What is it about Magic Valley that makes it so magical?
The region earned its name in 1905 when canals were constructed between the Snake River and Milner Dam, causing productive farmland to magically appear in the middle of the desert. The prosperous farmland that gave the valley its name still breathes life into the local economy. The six-county area around Twin Falls is dotted with farmland, manufacturing plants, dairies, and businesses, all of which support a growing population and rising per capita wages.
The bulk of Magic Valley’s economic prosperity stems from food production and agribusiness. In July 2015, Southern Idaho was one of four U.S. regions designated as a top manufacturing community by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Southern Idaho contributed well over half of the state’s nearly $9.7 billion in agriculture receipts for 2014. Food manufacturing companies have flocked to the area, and over 15,000 local jobs are now related to farming or food processing. This rise in food manufacturing plants has boosted production automation, which in turn attracts even more businesses and accompanying jobs to the area. For example, Chobani built a $450 million Greek yogurt plant that hired 700 workers, and Clif Bar recently invested $90 million in a new plant in the area. Glanbia and its sister company Southwest Cheese together employ more than 680 employees. Other agribusiness companies in the area include Amalgamated Sugar, ConAgra, Monsanto, Darigold, Gossner Foods, and McCain Foods.
Food isn’t the only thing that brings people to Idaho’s Magic Valley, though. Per capita income in southern Idaho is 10 percent higher than the state as a whole. What’s more, the Twin Falls Metro Area cost of living is only 91.5 percent of the state’s cost of living, attracting families as well as retirees to the area. Southern Idaho’s population has grown from 167,359 in 2003 to 188,860 in 2013—an increase of 13 percent. Impressively, 58 percent of the electricity in the region now comes from renewable energy sources, such as hydroelectric, wind, and geothermal power, making electricity costs for Idaho Power customers the second-lowest in the Pacific Northwest.
The economy in this region hasn’t always been booming: employment opportunities slowed in 2009 when the recession hit southern Idaho. Food processing remained strong through the slump, but consumer interest in tourism and real estate declined dramatically. Since the recovery, recreation seekers have returned to the area’s mountains, waterways, deserts, and canyons, thereby supporting the local economy. As the Magic Valley region continues to diversify and expand, its positive impact on the overall state economy will grow.
In July, the CoreLogic® Home Price Index (HPI) for Idaho, which measures home price appreciation, experienced a year-over-year increase of 4.8%. Nationally, the HPI increased 6.9% during the same period.
Idaho’s unemployment rate increased 0.1 point to 4.1% in July, while the national unemployment rate decreased 0.2 point to 5.1% in August.
The U.S. Consumer Price Index remained flat from June to July. Year over year, the index increased 0.2%, which is below the Federal Reserve’s target annual inflation pace of 2%.
The U.S. Consumer Confidence Index® increased 10.5 points to 101.5 in August. The Present Situation Index increased 11.1 points to 115.1, while the Expectations Index increased 10.2 points to 92.5.