Bringing the Economy Home


Idaho’s Income Gap Continues To Grow

On Wednesday, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis will release personal income data for 2012. In anticipation of that release, StateImpact Idaho pulled together personal income data going back to 1990 and compared it with the U.S. average. The data show a widening gap between Idaho and the country as a whole.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis | Download the Data

Per capita personal income is total personal income divided by total midyear population. – BEA

As recently as 2006, Idaho’s personal income was 83.4 percent of the U.S. average. Last year, it was just 79.1 percent of the national average. While the trend lines look similar for Idaho and the nation, you’ll notice personal income in Idaho hasn’t recovered the ground it lost during the recession. Continue Reading

Idaho Leads The Nation In Minimum Wage Workers

Tim Boyle / Getty Images

More Idaho workers earned minimum wage in 2012 than in any year since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics started keeping track a decade ago.

The Idaho Department of Labor reports 7.7 percent of Idaho hourly workers earned $7.25 an hour or less last year. That’s up from 5 percent in 2011. The new data show Idaho has the largest share of minimum-wage workers in the country.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics estimated that 31,000 of Idaho’s 404,000 hourly workers were paid the minimum wage last year, an increase of 12,000 from 2011, when 5 percent of the state’s hourly workforce made the minimum wage or less. That ranked the state 30th in 2011. Continue Reading

Idaho Exports Rake In Billions In 2012

Courtesy Empire Airlines

Employees at the Hayden, Idaho based Empire Airlines work inside a plane.

Idaho exports continue to increase. Data from the Idaho Department of Commerce show exports from the Gem State grew 3.5 percent from 2011 to 2012.

Driving the export growth last year were food and agriculture products, transportation equipment, and office and home furnishings. More than $6.1 billion worth of Idaho exports headed to other countries last year. Canada led the way purchasing more than $1.3 billion in Idaho products.

Export growth from 2010 to 2011 was 14 percent, totaling $5.89 billion worth of goods. Continue Reading

Map: Who Benefits Most If Idaho’s Business Personal Property Tax Is Eliminated

In 2011, more than 53,000 Idaho companies paid the business personal property tax. Half of those businesses paid less than $90. Who stands to benefit from getting rid of the tax? Click around the map to see the top five payers in each county. The darker a county is shaded, the more reliant it is on the personal property tax. Continue reading

College Tuition In Idaho Is On Par With Western Region

Emilie Ritter Saunders / StateImpact

Boise State University winter commencement, 2011.

Idaho college and university presidents spent the first part of this week making their pitches to the Legislature for funding.

The common theme: as more Idahoans seek a college degree, the state needs to invest more in higher education.

Boise State president Bob Kustra told the Legislature’s budget panel, a decade ago, the university received about one-third of its budget from the state. Now, it’s closer to one-fifth. Kustra said that means the school, like many across the region, have to look for other sources of funding.  He says tuition is a big component. Continue Reading

The Gender Pay Gap In Idaho’s State Workforce: Why Do Women Earn Less?

George Marks / Retrofile/Getty Images

Two women work on an airplane, circa 1950.

Year after year, Idaho gets slapped with an unwelcome designation: It’s one of the states where women earn the least compared to men.

A recent study of the “gender wage gap” came from the National Women’s Law Center, and found the typical woman worker in Idaho earns 75.2 cents for every dollar earned by her male counterpart.

The gender wage gap has also been an issue at the top levels of state government. Last March, the Idaho Statesman found that women in Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter’s cabinet earned an average of $17,000 less than their male peers.  Following the firing of state transportation chief Pam Lowe in 2009, it was widely noted that the man who replaced her had a starting salary that was $22,000 higher. Continue Reading

Idaho’s Health And Welfare Director Sets Different Tone For Budget Process

Courtesy Dept. Health and Welfare

Dept. of Health and Welfare director Richard Armstrong.

After the recession years of cutting staff and budgets at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, the department’s director says the agency is now “hanging on” and is asking lawmakers to fund 24.9 new full time positions.

Health and Welfare director Dick Armstrong approached the Legislature’s main budget panel yesterday with a different tone from years past. He suggested the budget cutting over the last few years has been good for the agency.

“We are not looking to restore any benefits that were reduced over the past few years,” Armstrong said to lawmakers. “We have to hold on to those savings, for many of them helped us focus on paying for value.” Continue Reading

Why 70,000 People Will Join Idaho’s Medicaid Rolls In 2014

Joe Jaszewski / Idaho Statesman

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

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare estimates that 70,340 people will join Idaho’s Medicaid rolls next year, department chief Richard Armstrong told the Legislature’s Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee today.

This isn’t news to people who have watched Idaho wrestle with the Affordable Care Act; a November report from independent consulting group Milliman projected the enrollment growth.  However, it’s not something we have detailed here on the StateImpact site.

Half of those 70,000 people are currently eligible for Medicaid, but not enrolled.  They’re what’s referred to as the “woodwork group,” as in “the group that will come out of the woodwork” once the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate goes into effect in 2014. Continue Reading

Who Are Idaho’s Legislators? A Demographic Breakdown Of The 2013 Legislature

The lawmakers that make up Idaho’s 2013 state Legislature are older, more educated, more male and more Mormon than the population of Idaho as a whole. That’s according to demographic data collected by StateImpact Idaho. You can check out the data in the infographic below. For context on what it means to have these demographic differences between Idaho’s population and its legislators, read our posts on gender, age, education, religion and occupation.

Continue Reading

Chobani Opens Twin Falls Yogurt Facility Today, But At What Cost To Taxpayers?

Emilie Ritter Saunders / StateImpact

In November 2011, the New York-based Greek yogurt maker Chobani announced plans to build a multimillion dollar manufacturing facility in Twin Falls, Idaho, with plans to hire 400 people.

Today, 13 months later, Chobani’s Twin Falls facility holds its grand opening. New numbers show the yogurt maker hired fewer people than expected, and collected more subsidies than first reported.

A press release for today’s event says Chobani is opening with “over 300” employees. The New York Times reports the Twin Falls facility has 300 employees. That’s 100 fewer jobs than Chobani first announced, but Twin Falls City Manager Travis Rothweiler says there are more jobs to come. He anticipates Chobani will employ up to 500 people once the facility is running at full capacity. Continue Reading

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