HPPR Economy and Enterprise

Agriculture:
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research & development

Energy
oil & gas production
wind energy
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food processing
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Transportation & telecommunications
rail service
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Economic indicators & conditions:
workforce demographics
employment rates
land values
tax collections

Entrepreneurship:
small business development
technology application
innovation

2020 has not been kind to aviation manufacturer Spirit AeroSystems. The continued grounding of the Boeing 737 Max — the company's most important program — was compounded by a near shutdown of commercial air traffic because of the pandemic. That has resulted in thousands of layoffs at Spirit since January, along with furloughs and pay cuts.

Despite the drumbeat of bad news, Spirit has consistently remained optimistic when discussing one topic: its defense programs.

Spirit says about 15% of its revenue comes from defense work. It wants to grow that number to 40%.

Jerome Powell has thrown himself, all guns blazing, into saving the nation's economy from the grips of the coronavirus recession.

And yet the White House heaps ridicule on him.

U.S. trade with Mexico fell by over 40% this April compared to last year, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Laredo, the top trading port between the U.S. and Mexico, is hoping for a successful rebound.

April imports from Mexico staggered to $15.8 billion, the lowest since August 2009. Meanwhile, exports to Mexico were the lowest since February 2010. 

Both farmers and home gardeners may have trouble finding enough seeds to plant this spring, but while both are facing seed shortages, the causes are unrelated. 

More people are taking up gardening as orders to slow the spread of coronavirus are keeping them homebound. Companies that sell vegetable and other seeds to gardeners are reporting record demand. Meanwhile, farmers are facing a supply shortage of soybean and sorghum seeds. 

 

Like many small business owners, Amy Manganelli has taken a financial hit since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. So, a few weeks ago, she decided to apply for a small business loan from the federal government.

A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the requirements imposed on nursing homes by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Residents and patients in under-resourced nursing homes, where outbreaks have fueled more than half of Kansas’ coronavirus deaths, will likely pay the steepest price for the state reopening its economy.

As Texas restaurants and retail stores began welcoming customers back through their doors last week, a few dozen people walking the hallways of this city's normally bustling La Gran Plaza shopping mall passed reopened stores whose windows featured quinceañera dresses, Mexican ranchero boots and cellphones. 

New data out from the Dallas Federal Reserve show a Texas economy in “tailspin.” Words like “plunged” and “decimated” pepper the report that paints a bleak picture of the state’s 2020 prospects.

From Texas Standard:

 

A couple of months ago, 30 dead rabbits were found near Fort Bliss.

 

That's when Ken Waldrup, who works for the Texas Department of State Health Services, as a regional zoonosis control veterinarian in El Paso, where Fort Bliss is located, got a call.

For months, the state agency that regulates oil and gas in Texas has considered reducing the amount of crude companies can pump from the ground. Supporters of the plan hoped it would reduce a supply glut and stabilize oil prices. But the proposal died Tuesday without a final vote.

State Rep. Carl Sherman, a DeSoto Democrat, was leaving the house to take soup to his mother when a neighbor stopped him with a question.

Her friend was recently laid off from her job and needed to file for unemployment but couldn’t get through.

WICHITA, Kansas — The coronavirus shutdown killed oil prices. That could be a killer for local governments in large swaths of Kansas, places long addicted to the tax money that’s been lost as companies stop pumping crude from the ground.

In some parts of Kansas, counties depend on revenue tied to oil production to cover as much as a fourth of the local property taxes.

With no rebound in prices in a world suddenly awash in a glut of oil, those counties find themselves scrambling to raise taxes elsewhere, slash their budgets, or both.

From Texas Standard:

What happens to a town whose very livelihood relies on galas, weddings and special events when a pandemic hits, forcing all those scheduled vows to be put on ice?

If you're the wedding capital of Texas – the Hill Country town of Dripping Springs – you work madly to hold on to bookings. You also look for ways of pivoting part of your business to supply emergency first responders.

IRS.gov

The IRS issued a public notice Monday that requires immediate attention from those seeking to receive the additional $500 per dependent stimulus payment from the federal government. 

According to the public notice, which can be found here, several groups of federal benefit recipients must act by tomorrow (Wednesday, April 22) -- if they didn't file a tax return in 2018 or 2019 and have dependents -- so they can quickly receive the full amount of their federal government’s Economic Impact Payment.

For the first time in history, a barrel of West Texas oil was so worthless Monday that oil companies would pay you to take it. Oil prices have been low for months, but the negative pricing of a valuable commodity can be hard to wrap your head around. How does it happen?

Updated at 4:53 p.m. ET

The dramatic collapse in worldwide demand for oil led to an extraordinary development on Monday: U.S. oil prices fell below zero for the first time ever, and kept falling.

The key U.S. oil benchmark, West Texas Intermediate, settled at negative $37.63.

Driven by a trading contract deadline, traders desperately looked for buyers for the barrels of oil they normally hold in their books. But buyers were hard to find — even when the oil was being given away for free.

One of the country’s largest ethanol producers has idled three plants and postponed the opening of a fourth. 

POET posted a statement on its website saying bioprocessing at the locations in Chancellor, South Dakota and in Coon Rapids and Ashton, Iowa has stopped. Another plant in Shelbyville, Indiana was on track to open this spring but that is now on hold.

TOPEKA, Kansas — A month into the economic fallout from the COVID-19 outbreak, one thing is clear: The Kansas Department of Labor found itself unprepared for a record number of jobless claims filed by people suddenly tossed out of work.

“It’s completely unprecedented,” said Brett Flachsbarth, deputy secretary and a 15-year veteran of the agency.

Since March 14, more than 160,000 Kansans have filed first-time claims for unemployment benefits. That is a 2,457% increase over the previous month.

Due to COVID-19, many homeowners in North Texas are out of work and wondering how they're going to pay the mortgage. One option allows them to delay those payments.  

As a part of KERA's One Crisis Away series "Coronavirus and Life on the Financial Edge," Dallas Morning News real estate editor Steve Brown talks about "mortgage forbearance."

As Oil Price Crisis Grips The Globe, Small Texas Producers Feel The Ripple Effects

Apr 7, 2020

For decades in the tiny Texas panhandle town of Perryton, John Bozeman has bought oil and gas wells from companies and says he operated them for a lower cost and with better efficiency.

As the price of gasoline plummeted amid COVID-19 restrictions, so has the price of ethanol.

 

When Brian Biehl found out Wednesday that he’d been furloughed from his job at a company that makes software for restaurants in Austin, the first thing he did was take his dog for a walk.

“You know, [to] kind of assess the situation,” he said.

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

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