economy

The border between the states of 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. While Washington’s? It’s nearly $2 more -- the highest 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.

After 90 Years, A Southern Oregon Mill Closes

Apr 22, 2013
Amelia Templeton / EarthFix

This week, Rough and Ready Lumber started shutting down its sawmill in the Southern Oregon town of Cave Junction. It’s a story that’s repeated itself in timber towns across the northwest. In 1980 there were 390 mills operating in Oregon. Today there are 103. EarthFix Reporter Amelia Templeton visited the Rough and Ready mill and has this profile.

The unemployment rate in the state of Washington is falling again after being stuck in holding pattern for three months. The state Employment Security Department Wednesday pegged the jobless rate at 7.3 percent. That number for March is down .2 percent from February's rate.

State labor economist Anneliese Vance-Sherman says Washington's unemployment rate is at its lowest point in more than four years.

Oregon's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues its slow decline. It reached 8.2 percent in March.

Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers wants to dredge a deeper channel for barges in the waters behind southeastern Washington’s Lower Granite Dam. Idaho’s Port of Lewiston says the work is important to keep the local economy moving. But as EarthFix reporter Aaron Kunz explains, some environmental groups opposed to the plan.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – If you’re marking milestones in the slow climb out of the Great Recession, here’s a new one: Washington state tax collections have now recovered to pre-recession levels. That was one key takeaway from Wednesday’s quarterly revenue forecast.

In late 2007, the economy went into free fall. For two years, Washington tax revenues plunged. Since 2010 it’s been a slow, steady climb back up. Now tax collections are back to where they were before the economy tanked. Bright spots include an uptick in auto sales and signs of an improving housing market.

Washington Jobs Return To Expected Numbers In February

Mar 20, 2013

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington state saw a surge of new jobs in January, but job growth was sluggish in February. New numbers out Wednesday from the State Employment Department show a gain of 4,000 jobs, mostly in education, healthcare and manufacturing.

Labor economist Anneliese Vance-Sherman says last month’s job trends brought few surprises.

“Pushing January out of the picture and just focusing in on what we’re seeing with the month change here as well as the year over year change, this month was really looking like what we would expect the data to look like.”

Oregon Is Adding Jobs

Mar 19, 2013
KLCC

Oregon’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for February remains unchanged at 8.4 percent. A number of sectors are seeing growth.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington’s nearly $1 billion shortfall could grow after Wednesday’s revenue forecast. The state already faces higher than expected Medicaid costs. It’s widely expected the March forecast will show revenues coming in lower than expected. The governor and legislative budget writers have been waiting to see what the forecast brings before they roll out their spending proposals.

OLYMPIA, Wash. - The state of Washington recorded unusually strong job gains in January. That's according to new numbers released Wednesday by the state Employment Department. A regular survey of businesses found more than 24,000 new jobs created.

The state's chief labor economist, Joe Elling, says there's evidence of gathering "momentum" in the economy. But the January job gains are so strong, he doesn't quite believe them.

Voices Of Coal: Tribal Fisherman

Mar 6, 2013

This week we’re bringing you our special EarthFix series, "Voices of Coal."

Each day we'll hear from someone with a personal stake in the Northwest's debate over coal export terminals.

Budget Debate Kicks Off In Salem

Mar 5, 2013
Photo by Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

The stage is now set for a protracted battle over the upcoming state spending plan in Oregon. Legislative budget-writers Monday released a proposal that relies on rolling back tax breaks and reducing benefits to retired public workers. Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman reports.

Hundreds of sawmill representatives gathered in Portland Monday for a trade association meeting. Thanks to a recovering housing market, the U.S. demand for lumber is increasing. Amelia Templeton of Earthfix has more.

Early Economic Recovery Leaves Rural Idaho Behind

Feb 25, 2013

New numbers out Monday show Idaho's rural areas experienced the post-recession years very differently from the state's cities. While places like Boise and Pocatello were on the mend, economic output in rural communities in Idaho declined.

At first glance, Idaho's rural counties appeared to be making an economic recovery with the rest of the state. But Idaho’s Department of Labor says when you take inflation into account, the output of goods and services from rural Idaho actually declined by $90 million in 2011.

Photo courtesy I Corps, U.S. Army

Northwest military bases, universities, national labs and parks await guidance for how to implement automatic federal budget cuts. The so-called "sequester" is scheduled to take effect at the end of this week. Not much else is certain beyond that including who in the region could feel the pain immediately, if anyone. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon lawmakers now have a better sense of how much money they'll have to put together a budget. State forecasters Friday announced their latest revenue projections.

The bottom line: Things keep getting better. But not by much. State economist Mark McMullen told a legislative panel that corporate and personal income tax projections continue to rise. But he says the rate of increase isn't as strong as previous economic recoveries.

Unemployment has dropped to a four-year low in Washington. The state Employment Department Wednesday released the latest jobless stats. During December, Washington's unemployment rate fell to 7.6 percent -- one-tenth of a percentage point lower than the revised rate for November.

Signs Of The Times Buried In Holiday Trash Heaps

Dec 27, 2012
Photo by Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Now that presents have been opened, it's time for another tradition of the holiday season: bags upon bags of trash. Jessica Robinson talked with one garbage collector in north Idaho about what he can tell from this year’s haul.

Hundreds of people attended Tuesday's public hearing in Spokane about a proposed coal export terminal in the Northwest. The meeting brought out strong emotions, and raised a moral question about how the hearings are run. Paige Browning reports the event focused on the proposed Gateway Terminal for Whatcom County, which would ship coal to Asia.

The Department of Energy released a study today/ Wednesday that finds exporting natural gas would benefit the U.S. economy. That may clear the way for the feds to grant licenses to 15 proposed export terminals, including two in Oregon. Amelia Templeton of Earthfix reports.

Washington Liquor Sales Up Over Last Year

Dec 4, 2012
Decatur Wine & Spirits / Wikimedia Commons

There’s new data on the affect of liquor privatization in Washington. According to new numbers released Tuesday that capture the first four months of private liquor sales, sales by volume were up between June and September nearly 3 percent over the same period last year.

Vixwald / Wikimedia Commons

Sawmills in the Northwest have significantly ramped up production in response to the rebound in construction nationally. That's according to a market survey by an industry consultant based near Seattle.

Gun Sales Expected to be Up for Black Friday

Nov 23, 2012
N3

Gun stores are among the retailers expecting bigger than usual sales today. The national trade group that represents the gun and ammunition industry says Black Friday could set a record for the number of background checks performed.  Those are required by the F-B-I for gun purchases.  

Owen / Wikimedia Commons

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber now has final revenue numbers to write his next two-year budget proposal. State economists Tuesday released their latest set of projections about Oregon tax and lottery income.

Washington state saw a nice drop in unemployment during October. New numbers released Thursday show the state jobless rate fell to 8.2 percent. That's down three-tenths of a point from the prior month.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

If Halloween spending is an indicator of the economy, Americans appear to be feeling better than this time last year -- or at least more ghoulish.

Photo by Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Nearly 300,000 people in Washington are still unemployed and looking for work. But there was reason to celebrate Monday in coastal Grays Harbor County – where the unemployment rate is tied with Ferry County for the highest in the state. A shuttered paper mill there recently roared back to life. With it came 175 jobs. Correspondent Austin Jenkins reports.

Washington Unemployment Ticks Down

Oct 17, 2012

Washington’s jobless rate dropped just slightly in September. State economists Wednesday pegged unemployment at 8.5 percent. That erases a small uptick in August.

New data released Tuesday by the Oregon Employment Department show the state's unemployment rate held steady in September, coming in at a seasonally adjusted 8.7 percent. Economists blame the results on weaker than expected seasonal job growth.

Experts Say Rumors Of Pork Shortage Are Hogwash

Oct 10, 2012
Photo Credit: Scott Graf

A group of British pork producers recently sent fear into the hearts of bacon lovers worldwide by predicting an impending pork shortage. They say drought will make it too expensive to produce pork, so farmers will sell off herds. But here in the United States, agricultural economists say the notion of a bacon shortage is hogwash.

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