Tag Archives: Economics

2013 government shutdown was hard on communities near national parks

According to a newly released report by the National Park Service, not only did it take a substantial toll on NPS itself but surrounding communities were also affected. From the executive summary:

  • A 7.88 million decline in overall NPS October visitation resulting in a loss of $414 million NPS visitor spending within gateway communities across the country;
  • Gateway communities near forty five parks experienced a loss of more than $2 million in NPS related October visitor spending;
  • Five states experienced a decline of over $20 million in NPS October visitor spending; and
  • Each dollar of funding for the 14 parks opened with state funding before the end of the shutdown generated an estimated $10 in visitor spending.

You can read the entire report at this link:

Effects of the October 2013 Government Shutdown on National Park Service Visitor Spending in Gateway Communities
Natural Resource Report NPS/EQD/NRSS/NRR—2014/761

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Stuff in the news 7/23/2013 – New Mexico

Ghost Ranch, Abiqui, NM - Image by M. Reddy-Hjelmfelt http://theredelm.com/

Ghost Ranch, Abiqui, NM – Image by M. Reddy-Hjelmfelt http://theredelm.com/

  • The pending horse slaughter business now has an added obstacle of disposing of its wastewater. While they seem to have a workaround for that, there’s a lawsuit file that starts Aug 3rd, 2 days before their set to open. Bill Richardson and Robert Redford are purportedly signing onto the suit. Wastewater hurdle for proposed slaughter plant
  • Hepatitis A Outbreak Linked to Townsend Farms Berries Now at 151 Sick – including 9 in New Mexico
  • In a filing yesterday with the New Mexico Supreme Court, state Attorney General Gary King asked the 5-justice court to end the state’s ban on marriage equality, arguing that it violates the new Mexico Constitution. Read more
  • (Dallas/Santa Fe – July 23, 2013) EPA is awarding $350,000 to the New Mexico Environment Department for supplemental brownfields funding. The money goes to a revolving loan fund to help the state fund shovel-ready projects to redevelop contaminated sites. Read more
  • This is fun! Great to see tech skills development in students here… A Beginning Robotics Camp for students ages 10 and older will be held in Las Vegas Aug. 6-8. The camp is hosted by the New Mexico Engineering Resource Network, New Mexico State University, College of Engineering. – See more at: http://newscenter.nmsu.edu/9597/beginning-robotics-camp-offered-in-las-vegas/#sthash.Irb37fd1.dpuf
  • And, speaking of tech in New Mexico, The University of New Mexico Hospital and Albuquerque-based telemedicine provider Net Medical Xpress have launched a telemedicine effort that will allow UNM doctors to help treat stroke and head trauma patients remotely in 25 rural New Mexico hospitals. Read more
  • This is sad – I used to enjoy wandering through Peacecraft on Nob Hill in Albuquerque. Apparently it’s closed and, worse yet, its closure is affecting artisan women in New Mexico. If you’re hooked into the fair trade community and can give them business leads, please do so.

Stuff in the news 7/20/2013 – Social Good

Friend Joining Group Showing Friendship And Togetherness.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

Stuff in the news 6/24/2013 – New Mexico

Ghost Ranch, Abiqui, NM - Image by M. Reddy-Hjelmfelt http://theredelm.com/

Ghost Ranch, Abiqui, NM – Image by M. Reddy-Hjelmfelt http://theredelm.com/

Stuff in the news 6/21/2013 – New Mexico

Ghost Ranch, Abiqui, NM - Image by M. Reddy-Hjelmfelt http://theredelm.com/

Ghost Ranch, Abiqui, NM – Image by M. Reddy-Hjelmfelt http://theredelm.com/

  • Santa Fe Opera House was named one of the world’s best opera houses by Four Seasons Resorts. No surprise to any of us here but nice to see: Where Is the World’s Best Opera House?
  • Apparently, the Opera isn’t enough to keep people living here. “Not only does Albuquerque lead the nation in losing jobs, it’s also one of the leaders when it comes to losing people, as in people moving away. It’s a double whammy haunting the state’s deeply troubled economy.” It’s more than job loss, though – people are even leaving to retire.  Record number of people moving away from Albuquerque.
  • New Mexico ranked number 8 in the top ten solar states, based on solar incentives; utility policies; interconnection; and net metering. Interesting that 4 of the top 5 were all eastern ones. Didn’t see that coming.
  • OK, so putting this in the New Mexico post is a bit of a stretch but the question was posed to Outside by someone in Santa Fe and I’m sitting in Hillside Market Cafe again, so there ya go. Q: How much caffeine is too much? 
  • Megafires seem to be expected in NM. “Scientists studying a prolonged and severe drought in the southwestern U.S. say that extensive damage done to trees in that region portends what lies in store as other forests worldwide face rising temperatures, diminished rainfall, and devastating fires.” — Megadrought in U.S. Southwest: A Bad Omen for Forests Globally (Hat tip Jim O’Donnell)
  • If you never got over to The Legal Tender in Lamy before it closed (I’ve blogged about it here), another chance is coming: Judge gives Legal Tender green light to reopen. Is it too much to hope that Santa Fe Southern Railway makes a comeback, as well?

Could Apprenticeships Replace College Degrees?

Call me old-fashioned, if you will, but I already find the lack of a well-rounded education sorely lacking in the corporate world. Unless there’s an apprenticeship in critical thinking, I think this is a less than optimal educational approach.

Apprenticeship
With college costs skyrocketing and the number of jobs for new grads on the decline, it’s no wonder that students are questioning whether a degree is worth the investment. But given that the jobs of the future are projected to require some form of post-secondary education, a key question is how to provide academic knowledge and industry-specific training that will prepare students for the future. The answer might come from a throwback to the Middle Ages: apprenticeships.

Traditionally, we think of interning as the way for students to get on-the-job experience. But internships vary in quality and often aren’t paid, which means that students from low-income backgrounds are unable to take advantage of the opportunity. Apprenticeships offer a new model, combining paid on-the-job training with college or trade school classes.

The demand for apprenticeships is particularly acute in the United Kingdom, where a recent BBC survey of high schoolers revealed that two-thirds say they’d forgo attending college in favor of entering an apprenticeship. Businesses there also support the apprenticeship revival. Adrian Thomas, head of resourcing for Network Rail, a company that maintains the U.K.’s rail infrastructure told The Independent that “the investment that we make in our apprentices is driven by needing people with the right skills coming in to support our maintenance teams.” Thomas says organizing an apprenticeship program makes “both economic and safety sense,” because without the trainees, his company would be in the position of having to look outside the country for employees, or retrain workers from other industries.

Here in the United States, the Department of Labor is trying to expand apprenticeship models in high-demand fields like health care, green jobs, transportation, and information technology. One obstacle to the success of such programs is the need for students to commit to a field at a young age. It’s tough for a teenager, especially one from a low-income urban neighborhood, to sign up for a health care track if she doesn’t know whether the sight of blood will make her sick, or a computer apprenticeship if she’s never had any exposure to technology. And there’s no easy way for students to figure out which employers are accepting apprentices or get in contact with them.

That’s where tweaking the apprenticeship model to better align schools and employers could help. For example, a place like “P-Tech“, a new high school in New York City that’s the result of a partnership between IBM and the City University of New York, could prove to be a viable apprenticeship model. P-Tech students have the option of enrolling for six years of study—by graduation, they have hands-on experience, an associate’s degree in computer science, and a possible job offer from IBM.

Of course, apprenticeships require a significant time investment—the average program is four years long. But there are huge financial incentives for sticking with it: The average salary for someone who has completed an apprenticeship is $49,795—more than what some teachers with four-year degrees earn. And cash-strapped students will be attracted to the possibility of coming out of an apprenticeship without any student loans. For a generation looking for ways to gain knowledge and skills without being crippled by debt, that might make apprenticeships the way to go.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

64% of Americans Don’t Have $1,000 in Savings

I know setting aside 8-12 months of living expenses is impossible for a lot of people but put away $1,000. Oh, and pay down your credit cards, too.

Photo-Illustration by Alexander Ho for TIME

Photo-Illustration by Alexander Ho for TIME

If you suddenly needed $1,000 to cover an unexpected expense, how would you come up with the money? In a new survey, only 36% of Americans said they’d simply turn to their trusty savings accounts. The rest would be forced to hit up friends, family, or loan operations for the money, get a cash advance on a credit card, disregard payments on monthly expenses, or pawn some of their stuff.

The recent online poll from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling asked people where they would turn if they suddenly needed $1,000 for an unplanned expense. A mere 36% of the 2,700 respondents said they’d just withdraw the money from their savings account—which is exactly what such a rainy day fund is for. The rest answered with one of these other options:

Take out a loan = 9%

Borrow from friends or family = 17%

Cash advance on your credit card = 9%

Disregard other monthly expenses = 17%

Sell or pawn assets = 12%

While it’s not entirely clear, I suppose the assumption is that this theoretical $1,000 is needed in cash, and needed immediately. Meaning: You couldn’t just put the expense on a credit card and figure out how to pay it off within a month’s time. It’s also noteworthy that online polls like this one aren’t necessarily as random (or accurate) as those conducted over the phone. In any event, the data is alarming. As NFCC spokesperson Gail Cunningham puts it:

“Selecting any option other than taking the money from savings should be a red flag.”

In another recent survey, just 24% of Americans reported having a six-month emergency fund—while an equal number (24%) said they had no emergency savings whatsoever.

(MORE: Do You Bank Online? You Probably Pay More For the Convenience Than You Think)

All of this is particularly disturbing nowadays because, as a lifehacker post reported, the old rule of prudent saving—always maintaining a three- to six-month emergency fund—is probably insufficient today. Why? The average length of unemployment is over 40 weeks lately, meaning that someone suddenly laid off shouldn’t assume they’d be able to find another job within that old three- to six-month window. It’s likely to take much longer to become gainfully employed once again.

Therefore, it’s arguable that you should have an emergency fund to cover expenses for eight to 12 months nowadays. That’s easier said than done, especially given that most people seem to have trouble coming up with $1,000.

Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

Woodward Light Fail: If Detroit can’t do rail, how can it keep young talent from fleeing? | MLive.com

Here’s all you need to know about the reported tension between Woodward Light Rail stakeholders: old people with gray hair are arguing about things old people with gray hair like to argue about. 

That’s not to dismiss fears that investors may pull back some or all of their $100 million commitment, it’s only to underscore how silly this spat is.

Over the last generation, cities across the country have built and supported light rail lines. The late Paul Weyrich, one of the conservative movement’s founding fathers and a fierce rail advocate, liked to point to Salt Lake City as a place without a long public transportation history where light rail was successful.

Consider this: If the private investors take their ball and go home and Woodward Light Rail fails, then Detroit can be reasonably considered less capable of urban redevelopment than Salt Lake City.

It’s not that light rail on Woodward is some magic bullet project, but if Detroit can’t do this—the most modest and obvious of urban transit projects—then there’s no reason to believe Detroit can ever muster the comeback necessary make this place a “world class city,” at least not in a sustainable macroscopic way. At that point there’s no reason for talented, ambitious young people to waste their time trying to make Detroit a better place.

Continue reading here: mlive.com

Woodward Light Fail: If Detroit can’t do rail, how can it keep young talent from fleeing? | MLive.com

Here’s all you need to know about the reported tension between Woodward Light Rail stakeholders: old people with gray hair are arguing about things old people with gray hair like to argue about. 

That’s not to dismiss fears that investors may pull back some or all of their $100 million commitment, it’s only to underscore how silly this spat is.

Over the last generation, cities across the country have built and supported light rail lines. The late Paul Weyrich, one of the conservative movement’s founding fathers and a fierce rail advocate, liked to point to Salt Lake City as a place without a long public transportation history where light rail was successful.

Consider this: If the private investors take their ball and go home and Woodward Light Rail fails, then Detroit can be reasonably considered less capable of urban redevelopment than Salt Lake City.

It’s not that light rail on Woodward is some magic bullet project, but if Detroit can’t do this—the most modest and obvious of urban transit projects—then there’s no reason to believe Detroit can ever muster the comeback necessary make this place a “world class city,” at least not in a sustainable macroscopic way. At that point there’s no reason for talented, ambitious young people to waste their time trying to make Detroit a better place.

Continue reading here: mlive.com

Internet Becoming a Requirement for Prosperity in the Global Economy #EMCampNM

The world’s top economies are increasingly dependent on the Internet, according to a new report by the McKinsey Global Institute.

Measuring the percent GDP growth attributed to the Internet in Brazil, China, India, South Korea, Sweden, and the G-8 countries, the report found that the broadband sector is booming. According to the findings:

“On average, the Internet contributes 3.4 percent to GDP in the 13 countries covered by the research — an amount the size of Spain or Canada in terms of GDP, and growing at a faster rate than that of Brazil … if measured as a sector, Internet-related consumption and expenditure is now bigger than agriculture or energy.”

Continues at speedmatters.org