Category: Montana Economy


Hecla moves forward with Northwest Montana mines




Officials at an Idaho-based mining company developing two large copper and silver mines in northwest Montana said they were not discouraged by a recent move that could allow the state to call its CEO a “bad actor” because of a failed mine clean-up more than two decades ago. in another part of the state.

Calling CEO Phillips S. Baker a “bad actor” could derail Hecla Mining Co.’s efforts to develop the Rock Creek and Montanore mines, two projects in Lincoln and Sanders counties that have been underway since. decades. One of the reasons the company might not be concerned is that the new occupant of the governor’s mansion in Helena has been a strong supporter of the plans.

The projects were first proposed by various companies in the early 1980s. Mining officials have said that together, the two mines under Cabinet Mountain Wilderness could produce more than 500 million ounces of silver and 4 billion pounds of copper, making it one of the largest untapped deposits of either mineral in the world. Both projects stuck in the state and federal government approval process for decades, led by two junior mining companies, one of which operated the now-closed Troy Mine. The protracted process frustrated local officials, who said the mines could provide much-needed jobs in one of the state’s most economically depressed areas. In Libby, posters stating “We support Montanore” are common in store windows.

IN 2015, local authorities received a new dose of optimism when Hecla, based in Coeur d’Alene, purchased both projects. Hecla was founded in 1891 and currently operates mines in Idaho, Alaska and Quebec. If one company could get Rock Creek and Montanore up and running, local officials believed, it was Hecla. But those hopes were dashed in 2018 when the Montana Department of Environmental Quality announced that Hecla and its CEO had violated state mining laws and therefore could not open any of the mines until the company had not paid $ 32 million in restitution.

At the heart of the state’s argument is Baker’s involvement with Pegasus Gold Corp., which went bankrupt in 1998 and left the state on the hook for a $ 32 million recovery effort on three mine sites in the Little Rocky Mountains south of the Fort Belknap reserve. .

Montana’s “Bad Actors” Mining Act was passed in the 1980s and aims to hold companies accountable for not cleaning up polluted mine sites. The law has been used sparingly since its passage, and the decision to apply it to Baker, who was vice president of Pegasus, has been celebrated by environmental groups.

“Historically, mining companies have gotten away with leaving the unrecovered mine sites to taxpayers to clean up, some of which will require treatment for decades to come,” said Mary Costello, executive director of the Rock Creek Alliance, a group created in 1996 to oppose the Rock Creek mine. “This is why it is so important that the Montana Bad Actors Act, which was passed with bipartisan support, be enforced. This law ensures that mining executives are held accountable to Montana taxpayers so that sites abandoned toxic mines remain a thing of the past. “

HECLA AGAINST Baker is innocent and had already left Pegasus when he went bankrupt and left the state with the Cleanup Bill. Shortly after DEQ attempted to label Baker a “bad actor,” Hecla sued. In May, Lewis and Clark County District Court Judge Mike Menahan ruled that DEQ had the power to apply the “bad actor” label to Baker, but did not rule on the merits of the case.

“The laws we have in place to protect drinking water and ensure that mine sites are fully reclaimed will only be effective if the wrong actors are held accountable and the law is properly enforced,” said Derf Johnson, director of the Clean Water program with the Montana Environmental Information Center. “We are incredibly encouraged to see the court order, and now the DEQ can fully pursue this case on the merits.”

It is not known if DEQ will continue to pursue the case. In a statement to Montana Free Press, spokeswoman Moira Davin said the agency was reviewing the decision and “assessing the resources we have available to pursue the next steps.”

Governor Greg Gianforte has spoken favorably about proposed mines in the past and last year hosted a campaign event at Hecla’s offices in Libby. During this event, he criticized state and federal authorities for the time it took for the two mines to be cleared. Although state and federal agencies have issued permits for mines in the past, they have been challenged in court on several occasions.

“I believe we can develop our natural resources while protecting the environment and, where there has been a problem, such as in Libby, [we’ve] got to work cleaning it up, ”Gianforte said in Hecla’s offices last July, referring to the massive Superfund cleanup resulting from the WR Grace & Co. asbestos mine that sickened and killed residents. . During that same event, he called DEQ and the Montana Department of Natural Resources “project prevention departments.”

A spokesperson for Gianforte directed all questions about Hecla and the “bad actor” affair to DEQ.

EVEN IF the state continues its efforts to label Baker a “bad actor,” Hecla officials said, they are confident they will be victorious in the courts and continue to push the plans forward. Spokesman Luke Russell said Rock Creek and Montanore are good projects that can provide the copper and silver needed to power a greener, more eco-friendly economy. Mining officials note that copper and silver are needed to produce electric vehicles and wind turbines.

Over the years, environmental groups have raised concerns about how two large copper and silver mines located beneath a federally designated wilderness area could affect surface water and wildlife. Opponents said either mine could permanently damage the area. But Hecla officials counter that copper and silver can be responsibly mined and cite the nearby Troy mine, which was closed by Hecla’s predecessor, Revett Mining Co., in 2015 when demand for copper dropped, as an example of what Montanore and Rock Creek would do. look like. Russell said Hecla has completed most of its reclamation work at this site, including covering a 300-acre tailings dump with topsoil, and is currently working on demolishing the buildings. Russell said it would ultimately be difficult to tell that there had ever been a mine at the site.

“It’s a great example of what modern mining can be,” he said.



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Guest column: We must protect the public resources we rely on | Guest columns



It’s spring in Montana and summer is just around the corner. The streams begin to swell with the life-giving waters of last winter’s snowpack; the poplar seeds drift on the afternoon air currents to land on these rising waters, which will carry them to fertile soil. Montana’s population is also growing, as residents and visitors alike put their skis away and prepare for what many predict will be record numbers of tourists to our parks and other wild places.

For the nearly 900 members of FOAM – the Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana – this is what we have been waiting for all winter. We are ready and we are excited. But after a year of profound societal changes, we are also thinking about the future. Ours and our rivers ”.

Our future is inexorably intertwined with that of rivers. Economically, we rely on clean, healthy rivers to deliver the iconic experiences that attract our customers from around the world. Whether it’s the cry of a reel as a Madisonian brown trout peels, or the humble beauty of a native cutthroat caught and released in a secret stream, there’s a reason. that so many people come to Montana for. Yet these are just the most obvious ways our rivers fuel our $ 7.1 billion outdoor recreation industry. For all the cars hired to view wildlife in Yellowstone, the unforgettable dinners with iconic mountain views, and amenities purchased from local businesses, rivers are the lifeblood that keeps the environment healthy. In doing so, they keep our economy healthy.

Of course, that’s only half the story. Like many of our colleagues, we do what we do because we love rivers. We like to spend our days in the water. Perhaps more than anything, we love to share this joy with others.

For all of these reasons and more, FOAM supports the Montana Headwaters Legacy Act (MHLA). This historic, locally supported legislation would protect a landscape of rivers in the Greater Yellowstone and Smith river systems by designating them as Wild and Scenic, the strongest form of federal river protection in the United States. This will help us better understand the health of our rivers and respond to any threats that may emerge tomorrow or ten years from now. Equally important, the wild and scenic designations will help raise awareness of the quality of our waters and the urgent need to protect them.

Each of the 17 rivers and streams in the MHLA is unique, and we all fall in love with something different. For some, it’s the scenic mountain views of the Paradise Valley of the Yellowstone River. For others, it’s the roar of living water above an isolated hole in the Boulder. This is part of what makes MHLA’s holistic approach so powerful. Each waterway is part of a larger, connected system. If we secure this system enough to keep it whole, we are protecting something more than the sum of its parts. It is vital that we do this for fish, wildlife and people.

Our river systems, as we know them today, will not last if we do not act now. Many who visit Montana’s rivers see them as limitless pristine resources. But those of us who live and work on the water every day see a more complete story. Indeed, we have a lot to lose. Between increasing human pressures, lower flows at the end of the season, an uncertain snowpack and increasingly frequent algae blooms, our rivers are changing rapidly. These changes are too ambitious to respond with anything less than what the MHLA is proposing. We must look beyond our own personal impacts and act together to achieve the greatest collective impact our rivers need.

FOAM calls on those chosen to represent the Montanais – Senator Jon Tester, Senator Steve Daines and Representative Matt Rosendale – to reintroduce and pass the Montana Headwaters Legacy Act today. We also call on all guides and outfitters in the state, whether or not they work on the rivers, to answer this call and to lead by example. We all depend, directly or indirectly, on public resources. It’s up to us to protect them.

To see what else is happening in County Gallatin, subscribe to the online journal.

Michael A. Bias is the Executive Director of the Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana. Jason Fleury is the chairman of the organization’s board of directors.



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Guest Reviews: Stone-Manning Wanted at BLM Bar | Chroniclers








Tom France and Britt.


TOM FRANCE

In Montana, choosing a hunting partner is not to be taken lightly. It must be someone you can spend hours with, in trucks, boats, and long hikes. Someone who will go wholeheartedly into the work that follows a successful hunt and will be with you when things don’t go as planned. Choosing a hunting partner comes down to someone with skill, courage, and a character you respect.

The same could be said for the head of our largest public land agency, the Bureau of Land Management. Competence, courage and character. Tracy Stone-Manning is that leader. I have known Tracy for thirty years, both as a hunting partner and as a colleague working on public land policies that will benefit both people and wildlife. As an athlete and activist, Tracy will be an outstanding BLM Director and I strongly support her appointment to lead the agency.

Leading the BLM is one of the most important jobs in the country. The agency oversees more than a third of our public lands, including extensive grasslands across the Great Plains and

intermountain West, beautiful rainforests along the west coast and deserts and grasslands to the southwest. In Montana, the BLM manages over 8 million acres of land.

Tracy understands the great heritage of our public lands and their importance to fishing and

clean wildlife, air and water, and as ecological treasures for future generations. It



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May jobs report falls short of projections | national



(The Center Square) – Total non-farm payroll jobs rose by 559,000 in the United States in May, lower than the 650,000 predicted by economists, according to data from the United States Department of Labor.

The unemployment rate fell 0.3 percentage points to 5.8 percent, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

Notable job gains have taken place in leisure and hospitality, public and private education, and health care and social assistance, reports the BLS.

The data cover two labor force measures, the household survey, which includes unemployment and demographic characteristics, and the establishment survey, which measures non-farm employment, hours and hours. revenues by industry.

The adult unemployment rate was little changed, as was the participation rate, which has hovered at 61% since June 2020. The number of people employed part-time for economic reasons has remained essentially unchanged. In May, the number of inactive people who currently want a job also remained largely unchanged, reports the BLS.

May was the second consecutive month of lower-than-expected job creation, with labor market participation declining and overall economic growth hampered by a labor shortage.

“The reasons are clear: Many employers say that increasing unemployment benefits make it harder to hire low-wage jobs, working parents continue to struggle for childcare and some workers are sitting on the sidelines. persistent Covid-19 problems, ”Barron reports. “Wages are rising as employers try to attract workers. The labor force participation rate has dropped unexpectedly, suggesting that people are reluctant to re-enter the workforce despite a record number of vacancies.

Economists at the University of Chicago estimate that more than two-thirds of unemployed workers are paid more than if they were working – in some cases two to three times as much.

In response, 25 Republican-led states withdrew from the additional $ 300 in weekly federal payments, in hopes it will encourage individuals to re-enter the workforce.

The additional weekly federal benefits of $ 300 are expected to expire on June 12 in some states, including Alaska, Iowa, Mississippi and Missouri.

Additional benefits end June 19 in Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Additional benefits end June 26 in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Utah.

Additional benefits end June 27 in Montana and Oklahoma, July 3 in Tennessee, and July 10 in Arizona.

The dates vary depending on when governors notified the US Department of Labor. Federal law requires that the effective date of the change be at least 30 days after notification.

All 25 governors argue that the end of the additional benefit encourages individuals to apply for available jobs.

In Idaho, Gov. Brad Little said, “Employers tell me that one of the main reasons they can’t recruit and keep some workers is that these employees are paid more unemployed than they would during. that they were working. My decision is based on a fundamental conservative principle. – we don’t want people to be unemployed. We want people to work.

In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott said, “The Texas economy is booming and employers are hiring in communities across the state.

“According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the number of job postings in Texas is almost the same as the number of Texans receiving unemployment benefits. This assessment does not include bulky jobs that are typically not listed, such as construction and catering jobs. In fact, there are nearly 60% more jobs open (and listed) in Texas today than there were in February 2020, the month before the pandemic hit Texas. “

Current jobs in Texas are high paying jobs, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. Almost 45% of available jobs pay salaries over $ 15.50 an hour. About 76% pay more than $ 11.50 an hour. Only 2% of posted jobs pay around minimum wage.

The Texas Association of Business and 50 other associations had asked Abbott to end Texas’ participation in the program.

“By eliminating the federal supplement, employers will be able to fill their vacancies and unleash the full power of the Texas economy,” said Glenn Hamer, CEO of TAB.



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Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority Adds Another Member




The Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority (BSPRA) got a bit bigger this week when its board of directors approved Carbon County as the Authority’s newest member last Wednesday.

Carbon’s addition brings the number of counties that joined Big Sky to 13, stretching across the state from Wibaux County on the North Dakota border to Sanders County on the Idaho border.

“Being a member of the Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority is big business for Carbon County, and we look forward to what it will bring to the citizens of our county,” said Scott Miller, Carbon County Commissioner. “Montana is moving forward, and Carbon County must stand with the state to provide the economy and infrastructure necessary to support this generation and the next. We need the Montanais to stay in Montana and for the right people to settle down to help keep Montana alive.

With the addition of Carbon County, BSPRA will look to continue growing in the coming months. Other counties are currently considering applying for membership in the Authority.

The BSPRA hopes that all counties eligible to join the authority – both those along the old Amtrak North Coast Hiawatha route and those along the old passenger routes going south to Denver and Salt Lake City – the will.

To join the BSPRA, a departmental committee must first pass a resolution requesting the Authority to become a member, and then the Authority passes a resolution expanding the boundaries of the Authority.

“With the membership of another county, the Authority continues to demonstrate the importance of passenger rail to the state of Montana and the ability of passenger rail to bridge partisan, ideological, geographic and urban-rural divisions,” said Dave Strohmaier, President of BSPRA.

While only county committees can pass the joint resolution to join the authority, BSPRA encourages city councils, chambers of commerce, CVBs, business owners and private citizens in eligible counties who do not ‘have not yet joined to encourage their county commissioners to consider applying for membership.

Eligible counties that have not yet joined the BSPRA are Custer, Rosebud, Treasure, Big Horn, Yellowstone, Stillwater, Sweet Grass, Madison, Beaverhead, Deer Lodge, Lewis and Clark, Lake and Mineral counties.

“Carbon County is the first outside of BSPRA’s 12 founding counties to join, and we hope their decision will inspire other counties to join,” said BSPRA Vice President Jason Stuart, representative of Dawson County. “Our effort to restore passenger rail service is not a ‘red against blue’, or ‘conservative against liberal’, or ‘rural against urban’ issue, as evidenced by the political, social and economic diversity of the counties that make up the BSPRA: We hope other counties that have yet to join recognize this and come to see the tremendous economic and social opportunities that the successful restoration of passenger rail service would present to our communities.

For more information, visit bigskyrail.org.

BSPRA members

Broadwater

Commissioner

Darrel folkvord

Butte-Argent Arc

Commissioner

Shawn fredrickson

Carbon

Commissioner

Scott Miller

Dawson

Economic development

Director of the Board

Jason stuart

Gallatin

Commissioner

Scott Mac Farlane

Granite

Elena Gagliano

Jefferson

Mayor of Whitehall

Marie hensleigh

Missoula

Commissioner

Dave strohmaier

to park

Commissioner

Bill Berg

Powell

Discover Deer Lodge

Terry jennings

Meadow

Commissioner

Deanna bockness

Sanders

Jerry mcdonald

Wibaux

Commissioner

Edward Anderson

200 W. Broadway

Missoula, MT 59802

406.258.3200

The BSPRA was formed in late 2020 under a Montana state law that allows counties to come together to form a regional rail authority for the purpose of defending passenger rail service. Each county that joins is allowed to appoint a representative to the BSPRA board of directors.

Including the addition of Carbon County, the other members of the BSPRA are Wibaux, Dawson, Prairie, Park, Gallatin, Broadwater, Jefferson, Butte-Silver Bow, Powell, Granite, Missoula and Sanders counties.



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Does an extra $ 300 a week in unemployment benefits really stop anyone in Minnesota from taking a job?



As more Minnesotans are vaccinated against COVID-19, features of a post-pandemic world are emerging: faces without masks, hugs – and “Now Hiring” signs on storefronts and businesses. It seems like everyone is hiring, from restaurants to big box stores to bars, and many are struggling to find enough workers to fill their vacancies.

At the same time, there are still a lot of people out of work. And workers who are unemployed receive an additional $ 300 per week as part of the US federal bailout passed earlier this year.

Many people – experts, employers, politicians – are sure that these extra unemployment benefits are a problem, causing workers to stay at home instead of looking for work. In fact, 25 states, including Montana, Florida, Arizona and Ohio, are ending the weekly supplemental benefit early in an attempt to push unemployed people into work.

But is a $ 300 increase in weekly benefits really enough to prevent the unemployed from taking a job?

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Measure unemployment

Unemployment in Minnesota reached 4.1% in April – just a little higher than the low unemployment rate before the pandemic and the lowest since the pandemic started in March 2020.

It sounds like good news, but the real picture of the workforce is a little less rosy. The standard unemployment rate only measures the percentage of people who are unemployed and looking for work. This does not include people who are unemployed and have stopped looking for work. And the data suggests that for some reason there are a lot of people in this boat.

As of the start of 2020, Minnesota’s labor force participation rate, or the percentage of people 16 and over who are either working or actively looking for work, rose from 70.2% to 67.7%, the lowest since June 1978, when far fewer women were in the labor force. If you compare this drop to the size of Minnesota’s population aged 16 and over, that means about 112,000 fewer people in the workforce compared to just over a year ago – a comparable loss in size to the population of Rochester, Minnesota.

Throughout the pandemic, a historically high number of people were unemployed. Because of the crisis this posed to the economy, the federal government added additional unemployment benefits to the usual amounts people were eligible for.

Under the federal CARES law, passed last year, unemployed people received an additional $ 600 per week from the start of the pandemic until July. By decree of former President Donald Trump in August, unemployed people received an additional $ 300 per week from the federal government. As part of the US bailout, the additional $ 300 per week has been extended until September 6.

Minnesota’s unemployment system pays people half of their old weekly wages, up to $ 740. With the additional payment of $ 300, the maximum an unemployed person in Minnesota would earn is $ 1,040, or $ 26 an hour for a 40-hour work week. But DEED commissioner Steve Grove said the vast majority of unemployed people earn much less than that.

Is this enough to keep Minnesotans out of the workforce?

“Businesses certainly think so,” said Ron Wirtz, director of regional outreach at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, in an interview last week. “We do a lot of surveys and we started asking them what they thought of the reasons why labor availability is restricted, and that tended to be the main thing they mentioned – just that unemployment insurance benefits are very generous, and that is what keeps people from working.

Frictions in the labor market

In fact, it is difficult to determine the effect of additional unemployment benefits, as there are many other factors currently causing friction between workers and jobs, Wirtz said.

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One, Wirtz said, is that many workers are still concerned about contracting or spreading COVID-19. While more than 50% of Minnesotans have been vaccinated against COVID-19, many people, including young children, are yet to be vaccinated.

“The fear of COVID is always present, especially for multigenerational households,” he said, citing surveys. Although this share is probably decreasing, it is not nonexistent.

Another is the mismatch between the jobs available and the jobs workers want or are qualified for. Employment counselors interviewed by the Minneapolis Fed and the Department of Employment and Economic Development found that a significant number of job seekers were looking for telecommuting options.

“There are a lot of people who are fired and didn’t have that option, and think, ‘I think I would like that option,'” Wirtz said.

Others may not be qualified for jobs that offer many opportunities: the construction industry, for example.

“We have a lot of front desk workers who are not working right now. They can’t easily go into construction very well, even though there are tons of openings in the construction, ”Wirtz said.

DEED’s Grove pointed out that Minnesota had a labor shortage before the pandemic, and now the job market is different from what it was before.

Another factor is the issue of family care.

Some daycares have operated at lower capacity, and others have operated intermittently due to COVID-19 cases, which can make it much more difficult for parents with children to return to the workforce if they are absent .

Julia Pollak, labor economist at ZipRecruiter, a company that connects job seekers with employers, said some parents with the option to stay at home might not see the point in returning to work now, with kids at school for a short time before being home during the summer vacation starting soon. Once the children return to full-time in September, there may be a return to the workforce.

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Combined, all of these issues paint a complicated picture of the Minnesota and nation’s labor market as the pandemic subsides.

“It sounds easy: if you’re unemployed and there are a lot of jobs, well, just go get a job,” Wirtz said. “I think the pandemic has shown that life is complicated and that it gets more complicated as you dig into the different households and the different obstacles they might face to easily relate to work.”

Wirtz said there is no doubt that rising unemployment has eased some of that friction for people, allowing them to reassess their employment status in some cases, but it is difficult to determine to what extent it is. of that extra money or the problems workers face getting back. tell.

“It’s safe to say that improved unemployment benefits are affecting some workers. How much, I think that’s a very important question that I don’t think we know the answer to, ”Wirtz said. “I think I’m pretty sure I’m saying it’s probably more than those who claim it has no effect. And I think it’s probably less than those who believe pandemic-era unemployment [is] the only reason people aren’t working now.

While some say it’s the weekly $ 300 unemployment benefits that keep workers at home, others say companies just aren’t paying workers enough to make the work worth it.

This can be a problem, but it’s not accurate to say that’s the only reason employers struggle to find workers, Pollak said.

The labor shortage has increased pressure on wages at many employers – Target, WalMart and other big chains among them. The number of unemployed Minnesotans is decreasing from week to week. And some workers are drawn to higher wages – and many of them aren’t people who were unemployed in the first place, Pollak said. Nationally, for example, adolescent employment is higher today than it was before the pandemic as young people seek employment, suggesting that adolescents are drawn into the labor market by higher wages.

A natural experience

Soon it might be easier to tell how big an impact the extra $ 300 per week has been. The additional benefits of the American Rescue Plan go until September 6 of this year, but at least 25 states end it sooner, creating a sort of natural experiment where researchers could see if more people are returning to work in states where the benefits have ended.

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Pollak said economists would work to determine the effects of ending the $ 300 per week benefit versus some of the other differences in states that end earlier.

But for now, Pollak said any easy answer ignores the complexity of the job market.

“I think the two things that are definitely wrong: the idea that unemployment benefits have no effect and the idea that they are entirely responsible are two extremes and completely wrong,” she said. market is complicated – that job seekers are complex, they have many, many different motivations, ”she said.



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Why states like Maine, Utah and the Dakotas are hit the hardest



  • The labor shortage is spread across three regions, ZipRecruiter told the Wall Street Journal.
  • Closures, tourism and the number of “pandemic refugees” could explain why.
  • See more stories on the Insider business page.

Labor markets in some states are recovering much faster than others – and local lockdowns, the size of their tourism industries and the number of people who moved there during the pandemic could be the reason, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

As a result, employers in states like Iowa, Nebraska, and New Hampshire are particularly struggling to attract new hires amid the labor shortage, which the US Chamber of Commerce described on the week. last of “national economic emergency”.

The tightest job markets are spread across three regions, job search site ZipRecruiter told the Journal.

Read more: McDonald’s franchisees blame hiring problems on unemployment benefits, say ‘inflation time bomb’ will force them to raise Big Mac prices

Northern Mountain West, which includes Montana, Idaho and Utah, has about 2.9 job openings per unemployed job seeker, ZipRecruiter said, using data from April. That number rises to 3.6 in the plains, which include the Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas, and in northern New England, made up of Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire.

This is corroborated by House data, which found South Dakota, Nebraska and Vermont to be the most affected states.

They had fewer lockdowns

The Plains States reopened faster and did not enforce such stringent measures during their lockdown.

Iowa, for example, lifted its mask mandate in early February, while North Dakota allowed it to expire on January 18.

The faster reopens meant that fewer people lost their jobs during the pandemic, and those who did were able to return to their old jobs faster, Oren Klachkin, chief US economist at the research firm, told the Journal. world Oxford Economics.

Their main industries were not as affected by the pandemic

The Plains have high levels of employment in the agriculture and food processing industries, the Journal reported. As essential industries, these were able to stay open during the pandemic – so fewer people lost their jobs.

And northern Mountain West, the Plains, and northern New England are much less dependent on tourism than states like Hawaii and New York. The tourism industry has been devastated by the pandemic, forcing some retail and hospitality workers to look to other industries and reducing the amount of money spent on local goods and services.

New businesses opened during the pandemic

“Mountain states have become pandemic refugee states,” Julia Pollak, labor economist at ZipRecruiter, told the Journal. This is partly because they had fewer foreclosures – but also because of their affordable housing and the abundance of open space, according to the publication.

And as new residents moved to the United States, they increased the volume of economic activity – and, in turn, the demand for labor.

Low wages and COVID-19 concerns could be the root of nationwide labor shortage

In addition to these local factors, the national labor shortage is likely due to a mix of unemployment benefits, COVID-19 health issues, family responsibilities and low wages, reported Ayelet Sheffey. from Insider.

The United States Chamber of Commerce said the labor shortage was hampering the country’s economic recovery after the pandemic, while the

Federal Reserve
said the labor shortage can last for months and is already causing price hikes.



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Wyoming’s Upcoming Reclaiming & Growing Webinar Series Ends Tuesday



CHEYENNE – On Tuesday, June 8, the Powder River Basin Resource Council will conclude its spring webinar series, Reclaim and develop the future of Wyoming, helping community leaders and potential entrepreneurs explore the tools available to support sustainable community development.

Experienced Wyoming economic and business development professionals will share what has worked in other communities and direct those interested in starting a business to resources and programs. This event promises to be useful for community planners, local government officials, and anyone interested in starting a business.

In this discussion, Resources and opportunities of the new economy, speakers Jay Stender from WY Ranch, Kelli Roemer from Resources and Communities Research Group at Montana State University in Bozeman, MT, and Josh Dorrell and Ron Gullberg from Wyoming Business Council will discuss various aspects of attracting and sustaining economic development in the communities. Wyoming State Representative Chad Banks of Sweetwater County will moderate the panel.

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“The unprecedented challenges of 2020 have reinforced the need for Wyoming to move beyond mere survival mode and find ways to thrive. Seeing people come together, find creative solutions and really take care of their neighbors gives me a great sense of pride and excitement for the future. We need to tell our stories and learn the lessons we’ve learned so far, ”said Dorrell, CEO of Wyoming Business Council.

The webinar is free but requires prior registration. Registration is available on www.powderriverbasin.org/events. The webinar will run from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., starting with speaker presentations followed by a question and answer period.

For more information on the webinar series, visit www.powderriverbasin.org, email [email protected] or call 307-672-5809.

June 8 webinar speaker bios:

Jay stender

Since graduating from the University of Wyoming in 1979, Jay Stender has accumulated four decades of business experience in a variety of technology and service-oriented industries. Most recently, Stender served as CEO of Forward Sheridan from 2009 to 2020, a privately funded economic development entity. Currently, he is the Director of WY Ranch, a Sheridan-based center for organizations working within the community and related industries across Wyoming. There, he seeks, identifies and pursues new opportunities for Wyoming’s business partners and explores forward-thinking diversification options for communities. Stender’s experiences in his coal community have shown that the diversification of economic sectors enables vitality and sustainability.

Kelli roemer

Kelli Roemer holds a doctorate. candidate and researcher in the Resources and Communities Research Group at Montana State University in Bozeman, MT. She studies political and planning processes in rural communities affected by coal-fired power plant or mine closures. Roemer served two AmeriCorps terms in Helena, Montana and Lakeview, Oregon. Roemer holds a Master of Science degree from the University of Idaho and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Montana. Roemer has conducted research on planning rural communities for the social and economic impacts of coal plant closures. Specifically, she focuses on the opportunities and challenges of local planning and key strategies that support community resilience.

Josh Dorrell

As CEO of the Wyoming Business Council, Josh Dorrell’s extensive private industry experience in technical sales, business innovation processes, identifying customer needs and leveraging partnerships, as well as mentoring entrepreneurs / start-ups, are perfectly suited to the leading role of the agency in economic diversification and growth. Dorrell was Senior Vice President of Technology Services and Solutions at Laramie-based Trihydro Corporation before joining the WBC in February 2020. After graduating from the University of Wyoming, Dorrell worked for IDES, a small business in software in Laramie. He is a lecturer at UW College of Business.

Ron Gullberg

Ron Gullberg is Director of Strategic Partnerships for the Wyoming Business Council. Gullberg’s extensive experience in communications, team building and project execution supports the agency’s leadership role in diversifying and growing Wyoming’s economy by leveraging public partnerships. public, public-private and B2B. Gullberg joined the Business Council in March 2014 as Director of Communications, then served as Director of Business Development for 2.5 years before becoming Director of Strategic Partnerships in December 2019. He previously served as Journalist, Sports Editor, Director Online and Editor-in-Chief for a 25-year career in the daily press, including 22 years with the Casper Star-Tribune.

Banks of the Republic of Chad, Moderator

Wyoming Representative Chad Banks (Sweetwater) is a community champion who has spent most of his career trying to improve his community and state. He currently works as a director of Rock Springs Main Street / Urban Renewal Agency (URA), where he primarily focuses on small business growth and expansion. Banks holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from the University of Wyoming.



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Biden faces backlash over ‘shameful’ surrender to GOP governors as they end unemployment lifelines



Biden administration officials publicly signaled on Friday they had no plans to fight as Republican governors in 25 states prematurely cut emergency unemployment programs, snatching lifelines from millions of unemployed and depriving local economies of billions of dollars.

In the wake of a solid but a weaker-than-expected employment report – which showed the United States created nearly 560,000 jobs in May – President Joe Biden Told to reporters that it “makes sense” that the federal unemployment increase of $ 300 per week expires across the country in September, although he acknowledged that “we are going to run into obstacles along the way” to recovery economic.

“Cutting off adequate supports for these workers to try and force them to accept any available job is cruel.
—David Cooper, Institute for Economic Policy

White House National Economic Council director Brian Deese echoed the president, saying it was “appropriate” for improved unemployment benefits to end in September.

Press secretary Jen Psaki, meanwhile, told a briefing on Friday that Republican governors “have every right” to prematurely end federal unemployment programs that were approved under the CARES Act. last year to help workers overcome the pandemic-induced economic crisis.

‘Shameful’, progressive activist Jonathan Cohn tweeted in response to Psaki’s comments, which came as the economy remains nearly eight million jobs below pre-pandemic levels.

More than two dozen Republican governors recently announced that instead of waiting for the official September 6 expiration date, they were removing the $ 300 per week increase in UI starting in mid-June. . Twenty-one Republican-led states are also ending emergency benefits for the long-term unemployed and concert workers.

GOP leaders justified their potentially devastating actions by claiming that rising unemployment benefits are holding back hiring – a narrative that experts have dismissed as unfounded and simplistic, given other potential factors such as lack of child care, low wages and coronavirus-related health issues.

White House officials have previously rejected the right-wing narrative; last month, Biden mentionned there was “nothing measurable” to indicate that unemployment benefits discouraged people from returning to the labor market. But they refused to push back again on Friday.

“I would leave it up to you and your outside analysts to decide if this is an important factor,” Psaki told reporters.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) And labor law experts from the National Employment Law Project recently argued that under the CARES Act, the Biden administration is legally obligated to continue to distribute unemployment benefits emergency regardless of Republican governors. actions, which could affect more than four million workers.

But officials in the Biden administration never responded to Sanders’ letter detailing that argument, choosing instead to anonymously tell the media that they are powerless to arrest Republican governors.

“There is nothing we can do,” said an official Told CNN last month.

Progressives were quick to express their outrage on Friday at the Biden administration’s refusal to defend emergency unemployment programs, which have helped millions of unemployed meet basic expenses and supported economic recovery. Now, about 15 million people in the United States receive benefits from federal unemployment programs approved in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“You can’t cut people’s temporary lifeline when they still need it to stay afloat,” tweeted Claire Guzdar, Director of Campaigns and Partnerships at Groundwork Collaborative. “The fight doesn’t know you’ve got a September 6 deadline, you know? Your bills don’t go away, your rent isn’t paid, all the stress of a year of unemployment isn’t over. rescue when people aren’t drowning. “

Rachel Deutsch, worker justice activist at the Center for Popular Democracy, called the Biden administration’s stance on emergency unemployment benefits “appalling” and said the White House “sides with employers who want to force people into bad jobs.”

“Some will be forced into abject poverty because no deprivation can make them work at the moment,” Deutsch added, citing testimonies of unemployed people unable to find jobs or unable to work due to family circumstances.

Montana unemployed man identified as Emily mentionned the medical team caring for her terminally ill, disabled seven-year-old son “told me to keep him at home until he can get the vaccine.”

Unemployment insurance “helped us keep going so that I could choose the health and safety of my son and prevent the two children from getting sick.”

Once the 25 Republican-led states end emergency unemployment programs, millions of jobless workers will be left with paltry state benefits or, in the case of temporary workers and the long-term unemployed, no benefit.

Like David Cooper of the Economic Policy Institute highlighted last week, “Almost all of the states that cut unemployment insurance still have far fewer jobs than before the pandemic. “

“Those who still depend on these programs are probably those who need them the most – the people who have the most difficulty finding suitable work or who face significant constraints in their ability to return to work due to family responsibilities, health issues or other factors, ”Cooper said. Noted. “Cutting off adequate supports for these workers to try and force them to accept any available job, even if it is poorly paid, high risk, unsuitable for their skills or incompatible with their responsibilities at home, is cruel and not in the long-term best interests of a state’s workers or businesses. “





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Letter to the editor: the delegation should reintroduce the bill for the protection of rivers | Letters



For over a decade, I ran a small non-profit organization in Bozeman that provides opportunities for self-discovery, growth, learning and adventure for young people through whitewater kayaking experiences. . For a program focused on whitewater kayaking programs for kids, we often discuss that it’s not really kayaking. Kayaks are simply the vehicles we use to teach young people clear communication, confidence, challenges and their relationship to our environment. Montana’s free-flowing rivers are our must-have classrooms.

As such, I was excited when Sen. Tester introduced the Montana Headwater Safety Act last summer, making real the possibility of over 300 miles of Montana rivers earning the Wild and Scenic designation by incorporating 17 new river sections into the system. national. This includes rivers like the Upper Gallatin, Upper Madison, and Upper Yellowstone. This prestigious designation would help maintain the pristine and unique characteristics of these rivers. I encourage Senator Tester, Senator Daines and Representative Rosendale to reintroduce MHLA in this legislative session.

Whether you enjoy the tranquil scenery while fishing the boulder or enjoy crossing the Gallatin rapids from one watershed to another, these free-flowing rivers support an irreplaceable way of life and a strong outdoor recreation economy. air. Wild and scenic river designations will protect our quality of life, our businesses and ensure these experiences are available for future generations. For me, it protects the smiles and sense of accomplishment we see in our young participants as the waves crash onto the decks of their colorful kayaks and they successfully navigate the white waters of southwest Montana. .



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