Riley Creek Lumber Co. will temporarily shut down its sawmill in Moyie Springs, Idaho, putting about 75 employees out of work for three weeks.
The mill will be closed for a two-week period beginning Monday. Workers will also stay home during the Christmas week.
Riley Creek’s owner, Marc Brinkmeyer, cited low lumber prices as the reason behind the curtailment. A national slowdown in housing starts has led to lower demand for lumber, which has led to record-low prices.
Lumber prices, already weak during the third quarter, continue to erode, Brinkmeyer said. “It’s a notch down from where we were even a few weeks ago,” he said.
Lumber production west of the Cascades has plunged 16 percent since this time last year as mill owners schedule shutdowns to stem their losses. However, no downtime is planned at Riley’s other mills in Laclede and Chilco.
Economists initially predicted that lumber demand would rebound in 2008 but now say that the fall of 2009 might be a more realistic time frame, Brinkmeyer noted. The industry is cyclical by nature.
“This is just part of the game. We’ve had some very good times as well,” he said, noting the strength of the market during the recent real estate boom.
Microsoft offers security fixes
Microsoft Corp. issued two security fixes in a regular monthly update Tuesday, including one that removes a dangerous bug in all versions of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.
Microsoft gave the serious security fix its most urgent “critical” rating. Hackers could exploit a vulnerability using Internet Explorer 7, and possibly other programs, and take over a user’s computer for a variety of nefarious purposes, such as stealing passwords or pumping out spam.
The other fix, which Microsoft gave the second-highest “important” rating, is for computers running versions of Windows 2000 Server and Windows Server 2003. Hackers could exploit the flaw in Microsoft’s program to redirect Internet traffic from legitimate sites to fake ones.
Windows users can visit Microsoft’s security Web site to get the updates or configure their computers to automatically update each month.
Government hiring steadies jobs rate
Washington’s unemployment rate remained unchanged in October from September’s 4.8 percent rate, according to the state Unemployment Security Department.
Washington’s seasonally adjusted non-agriculture jobs increased by 7,200 in October following a drop in September. A portion of the October gain was due to a large reversal in the government sector, the department said in a news release Tuesday.
In October, the industries with the largest job growth were government, with 2,900 new jobs; construction, up 900; and manufacturing with 900 new jobs.
An estimated 145,900 people are unemployed and seeking work in the state. Free job-readiness and job-search assistance is available online at go2worksource.com and at local WorkSource offices.