Wednesday, June 27, 2012

State shows signs of recovery

Tax receipts up, unemployment down


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

Recent economic data suggest that however slowly, Idaho may be recovering from the Great Recession.

According to labor market information from the Idaho Department of Labor, seasonal unemployment rates are dropping faster than the national average. Idaho's highest unemployment rate came in at 8.9 percent in December 2010, but dropped to 7.7 percent by April 2012.

"The state has begun recovering," the report stated, adding that the last economic downturn was the worst recession to hit Idaho since before World War II.

The report stated that the construction industry continued to decline between 2009 and 2010, though manufacturing was up 2 percent in the same year. Overall, Idaho's adjusted gross state product grew almost 27 percent over the past decade—12 points higher than the national economy's growth.

Income and sales tax receipts were also up 6 percent over 2011 for the first 10 months of the fiscal year. State tax receipts totaled $2.36 billion in 2011, $66 million more than projected at the beginning of the year.

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However, new business filings remained flat between 2010 and 2011 and nonfarm jobs were up only 1.3 percent in April 2012 over April 2011. Still, unemployment was pushed down to its lowest level in more than two years. Though total employment numbers remained below the state's peak in May 2007, unemployment claims continued to drop.

Regular benefits payments totaled $98.6 million by May 2012, 16 percent below the same time in 2011. About 14,000 Idahoans exhausted all unemployment benefits without finding work by May 2012, while 11,000 were still collecting federal extended benefits.

Tourism revenues dropped to their lowest levels for March since 2003. The report attributes the drop to "inadequate snowfall" which, it states, "undercut" the ski industry.

Kate Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com




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