REALTORS: GOOD NEWS
John Eaton, government affairs director for the Idaho Association of Realtors, says home sales increased in all but one Idaho county in 2012, and prices are approaching prerecession levels.
FORESTRY: GOOD TOO
Idaho Forest Group Chairman Marc Brinkmeyer doesnt see a downside for the timber industry in 2013. The only question is, what level is the upside? he says.
Brinkmeyer says employment should increase this year. He says wages should rise as the industry hires people with technical skills. Theres pent-up demand for housing nationwide.
The market slid out from under us in 2009, Brinkmeyer says. We had months where we couldnt sell any timber. But it turned out to be our best year ever. We had to make tough decisions, and our company is operating at levels today we never thought possible, making products we never would have touched before.
LABOR: MIXED PICTURE
Bob Fick with the Idaho Department of Labor says Idahos unemployment rate has been falling like a rock, dropping more than 2 percentage points since June 2011. The problem is the decline hasnt been mirrored by employment growth.
Only about 20 percent of the Idaho jobs lost during the recession have been added back, compared with more than half nationally.
Much of the reduction in unemployment seems to be caused by people giving up on their job search and dropping out of the market, he says, or by people moving out of state. Net outmigration is at its highest level since the late 1980s. The recession has been over for three years, but Idaho is still looking for the next step in the recovery, Fick says.
The recovery to prerecession job numbers wont occur until mid-2015, Fick says. It will take 15 or 20 years for the construction industry to reach prerecession employment levels.
Wayne Hammon of the Idaho Associated General Contractors, which includes highway and commercial-building companies, says he has a lot of members who wish they were busier.