Economy, Business, Finance, and Labor

Economy and business news

Tom Banse / NW News Network

Outdoor retailer REI is planning a major expansion of rentals and used gear sales this year to sustain growth. The Pacific Northwest-based co-op's vast membership may also get the opportunity to sell second-hand gear back to the company for REI credit as it seeks ways to maintain relevance and loyalty in an evolving retail marketplace.

Tom Banse / NW News Network

Cryptocurrency companies in Central Washington were left to wait in suspense on Tuesday after they asked a federal judge in Spokane to block an imminent, targeted electric rate increase. The energy-intensive data center operators claim they would be crippled by the Grant County Public Utility District rate hike. The utility says the case is without merit.

Ted S. Warren/AP

Two months into this year, researchers are looking back at what changed on the housing front in 2018.  

 

According to the latest numbers from the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington, the statewide vacancy rate for all apartments is 4.26 percent. That’s better than it was last fall, but not by much.

 

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

West Coasters may soon be able to pick up bread, milk and, yes, bitcoin, at their local supermarket. 

Tom Banse / NW News Network

One of the biggest players in the global cryptocurrency space has established a foothold in the Pacific Northwest. China-based Bitmain Technologies held a ribbon cutting for a $20 million data center near the Wenatchee airport on Friday. A celebratory mood ran through the grand opening despite headwinds besetting the virtual currency sector.

City of Depoe Bay

If you've traveled the central Oregon coast, you might remember the signs marking Depoe Bay's claim to fame: the "World's Smallest Harbor." But now that harbor is getting even smaller because of accumulating silt.

Tom Banse / NW News Network

Construction begins soon in eastern Oregon for the first commercial-scale "torrefaction" facility in the country. If you don't know what that word means, you're in good company. 

But the process itself isn't all that exotic. 

Wikimedia

In the last few years, rock-bottom electricity rates have attracted bitcoin miners and other virtual currency entrepreneurs to central Washington state. But in Chelan and Grant counties, that lure may be on the wane because of looming power price hikes.


Tom Banse / NW News Network

Hot housing markets in major cities like Seattle and Portland have pushed the cities to regulate short-term rentals like Airbnb. But small Pacific Northwest towns popular with visitors are also struggling to balance the growth of Airbnb-type rentals with a tight housing supply. 

Newport, Oregon, is the latest to put those types of rentals in the crosshairs.

Jim Newman / Craft Canning

The craft brewing industry in the Pacific Northwest is starting to feel pain from the Trump administration's steel and aluminum tariffs. Those metals are made into beer cans, kegs and fermentation tanks.

kidsworkchicago.com / tinyurl.com/ycuazqf4

It’s the agony of modern day parents: how to find and afford decent child care. This has become such a problem, the Washington Legislature has created a task force to tackle the issue.

Shaundd / tinyurl.com/jy9ukrb

Less than a week after a U.S. Supreme Court decision on labor unions, anti-union canvassers are out in Salem. It’s the latest step in a campaign to weaken Oregon’s powerful labor movement.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

Days before a landmark Supreme Court decision is expected, Oregonians are launching an attack on a large public employee union.

Seven state, county and city employees filed suit in U.S. District Court earlier this week, claiming the state has infringed on their constitutional rights by forcing them to pay for collective bargaining and other services.

Rick Horn / Grays Harbor Historical Seaport

The Port of Newport on the Oregon coast has revoked a docking permit for a pair of tall ships based out of Aberdeen, Washington. Efforts to reach a compromise between the port and the ships' operator seem to be foundering.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

It’s no secret that the aviation industry is facing a shortage of airline pilots. But that isn’t the only aviation career grappling with a labor shortage. Aircraft mechanics and flight simulator technicians are also in high demand.

Courtesy of Alaska Airlines

One of the diciest points in an airline merger is consolidating computer systems. That moment arrives Tuesday night for Alaska Airlines and its former West Coast rival Virgin America.

Tony Webster / tinyurl.com/yd8v37do

A report out last month says visitors spent nearly $740 million in communities near U.S. Forest Service lands in Washington and Oregon. The number of visitors and dollars coming into the region hasn’t changed much in nearly two decades.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Despite numerous requests for a veto, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday signed a controversial bill to privatize the state’s homecare provider system. The Democrat’s signing of the measure followed a contentious fight in the Legislature and accusations that it amounted to a power grab by the Service Employees International Union.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Last year, Horizon Air was forced to cut back the number of flights to many Pacific Northwest cities because it didn’t have enough pilots. The Alaska Air Group subsidiary has stabilized its ranks and is slowly rebuilding service.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

A fiery partisan battle has erupted in Olympia over a union-backed measure involving homecare workers. Underlying the fight is whether these workers should be able to opt out of their union.

The debate led to tense moments on the floor of the Washington Senate late Wednesday night.

Elvert Barnes Photography / Flickr - tinyurl.com/yb563yzb

Uber and Lyft drivers may soon have to undergo tougher background checks in Washington state. Lawmakers are considering a proposal that would require drivers to pass a fingerprint background check before being allowed to operate.

Enrique Perez de la Rosa / Northwest News Network

In 1998, Washington residents voted to ban affirmative action in the state’s colleges and universities. But through that initiative, government agencies have also been barred from giving preferential treatment to minority-owned businesses in contracting.

Now, lawmakers are considering repealing the ban.

Tom Banse / NW News Network

A quartet of young companies from the Seattle area have raised tens of millions of dollars by tapping into a hot tech trend. They've invented new virtual currencies and sold digital coins to the public.

These token sales are largely unregulated and are sparking increasingly frequent government warnings.

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines is following the lead of American Airlines, Southwest and dozens of other large companies in awarding $1,000 bonuses to its workers tied to the recently passed corporate tax cut.

Census Data Highlights Pacific Northwest Population Growth

Dec 27, 2017
U.S. Census Bureau

States in the Pacific Northwest are among the fastest growing in the country. And according to the latest census figures,  it’s gaining people more than twice as fast as the national average.

Migration to the region—rather than births—made up the bulk of population growth.

Visitor7 / Wikimedia - tinyurl.com/j6o4lkn

Workers in the state of Washington are about to get a new benefit. Starting January 1, the state will require all employers to provide paid sick leave.

It’s part of a law passed by voters in 2016 that also raises the state’s minimum wage.

Housing Markets In Northwest Cities Still Topping The Charts

Dec 26, 2017
Kevin Mooney / Northwest News Network

Home prices continued to climb in Seattle and Portland at some of the fastest rates in the country this year. The latest data show Seattle is still the nation’s hottest market.

Insitu

The unmanned aircraft industry cluster in the Columbia River Gorge is growing yet again. An Australian company that specializes in drone engines plans to open a factory in Hood River, Oregon, early next year.

 

Nicole Raine

A wide range of business groups and universities from Oregon, Washington and British Columbia are teaming up to nurture science and tech startups. Nearly 50 organizations involved in business development signed on to the new Cascadia Venture Acceleration Network.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

You might be in the market for a Christmas tree right about now, but have you thought about what type of Christmas tree you want in eight years?

Believe it or not, it might be hard to find one. That’s because of a tree seedling shortage happening right now across the West.

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