December 5, 2010 in Idaho

Idaho exports rebound, may end close to record

Transportation equipment orders lead strong report
Associated Press

BOISE – Idaho exports shipped through September climbed to $3.83 billion, putting 2010 on a pace to come close to the state’s 2008 record of $5 billion, the Idaho Department of Commerce said in a recent report.

“People outside our borders are starting to buy more,” Don Dietrich, the department’s director, told the Idaho Statesman. “There’s a pent-up demand. This is a great sign.”

The report shows that the state’s exports from June to September are nearly 19 percent higher than the same period last year.

Growth is being led by transportation equipment. That includes locomotives built at MotivePower in Boise and airplanes built by Quest Aircraft Co. in Sandpoint. Exports in that area reached $188 million in the third quarter, a 1,185 percent increase over the same time in 2009.

In September, MotivePower announced a $114 million contract to build 20 locomotives for the Massachusetts Transit Authority. Officials said that is expected to create or retain 1,246 jobs.

The report said wood products, including construction goods, increased 148 percent to $36.7 million.

John Church, a Boise economist, said some of the increase is due to higher prices. But he said that’s a positive sign for future jobs.

“Higher prices mean that it’s more profitable to make the product,” he said. “Businesses want to make more of it, and consequently, they’ll hire more people.”

Dietrich said more jobs should be created with the growth of exports.

“Idaho export jobs pay 30 percent more than nonexport jobs,” Dietrich said.

According to the International Trade Association, nearly 23 percent of manufacturing workers in Idaho depended on exports for their jobs in 2008.

The top export destinations for Idaho goods are Canada, Singapore, Taiwan, China and Korea.

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