.  “Right now I’m trying to get by,” Hampton says, “driving around, putting in job apps, submitting resumes.”

Continue Reading

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