Posts tagged: Idaho Economy
Former longtime chief state economist Mike Ferguson analyzed the latest state tax revenue news – which showed revenues surging 13.2 percent over forecasts for April, the biggest tax revenue month of the year – and concluded that lawmakers likely will have $162 million more on hand when they convene their 2014 legislative session than they thought they would two months ago, at the close of this year’s session. “While the numbers will change (for example, we don’t yet know actual May and June revenue numbers, and we don’t know what revised forecast growth rate will be used for FY 2014), it is clear there will be substantially more revenue available than policymakers thought less than two months ago,” Ferguson writers. “How this additional revenue is utilized will depend on Idaho’s public policy priorities.”
The tax revenue jump is big news for the state, Ferguson writes. “This is a significant departure from the revenue forecasts the FY 2013 and FY 2014 budgets are based on, and it has significant implications for the fiscal condition Idaho’s state budget faces in those two years (and beyond).” You can read his full analysis here. Ferguson is now the director of the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy.
StateImpact Idaho’s current series on low-wage work in Idaho, entitled “Bottom Rung,” has an eye-opening look today on how Idaho’s labor picture is changing, and it’s not an encouraging one. “The structural problem is that the nature of the economy is changing,” retired University of Idaho economist Stephen Cooke told StateImpact. “It looked as if Idaho was about to make a very nice transition to a high-skilled manufacturing sector, and then it fell apart.”
“Cooke says this is the important story, and it’s one that has unfolded gradually, obscured by the noise of Idaho’s rapid growth and deep recession,” StateImpact reports. “In the 1990s, Idaho looked poised to stake its claim to a sizable number of skilled manufacturing jobs. That stalled. Over 10 years, computer and electronic manufacturing employment in Idaho fell by 40 percent.” You can read StateImpact’s full report here.
Idaho workers’ average hourly wages were 84 percent of the national average in 2012, the Idaho Department of Labor reports, down from 85.2 percent of average in 2011. That ranked the state 45th in the nation, down from 44th in 2011. For all occupations, a new report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that Boise workers made 11 percent less than the national average wage; Coeur d’Alene workers, 21 percent less; Idaho Falls, 22 percent less; Lewiston, 17 percent less; and Pocatello, 19 percent less. Pocatello was the state’s only metro area where the percentage increased from the year before. You can read a full report here from the Idaho Department of Labor.
Idaho’s general fund tax revenue in April – the biggest revenue month of the year – came in 13.2 percent ahead of forecasts, with collections surging $56.4 million above the expected level, the largest margin by far of any month this fiscal year. That puts the state $79.05 million ahead for the fiscal year, for an overall year-to-date surplus over forecasts of 3.5 percent, according to the state Division of Financial Management.
You can read the full April General Fund Revenue Report here. April marked the second month of this fiscal year in which all revenue categories beat their respective targets, with individual income tax coming in the strongest, at $35 million over the forecast. Corporate income taxes were $14.4 million ahead of forecasts for the month, while sales taxes were closest to projections, at $3.5 million over. For the fiscal year to date, Idaho has collected $2.32 billion in general fund tax revenues, well above both the $2.24 billion forecast and last year’s mark at the same time of $2.17 billion.
Idaho home prices showed the fourth-biggest gain in the nation in a national survey comparing home prices in March to those a year earlier; Idaho home prices were 14.5 percent higher. Nevada saw the largest gain at 22.2 percent; California was next at 17.2 percent, and Arizona was third at 16.8 percent. Oregon was just behind Idaho with a 14.3 percent increase.
The data, from Core Logic, a real estate data provider, showed that nationwide, home prices increased 10.5 percent, and that they've now increased for 13 straight months. Record low mortgage rates, more demand and a limited supply of homes for sale were among factors driving the increases; the number of homes for sale in March was 17 percent below that of a year earlier. Click below for a full report from the Associated Press in Washington, D.C.
Idaho in 2012 experienced its largest out-migration from the state in more than a decade, according to state driver’s license figures from the Idaho Transportation Department analyzed in recent weeks by StateImpact Idaho and by KTVB reporter Jamie Grey. According to the state figures, in 2012, 36,933 people moved to Idaho and got new driver’s licenses, while 28,424 Idahoans moved away and surrendered their Idaho licenses in other states or countries. That’s a net in-migration of just 8,509; last year’s net gain was 18,704, and the figure hasn’t dropped below 10,000 since 2002.
Grey reported that a deeper look at who’s moving in and out of the state raises questions about Idaho’s labor market. “We have an influx greater than it has been in the past of older people,” Bob Fick of the Idaho Department of Labor told KTVB, “people who are at the end of their working lives or retired. Compounding that, which is something we haven't had in the past, is this exodus of younger workers.” Fick said the change is so marked that decision-makers “probably should start considering what the ramifications are of a shift like the one we're seeing.” You can see KTVB’s full report here, and see StateImpact Idaho’s full report here. Both reports include interesting maps showing where Idahoans are moving and where new Idahoans are moving from.
Today is “Equal Pay Day,” reports Deb Courson Smith of Public News Service (PNS), the point at which the average pay for a woman in the U.S. catches up to the average of what a man made last year. Courson Smith reports that a new analysis of U.S. Census data by the National Partnership for Women & Families shows the average full-time female worker in Idaho makes more than $10,000 a year less than the average male worker.
Sarah Crawford, director of workplace fairness for the national partnership, told Courson Smith that not much has changed since last year's Equal Pay Day. “The interesting point,” she said, “is that there is no state where women are earning more than men. The wage gap persists in every corner of our country.” You can read her full report here. The analysis shows Idaho women earn 75 cents per hour for every dollar earned by their male counterparts; the national rate is 77 cents.
State tax figures are in for the month of March, and they beat the forecast by 4.4 percent or $5.8 million. That’s the third consecutive month that tax revenues came in ahead of expectations, and it pushes the fiscal year-to-date surplus to $22.6 million, which is 1.2 percent ahead of the projection. Still ahead is April, the biggest revenue month of the year. You can read the DFM’s monthly Idaho General Fund Revenue Report here.
Larry Kenck, the new chairman of the Idaho Democratic Party, has issued a statement blaming “years of failed GOP policies” for Idaho’s ranking as the state with the highest percentage of workers earning the minimum wage. “Idaho has suffered from decades of GOP policies that do very little to encourage high-paying businesses to relocate to Idaho or to stay in Idaho,” Kenck declared; you can read his full statement here.
Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis show that inflation is eroding gross product gains in rural Idaho. The Idaho Department of Labor released the numbers Monday for the total value of goods and services produced in the state. Economic activity picked up in Idaho's 33 rural counties during 2011, with the counties producing just under $17.5 billion worth of goods and services. That's a 5.1 percent increase compared to a year earlier. But the Department of Labor says that increase was lost to inflation. Once inflation is taken into account, rural counties saw gross state product actually decline 0.6 percent.
Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell in December to 6.6 percent, the lowest rate in nearly four years and two-tenths of a percentage down from November, the Idaho Department of Labor reports. This time, the improved numbers weren’t just due to people giving up on looking for work: The state’s labor force expanded for the first time since last May. Labor reports that the December figures reflect 300 new entrants to the workforce and 1,500 unemployed Idahoans who found jobs. You can read their full announcement here.
The Conference Board estimates there are still slightly more than two workers for every job posted in Idaho, but that’s way down from nearly five for every job opening during the worst of the recession in late 2009. Labor reports that the number of counties with double-digit jobless rates fell to five in December, all in northern and north-central Idaho, down from six in November and 13 in December of 2011.
The five were Adams, 15.4%; Clearwater, 12.2%; Valley, 11.9%; Benewah, 10.8%; and Shoshone, 10.6%. The county with the lowest unemployment rate in December was Oneida County, at 4.0 percent; followed by Bear Lake, 4.2%; and Franklin, 4.3%. Ada County was at 5.6 percent; Canyon, 7.3%; and Kootenai, 7.4%.
More than 6,300 unemployed Idahoans won’t lose their federal extended unemployment benefits this week after all, the Idaho Department of Labor says, under the newly passed legislation to avert the so-called fiscal cliff. Instead, those on extended benefits will continue to receive them, though possibly not for long. Due to drops in Idaho’s unemployment rate, the length of federal extended benefits has been cut back three times in 2012; it’s now at a maximum of 37 weeks beyond the standard state benefit of 10 to 26 weeks; that could drop to a maximum of 28 weeks the second week of February, if unemployment holds steady or continues to fall. At their peak, federal extended benefits lasted for up to 73 weeks. Click below for the full announcement from the Idaho Department of Labor.
More than 6,000 unemployed Idahoans have now seen their federal extended unemployment benefits terminated, the Idaho Department of Labor reports today. The program to provide jobless workers with extended benefits during the recession expired last week; Idaho workers who were getting the payments got their last one this week. Click below for the full news release from the Idaho Department of Labor.
Since the program began in mid-2008, 95,000 Idaho workers shared $900 million in federally financed extended benefits; now, only the regular state unemployment benefit of 10 to 26 weeks is available for the 15,000 Idaho workers who still haven't found new jobs. Last week, just over 6,300 received the extended federal benefits, with an average payment of $248.
Idaho's unemployment rate continued to fall in October, dropping another tenth of a percentage point to 7 percent, the lowest level in 3-1/2 years, the Idaho Department of Labor reports. That was nearly a full percentage point below the national unemployment rate, which rose a tenth to 7.9 percent in October. You can read the full report here from Idaho DOL, and a breakdown here by county, city and labor market areas within the state.
With current state tax revenues, Idaho's state budget is on track for a substantial ending balance July 1 of as much as $37 million, according to figures presented to lawmakers today by legislative budget chief Cathy Holland-Smith. That doesn't count $18.3 million in supplemental budget requests that lawmakers will consider in January, but Holland-Smith said those requests are likely to fall substantially, based on slower than expected Medicaid caseload growth and differences in prison inmate forecasting. If all $18.3 million were needed for the supplemental requests, the state would end this budget year July 1 with an $18.7 million ending balance, Holland-Smith said.
She then presented an estimate for the fiscal year 2014 budget, the year that starts July 1, including various assumptions about budget requests. If all requests were funded, state workers were given 1 percent raises, and state revenue were to grow by 4 percent, the hypothetical bottom line would be negative, to the tune of $169.5 million. That's in part because one-time money from reserve funds has been built into the state budget to help it balance each year in recent years. Idaho still would have some reserve funds available; as of June 30, 2013, the state's two main reserve funds, the Budget Stabilization Fund and the Public Education Stabilization Fund, would hold a projected total of $98.6 million.
Holland-Smith cautioned, however, that the assumptions include Idaho continuing its Catastrophic Health Care Fund program, which could go away if the state opted to expand its Medicaid program largely at federal expense. Other assumptions also could change.
Legislative Budget Director Cathy Holland-Smith prefaced her presentation to the Legislative Council with a caveat: Many of the numbers will change from what she's prepared. That's because voters rejected the “Students Come First” school reform laws, meaning state Superintendent Tom Luna's budget request for next year, which was based on those laws, will need a re-do. Plus, just last night, the state Department of Health & Welfare submitted a substantial budget revision, Holland-Smith said, one that likely will be positive. “We know caseloads are down somewhat,” she said.
Between those two factors - affecting the largest portions of Idaho's state budget - “A substantial amount of the budget request will have to change,” Holland-Smith said.
Idaho state tax revenues came in $10 million below projections in October, for a year-to-date $6.9 million below forecast, a 0.8 percent lag. After accounting for amounts the Legislature must reimburse deficiency accounts for fires, pests and hazardous material incidents, the state now looks on track to end the fiscal year with a $30.1 million balance, $25.7 million more than was anticipated when the legislative session adjourned last spring. You can read the DFM's general fund revenue report for October here, and the Legislature's General Fund Budget Monitor here; both look at the impact of the October numbers. In a few minutes, the Legislative Council will hear a state budget update from Cathy Holland-Smith, manager of budget and policy analysis.
Gas prices across the nation have just posted their biggest one-week decline since 2008, AAA Idaho reports, but Idaho hasn't yet felt it. In the Gem State, gas prices are averaging $3.82 a gallon, 19 cents higher than the U.S. average and down just a penny in the last week. The national average dropped 13 cents in the last week to $3.63 a gallon.
AAA predicts that national average gas prices will fall to between $3.40 and $3.65 by Election Day - just two weeks away - and down to $3.25 to $3.40 by Thanksgiving. But in Idaho? “We don't know,” said Dave Carlson, director of public and government affairs. “I would think it's safe to say that we should see some decline in prices.” You can read AAA's full news release here.
Idaho's state tax revenues beat forecasts in September, driven by a month of strong individual income tax collections. The total revenue for the month of $248.1 million was 3.7 percent, or $8.8 million, over the forecast; individual income tax receipts, which had missed forecasts in both July and August, came in $12.5 million above the forecast for September. Sales taxes came in slightly ahead of forecasts, while corporate and miscellaneous taxes dipped below.
The strong month put the state's year-to-date revenues back on track with forecasts, running 0.5 percent ahead. That means state tax revenues overall are running 5.7 percent ahead of last year; forecasts anticipated a 5.2 percent increase. You can read the full general fund revenue report here from the state Division of Financial Management.
Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― Idaho's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell slightly to 7.4 percent in August, in part because fewer people are looking for work. Idaho lost 2,600 workers from its labor force between July and August and more than 5,500 over the summer ― the largest three-month exodus of workers on record in the state. The state Labor Department says nearly 1,100 fewer people were working in August while 1,600 left the ranks of the jobless, dropping the number of people considered to be unemployed to just over 57,000. Since the recession, more than 15,000 workers have exhausted their unemployment benefits without finding jobs and hundreds more lost extended benefits. Businesses report hiring 18,400 workers in August, mostly to replace departing workers.