Economy, Business, Finance, and Labor

Economy and business news

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.

Liquor Sales Up Over Last Year In Washington

Dec 4, 2012
Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

There’s new data on the affect on liquor privatization in Washington. According to new numbers released Tuesday that capture the first four months of private liquor sales, sales by volume were up between June and September nearly 3 percent over the same period last year.

Mike Gowrylow is a spokesman for the Washington Department of Revenue. He notes there was a slight dip in sales in September but says it’s not clear whether that trend will continue.

Courtesy Columbia Grain


A possible strike or lock out at Northwest grain terminals would have a profound effect on U.S. wheat exports. 

Rahul Nair / Flickr

Sawmills in the Northwest have significantly ramped up production in response to the rebound in construction nationally. That's according to a market survey by an industry consultant based near Seattle.

Wood Resources International president Hakan Ekstrom says the region's sawmills are returning to profitability thanks to a happy coincidence of rising domestic and foreign demand.

Oregon Begins Mileage Tax Pilot Project

Nov 21, 2012

About 40 Oregon drivers are spending this fall measuring their miles on the road. It’s part of a pilot project to study alternatives to the gas tax.

Oregon lawmakers ordered the research out of concern that gas tax revenue will decline as more drivers switch to hybrid or electric vehicles. That could reduce funding for road maintenance.

Tammy Denny of Pendleton, Oregon is on a governor’s task force studying ways to calculate road fees based on mileage. She’s also taking part in the study. So Denny is keeping track of the 2,000 to 3,0000 miles she drives every month.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – You know all those fees and charges listed on your home or wireless phone bill? Well, rural telephone companies in Washington want to add one more: a state Universal Service Fee. Recently they co-sponsored a wine and beer reception for a key state regulator.

Photo by nerissa's ring via Flickr

RICHLAND, Wash. – This holiday season, Northwest winemakers are hoping to expand their customer base with a new sales venue. Seattle’s online shopping giant is now shipping wine.

Tom Hedges is co-founder of Hedges Family Estate on Red Mountain in southeast Washington. He says his family has only been selling wine on for about a week. It will take a few months to truly see if selling bottles through the site will actually pencil out.

Hedges doesn’t think there will be a lot of overlap with already established customers.

The Durant Family

Groves of olive trees might bring to mind for you sun-soaked Mediterranean or Californian landscapes. But in the last 10 years, a few Northwest growers have significantly ramped-up their production of domestic olive oil. They harvest just in time for the holidays.

The Durant family started in the wine grape business in Yamhill County, Oregon. The family diversified into olive growing about seven years ago.