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. He now serves as director of UWF's Office of Economic Development and Engagement.

Ways To Connect

UWF

This weekend is Memorial Day Weekend which we traditionally think of as the kickoff to the summer tourist season so we checked in with Dr. Rick Harper about how the season is looking.

UWF

In this week's Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses more of the economic fall out from the April 30 storm and flooding. The destruction of such natural disasters typically generates spending that is funded primarily through insurance claims, individual savings, and FEMA assistance. Earlier this week, President Obama signed a Disaster Declaration for Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, clearing the way for federal aid.

University of West Florida

In this week's Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses the recent flood event and the expected high cost of repairing the damage to roads, infrastructure and other government and private property, likely in the hundreds of millions of dollars in each case.

The unexpectedly large volume of rainfall, up to 27 inches in some areas, brought floodwaters to some areas that had never flooded before. That means many homeowners will be forced to foot the bill for repairs themselves. 

Uiniversity of West Florida

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses the work to be done to come up with a budget agreement during the final week of the 2014 Florida Legislative Session.

Unlike the federal government, the state must have a balanced budget. According to Harper, one indicator of a healthier state economy since the Recession is that Florida no longer has to dip into its reserves to pay the state’s debt service. “We’re now back down to the level where the state is actively contributing to reserves,” he says.

Uiniversity of West Florida

Time now for our weekly review of the region’s economy with Dr. Rick Harper – Director of the UWF Office of Economic Development and Engagement, and advisor to the Florida Senate.

Interview Highlights:

Uiniversity of West Florida

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses the latest report from the U.S. Labor Department regarding the number of Americans filing for first-time jobless claims. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 32,000 to a seasonally adjusted 300,000 for last week. That was the largest decline since December 2012, and marked the lowest level since May 2007.

University of West Florida

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper reflects on the latest comments by Janet Yellen, Chair of the Federal Reserve.  Yellen says there’s still a need to boost the nation’s job market, with a continuation of low interest rates until it improves.

Uiniversity of West Florida

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper looks at the latest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures. According to revised data released Thursday (March 27) by the Commerce Department, GDP grew at an annual pace of 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013. The growth rate is slightly better than the 2.4% estimate published in February, but was down from 3.2% originally reported in January. Harper says “Overall, it’s a pretty good report,” noting increases in 1) consumer spending, 2) business investment spending, and 3) exports.

University of West Florida

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses U.S. Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen’s first press conference on Capitol Hill. “It’s steady as she goes for Janet Yellen,” says Harper. He says it wasn’t notable for any change in policy, but for the same rookie error made by her predecessors Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke. “She made the mistake of being too direct in a response to a reporter’s question, and that sent the financial markets into a bit of a tizzy.”  

University of West Florida

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses issues ranging from President Barack Obama’s proposal to toughen regulations for overtime pay to the net worth of the U.S. rebounding back to pre-recession levels.

Currently, most hourly workers must be paid time-and-a-half if they work more than 40 hours a week. Most salaried workers do not need to be paid overtime, unless they earn less than $455 a week.  But that works out to $23,660 a year, which is less than the federal poverty level for a family of four.

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