Remember dial-up internet that shared a connection with the landline telephone? In the ’90s, it wasn’t uncommon to wait up to five minutes for an internet page to load. Now we get irritated when a page takes longer than five seconds to load. Internet connectivity isn’t just a convenience—it is a major economic driver in many areas of the world, including Idaho.

Idaho has room to grow in terms of connectivity: it is currently the 47th most-connected state. Idaho’s rugged terrain may play a role in the fact that approximately 112,000 Idaho residents don’t have any wired internet provider where they live. Another 239,000 have access to only one provider. According to BroadbandNow, an organization focused on making broadband internet available to everyone, just over half of Idaho has broadband coverage, and 92.2 percent of Idahoans have access to wireline broadband service. While mobile access is broad, a mere 5.4 percent of Idahoans have access to fiber-optic connections.

At present, internet speeds and connectivity are increasing throughout the state, and several projects are in the works. Since 2010, LINK Idaho has been awarded over $4 million in federal grants for Idaho’s Broadband Initiative. This funding not only helps people gain local access to the internet, but it also boosts economic activity in the form of installation jobs, customer support, and parts supplies. In 2011, only 76.8 percent of Idahoans had access to a wired connection of at least 10 mbps; today, that percentage has improved to 85.9. Another $8 million was awarded to broadband infrastructure projects in the state.

Access to broadband is important to Idaho residents and policy-makers because internet connectivity tangibly strengthens the economy. It enhances education experiences at all levels, attracts businesses to the state, and provides much-needed services to nonprofit and government organizations. In the coming years, leaders should continue to advocate for widespread internet access by supporting growth in provider businesses and internet infrastructure. A well-educated workforce, robust public services, and a strong network of employers are the backbone of Idaho’s growing economy.

Housing Market. In August, the CoreLogic® Home Price Index (HPI) for Idaho, which measures home price appreciation, experienced a year-over-year increase of 5.3%.  Nationally, the HPI increased 6.9% during the same period.

Job Report. Idaho’s unemployment rate increased 0.1 point to 4.2% in August, while the national unemployment rate decreased 0.2 point to 5.1% in August.

Inflation. The U.S. Consumer Price Index decreased 0.1% from July to August. Year over year, the index increased 0.2%, which is below the Federal Reserve’s target annual inflation pace of 2%.

Consumer Confidence. The U.S. Consumer Confidence Index® increased 1.7 points to 103.0 in September. The Present Situation Index increased 0.1 point to 121.1, while the Expectations Index decreased 2.1 points to 91.0.