Economy

Liveblog: Joint Economic Session

Dec 13, 2011

Millions of Americans wake up each morning without a job, even though they desperately want to work. It's one of the depressing legacies of the financial crisis and Great Recession.

NPR and the Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a poll of people who had been unemployed or with an insufficient level of work for more than a year. The results document the financial, emotional and physical effects of long-term unemployment and underemployment.

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EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that gas furnaces cost less to run and burn cleaner than their oil counterparts? If I make the switch, how long should I expect it to take for me to pay back my initial investment? And are there any greener options I should consider?  -- Veronica Austin, Boston, MA

 

"By 2008, the United States had become the biggest international borrower in world history, with two-thirds of its $6 trillion federal debt in foreign hands" points out Jeffry Frieden, co-author of a new book called Lost Decades: The Making of America's Debt Crisis. International borrowing has been a long-standing economic tradition -- we even funded the American Revolution this way. But, Frieden points out, more recent borrowing is massive compared to the past and encouraged debt-fueled consumption rather than sound investments.

Amanda Loder, StateImpact/NHPR

Recently, we told you about a gas station in the border town of Methuen, Massachusetts.  According to Massachusetts State Lottery Executive Director Paul Sternburg, it’s on track to do $13 million this year in lottery revenues.  When we spoke with Ted’s Mobil owner Tony Amico, he estimated at least half his customers are from New Hampshire.  And StateImpact’s unscientific survey of license plates in the gas station parking lot bore t

Flikr Creative Commons / drocpsu

The push to support local businesses – Buy Local campaigns – are gaining steam, and Invest-Local is no exception.

In Portsmouth, so called “Locavestors” have come together to save a community book store.

RiverRun bookstore sits near the center of downtown Portsmouth.

It’s a bright shop, with big windows looking out onto historic Congress Street.

Customers Nancy Pollard and Elria Ewing are in browsing for replicas of old maps of downtown.

They love their local bookseller.

Each year the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire surveys business owners to guage the state’s economic climate and what’s on the minds of business owners.

Generation Bass, via Flickr/Creative Commons

We’ve been thinking a bit more about demographics lately, in light of the New England Economic Partnership’s recent Economic Forecast conference.  The region faces a number of population problems.  At the risk of oversimplification, here are the main issues:

The nation's unemployment rate fell to 8.6 percent in November from 9 percent in October as payrolls went up by 120,000 jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says.

Rachel Gotbaum, NHPR

The road back from the recession for some towns in New Hampshire could be slowed due to deep budget cuts affecting highway expansion and bridge maintenance.

The state Department of Transportation is grappling with budget cuts of $30 million in motor vehicle fees and a likely $40 million cut in federal highway funds each year.

“Our $140 million 10-year plan is now a $100 million plan,” says Transportation Commissioner Christopher Clement. “The document is a lot slimmer than it was five years ago.”

The Bi-Partisan Congressional Super-committee failed last week to reach a deficit reduction agreement.  That means automatic spending cuts kick in, in twenty thirteen…and President Obama says he’ll veto any attempt avoid those.  We talk with two economists about what this all means…and about the rocky political and economic roads ahead.

 

 

 

 

Guests

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A forecast released today warns that the New Hampshire economy is skating on thin ice.

The report from the New England Economic Partnership says that acceleration from private-sector job creation has been partially offset by a shrinking public sector.

Economist Dennis Delay also says that employment and the housing market have not rebounded as quickly as expected.

He says that if growth had continued at the same pace as in 2008, there would be fifty-thousand more jobs in the state than there are today.

Study Shows RGGI Saves Consumers Money

Nov 15, 2011

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative faces an uncertain future in some states. New Jersey plans to end its participation and New Hampshire has considered legislation that would do the same.

But a new analysis shows the carbon dioxide cap and trade program has saved consumers money and created jobs. Under the program, power producers buy pollution allowances at auction for each ton of carbon dioxide they emit.

Courtesy Photo, MCC

With today’s unemployment levels, it’s hard to imagine that New Hampshire companies are still hiring guest workers from abroad.

NHPR’s Sam Evans-Brown reports that even in a flooded labor market, skilled immigrants continue to plug a gaping hole in the New Hampshire economy.

Universal Software is an IT consulting firm with branches all around the world.

SFX: Office Ambiance

Its Nashua offices are quiet, with plenty of empty cubicles waiting to be filled.

US Representative Frank Guinta hosted a jobs fair for veterans in Manchester Thursday in an effort curb higher unemployment for returning troops.

Over two-hundred veterans attended the fair at Manchester Community College Thursday in hopes of finding job opportunities.

Unemployment rates among returning veterans is close to three points higher than the national unemployment rate.

Congressman Frank Guinta says the employment gap between veterans and civilians is what prompted him to organize the event.

Photo by cobalt123, from Flickr Creative Commons

You've seen bumper stickers: shop local, eat local... now, a grassroots call to invest local.  And like any good movement, it utilizes a catchy word-combo. Joining us to talk about it is Amy Cortese, author of Locavesting: The Revolution in Local Investing and How to Profit it.

LINKS Amy's Blog about Locavesting NH Community Loan Fund site  

(Photo by Simon Webster via Flickr Creative Commons)

The other drug war South of the Border. An investigative reporter uncaps Big Pharma's secretive drug trials in South America. And researchers uncover the strange paradox of why Americans want to give their money to those with more, not less.  A   

The state Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that names and individual pension amounts are public information. The ruling opens the door for media to scrutinize how much former public workers collect in retirement.

About 18 months ago, the Union Leader asked to see the names and payouts to the 500 individuals with the highest pensions.

Citing vague language in the Right-to-Know law, the New Hampshire Retirement System declined to hand over the documents.

PUC Awards Grants For Renewable Energy

Nov 4, 2011

The Public Utilities Commission has awarded grants to fund renewable energy projects in the state.

Four companies and one elementary school will receive part of a one million dollar grant for projects that reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

Carbon Harvest Energy will receive the largest portion of the grant -$500,000- for a landfill gas-to-energy combined heat and power plant in Lebanon.

Greenville Elementary School will receive a grant to replace its oil-fired boiler with a wood pellet one.

Some New Hampshire residents are still dealing with power outages from the aftermath of the October snowstorm.

But in the Upper Valley, many businesses are still recovering from the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene.

It’s been more than two months since Irene flooded the heart of the shopping district in Lebanon, New Hampshire.

Three shopping plazas in Lebanon were hit hard during Tropical Storm Irene.

Tax collections were off in the month of October by $4 million dollars. The drop in tobacco revenue makes up the majority of the shortfall.

The tobacco tax brought in $2.6 million less than expected in October.

That shortfall has prompted criticism of the GOP push to cut the tax by a dime back in June.

In a sharply worded press release about the overall budget House Democrats said it doesn’t make sense to “make college more expensive and cigarettes cheaper.”

The congressional “super committee” is only tasked with cutting one point two trillion dollars from the federal debt. But Second District Republican Congressman Charlie Bass is asking the panel to cut even deeper, even if it taxes are thrown into the mix.

Monday was the deadline for employees at the Union Leader to ratify a new 2-year contract. Company negotiators said failure to reach a new deal would result in layoffs and a 10% salary cut. Reporters, editors, advertising staff and others at the paper have unanimously rejected the new deal. Workers say this latest round of cutbacks threatens the paper’s standing.

Norm Welsh started working at the state’s largest newspaper back in the late 80’s.

He remembers those times fondly.

The Northern Pass electric project is searching for a new, less controversial path through the North Country.

But a small group of landowners is determined to block the utility’s plan even though it means giving up hundreds of thousands of dollars.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

Sound of piano music.

At 65 years of age Lynne Placey gives piano lessons.

She lives with a cat and a gray-muzzled dog in a small house in Stewartstown.

And she hopes she’s blocking the path of a corporate giant.

Dan Gorenstein / NHPR

Around the country soup kitchens and food pantries are reporting a spike in demand. Here in New Hampshire, food bank officials say they can’t keep up with requests for help. The state’s food assistance safety net is showing signs of serious strain. 

Things started to change for Christopher Persall sometime this summer.

“It goes from you being able to eat meats, fruits and vegetables and dessert to now there are days where there are some vegetables and some breads.”

Wall St. is giving the Granite State a good bill of health. The nation’s leading rating agencies say New Hampshire is managing the recession well.

The state is set to sell $100 million dollars in bonds for a variety of capital projects, including improvements for community colleges and a new liquor store.

State Treasurer Kathy Provencher says during the economic downturn state bonds have fetched better interest rates than the state’s double AA credit.

That’s a credit to how the governor and lawmakers are managing the state’s finances.

The price of home heating oil is expected to hit an all-time high this winter. That’s unwelcome news from Maine to Maryland, where millions of people rely on the fuel to stay warm. The spike could make life difficult for heating oil suppliers and their low-income customers.

When the price of crude oil jumps the price of home heating oil pretty much follows.

In the last 12 months, the price of crude has shot up 40%.

What’s causing the spike?

Aaron Brady, an analyst for IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates, says its emerging markets like India and China.

It’s that time of year when people light fires in the morning, or see their tomatoes glazed in frost. It won’t be much longer before the real cold comes. Last year, some 45,000 families around New Hampshire received some help paying their heating bills. But this winter, all signs point to a cut in federal fuel assistance.

The math is pretty simple, says Mark Wolfe with the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association.

“At this point both the House and Senate both call for a cut of about $1 billion dollars.”

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