Economy, Business, Finance, and Labor

Economy and business news

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Paid medical leave benefits would expand for employees under a measure in the Washington legislature. The measure would allow workers to take up to 12 weeks to tend to new babies in addition to 12 weeks for other medical issues at home.

Proponents of increasing paid time-off for families filled a hearing room in Olympia Tuesday. Don Orange owns a small auto repair shop in Vancouver, Wash. He testified he would gladly pay extra for the new benefit.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The new Republican-dominated majority in the Washington state Senate has approved a series of controversial measures that deal with injured workers. The votes Monday were a key test of the Majority Coalition’s one vote advantage.

The most controversial of the proposed laws would lower the age when permanently injured workers are eligible to choose a lump sum insurance payout. Jason Speicher hurt his back on the job and is getting retrained. At a labor-backed press conference, he said taking a one-time payment is risky.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

ABERDEEN, Wash. – The Northwest is on the verge of becoming a gateway for crude oil. Three different developers have plans to use docks on Grays Harbor, Washington to transfer crude oil from trains to ships. Other projects are getting off the ground in Tacoma, Vancouver, B.C. and on the lower Columbia River.

There was a huge turnout Wednesday night at an introductory public workshop in Aberdeen, Washington. The response indicates crude-by-rail may be the region’s next big environmental controversy.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

WALLA WALLA, Wash. - Northwest winemakers are trying to wet-the-whistle of China's emerging middle class. Demand for wine is growing significantly there. And that’s drawn Chinese business delegations, restaurateurs and tourists to our region. There even may be a reality TV show that would feature Northwest wineries.

Back when the economy was rolling in mid-2000s, Long Shadows Wineries was jumping.

Study: Private Prisons Lead To Fewer Jobs

Jan 28, 2013
Google Maps

Researchers say the economic benefits of prisons often don't materialize for rural communities. That's according to a new paper by Northwest sociologists. In fact, they found communities with private prisons fare worse than they did before.

Washington State University sociologist Gregory Hook says rural areas that opt to build prisons, even courting them with tax breaks, have one main goal in mind: jobs.

“You know, you look across the way and you say 'Oh there's a prison. Fifty people have a job there. So that's 50 new jobs in my community.' … Only it's not.”

Silver Boom Brings Historic Sunshine Mine Back Online

Jan 26, 2013
Mine Safety and Health Administration

The high price of silver is bringing one of the Northwest's oldest silver mines back online. The Sunshine Mine in north Idaho is known for one of the worst mining disasters in the nation’s history. It will resume production in late 2014.

The new owner, Sunshine Silver Mines Corp., bought the mine after the previous owner went bankrupt. It happened just in time for silver prices to hit $30 an ounce, and mostly stayed there. The company expects to hire 250 miners once production begins.

OLYMPIA, Wash. - 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.

The state's chief labor economist, Joe Elling, tempers his enthusiasm though. He says the decline is mostly caused by a shrinking labor force.

Landing One Job No Longer Sufficient For Many In Idaho

Dec 28, 2012
Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

POST FALLS, Idaho - Personal incomes took a hit in the economic downturn across the nation. But according to the latest figures, no state has lower median earnings than Idaho.

A few years ago, James Drennen and his family left Lancaster, Penn., to start a new life in north Idaho.

“We figured we could come out here and live on a whole lot less money and my wife could stay home," he says. "But when we got here, we found out the jobs aren't paying as well.”

Lester L / Flickr

Northwest wheat growers are hoping for a swift resolution to a labor dispute that could keep their grain from reaching the world market. Grain terminals remain open in Portland, Vancouver and Seattle, even though the terminals' owners have implemented a contract offer unionized longshoremen rejected.

Most of the wheat that grows on the rolling hills of eastern Washington is bound for the international market. But to get there, the wheat passes through one of a handful of grain terminals in the Northwest.

Andreas Klinke Johannsen / Flickr

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington’s jobless rate has dropped below 8 percent for the first time in nearly four years. The November jobs numbers out Wednesday peg Washington’s unemployment rate at 7.8 percent. That’s down from 8.2 percent in October – the largest one month drop since 1977.

But chief labor economist Joe Elling cautions the state is still far from what he would consider full employment.

Pages