Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Startling Headline in Tribune: Port of Lewiston Traffic 'On Hold Indefinitely'

Posted By on Wed, Apr 8, 2015 at 9:45 AM

The Port of Lewiston is in near-crisis mode and port commissioners will huddle today to consider its fate.

In the wake of its largest overseas shipper—Hapag-Lloyd—pulling up anchor at the Port of Portland and thus halting its shipments up and down the Columbia River system, this morning's headline in the Lewiston Tribune was rather stunning: "Port Container Traffic On Hold Indefinitely."

And now, Port of Lewiston commissioners will meet today at noon with one major item on the agenda: "Suspension of container traffic will be discussed." As of today, the only remaining container carrier at the Port of Portland, according to the Tribune, is the Westwood company, "and it's unlikely it will be able to absorb Hapag-Lloyd's customers from Lewiston," said Lewiston Port Manager David Doeringsfeld. "At this point in time, the Port of Lewiston is not shipping any containers on water."

The Port of Lewiston employs seven people, but its budget is $1.9 million. According to the Tribune, the port "had expected about $450,000 each from rentals and property taxes as well as $260,000 from the Inland 465 company, which operates a huge warehouse at the port.
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Friday, April 3, 2015

Nation's Unemployment Rate Holds Steady; Hourly Earnings Bump Up

Posted By on Fri, Apr 3, 2015 at 9:12 AM

The U.S. Labor Department reported Friday morning that the nation's unemployment rate held steady at 5.5 percent in March, but cautioned that the month's gains were the lowest increase since December 2013 and far below analysts' estimates.

Non-farm related jobs rose 126,000 in March while the goods-producing sector shed 13,000 jobs. March's weak numbers ended 12 straight months of 200,000-plus job gains, the longest streak in more than a decade.

The Labor Department also revealed some more bad news: data for January and February was revised to show 69,000 fewer jobs had been created than previously reported.

But there is some good news: average hourly earnings increased by 7 cents.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Idaho's Median Wage in 2014: $14.93 an Hour

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2015 at 10:01 AM

The Idaho Department of Labor reports that Gem State wages went up in 2014.

Using the latest statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the state labor department says strong gains in wages and profits in the final quarter of 2014 edged the Gem State's total personal income up 5.3 percent for the year to more than $61.3 billion—the sixth strongest gain the U.S. The national trend rose nearly 3.9 percent.

The Idaho Department of Labor said overall business profits were up 11.4 percent, driven primarily by a 26 percent increase in farm profits.

Idaho wages rose 4.9 percent to $26.6 billion in 2014. The average wage in Idaho was $19.12 per hour. The median wage was $14.93 per hour.

The overall personal income attributable to every man, woman and child in Idaho was up 3.8 percent in 2014, the highest increase in the nation. However, at $37,533 per capita income, Idaho ranked 47th among the states and District of Columbia.

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

City of Boise's Unemployment Rate for February: 2.9 Percent

Posted By on Sat, Mar 21, 2015 at 11:09 AM

The Idaho unemployment rate has ticked down to a seven-year low of 3.9 percent. The Idaho Department of Labor reported that February's employment rolls stood at 751,600—the first time that total employment exceeded 750,000.

Analysts credited job growth in the Idaho construction industry and service sector for the improvement.  It total, 3,800 more workers were added to Idaho's payrolls.

The highest jobless rate in the state was in Clearwater County, which registered a 9.3 percent rate. Teton County had Idaho's lowest unemployment rate, at 3 percent.

The Boise Metro Area, which includes Boise, Meridian, Nampa and Caldwell, had a 4 percent unemployment rate in February, one-tenth of a point higher than January but a full percentage point lower than a year ago.

The city of Boise reported a 2.9 percent jobless rate in February. Across the state, Coeur d'Alene had a 4.8 percent rate in February; Idaho Falls had 3.6 percent; Lewiston had 3.3 percent; Pocatello had 4.2 percent; and Twin Falls had a 3.6 percent rate.
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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Stateline: Idaho's Middle Class Has Withered

Posted By on Thu, Mar 19, 2015 at 12:23 PM

Idaho's median annual income dropped by almost $5,000 between 2000 and 2013, according to a new Stateline analysis.

The report shows how the middle class has shrunk nationwide: In every state, the percentage of households earning between 67 and 200 percent of the state's median income has been decreasing since the turn of the century. By that definition, 52.7 percent of Idaho households were middle class in 2000. In 2013, that number had fallen 0.8 percent to 51.9 percent. 

Similarly, the median income (adjusted for inflation) for Idaho households was $51,744 in 2000. By 2013, it was $46,783. The share of households spending 30 percent or more on their incomes on housing during the same period grew from 26 percent to 30 percent. 

In part, these numbers reflect the impacts of the Great Recession, but speaking at a City Club forum in February, former longtime Idaho chief economist Mike Ferguson told the crowd that tax and labor policies, as well as corporate governance, have improved economic figures in the Gem State while leaving working families in the cold.

"More of the rewards of our economy are going to non-labor elements," he said. 

To make matters more complicated, in 2014, a study by the Alliance for a Just Society pegged Idaho's living wage at $14.57 an hour. That's more than twice the state's minimum wage, which is $7.25 an hour. Idaho has one of the highest number of minimum wage workers per capita in the country, and recent efforts to raise the state's minimum wage in the Idaho Legislature have stalled.

The effects of these and other factors are less pronounced in Idaho than they are in other states. In Washington, the median income dropped from $63,079 to $58,405, and the percentage of households that could be considered middle class dropped from 51.7 percent to 47.4 percent. In Vermont, the percentage of middle class households dropped from 52.4 percent to 47.4 percent.

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

Idaho Employment Hits 20-Year High

Posted By on Sat, Mar 14, 2015 at 3:23 PM

The Idaho Department of Labor reported on Friday that the Gem State's employment rolls hit a 20-year high in January, rising nearly 4,200 to a record 746,600. The overall unemployment rate dropped three-tenths of one percent to 4.1 percent In January, the lowest rate since March 2008.

The January boost was the highest since the recession and the fifth-largest on record. The Idaho Department of Labor pointed to low energy prices and low interest prices as indicators that "pushed the state's employment indicators in a more positive direction."

January's numbers in Idaho ran counter to the national unemployment rate, which ticked up to 5.7 percent. Idaho's jobless numbers have been below the national rate for 65 months.

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Oregon Company Fronts Another Hotel in Downtown Boise

Posted By on Thu, Mar 12, 2015 at 4:44 PM

The Inn at 500 Capitol conceptual rendering - OBIE DEVELOPMENT PARTNERS LLC
  • Obie Development Partners LLC
  • The Inn at 500 Capitol conceptual rendering

Days after the announcement of a 180-room, 10-story hotel slated for the corner of Capitol Boulevard and Broad street comes word of yet another downtown hotel development.

Obie Development Partners LLC, based in Eugene, Ore., has announced that it is seeking city approval for a $25 million, seven-story, 104-room boutique hotel on the southeast corner of Capitol Boulevard and Myrtle Street, a stone's throw from the "premier" hotel project fronted by Eagle-based hotel investment company Pennbridge Capital.

The ODP hotel, dubbed the Inn at 500 Capitol, already has a date scheduled with the Boise Design Review Committee, slated for Wednesday, April 8. If all goes according to plan, construction will begin in August 2015 and be completed in late 2016.

"This is going to happen. We're committed," said Obie President and CEO Brian Obie, a former mayor of Eugene. 

The Inn is planned to include a spa, room service with a butler closet, a wellness center and open air plaza, and rooms that will run between $203-$215 per night. Obie said he hopes to partner with a high-end restaurant and obtain a liquor license.

Unlike "convention" hotels that cater to business travelers and host large events, the Inn at 500 Capitol is being branded as a luxury, getaway experience—or as a way for companies, Boise State University or the state of Idaho to show off Boise as a place to live.

Though the Inn would be kitty-corner from the Hampton Inn in BoDo—and possibly the Pennbridge development—Obie said that he didn't see them as directly competing.

"We're not a convention hotel. A lot of businesses put people in our hotel because they're doing a lot of recruiting business. We'll do a lot with the university like we do with the University of Oregon. We'll pick them up at the airport in a sedan, take them to a hotel, take them to the university or the hospital," Obie said.

According to its application, the Inn will have 26 available parking spaces, mainly for use by the hotel's attached restaurant. ODP Co-manager Casey Barrett said a valet service run by the hotel will be a primary mode of transportation for its guests.

"The hotel will be 100 percent valet, so everyone that shows up will be valeted offsite," he said.

ODP previously developed the Inn at the 5th in Eugene and selected Boise as the site of its next hotel after partnering with a University of Oregon marketing class that placed Boise at the top of a list of 43 cities around the country where a project similar to the Inn at the 5th could succeed.

Factors that went into that list included the absence of a similar kind of hotel in the community, the presence of a university and regionally headquartered companies, an active commercial area and airport access. 
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Monday, March 9, 2015

Department of Labor: Idaho's 2014 Jobless Rate Slightly Higher than Reported

Posted By on Mon, Mar 9, 2015 at 10:29 AM

Idaho's jobless rate in 2014 has bumped two-tenths of a percent after revisions by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, according to the Idaho Department of Labor.

In January, the Department of Labor reported that the Gem State's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate had dipped two-tenths of a percent to a 7-year low of 3.7 percent. The new calculation has pushed that figure to 4.4 percent—seven-tenths of a percentage point above the previous estimate.

The revisions have upped the jobless rate for every month since May 2014. They've been attributed to the number of Idaho workers on the job since last winter, which decreased by 700 in December from the original estimate to 742,400. There was also an increase in the number of people looking for work since late summer, which increased by 4,900 in December, with the number of Idahoans on the job reaching 776,500. 

Though the Bureau of Labor Statistics revisions showed Idaho's unemployment rate higher than previously reported, however, they indicated that the state's economy performed stronger between Spring 2011 and Spring 2014 than earlier estimates. 

[Editor's Note: A previous version of this blog post incorrectly said the number of Idahoans looking for work was 776,500.]
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Monday, March 2, 2015

First Annual Media Award Winners

Posted By on Mon, Mar 2, 2015 at 11:50 AM

The first annual Idaho Media Awards were handed out to eleven recipients, representing six separate film and video projects, Feb. 28. Winners were chosen from a national blue ribbon committee.

"We wanted to make sure there were no local biases, so we enlisted the help of industry experts around the country to help with the judge," awards host Lance Thompson told winners. "They were impressed with your work."

First-place awards went to Robert Lane for I-Doll Cammie Pavesic and Michael Gough for the documentary Add the Words; Chad Case and Jonathan Conti for The Butter Basin, Bradley and Charles Norton for Canyon
, Robert Vestal for his still image titled “Shadowbreak;” and Micron Technology employees Eric Barth, Alf deVarona, and Jason Jacopian for Power of Progress.

“We need this industry to be big enough to be seen,” Idaho Commerce Department Director Jeff Sayer told the gathering. “This (event) tonight is a step in that direction.”

Pictured framing the shot are the winners in the first annual Idaho Media Awards Saturday night at the Red Lion Downtowner. Left to - right and front to back are Robert A. Lane; Michael D. Gough, Robert Vestal, - and Cammie Pavesic; and Bradley Norton, Alf deVarona, Eric Barth, Jason - Jacopian and Charles Norton. - DAVID ANTHONY CUOIO
  • David Anthony Cuoio
  • Pictured framing the shot are the winners in the first annual Idaho Media Awards Saturday night at the Red Lion Downtowner. Left toright and front to back are Robert A. Lane; Michael D. Gough, Robert Vestal,and Cammie Pavesic; and Bradley Norton, Alf deVarona, Eric Barth, JasonJacopian and Charles Norton.

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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Minimum Wage Debate Intensifies On National Stage, Not So Much in Idaho

Posted By on Sun, Mar 1, 2015 at 9:46 AM

A series of weekend reports indicates that Wal-Mart's recent decision to boost wages for thousands of its lowest paid employees will have a significant affect in the public and private sectors.

This week, Wal-Mart announced it would increase wages for nearly 500,000 of its employees to at least $9 an hour, $1.75 above the federal minimum wage. Soon thereafter, TJX Companies, Inc., which owns Marshalls and TJ Maxx, pledged to increase its minimum wage to $9 per hour in June and up to $10 per hour in 2016.

This morning, Boston Globe columnist Tom Keane wrote
"[Wal-Mart] hasn't suddenly gotten religion. It just wants to stay in business."  In Benchmark Reporter, Steve Goodstein writes Wal-Mart's decision will have "a ripple effect" on many industries and is "now one of the major talking points among other retail giants." And Target, which operates about 1,800 stores in the United States says it is under pressure. Its Chief Financial Officer John Mulligan told The Guardian, " We're all the time assessing the marketplace to determine competitive wages."

Meanwhile, the Idaho Legislature's debate over minimum wage may be over before it has even begun. A new bill, which proposes that Idaho's minimum wage be incrementally raised to $9.25 an hour, surfaced in the Idaho Senate State Affairs Committee on Feb. 27. Committee chairman, Republican Sen. Curt McKenzie has already indicated he didn't anticipate any hearing on the matter. McKenzie later told the Associated Press he didn't see enough support among his Republican colleagues on the subject. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates nearly 30,000 Idahoans are employed at or below the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
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