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Another 524 North Central Idaho residents file new unemployment claims

by Kathryn Tacke, Regional Economist, Idaho Department of Labor

Another 524 North Central Idaho residents filed new unemployment insurance claims in the week ending April 11.

That's roughly five times higher than before the COVID-19 lockdown. In the four weeks since the coronavirus began taking a toll on the region, 2,815 initial claims were filed. That's roughly 5.3 percent of employed residents in the region before COVID-19. In addition, many of those who remain employed are working fewer hours or have seen tips and bonuses dry up.

The region's nonessential businesses (retail except groceries, pharmacies, building materials stores, gasoline stations, and auto parts stores; hotels, motels, restaurants, bars, fitness studios, and amusement and recreation facilities; dental offices and other elective medical services; personal care services such as hair and nail care) are shut down or offering limited service. Hundreds of businesses are wondering how long they can survive with no revenue or significantly reduced revenue.

COVID-19 has slowed the development of the region's growing wine industry. Social distancing has closed tasting rooms, and the virtual shutdown of tourism is reducing the wineries' opportunities to introduce their products to potential new buyers. Wineries are trying new ways to stay in contact customers. Most are offering curbside pickup or arranging shipping to customers. Some wineries, including Basalt Cellars in Clarkston, WA, and Vine 46 Winery in Lewiston, leave purchases on tables outside locked tasting rooms at a time arranged with customers after they place telephone orders. Jovinea Cellars in Lewiston created a virtual community event. It is giving its wine club members a free bottle of wine if they do a photo or video review and post it on social media. Source: Lewiston Tribune

The Lewis-Clark Valley Healthcare Foundation increased its grants to nonprofits struggling to cope with problems caused by the pandemic. The foundation doubled awards to$10,000 to help nonprofit organizations in nine counties of Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. Many nonprofits have been forced to give up fundraising events-such as fun runs, galas, and auctions- at the same time the need for the services has grown. Among the groups eligible for grants are food banks, meal delivery programs, transportation services, nonprofit child care providers, and others that support the foundation's mission of promoting health, wellness, and disease prevention. Applications can be submitted online at www.lewisclarkhealth.org. Source: Lewiston Tribune

Idaho outfitters and guides have seen trips plummet in the last few weeks as fewer tourists arrived, social distancing concerns made guided trips more complicated, and the state placed a moratorium on some out-of-state hunting and fishing licenses. In addition, some potential customers are reluctant to book trips even for the summer and fall, because of uncertainty about how long social distancing might be required. Fewer guided tours means less spending by well-heeled visitors at hotels, restaurants, and stores in communities such as Orofino, Riggins, Kamiah, and Lewiston. Source: Idaho Statesman

The Federal Aviation Administration announced April 14 that 36 Idaho airports will receive $44.2 million in CARES Act funds to help them cope with the coronavirus-caused slowdown in air traffic. COVID-19 public health emergency. The funds will support continuing operations and replace some of the lost revenue from the decline in passenger traffic. They may be used for airport capital expenditures, airport operating expenses including payroll and utilities, and airport debt payments, The Lewiston - Nez Perce County Regional Airport will receive $1.2 million, while the Orofino Municipal Airport will receive $30,000; the Kamiah Municipal Airport, $1,000; and the Idaho County Airport, $30,000. The Pullman-Moscow airport is among the Washington airports receiving CARES fund. It will receive $18 million. Source: Big Country News


Idahoans filed more initial claims for unemployment benefits in the four weeks since the state of emergency was declared - 95,961 - than the total filed during all 2019 by 60 percent.

Initial claims for the week of April 11 filed from job losses due to the coronavirus slowed to 18,531 - down 40 percent from the week prior - but still a record for any week since 2013.

COVID-19 layoffs are affecting people of all ages, with young people ages 25 to 34 filing 26 percent of all claims. Women filed 53 percent of all initial claims last week.

Initial claims from laid-off employees for the accommodations and food services, health care and social assistance and retail trade represented nearly half - 46 percent - of the week's total. The share of total claims for the manufacturing sector increased to almost 11 percent last week, steadily climbing over the past three weeks from 3.8 percent.

Approximately $17.5 million has been paid out in benefits between the weeks of March 8 and April 11.

Payouts for the most recent week of April 5 - 11 reached $9.2 million, 63 percent higher than the previous week, and five times higher than for the same week in 2019.

Weekly claims by county and industry sector are available on a new data dashboard found on the department's labor market information website at https://lmi.idaho.gov/ui-weekly-claims.

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