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 discusses the Commerce Department’s revised Gross Domestic Product report and good news about job growth for Florida.

 

The Commerce Department released their revised GDP report for the fourth quarter of 2015 this week and it beat expectations, surprising many.

 

“It came in at 1.4 percent growth and while that’s not a great growth rate – we would rather see growth at 2, 3 or even more percent per year, it was better than expected,” Harper said. 

 

In this week’s economic report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses the Federal Reserve holding fast on interest rates, how the Consumer Price Index is standing, an increase in housing starts and what the renewal of the Economic Development Ad Valorem Tax Exemption means for our community.

The Federal Reserve held interest rates recently and Harper expects this to be the pattern for the rest of this year.

In this week’s economic report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses what local projects were vetoed by the Governor in Florida’s budget and what improvements could mean for the Port of Pensacola.

The largest state budget in Florida’s history – over $82.3 billion – has been signed by Gov. Rick Scott, but only after a veto of $256 million dollars of state projects.

In this week’s economic report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses what’s is (and isn’t) in Florida’s 2016-17 budget. He also discusses the continued development of downtown Pensacola.

As the legislative session winds down for this year, lawmakers will be voting on proposed $82.3 billion state budget. How does this budget reflect the state of Florida’s economy?

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In this week’s economic report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses unexpected national job growth, movement toward building in the downtown technology park and the fight in the Legislature over BP oil spill recovery settlement funds.

The ADP Research Institute issued its monthly National Employment Report this week and noted that businesses added more jobs than expected last month.

“The ADP report came in surprisingly strong,” Harper said. “The consensus forecast had been for 190,000 net new jobs reported by ADP, but it actually came in at 214,000, about 10 percent above.”

In this week’s economic report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses the effect two recent devastating tornadoes in Escambia County could have on the local economy and rental housing market.

A tornado cut a swath of damage through the town of Century last week. Then on Tuesday night, another tornado plowed through Pensacola. That later storm destroyed a number of dwellings, including three buildings containing 24 units at the Moorings Apartment complex on Old Spanish Trail.

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In this week’s edition of the Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses the financial boon this weekend’s Pensacon event should bring to the area, a reduction in jobless claims nationally, and whether recent actions from OPEC could affect gas prices. 

The three-day Pensacon event, which kicks off Friday, is expected to draw thousands of visitors to the downtown area. Harper said Pensacon comes “just at the right time” for area hotels, restaurants and shops. 

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In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses testimony by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on the state of the economy before the House of Representatives, the African-American job gap and how job growth has slowed locally.

 

Not surprisingly, Yellen, who spoke on Feb. 10, had to answer partisan economic questions from both sides of the aisle in this election year, according to Harper.

 

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In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses a recent column by Haas Center Director Zach Jenkins, which looks at affordable housing for low-income families and what factors are affecting the rise in the cost of renting versus buying.

 

Harper said the issue is something the Haas Center has been following for quite some time and that Jenkins’ piece focuses on families who rent – and the findings are discouraging.

 

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In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper talks about the recession fears in the U.S., the volatility of world markets and a rise in the housing market.

The Federal Reserve’s acknowledgement of an economic downturn in financial markets at the end of 2015, despite a recovering jobs market is a concern for many, but there’s no reason to worry yet, according to Harper.

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In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses growth in leisure and hospitality as a driving factor in Pensacola’s economic growth.

In a recently published column, Harper wrote about how job growth in the leisure and hospitality sector has been steadily improving.

Harper said that job growth started at the end of the Great Recession in 2010, but was then stalled by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

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In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper talks about the economic issues discussed in the State of the Union address and discusses how important education will be for job development in the Pensacola area.

In his final State of the Union address, President Barrack Obama began by assuring Americans that the U.S. economy is the strongest and most durable in the world.

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In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses the recent Chinese stock market crisis and its possible lasting effects. Also, he predicts how the Pensacola-area economy will fare in 2016.

China’s stock market has had a rocky beginning to 2016, and that is feeding doubt among investors about the country’s economic stability.

“China is a source of great uncertainty right now,” Harper said. “We had the shortest trading day ever in China as a result of the market falling 7.3 percent in about half an hour, which led authorities to shut it down.”

University of West Florida

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses the decision by the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade.

Harper called the increase in the interest rate of a quarter of a percentage point “good news,” noting the Fed tracked the economy carefully and is responsible for maintaining both full employment and a low and stable price level nationally.

  In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses what the slight rise in unemployment claims means for the economy and the possible changes to the state’s short sell mortgage laws.

 

The Dec. 5 unemployment claims are in, and the state’s initial claims have risen to their highest point in five months – up 13,000 to 282,000. But Harper says that’s no cause for alarm. Depending upon when the month ends, where Thanksgiving falls and where Christmas spending begins, the reports can be volatile from week to week.

 

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