Randy ShumwayEach week, Idaho experiences multiple small-magnitude earthquakes.

Although the absence of a large, detrimental earthquake in the recent past might make it difficult to think of earthquakes as real threats, preparedness education is vital to quick recovery if such a quake manifests. Where Idaho residents are prepared and know how to react quickly, they will be able to mitigate damage and minimize life disruption.

Each year in October, more than 125,000 Idahoans around the state participate in the Great Idaho Shake Out, practicing what to do in the event of a major earthquake. Shake Out drills occur across the nation, and residents can look up scenarios that are likely to occur in their own areas based on local topography. For Idaho, individualized Shake Out scenarios are available for the Northern, Northeast, North Central, Central, Southeast, and Southwest areas.

Historical geologic records indicate that a 6.0-magnitude earthquake is possible in different places throughout the state. Whether or not you participate in the Great Idaho Shake Out, you can prepare for earthquakes by identifying safe places for cover, practicing quickly dropping to the ground and finding cover, and creating a contact plan for your family and workplace.

Housing Market. Home prices have continued to rise slightly across the nation and in Idaho. Idaho’s home prices increased 1.9 percent from March to April, and have risen 7.5 percent since April 2015. Nationally, home prices increased 1.8 percent month over month and 6.2 percent year over year. National home prices for single-family homes, including distressed sales, are forecasted to rise by 0.9 percent in May 2016, and by 5.3 percent by April 2017.

Although home prices remain 7.9 percent below peak values recorded in April 2006, the U.S. has now experienced 51 consecutive months of year-over-year increases, including distressed sales, indicating progress towards a full recovery. A new peak level in home prices is expected to be reached in April 2017. In Idaho, home prices are forecasted to increase 1.3 percent this month and 6.4 percent in the next year. According to statements by the Ada County Assessor’s Office, residential property values increased 7.7 percent on average this year, compared with an increase of 6.8 percent last year. As employment in Idaho continues to grow, the housing market is well poised to flourish.

U.S. Consumer Confidence Index. The Conference Board’s U.S. Consumer Confidence Index declined 2.1 points to 92.6 in May. The Present Situation Index, which measures sentiment about the current state of the economy, decreased from 117.1 to 112.9, while the Expectations Index decreased from 79.7 to 79.0, indicating slightly weaker confidence in the state of the economy six months out.

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions was slightly more favorable as the percentage of consumers who felt business conditions were “good” increased from 24.2 percent in April to 25.9 percent in May. However, those stating current business conditions were “bad” also increased—up from 18.2 percent to 21.6 percent. Opinions of the labor market were more negative: those claiming jobs are “plentiful” remained mostly unchanged at 24.3 percent while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” increased from 22.8 percent to 24.4 percent.

Currently, consumers are less optimistic about the future, as indicated by the percentage of consumers who expect business conditions to worsen—up from 10.8 percent to 11.6 percent this month. Perspectives about the job market are also less favorable: those who anticipate more jobs in the months ahead remained unchanged, while those who anticipate fewer jobs increased from 16.7 percent to 18.1 percent.

U.S. Consumer Price Index. The national Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased 0.5 percent from March to April on a non-seasonally-adjusted basis. The national CPI has increased 1.1 percent over the last year, which is below the Federal Reserve’s annual inflation target of 2 percent.

The overall rise in CPI was driven by increases across a broad range of categories as the indexes for food, energy, and all items less food and energy rose in April. The energy index rose 3.4 percent, and the gasoline index rose 8.1 percent. In spite of these gains, the energy index has declined 8.9 percent over the last year.

Meanwhile, the food index increased 0.2 percent in April, and has risen 0.9 percent over the last 12 months. The index for all items less food and energy—a less-volatile measurement of prices—also increased 0.2 percent this month. Over the last 12 months, the index for all items less food and energy has increased 2.1 percent.