Friday, January 29, 2016

Idaho fastest growing state in over-the-year job growth; December unemployment rate unchanged at 3.9%

Idaho’s 4.4 percent over-the-year growth of seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs in December was the nation’s fastest–the third consecutive month Idaho has held this distinction. 

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 3.9 percent in December–unchanged from November due to a labor force increase of 2,600 workers. December’s labor force increase was the largest December increase since 2004 and pushed the state’s total labor force above 806,000.

Clearwater County’s unemployment rate crept up between November and December, from 8% to 8.4%. The December rate for 2015 was less than the December 2014 rate of 12.1%.

Idaho County’s December unemployment rate dropped to 5.2%, down from November’s rate of 5.7%. Last December’s rate was 8.8%.

The December unemployment rate for Lewis County jumped to 6.4%, up from November’s rate of 5.3%. Lewis County’s December 2015 was higher than the 2014 rate of 5.3%.

In Nez Perce County, there was a slight decrease in the November to December unemployment rate, from 3.6% to 3.3%. December’s rate was also lower than last year’s rate of 5.4%.

Idaho’s labor force participation rate—the percentage of people 16 years and older with jobs or looking for work—increased to 64.3 percent after November’s rate was revised down to 64.1 percent.

Idaho’s nonfarm job growth of 4.4 percent was the largest gain in Idaho since 2005, with a seasonally adjusted increase of 29,100 jobs from December 2014 to December 2015. The greatest gains were in construction, manufacturing and real estate. Mining and logging, information, and state government were the only sectors to show declines.

Over the month, Idaho nonfarm payrolls grew by a seasonally adjusted 0.4 percent between November and December due to strong showings in manufacturing and wholesale trade.

With December’s total employment at 774,543 and only 31,460 unemployed people looking for work, there were only 1.2 unemployed individuals per job listing, according to The Conference Board. 

Nationally, the unemployment rate also remained unchanged at 5.0 percent. This was the third consecutive month the rate has held flat for the nation.

Annually, unemployment insurance benefit payments were down from December 2014 by 16 percent, from $3.241 million a year ago to $2.736 million in December 2015, while the number of weeks compensated dropped 20 percent from a weekly average of 11,471 to a weekly average of 9,159.

Twenty-seven Idaho counties reported unemployment rates above the state average, with the highest of 8.5 percent in Shoshone County. The remaining 17 counties match or were below the state rate; the lowest rate of 2.6 percent was reported in Madison County.

Among the metropolitan statistical areas, Coeur d’Alene had the highest rate with 4.8 percent and Idaho Falls the lowest with 3.2 percent.

For more information on Idaho’s unemployment picture visit

Friday, January 22, 2016

Prizes, games, and fun await at Pierce Winter Festival Feb. 5-7

By Greg Gerot

This year's Pierce Winter Festival (PWF), held the weekend of Feb. 5-7, will be an exciting weekend full of fun, stirring events, and educational opportunities for the whole family.

Our newly designed T-shirts with our Winter Festival logo are now available. They feature a genuine real tree camo-patterned long-sleeved crew-necked t-shirt with lettering and images in blaze orange. They will be available at White Pine Credit Union for $22 and they can also be ordered off of the Pierce Winter Festival Facebook page.

There are a couple pictures of this year’s shirts on the Facebook page. This is one of the few ways we support the effort to produce the PWF. 

This year’s grand prize drawing will be a $300 gift card to Sportsman's Warehouse. Second Prize will be a Sportsman’s Warehouse gift card for $100, and third place will be for $50. Tickets are on sale at S&S Foods, Pierce Hardware, White Pine Credit Union, The Saw Shop, Pierce Public Library, and Studio 205 on Main Street.

Individual tickets are $5 and five for $20. Sportman’s Warehouse has been more than generous in their contributions to the efforts of the Pierce Winter Festival. Thank you!

This year's events include an educational feature called Hilltop Demonstrations, which run Saturday, Feb. 6 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 to 5 p.m. at Pierce Hardware. Each demonstration will be about a topic of local interest, such as trapping, taught by Wes Lineberry, to a leather boot care clinic put on by Obenauf’s. There will also be game skull bleaching and presentation taught by Grant Getchell, and bee keeping taught by Charlie Berreth. 

The city’s newly energized and manned fire department, headed up by newly appointed Fire Chief Tyrel Shaw, will be available for tours and demonstrations as well. This is always a big hit with the kids, and giveaways will be available for them. This event will be held concurrently with the horse-drawn wagon rides provided by Pete Armichardy.

This year’s festival will also feature the ever popular variety show, held at 6:30 p.m. Saturday night at the Pierce Community Center. This year, several talented local musicians, comedians, and our own Timberline High School drama class (performing four vignettes) will be featured. Before the variety show, enjoy a feast—the results of the new Dutch Oven Cookoff contest—from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., for just $5.

Those who provide a dish for the cookoff, be it a main dish, a bread, or a dessert, will each have a crack at some great prizes, compliments of Sportsman’s Warehouse. 

A staple of the PWF are great outdoors action events, beginning with the Ice Man Relay Saturday morning at 10 a.m. The hilarious Bar Stool Race is at 2:30 p.m. that afternoon at The Outback. In addition to a trophy, this year’s winner will receive a $100 gift certificate to S&S Foods, courtesy of owner Sammy Bhardwaj.

Add the downhill sledding Friday night of the festival weekend, complete with bonfire and snacks, and you have a mixture of outdoor activities to appeal to the whole family. 

Kids are important to those of us who organize the PWF, and the Faith Lutheran Church women are again making available to kids of all ages a craft workshop at the community center. It will be Saturday during the festival, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Games will also be available during the same time period in the gymnasium. 

For the spectator or for the player, the Spartanball Snowshoe Softball Tournament and Chili Feed at the Pierce Ballpark from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. You’ll also be supporting the Timberline High School football team.

Throw in the snowman building contest and the Suds and Snowshoe Race at the Flame Bar and you have a festival that will keep your interest and provide you with a weekend of enjoyment.

The schedule of events is posted on the Pierce Winter Festival Facebook page and can be downloaded and shared for your convenience. Look for the posted schedules around town.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Orofino Police seek victims of Shake It Off Fitness scam

Orofino Police Department is asking anyone who was victimized by the Shake It Off Fitness scam over Orofino Lumberjack Days to file a police report with them, if you have not already done so. Please stop by their office at 217 E 1st Street (across from Hanson Garage), or call (208) 476-5551.

Shake It Off Fitness was present at the 2015 Orofino Lumberjack Days. The company offered for purchase the machine, described as a set of fitness plates that the company claimed would assist with a person’s health and fitness levels in various ways, such as increasing circulation, improving blood pressure, and massaging muscles, amongst other things, according to Officer Skye Ortiz with Orofino Police Department.

Victims were convinced to pre-pay $1,549 for the plates, which the company claimed they would ship to them, according to Officer Ortiz. Officer Ortiz described the scam as a pyramid scheme. So far, no one who ordered the machine has received one.

There are victims in Lewiston and Nezperce as well, according to Officer Ortiz, who also explained that, due to the number of people who have been affected by this scam, the FBI has been contacted.

Lewiston Police Department has reported that Shake It Off was present at the Nez Perce County Fair as well, conducting the same scam.

If you purchased from or gave any money to Shake It Off Fitness, please file a police report with Orofino Police Department (or the law enforcement agency in your town) as soon as possible.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Idaho Attorney General reaches settlement with makers of 5-hour Energy products

(Boise) – Attorney General Lawrence Wasden has reached a settlement with the companies that manufacture and market 5-hour Energy products.

The settlement, approved by District Judge Richard Greenwood this week, resolves a lawsuit filed by Wasden alleging Living Essentials, LLC, and Innovation Ventures, LLC, misrepresented their energy shot products, including whether consumers experience a “crash” after consumption and claims the products are recommended by doctors. Living Essentials and Innovation Ventures deny any violations of Idaho law.

Under terms of the agreement, the companies will not represent that 5-hour Energy products have sponsorships, benefits or ingredients they don’t have. 

“Ensuring companies make accurate statements about their products is important to consumers and the marketplace,” Attorney General Wasden said. “I’m pleased that we were able to reach a resolution of this case.”

Wasden filed a lawsuit in 4th District Court in May asserting violations of Idaho’s Consumer Protection Act and Consumer Protection Rules. Specifically, Wasden alleged the companies engaged in false, deceptive or misleading practices in advertising and promoting their products.

According to the settlement, the companies, for products to be sold in Idaho, will:

· Ensure that any new marketing materials for 5-hour Energy products that use the word “crash” shall use the words “no sugar crash” instead;

· Provide on labels warnings for women who are pregnant or nursing, and that their products are not recommended for children;

· In any advertising campaign, only use survey data if it was created, conducted and evaluated in an objective manner by qualified people who used methods generally accepted in the profession to produce accurate and reliable results;

· Continue to list the amount of caffeine in products and disclose that amount as a separately listed ingredient; and

· Not use testimonials or endorsements that do not comply with Federal Trade Commission rules.

The settlement also addresses how the companies market their products to minors, Wasden said.

For the next 3.5 years, the companies will not use or hire persons under the age of 18 to promote products or appear in ads. The agreement prohibits the use of the name, logo or mascot of any elementary, middle or high school in promotional materials related to products.

The settlement also bars the companies from promoting products at school events and using child oriented animated characters to market energy products.

The companies will pay $9,000 to the Attorney General for fees and costs of the investigation and litigation.