EMSI is located in Moscow, Idaho — in the heart of what is known as the Palouse. The region has two major land-grand universities, the University of Idaho and Washington State University, that are separated by a mere eight miles.
UI and WSU were the focal point of an article in today’s Wall Street Journal that includes a bit of analysis done by EMSI. The story by Joel Millman focuses specifically on how the universities bring hordes of research dollars and innovation to the Palouse — though federal and state cutbacks have no doubt been felt.
Nowhere else in the U.S. do two such large land-grant universities abut each other in neighboring states. The schools’ students and employees account for nearly 38,000 of the 78,000 inhabitants of the two neighboring counties—Latah, in Idaho, and Whitman, in Washington—and generate two-thirds of all economic activity, according to local consultants, EMSI, Economics Modeling Specialists Inc.
Public-sector jobs account for 36% of all employment and 42% of salaries in the region, known as the Palouse, according to EMSI. This is a bigger government footprint, proportionally, than in Virginia’s Fairfax and Arlington counties, long considered ground zero for Washington, D.C., bureaucracy, the consultants say.
Belt-tightening has finally hit, with budgets at both campuses shaved around 20% this academic year. For the first time in its 120-year history, WSU received more money from student tuition than from state appropriations.
So far, unemployment remains low in Washington’s Whitman County, at 6.7%, and in Idaho’s Latah County, at 6.3%. In Washington and Idaho as a whole the jobless rate is 8.9%.