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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Best States for Jobs
Anthony Balderrama, writer

Location is everything, according to the real estate adage. Many people learn the wisdom of these words after they move into their first apartment on a tight budget and have a view of a landfill and the smells that come from it.

The same holds true for job hunting. Your chances of finding the right job – or any job, really – depend on where you live. The unemployment rate is the ratio of job seekers to the working population. Therefore, a low percentage means few people are having any difficulty finding work.If you’re looking for a job, you want to be in a state that has an unemployment rate lower than the national average, which is 5 percent according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Here are the 15 best states to find work ranked by their unemployment rates.

1. South Dakota
Unemployment rate: 3 percent*
Population: 796,214**
Mean annual wage: $30,460
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (19.9 percent)***
2. Idaho
Unemployment rate: 3 percent
Population: 1,499,402
Mean annual wage: $34,810
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (20.2 percent)
3. Wyoming
Unemployment rate: 3.1 percent
Population: 522,830
Mean annual wage: $34,290
Top industry: Government (23 percent)
4. Nebraska
Unemployment rate: 3.2 percent
Population: 1,774,571
Mean annual wage: $34,300
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (21.1 percent)
5. Utah
Unemployment rate: 3.2 percent
Population: 2,645,330
Mean annual wage: $35,540
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (19.7 percent)
6. Hawaii
Unemployment rate: 3.2 percent
Population: 1,283,388
Mean annual wage: $38,630
Top industry: Government (19.6 percent)
7. North Dakota
Unemployment rate: 3.3 percent
Population: 639,715
Mean annual wage: $32,440
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (21.4 percent)
8. Virginia
Unemployment rate: 3.5 percent
Population: 7,712,091
Mean annual wage: $41,450
Top industry: Government (18 percent)
9. Montana
Unemployment rate: 3.6 percent
Population: 957,861
Mean annual wage: $31,290
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (20.5 percent)
10. New Hampshire
Unemployment rate: 3.6 percent
Population: 1,315,828
Mean annual wage: $39,250
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (23.3 percent)
11. New Mexico
Unemployment rate: 3.7 percent
Population: 1,969,915
Mean annual wage: $33,980
Top industry: Government (23.2 percent)
12. Delaware
Unemployment rate: 3.8 percent
Population: 864,764
Mean annual wage: $41,680
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (18.7 percent)
13. Maryland
Unemployment rate: 3.8 percent
Population: 5,618,344
Mean annual wage: $44,030
Top industry: Government (18.2 percent)
14. Iowa
Unemployment rate: 4 percent
Population: 2,988,046
Mean annual wage: $33,250
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (20.4 percent)
15. Vermont
Unemployment rate: 4 percent
Population: 621,254
Mean annual wage: $36,350
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (19.4 percent)
*Unemployment rates, mean annual wages and industry percentages obtained from BLS in January 2008. Percentages based on nonfarm payrolls, seasonally adjusted.
**Population figures based on U.S. Census Bureau data.
***Top industries are those that employ the largest percentage of a state’s labor force.
Anthony Balderrama is a writer and blogger for He researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.
Last Updated: Friday, February 22, 2008 - 1:54 PM
Posted by Jenna Englund at 2/26/2008 9:04:00 PM
Monday, February 25, 2008

Here's an article from Time Magazine, February 25, 2008 titled "Ignore the Headlines"...

Famed Money Manager is perhaps best known for his timeless wisdom that you can beat the pros by focusing on stocks of companies where you either work or shop or have some other edge. But a more relevant Lynchism today is this gem: Ignore the headlines.

That's no easy thing. How do you tune out all the chatter and ink on recession, housing, subprime woes, the credit crunch, rogue traders, insolvent bond insurers, $100 oil and nukes in Iran? It's enough to make you sit on your thumbs and wait before making any big moves. But what, exactly, are you waiting for?

There has rarely been a moment in history when you couldn't scare yourself into doing nothing. And yet, as Lynch observed nearly 20 years ago, "in spite of all the great and minor calamities that have occurred ... all the thousands of reasons that the world might be coming to an end--owning stocks has continued to be twice as rewarding as owning bonds."

A top reason to not buy stocks, in Lynch's view, is if you don't already own a home--in which case, that should be your first investment, since an owner-occupied home is nearly always profitable. Through a spokesman, Lynch reaffirmed these views to me--housing debacle and all.

When prices are falling, few people have the discipline to buy stocks, a house, gold, art or any other asset. But those who do pull the trigger excel in the long run. As John D. Rockefeller famously said, "The way to make money is to buy when blood is running in the streets."

And the streets are stained crimson. Start with stocks. They have been pummeled this year. GDP braked sharply last quarter, and there has been plenty of panic about a recession. The Federal Reserve is slashing short-term interest rates at the fastest clip in decades. But if you stick to your steady, diversified plan while everyone else is retreating, you will be happy years from now. For one thing, Fed rate cuts always lift the economy eventually, and the stock market typically starts responding just as headlines get gloomiest. Sure, the market could fall again before recovering. But the recession may be half over already--or we may avoid one altogether. You just never know.

As for housing, certainly some skepticism is in order. Formerly sizzling markets in Florida, Nevada, Arizona and California probably haven't seen the worst headlines just yet, though they may well be close. And "jumbo" mortgages, those more than $417,000, are likely to remain artificially high for a few more months while banks work through their credit issues.

But let's say you are emotionally ready to be a homeowner. You have good credit, plan to stay put for five years and have been waiting for the perfect entry point. It's time to get serious--before an inevitable rise in interest rates wipes out your advantage. "The thing that will make home prices stop falling is the very same thing that will push mortgage rates higher," says Jim Svinth, chief economist at mortgage firm Lending Tree. So anything you gain by a further drop in prices might be offset by rising financing costs.

Consider a typical home that sells for $218,900. You put down 20% and get a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at today's rate of 5.5%. Monthly principal and interest come to $994.31. Let's say that 12 months from now the same house goes for 10% less, or $197,010. But by then the recession is history and the Fed is jacking up rates to stem inflation. If mortgage costs rise a point, to 6.5%, your monthly payment would be $994.94 and you'd have saved nothing. Meanwhile, home prices might steady and sellers might become less willing to negotiate. And you have spent a year living someplace you'd rather not be.

It's more complicated if you must sell before you can buy. But that logjam won't persist forever--and if it appears you'll be trapped for a few years, try to refinance at today's lower rates. Risks always seem most acute when the headlines give you ulcers. But that's exactly when you should think long term--and get off your thumbs.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine.],9171,1713483,00.html 


Posted by Jenna Englund at 2/25/2008 9:05:00 PM
Sunday, February 10, 2008

This photo was taken by on-site agent, Ryan Kerfoot , on Saturday, February 9th while conducting a site walk. While the Blue Herons were up in their nests, he counted a total of 18 of them. What a beautiful place to live.

Posted by Jenna Englund at 2/10/2008 10:10:00 PM
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Issues with enough bandwidth are just around the corner, but service providers are getting ahead of the trend.
Posted by Michael Shumway at 2/5/2008 8:11:00 PM
Friday, February 1, 2008

As Seen in Meridian in the Middle, 2007 NOV/DEC edition.
To view this article at Meridian in the Middle, please click here.

Story by Linda Funaiole

Gramercy Park Offers Seamless, Themeless Living
70-acre mixed-use complex caters to busy lifestyle needs

Gramercy Park, a 70-acre mixed-use complex under development in central Meridian, has a new breed of home buyers in mind. Today's busy young professionals, singles and retirees who prefer a seamless way of life with smaller homes, nearby shops, professional offices and restaurants, and easy access to major roads and entertainment centers are the focus of this all-in-one "destination community," explains project manager Taylor Merrill. "Traditional home development in this marketplace has tried to satisfy the traditional home buyer, which (sic) would be a married couple with 1.5 kids, when probably that's only a small percentage of the market," he says. "Sixty to 70 percent of the market doesn't have kids, is single and more versatile. So, we are not only trying to offer something that's a little more affordable, but also a little more functional, with less maintenance, a little more walkability – a place where someone can live, shop and even work within the same perimeter."

The project aims to change the face of the local housing market that caters to home buyers who crave large, expensive homes on big lots. "You can't continue to have urban sprawl where we continue to chop up farmland and give everybody a 10,000 square foot lot," Merrill says. "Not everybody wants a 10,000 square foot lot with a three-car garage. A lot of people do, but this is a kind of downtown, urban type living – not downtown, but in an area that's off I-84. We think it will produce a nice urban feel."

In a prime location south of Overland Road, between Eldorado Business Park and Mountain View High School, Gramercy Park will offer a "rich urban mix" of multi-story live and-work brownstones, courtyard and patio homes and high-end condominiums with low-maintenance lawns. Within the community, residents will be able to walk to professional offices, shop in specialty stores or relax in a neighborhood restaurant. These amenities will make life easier for residents, who might even find new jobs in their own back yards. A series of walking trails that interconnect with the Mountain View High School running track, and a proposed multi-acre Kiwanis Park in cooperation with the city of Meridian, will give locals a place to unwind after a hectic day.

"Gramercy is a place where one can wake up, have a morning cup of coffee with a friend, drop off their dry cleaning and head to work without ever getting into their car," according to Joe Atalla of Tuscany Development, Inc. "This is a community Meridian has been needing for some time now."

Developers have already signed up major on-site clients, including Intermountain Orthopedics, Eaglewood Homes corporate headquarters, the Treasure Valley's newest YMCA, and Challenger School, a private, pre-kindergarten through second-grade model school. Work began this spring on the complex's internal roads, and ground was broken this summer on the first of four retail buildings that could be occupied by late October or November. Plans call for one- to five-story professional offices, upscale landscaping, hanging planters and banners to showcase the development, and a landscaped and maintained common area with a pond and basketball court. Construction of some of the multi-family units will begin later this year, with an anticipated spring 2008 completion date. Units are being built in a variety of sizes by numerous Treasure Valley developers.

For Merrill, who is 48 and single, Meridian's first mixed-use development offers a clear choice to those who no longer require a big house and prefer a simpler lifestyle and less time in their cars. He defines Gramercy Park, (named for Manhattan's famed Gramercy Park), as clean, urban living seen in other major cities throughout the country, and adds, "We think the demographics and the population will support something like this." "It's unique in the fact that it's self-contained – you can live here, you can work here, you can recreate here. It's all walkable, accessible," he says.

Similar urban-inspired centers have been successful in suburban Hillsboro, Oregon and Lakewood, Colorado. Gramercy developers are hopeful this tried and true formula will take off in Meridian as well. Merrill credits the city of Meridian for its support of the project that provides a different residential living style and meets new market demands.

"The retail growth along Eagle Road has been unprecedented in this valley," he says. "We are just trying to harness the growth and utilize it to everyone's advantage. We think it will be a great center for Meridian. It complements the high school, the residential area and the freeway. All arrows point up and at Gramercy!"


Posted by Jenna Englund at 2/1/2008 5:16:00 PM
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