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TOPEKA, Kansas — Suddenly tossed from their jobs by the coronavirus shutdown, people from across the state continue to deluge the Kansas Department of Labor with a record flood of unemployment claims.

All that instant joblessness is greeted by one small bit of good news: Kansas appears to have squirreled enough money away to cover the surge in unemployment claims for nearly a year.

Spirit AeroSystems said it will halt production on all Boeing work for two weeks.

In a news release Tuesday, the company said employees who are idled by the suspension will be paid. The production halt begins Wednesday and will run through April 8 at Spirit’s operations in Wichita and Oklahoma.

The action follows Boeing’s announcement this week that it would suspend production at its plants in Washington state for two weeks beginning Wednesday.

Updated at 4:05 p.m. ET

U.S. stock indexes finished up Thursday as investors tried to absorb the latest financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rebounded, rising 188 points — about 1% — to 20,087. The S&P 500 index gained nearly 0.5% and the Nasdaq surged 2.3%.

Many dairy farmers have struggled in recent years, causing some to rethink their business. One dairy in Iowa is inviting visitors to spend the night in the barn.

It’s fairly easy to find a bed and breakfast somewhere in Iowa that’s housed in a former dairy barn, but New Day Dairy GuestBarn may be one of the very few where you can actually spend the night in a guest room at a working farm overlooking the cows.

Coronavirus hit the global markets this week, sending stocks reeling and pushing economies toward possible recession. In Texas, the view could be even bleaker thanks to plummeting oil prices. Analysts say the state can expect layoffs, bankruptcies and state revenue shortfalls in the months ahead if prices remain low.

Supermarket chain Hy-Vee is closing its Kansas City fulfillment center, resulting in the loss of nearly 600 jobs.

The West Des Moines-based company said in a notification under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) that it had made “the difficult decision to permanently discontinue all operations” at the fulfillment center, which is located at 8700 Elmwood Ave., effective May 6.  


Oil prices plummeted to their lowest point in decades overnight as Saudi Arabia declared a price war on Russia, adding another stressor to financial markets already reeling amid concerns over the rapid spread of a new strain of coronavirus.

Eddie Gaspar / The Texas Tribune

From cross-border trade with Mexico to oil and gas exports, Texas could soon start feeling economic impacts as the virus spreads and affects global supply chains, trade experts say.

From The Texas Tribune:

Coronavirus in Texas

Updated at 10:52 p.m. ET

Oil prices and stock indexes were in freefall Sunday after Saudi Arabia announced a stunning discount in oil prices — of $6 to $8 per barrel — to its customers in Asia, the United States and Europe.

Flickr Creative Commons

Last week Amarillo's Westgate Mall was purchased by a group of New York investors. Like many indoor shopping malls across the country, Westgate Mall has struggled in recent years with the advent of online shopping.

Public Domain via Pixabay

XCel Energy says it plans to refund nearly $40 million to its Texas customers this June.

According to a press release from XCel spokesman Wes Reeves, the giveback is due to “a continued drop in prices for power plant fuel and the increased use of low-cost wind energy resources.”

For many farmers, 2019 was the first year of growing hemp, since it became legal under the 2018 Farm Bill. In addition to the normal challenges of farming, hemp growers have had to deal with a different kind of problem: theft.

 

Wikimedia Commons

The Amarillo City Council has unanimously approved a bond that would allow city residents to decide the fate of a proposed $319 million project to expand and renovate the Amarillo Civic Center.

As the Globe-News noted this week, the plan would include a massive overhaul of the huge facility on Buchanan Street in downtown Amarillo.

Clearing one of the last hurdles in a nearly two-year merger marathon, a federal judge on Tuesday ruled that Overland Park-based Sprint may complete its $26 billion deal with rival T-Mobile.

At first glance, this modest home nestled against a hillside in the mountains somewhere west of Colorado Springs appears to have all the amenities you'd expect in a quiet retreat. There's even a two-story tower built right in. An otherwise peaceful place to catch the 360-degree view of winter's splendor.

"[It's a] really nice place to sit and vacation — enjoy. But, if necessary, it's a guard post," Drew Miller pointed out.

Updated at 11:23 a.m. ET

The U.S. labor market revved up in January, with employers adding 225,000 jobs. That's well above the number forecasters were expecting. The unemployment rate inched up to 3.6%, near a 50-year low, according to a new report from the Labor Department.

Employment growth for November and December was also revised upwards by a total of 7,000 jobs.

Spirit AeroSystems said Thursday it has reached an agreement with Boeing to resume production of the 737 Max, but at reduced levels.

Many farmers are wrapping up a frustrating first year of growing hemp, which was legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill.

“It’s kind of a good way to start, in that that’s about as bad as it can get,” said Jeff Cox, Bureau Chief of Medicinal Plants at the Illinois Department of Agriculture. “There’s a lack of expertise, just a general lack of knowledge as to how to grow hemp the best way."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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The Texas Tech Board of Regents has set a $90 million-budget for the construction of the highly anticipated new veterinary school in Amarillo.

As the Amarillo Globe-News notes, construction began this month on the new Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine, to be located just north of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center on Coulter Street, across from Northwest Texas hospital.

Brett Adams, who farms near the town of Peru in southeast Nebraska, takes the good news where he can get it these days. After nearly a year, the floodwater is mostly gone from his riverside farmland.

Adams is on the local levee board, which manages the town’s nearly 8 miles of Missouri riverbed. And the (unpaid) work keeps him very busy: he was on a call when I first climbed into his pickup, apologetically holding a finger up every so often.

After hanging up, he said he can’t afford to miss a call. Somebody might be on the other end bearing good news.

Texas Sens. Cruz And Cornyn Back New North American Trade Deal To Replace NAFTA

Jan 16, 2020

WASHINGTON - U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, both Texas Republicans, joined with most of their colleagues from both sides of the aisle to pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a new North American trade deal.

Kansas City, Missouri — Time was, a fledgling tech company called CivicPlus had to explain to prospective customers why it was based in Kansas — and not some tech-heavy coastal city.

“We said, ‘Hey, you get Midwest values, but with Silicon Valley quality,’” recalled Ward Morgan, owner of the government software maker based in the college town of Manhattan. “It did throw people off to think that there was a tech company in Kansas.”

Today CivicPlus, founded in the 1990s, serves 3,500 cities and counties on two continents.

The first phase of a new trade agreement between the United States and China is scheduled for a White House signing ceremony Wednesday and many in the agriculture community are hoping the deal will bring some relief to the farm economy.

As the Mountain West grows and hunter numbers decline, states are finding ways to bring in more revenue to fund conservation.

An independent review of Kansas’ rising electricity prices shows the current system for setting rates could use some improvements.

In a lengthy report requested by state legislators and submitted by London Economics, analysts concluded three main things: The current ratemaking process has been slightly balanced in favor of utilities, regulators are limited in their ability to protect consumers from paying for underused investments (such as aging coal plants), and additional bill surcharges and have been a key driver of rising rates.

Spirit AeroSystems announced Friday that it will lay off 2,800 employees at its plant in Wichita as the shutdown of the Boeing 737 Max program drags on.

The move comes just weeks after Boeing ordered Spirit to halt all deliveries of 737 Max components. Spirit produces about 70% of the jet at its facility in south Wichita, including the fuselage. The program accounts for half of the company's annual revenue.

A much-anticipated update to the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement is one step closer to implementation.

On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, voted 25-3 to approve the United States Mexico Canada Agreement. Two Republicans and one Democrat cast the "no" votes.

San Antonio is readying itself for 5G networks from big telecoms like AT&T and T-Mobile.

Payments to Oklahoma farmers from the Trump administration to soften the effects of a trade dispute with China are helping a little, but many farmers are still struggling with a years-long decline in incomes.

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