Bringing the Economy Home

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

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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

Idaho Continues Its Rural Population Decline

Molly Messick / StateImpact Idaho

The small town of Fairfield, Idaho

New census numbers released this week reinforce something we’ve known for a while: Idaho continues to lose population in rural communities. In 1990, 59 percent of Idahoans lived in cities. Last year, that number was 69 percent.

“A third of the city population gain in 2012 came in Ada County, where the suburban community of Star posted a 3.4 percent increase. Coupled with population growth rates of 3.3 percent in Meridian and 2.9 percent in Eagle, those three cities accounted for nearly 3,400 of a 10,500-population increase posted by Idaho’s cities. 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

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

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