Important Details
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Consumer Confidence

The Zions Bank Utah Consumer Attitude Index decreased 1.6 points to 114.0 in November. The U.S. Consumer Confidence Index decreased 8.7 points to 90.4 in the same period

Housing Market

In October, the CoreLogic® Home Price Index (HPI) for Utah, which measures home price appreciation, experienced a year-over-year increase of 7.1%. Nationally, the HPI increased 6.8% during the same period.

Inflation

The Zions Bank Utah Consumer Price Index decreased 0.4% from September to October for a trailing 12-month inflation of 2.3%. In the same period, the U.S. CPI remained flat for a trailing 12-month inflation of 0.2%.

Job Report

Utah’s unemployment rate remained at 3.6% in October, and the national unemployment rate decreased 0.1 point to 5.0% in October.

January 2016

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The latest employment, housing and other trends

See the Economic Snapshot

Randy Shumway January 2015

Utah Economic Outlook

Randy Shumway, Zions Bank Economic Advisor

January is an exciting month of new beginnings as we look forward to the year ahead. About one in three Americans sets New Year’s resolutions, which can range from improving interpersonal communication to changing career trajectories to achieving fitness goals. Because losing weight is often the most popular New Year’s resolution, many businesses associated with fitness see a boost at this time of year. Employment in health-related industries and revenue from fitness establishments prove that health and fitness are vital components of Utah’s economy.

Already, Utahns are quite healthy, in part due to the state’s numerous recreation facilities and outdoor areas that are conducive to an active lifestyle. According to data compiled by CountyHealthRankings.org, 87 percent of Utahns have access to exercise venues or outdoor areas that promote a healthy lifestyle and workforce. Utah ranks lower than the national average in terms of adult obesity: 25 percent of residents report a BMI over 30, compared to the national average of 31 percent. Utah also ranks lower for physical inactivity, with only 17 percent of adults age 20 and over reporting no leisure-time physical activity.

In terms of employment, good health brings economic benefits in two ways. For one, Utah’s healthy employees contribute to productivity and minimize days missed from work for illness. Also, as the health and fitness industry grows throughout the state, it boosts both employment numbers and revenue.

According to the 2012 U.S. Census and the Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment of athletic trainers and exercise physiologists nationwide is projected to grow 19 percent from 2012 to 2022—faster than the average for all occupations. In May 2012, the median annual wage for athletic trainers was $42,090, and the median annual wage for exercise physiologists was $44,770. In Utah, the annual mean wage for athletic trainers is slightly above the national average at $44,900. According to that same U.S. Census, Utah was home to 222 fitness and recreational sports center establishments. These establishments accounted for more than $130 million in sales, shipments, receipts, revenue, and business. They employed approximately 4,448 people and provided over $44 million in annual payroll.

Health and fitness options have become increasingly important to working professionals inside and outside the state. Millennial employees often value extra perks above health, dental, and life insurance. For instance, companies that offer onsite gyms, exercise classes, and/or fitness competitions have high levels of employee loyalty and satisfaction.

Here’s the bottom line: if living a healthier lifestyle is one of your New Year’s resolutions, you’ll not only be creating a healthier you, but also a healthier economy.

Read more Read more
Wall Street with US flags on display

Short-Term U.S. Outlook

Strong economic data at the end of November increased confidence that the U.S. economy is continuing its recovery. Third-quarter GDP growth was revised upward from a preliminary estimate of 1.5 percent to 2.1 percent annualized growth. Consumer spending remained strong but was revised down slightly from 3.2 percent to 3.0 percent. Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, so sustained growth indicates that the economy is indeed getting stronger.

The downward revisions to GDP growth reflect weak outlays on communication services and utilities. Preliminary signs indicate that consumer spending slowed at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but third-quarter income gains were 3.9 percent. Energy firms cut spending deeply as oil prices continued to fall—spending on mining exploration, wells, and shafts tumbled at a rate of 47.1 percent. Corporate profits were down 8.1 percent from a year earlier, undercut by the dollar’s strength and low oil prices.

The U.S. dollar gained more than 10 percent in 2015 against a basket of currencies, reaching a peak in late November. In fact, the dollar soared immediately following the release of the Commerce Department’s beige book, which measures economic growth and consumer spending in 12 Federal Reserve districts. Unfortunately, as the dollar climbs, exports continue to fall. American goods are becoming more expensive for consumers outside the U.S., and global demand has slackened.

Economic growth is becoming increasingly regional, which means it is more industry-specific. The U.S. manufacturing industry contracted in November for the first time in three years, buckling under the weight of a strong dollar and deep spending cuts by energy firms. However, robust automobile sales suggest that other aspects of the economy remain on solid ground.

The U.S. job market is strong and the unemployment rate is low. However, the labor force participation is also low. As of October 2015, labor force participation was only 62.4 percent—the smallest it has been since October 1977. A low labor force participation rate indicates that some Americans are giving up the job hunt rather than continuing to search for employment.

Long-Term U.S. Outlook

The economic outlook for 2016 remains positive. According to Kiplinger’s Economic Outlooks, unemployment is expected to continue dropping for an average rate of 4.6 percent. Inflation is expected to tick upward to about 2.3 percent in 2016 from 1.1 percent in 2015.

Business spending will experience slight gains in 2016, and crude oil trading will likely increase a few dollars per barrel. Construction—including sales of single-family homes—is expected to increase 20 percent in 2016, and retail and gasoline sales will rise 4.7 percent in 2016.

The damper in the outlook is the trade deficit: exports will likely continue to drop as the dollar strengthens, widening the trade deficit by 5 percent.

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National Consumer Price Index remained unchanged Utah Consumer Price Index dropped 0.4%

Utah Consumer Price Index

The Zions Bank Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index (CPI) decreased 0.4 percent from September to October on a non-seasonally adjusted basis. The index has increased 2.3 percent since this same time last year, which is in the range of the Federal Reserve’s national inflation target of 2 percent. The national Consumer Price Index remained flat from September to October and increased 0.2 percent over the last year.

Prices of food away from home increased more than any other sector, rising 1.9 percent from September to October. In contrast, transportation prices were the primary driver of the decrease in Utah’s October CPI—they fell 1.4 percent from the month before due to lower vehicle rental, airfare, and gasoline prices. Of these three factors, falling gasoline prices have had the greatest impact on transportation costs.

Prices for food at home declined 0.4 percent from August to September, as tomatoes, bell peppers, seafood, meat, and dairy products dropped in price. The decline was tempered by increases in prices for pears, apples, and lettuce. In October, national producer prices fell in response to a strong dollar and tepid global demand.

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National Unemployment Rate stays at 5.1% Utah Unemployment Rate remained at 3.6%

Labor Market

October registered a similar unemployment rate to that of past months, remaining at 3.6 percent. The state’s year-over-year growth in total employment slowed to 3.5 percent in October from 3.9 percent the month before. Even with the drop in employment growth, Utah’s job expansion is above average. Compared to a year ago, Utah has added 47,700 jobs to the economy. The United States’ unemployment rate dropped from 5.1 percent in September to 5.0 percent in October.

Utah is growing fastest in information, leisure and hospitality, and construction. Tracking construction gives us a good snapshot of the health of the economy because construction is tied to many aspects of the economy. Construction indicates that other industries are growing as well—the number of cranes in a city gives us a good idea about whether or not the economy is growing. Another convenient aspect of construction is that we can gauge it by looking out our windows. The more construction we see, the more industries and jobs we can expect to come to the community.

Read more Read more
Utah Consumer Attitude Index up 5.6 points US Consumer Confidence Index fell 8.7 points

Utah Consumer Attitude Index

The Zions Bank Utah Consumer Attitude Index (CAI) decreased 1.6 points to 114.0 in November. Both subcategories of the CAI contributed to the decrease, showing that consumers are slightly less confident in current and future economic conditions in Utah. In comparison, the national Consumer Confidence Index® decreased 8.7 points from October to November and currently sits at 90.4.

The Present Situation Index, the sub-index of the CAI that measures how consumers feel about current economic conditions, has risen 1.4 points since this time last year. Forty-eight percent of Utahns describe available jobs in their area as plentiful—a 6 percent increase from 12 months ago.

Expectations for the next six months decreased primarily due to a less-positive outlook on the labor market and employment situation. Twenty-seven percent of Utahns think the number of jobs available in their area six months from now will be greater—down 3 points from last month. Slightly more Utahns think business conditions in their area will be better in six months, rising from 27 percent to 28 percent.

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Utah CoreLogic Home Price Index increased 7.1% National CoreLogic Home Price Index increased 6.8%

Housing Market

October home prices ticked upward again in Utah and across the nation. In Utah, home prices increased 0.4 percent from September and grew 7.1 percent compared to October 2014. Nationally, home prices increased 1.0 percent month over month and 6.8 percent compared to October of last year. Including distressed sales, the U.S. has experienced 44 consecutive months of year-over-year increases, although those increases have now fallen to single digits.

October marked the seventh straight month that housing starts remained above 1 million units, despite dropping to their lowest pace during that stretch. This seven-month stretch marks the longest stretch of more than 1 million housing units since 2007, which suggests a sustainable housing market recovery. The drop in October derived from a steep decline in the construction of multi-family homes. Contrary to the drop in housing starts, building permits surged.

Household formation is rising, driven primarily by young adults leaving the nest of their parents. The strengthening labor market has also supported the housing sector as more people are able to afford purchasing their own homes. Many markets throughout the U.S. are experiencing high demand and low supply of homes, pushing prices upward.

Read more Read more
Teacher and two young students

The Tremendous Impact of an Effective Teacher

Most of us fondly remember a teacher who helped us achieve to a degree we hadn’t previously thought possible. The evidence-based impact of teachers is called the “teacher effect.” Repeated studies have demonstrated that a highquality teacher can measurably improve student learning more than any other variable within the purview of a school. In fact, research shows that a high-quality teacher can, in one year, elevate student learning by two and even three grade levels. Effective teaching, therefore, must be a central feature of any state-guided strategic plan to help students master 21st century knowledge and skills and obtain a post-high school credential.

To begin, public education should attract some of the best candidates into teaching. Today, 100 percent of school teachers in high-achieving countries like Singapore, Finland, and South Korea come from the top third of college graduates. But in the U.S., only 23 percent of new teachers graduated in the top third of their classes.

While class rank alone does not ensure teaching quality, it does create a quality pool from which highly effective teachers can be screened and developed and ensures that those responsible with the education of our children have the content knowledge, critical thinking, and academic drive to develop knowledge-rich classrooms.

Closing this challenging talent gap requires both redefining the professionalism of teaching and reengaging a commitment to the value of public education. A recently released study on the “talent gap” in public education noted that new teachers are looking for (in order): high-quality co-workers, prestige, a challenging work environment, and high-quality training.

Teaching as a profession could and should meet all of those needs, but reality demonstrates that it currently falls short on several of these criteria, in part because the system often incents and recognizes both highly effective and mediocre teachers in the same way. Put simply, attracting and retaining high-quality teachers requires elevated and differentiated compensation opportunities, which requires greater investment by each of us as taxpayers. And it requires better leadership from our principals to coach-up or coach-out lowperforming teachers.

Public education should also create opportunities for teachers to become recognized experts in their craft. Otherwise, the only meaningful vertical movement available to teachers requires leaving the classroom for administration.

Creating career pathways within education that offer opportunities to mentor and train other teachers (both of which strengthen the ability of all teachers) has the capacity to provide an opportunity for increased earnings as well as the satisfaction derived from greater overall impact on improving student achievement.

Elevating the quality of teaching in our classrooms will require more than attracting new people to the profession and ensuring they are appropriately compensated, rewarded, and recognized; we also need to better prepare the newcomers to assist our students in mastering the growing expectations we are placing on them. In a recent nationwide study, over 60 percent of teachers stated that their teacher preparation programs did not adequately prepare them for the realities of the profession. We must demand increased rigor and accountability from our colleges of education. Effective teacher preparation will also require more hands-on classroom experience – modeled after the clinical experience within the medical profession – in order to link theory and practice.

The foundation of a prospering economy and society is a robust system of public education. Improving education in the state requires increased investment, greater involvement from parents, and better utilization of evidence-based instructional practices (topics for another day). It also requires a restructuring in the way we attract and retain highly-effective teachers. Without a focus on improving teacher effectiveness within the dialogue on improving public education and student outcomes, we will fail to fully capitalize on and support one of the greatest resources we have: our teachers.

Read more Read more
Man and woman working out in the park

Healthy Living in Utah

At 17.4 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, healthcare spending constitutes a tremendous portion of state, federal, and individual-level budgets. However, health spending per capita is lower in Utah than in other states—it sits at just $5,031 per capita, compared with the national average of $6,815 per capita. A few key factors contribute to these savings: active lifestyle, demographics, and healthcare innovation.

Utahns don’t take for granted having the best snow on Earth: wintertime canyons are packed with skiers, snowboarders, and resort goers. Summertime calls residents and visitors to national parks, mountain trails, and sparkling lakes. The state’s natural beauty and mountain air have a lot to do with encouraging an active, healthy lifestyle.

In terms of health-related demographics, Utah boasts the lowest rate of cigarette smoking in the country, and a younger population than the national average. These two factors significantly impact per capita health spending numbers in Utah’s favor.

Several facets of the state’s healthcare system provide advantages as well. For example, Utah ranks first in the country in low costs for physician and clinic services, and for hospital care. Utilizing data systems that track cost and quality of care, facilities can optimize expenditures without jeopardizing good outcomes.

Ultimately, the combination of smart healthcare provisions, active lifestyles, and population demographics saves Utah billions of dollars on healthcare each year.

Read more Read more

Consumer Confidence

The U.S. Consumer Confidence Index® decreased 8.7 points to 90.4 in November. The Present Situation Index decreased 6.5 points to 108.1, and the Expectations Index decreased 10.1 points to 78.6.

Housing Market

In October, the CoreLogic® Home Price Index (HPI) for Idaho, which measures home price appreciation, experienced a year-over-year increase of 6.9%. Nationally, the HPI increased 6.8% during the same period.

Inflation

The U.S. Consumer Price Index remained flat from September to October. Year over year, the index increased 0.2 percent, which is below the Federal Reserve’s target annual inflation pace of 2%.

Job Report

Idaho’s unemployment rate decreased 0.2 points to 4.0% in October, and the national unemployment rate declined 0.1 point to 5.0% in October.

January 2016

Printer Friendly

Subscribe to The Current



Submit

The latest employment, housing and other trends

See the Economic Snapshot

Randy Shumway January 2015

Idaho Economic Outlook

Randy Shumway, Zions Bank Economic Advisor

January is an exciting month of new beginnings as we look forward to the year ahead. About one in three Americans sets New Year’s resolutions, which can range from improving interpersonal communication to changing career trajectories to achieving fitness goals. Because losing weight is often the most popular New Year’s resolution, many businesses associated with fitness see a boost at this time of year. Employment in health-related industries and revenue from fitness establishments prove that health and fitness are vital components of Idaho’s economy.

Already, Idaho residents are pretty healthy, in part due to the state’s numerous recreation facilities and outdoor areas that are conducive to an active lifestyle. According to data compiled by CountyHealthRankings.org, 79 percent of Idahoans have access to exercise venues or outdoor areas that promote a healthy lifestyle and workforce. Idaho ranks lower than the national average in terms of adult obesity: 27 percent of residents report a BMI over 30, compared to the national average of 31 percent. Idaho also ranks lower for physical inactivity, with only 19 percent of adults age 20 and over reporting no leisure-time physical activity.

In terms of employment, good health brings economic benefits in two ways. For one, Idaho’s healthy employees contribute to productivity and minimize days missed from work for illness. Also, as the health and fitness industry grows throughout the state, it boosts both employment numbers and revenue.

According to the 2012 U.S. Census and the Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment of athletic trainers and exercise physiologists nationwide is projected to grow 19 percent from 2012 to 2022—faster than the average for all occupations. In May 2012, the median annual wage for athletic trainers was $42,090, and the median annual wage for exercise physiologists was $44,770. In Idaho, the annual mean wage for athletic trainers is slightly below the national average at $33,130. According to that same U.S. Census, Idaho was home to 142 fitness and recreational sports center establishments. These establishments accounted for more than $76 million in sales, shipments, receipts, revenue, and business done. They employed approximately 2,993 people and provided over $30 million in annual payroll.

Health and fitness options have become increasingly important to working professionals inside and outside the state of Idaho. Millennials often seek jobs that provide perks beyond health, dental, and life insurance. For instance, companies that offer onsite gyms, exercise classes, and/or fitness competitions have higher levels of employee loyalty and satisfaction.

Here’s the bottom line: if living a healthier lifestyle is one of your New Year’s resolutions, you’ll not only be creating a healthier you, but also a healthier economy.

Read more Read more
Wall Street with US flags on display

Short-term U.S. Outlook

Strong economic data at the end of November increased confidence that the U.S. economy is continuing its recovery. Third-quarter GDP growth was revised upward from a preliminary estimate of 1.5 percent to 2.1 percent annualized growth. Consumer spending remained strong but was revised down slightly from 3.2 percent to 3.0 percent. Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, so sustained growth indicates that the economy is indeed getting stronger.

The downward revisions to GDP growth reflect weak outlays on communication services and utilities. Preliminary signs indicate that consumer spending slowed at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but third-quarter income gains were 3.9 percent. Energy firms cut spending deeply as oil prices continued to fall—spending on mining exploration, wells, and shafts tumbled at a rate of 47.1 percent. Corporate profits were down 8.1 percent from a year earlier, undercut by the dollar’s strength and low oil prices.

The U.S. dollar gained more than 10 percent in 2015 against a basket of currencies, reaching a peak in late November. In fact, the dollar soared immediately following the release of the Commerce Department’s beige book, which measures economic growth and consumer spending in 12 Federal Reserve districts. Unfortunately, as the dollar climbs, exports continue to fall. American goods are becoming more expensive for consumers outside the U.S., and global demand has slackened.

Economic growth is becoming increasingly regional, which means it is more industry-specific. The U.S. manufacturing industry contracted in November for the first time in three years, buckling under the weight of a strong dollar and deep spending cuts by energy firms. However, robust automobile sales suggest that other aspects of the economy remain on solid ground.

The U.S. job market is strong and the unemployment rate is low. However, the labor force participation is also low. As of October 2015, labor force participation was only 62.4 percent—the smallest it has been since October 1977. A low labor force participation rate indicates that some Americans are giving up the job hunt rather than continuing to search for employment.

Long-Term U.S. Outlook

The economic outlook for 2016 remains positive. According to Kiplinger’s Economic Outlooks, unemployment is expected to continue dropping for an average rate of 4.6 percent. Inflation is expected to tick upward to about 2.3 percent in 2016 from 1.1 percent in 2015.

Business spending will experience slight gains in 2016, and crude oil trading will likely increase a few dollars per barrel. Construction—including sales of single-family homes—is expected to increase 20 percent in 2016, and retail and gasoline sales will rise 4.7 percent in 2016.

The damper in the outlook is the trade deficit: exports will likely continue to drop as the dollar strengthens, widening the trade deficit by 5 percent.

Read more Read more
National Consumer Price Index remained unchanged

U.S. Consumer Price Index

The U.S. Consumer Price Index remained unchanged from September to October on a non-seasonally adjusted basis and has increased 0.2 percent over the past 12 months. The main increases in the index were driven by food and energy. The food index grew 0.1 percent in October after growing 0.4 percent the month before. Four of the six major grocery store food group indexes rose. The energy index increased 0.3 percent in October after declining in both August and September.

Food prices may be volatile in the short term as this year’s El Niño phenomenon brings drier weather to Southeast Asia and wetter weather to the western Americas. Some items that are likely to temporarily increase in price due to lower production include palm oil, coffee, and rice. Wetter weather in the United States could flip to La Niña conditions in the spring, bringing drought during pollination season. These conditions lead to shortages and price spikes for wheat, corn, and soybeans.

The index for all items less food and energy—which is considered a more telling indicator of price inflation since it excludes the most volatile categories—rose 0.2 percent in October. The increase was driven primarily by price hikes in shelter and medical care. Other contributors included personal care, airfare, recreation, alcohol, and tobacco. On the other hand, apparel, new vehicles, household furnishings and operations, and used cars and trucks all declined in price in October.

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National Unemployment Rate decreased to 5.0% Idaho Unemployment rate decreased to 4.0%

Labor Market

Unemployment in Idaho dropped again in October, declining two-tenths of a percent to 4.0 percent. The state’s year-over-year growth in total employment for October was the strongest it has been in a decade. Nonfarm jobs increased by 1.2 percent as 8,000 additional jobs were created. Over the past five years October has averaged an employment growth rate of 0.3 percent. The United States’ unemployment rate dropped from 5.1 percent in September to 5.0 percent in October.

Idaho is growing fastest in construction, retail, and leisure and hospitality. Tracking construction gives us a good snapshot of the health of the economy because construction is tied to many aspects of the economy. Construction indicates that other industries are growing as well—the number of cranes in a city gives us a good idea about whether or not the economy is growing. Another convenient aspect of construction is that we can gauge it by looking out our windows. The more construction we see, the more industries and jobs we can expect to come to the community.

Read more Read more
US Consumer Confidence Index fell 8.7 points

U.S. Consumer Confidence Index

The Conference Board’s U.S. Consumer Confidence Index® declined 8.7 points to 90.4 in November. Both the Present Situation and the Expectations Indexes decreased, contributing to the overall decline. The Present Situation Index, which measures sentiment about the current state of the economy, fell from 114.6 in October to 108.1 in November. Similarly, the Expectations Index, which measures confidence in the state of the economy six months out, declined from 88.7 in October to 78.6 in November.

November’s assessment of current conditions was less favorable: the percentage of consumers who felt business conditions were “good” tapered from 26.8 percent in October to 24.4 percent in November. However, fewer people stated current business conditions were “bad”—down to 16.9 percent in November from 18.3 percent in October. Just 19.9 percent of people thought jobs were plentiful in November compared to 22.7 percent the month before.

The biggest drop occurred in expectations for the next six months. The percentage of consumers who expect business conditions to improve decreased from 18.1 percent in October to 14.8 percent in November. Perspectives about the job market are also cooling—those who anticipate more jobs in the months ahead fell from 14.4 percent to 11.6 percent.

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Idaho CoreLogic Home Price Index rose 6.9% National CoreLogic Home Price Index increased 6.8%

Housing Market

October home prices ticked upward again in Idaho and across the nation. In Idaho, home prices remained flat from September and grew 6.9 percent compared to October 2014. Nationally, home prices increased 1.0 percent month over month and 6.8 percent compared to October of last year. Including distressed sales, the U.S. has experienced 44 consecutive months of year-over-year increases, although those increased have now fallen to single digits.

October marked the seventh straight month that housing starts remained above 1 million units, despite dropping to their lowest pace during that stretch. This seven-month stretch marks the longest stretch of more than 1 million housing units since 2007, which suggests a sustainable housing market recovery. The drop in October derived from a steep decline in the construction of multi-family homes. Contrary to the drop in housing starts, building permits surged.

Household formation is rising, driven primarily by young adults leaving the nest of their parents. The strengthening labor market has also supported the housing sector as more people are able to afford purchasing their own homes. Many markets throughout the U.S. are experiencing high demand and low supply of homes, pushing prices upward.

Read more Read more
Teacher and two young students

The Tremendous Impact of an Effective Teacher

Most of us fondly remember a teacher who helped us achieve to a degree we hadn't previously thought possible. The evidence-based impact of teachers is called the "teacher effect." Repeated studies have demonstrated that a high-quality teacher can measurably improve student learning more than any other variable within the purview of a school. In fact, research shows that a high-quality teacher can, in one year, elevate student learning by two and even three grade levels. Effective teaching, therefore, must be a central feature of any state-guided strategic plan to help students master 21st century knowledge and skills and obtain a post-high school credential.

To begin, public education should attract some of the best candidates into teaching. Today, 100 percent of school teachers in high-achieving countries like Singapore, Finland, and South Korea come from the top third of college graduates. But in the U.S., only 23 percent of new teachers graduated in the top third of their classes.

While class rank alone does not ensure teaching quality, it does create a quality pool from which highly effective teachers can be screened and developed and ensures that those responsible with the education of our children have the content knowledge, critical thinking, and academic drive to develop knowledge-rich classrooms.

Closing this challenging talent gap requires both redefining the professionalism of teaching and reengaging a commitment to the value of public education. A recently released study on the "talent gap" in public education noted that new teachers are looking for (in order): high-quality co-workers, prestige, a challenging work environment, and high-quality training.

Teaching as a profession could and should meet all of those needs, but reality demonstrates that it currently falls short on several of these criteria, in part because the system often incents and recognizes both highly effective and mediocre teachers in the same way. Put simply, attracting and retaining high-quality teachers requires elevated and differentiated compensation opportunities, which requires greater investment by each of us as taxpayers. And it requires better leadership from our principals to coach-up or coach-out low-performing teachers.

Public education should also create opportunities for teachers to become recognized experts in their craft. Otherwise, the only meaningful vertical movement available to teachers requires leaving the classroom for administration. Creating career pathways within education that offer opportunities to mentor and train other teachers (both of which strengthen the ability of all teachers) has the capacity to provide an opportunity for increased earnings as well as the satisfaction derived from greater overall impact on improving student achievement.

Elevating the quality of teaching in our classrooms will require more than attracting new people to the profession and ensuring they are appropriately compensated, rewarded, and recognized; we also need to better prepare the newcomers to assist our students in mastering the growing expectations we are placing on them. In a recent nationwide study, over 60 percent of teachers stated that their teacher preparation programs did not adequately prepare them for the realities of the profession. We must demand increased rigor and accountability from our colleges of education. Effective teacher preparation will also require more hands-on classroom experience – modeled after the clinical experience within the medical profession – in order to link theory and practice.

The foundation of a prospering economy and society is a robust system of public education. Improving education in the state requires increased investment, greater involvement from parents, and better utilization of evidence-based instructional practices (topics for another day). It also requires a restructuring in the way we attract and retain highly-effective teachers. Without a focus on improving teacher effectiveness within the dialogue on improving public education and student outcomes, we will fail to fully capitalize on and support one of the greatest resources we have: our teachers.

Read more Read more
Woman doing yoga

Healthy Living in Idaho

At 17.4 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, healthcare spending constitutes a tremendous portion of state, federal, and individual-level budgets. However, Idaho’s health spending per capita is the fourth lowest in the country: just $5,658 per capita, compared with the national average of $6,815 per capita. A few key factors contribute to these savings: active lifestyle, demographics, and healthcare innovation.

Idaho’s beautiful outdoor landscapes beckon skiers, snowboarders, and resort goers in the wintertime. In warmer seasons, residents and visitors flock to national parks, mountain trails, and sparkling lakes. The state’s natural beauty and clean air have a lot to do with encouraging an active, healthy lifestyle.

In terms of health-related demographics, Idaho boasts a lower rate of cigarette smoking than many states in the country: compared to the national average of 17.7 percent, only 15.8 percent of Idaho adults smoke. This single factor has a significant impact on per capita health spending.

But perhaps most importantly, Idaho’s future healthcare costs may decrease in light of innovation. Utilizing data systems that track cost and quality of care, facilities are starting to optimize expenditures without jeopardizing good outcomes.

Ultimately, the combination of smart healthcare provisions, active lifestyles, and population demographics saves Idaho billions of dollars on healthcare each year.

Read more Read more

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This page was last modified on Thu Feb 11 13:17:24 MST 2016