Rick Harper

Economist

Rick Harper's career as an economist began in 1979 at the Research Triangle Institute in North Carolina, where he was involved in all phases of various funded research projects. Rick received his Ph.D. in Economics from Duke University in 1989 and joined the UWF faculty that same year. He received his bachelor's degree from Guilford College in North Carolina.

Prior to coming to UWF, Rick lectured at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Other academic experience includes visiting appointments at ESSCA, in Angers, France, the University of Nottingham, England and University College, Cork, Ireland. His published scholarly research is largely in the area of government policy and its effect on the business environment.

Through UWF's Haas Center for Business Research and Economic Development, where he served as director, Rick worked with Florida businesses and government leaders on a variety of business research and economic development issues. He represented Northwest Florida on Governor Jeb Bush's Council of Economic Advisors from 2001 - 2006. Dr. Rick Harper serves as associate vice president of research and economic opportunity at the University of West Florida and oversees the University’s Center for Research and Economic Opportunity. 

 

The Economic Report airs on 88.1 FM Fridays at 6:45 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

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In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper talks about the Federal Reserve once again holding interest rates despite projections that an increase was coming in September.

 

Most observers had anticipated that the Fed would raise rates by 0.25 percent, and many were caught off guard by their decision.

 

“The Federal Open Market Committee held firm at the existing low interest rates,” Harper said. “We haven’t had an increase since December 2015.”

 

 

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses the new Census Bureau report on the economic progress of American families released by the White House this week.

 

Among the findings in the report was the fact that household income grew at the fastest rate on record in 2015.

 

“It was a great report,” Harper said. “We’ve been tracking statistics on median household income adjusted for inflation. Economists call that real median household income.”

 

 

  In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper talks about the Pensacola Young Professionals’ annual Quality of Life survey and what the results reveal about perceptions of the area’s economy and the Port of Pensacola.

 

The PYP Quality of Life survey was released this week. Conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research, 800 respondents were surveyed with the largest response group being those 65 and older, followed by those who were 55-64 and Harper says there weren’t big surprises in the basic findings.

  

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper, associate vice president of research and economic opportunity at the University of West Florida, discusses the impact of Tropical Storm Hermine on Labor Day tourism.

 

 

    

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper talks about a recent CNBC poll that finds many in the economic field are unsure of the Federal Reserve’s plans. He also discussed how the unexpected fall of existing homes sales creates uncertainty in the marketplace.

 

 

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper talks about how unexpectedly strong housing numbers are bolstering the third-quarter GDP outlook for the U.S.

 

Housing starts rose 2.1 percent in July, far exceeding expectations. However, Harper said the bump didn’t affect all areas of the country.

 

“The Northeast dropped off very substantially,” Harper said. “But, we saw increases in the South and West.”

 

 

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses the surprisingly strong monthly jobs report and the future of parking in downtown Pensacola.

 

The Department of Labor’s monthly jobs report smashed estimates for July, with Florida near the top of the U.S. in growth.

 

“It was a great first Friday jobs report,” Harper said. “We came in at 255,000. The consensus among analysts had been for about 180,000 job growth.”

 

    

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper talks about an unexpected boost in the latest jobs numbers, an uptick in consumer spending, what sales tax means to Florida and the problematic state of tobacco use in our area.

The ADP Research Institute’s job report for July was released this week and showed strong growth yet again for the month.

 

  In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses the Federal Reserve’s decision to once again hold interest rates.

The Federal Reserve met this week and, based on their projections, decided once again not to raise interest rates.

“It’s now five meetings ago (December 2015) since the Federal Open Market Committee raised the key overnight lending rate by 25 basis points – that is a quarter of a percent. And so, now we have short-term rates hovering in that region,” Harper said.

   In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses the recent grant awarded to the University of West Florida’s Haas Center to develop an economic development strategic plan through Florida’s Great Northwest.

Through a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Adjustment Assistance, the University of West Florida’s Haas Center for Business Research and Economic Development will take a major role in creating an economic development strategic plan for Florida’s Northwest region.

   In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses the July tourism boom, the effect of Brexit on the U.S. housing market and the call to repeal the commercial real estate sales tax.

July means big business for tourism and leisure and hospitality industries in the Panhandle, and this year is no exception.

 

  In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses the effect the Brexit referendum had on the Federal Reserve’s decision not to raise interest rates, an expected rise in employment and foreign home buying growing in the U.S., with Florida leading the way.

 

Minutes from the June Federal Reserve meeting released this week suggest that concerns about Brexit played a part in the Fed’s decision not to raise interest rates, but there were also other issues at play.

 

 

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses the aftermath of the Brexit vote and the first-quarter revision of the GDP. Also, Northwest Florida’s economy is booming with Fourth of July on the horizon.

If you’re in the UK, the economic temperature is cooling, Harper said.

 

The Federal Reserve met this week and decided once again not to raise interest rates, but the effect of that decision to do nothing is still making waves in the larger economy.

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses the most recent unemployment benefits claim numbers, a sluggish jobs report, the chances for a recession and the second annual Community Summit being held this week in Pensacola.  

The U.S. Department of Labor said that jobless claims fell about 4,000 from last week, showing that employers appear to be holding onto workers despite a sluggish economy.

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