Rick Harper

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.

University of West Florida

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses Florida Governor Rick Scott’s proposed 2014-2015 budget, as this year’s Legislative Session gets underway. Gov. Scott is proposing a spending plan of $74.2 billion.

University of West Florida

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses the proposed cuts to the U.S. Department of Defense announced by Sec. of Defense Chuck Hagel. The plan asks for $522 billion. Harper says, “If you look over time the draw down is substantial and a lot of it falls on the Army. We’re looking at moving from an Army of 520,000 troops down to one of about 450,000 troops.” That would take American military forces to the lowest level since before World War II.

University of West Florida

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses the economics of the inaugural Pensacon convention. Organizers projected between 5,000 and 10,000 people would attend the event, which quickly filled the Crown Plaza Hotel and Pensacola Bay Center.  “It is big, and it’s rare that in February you have a downtown hotel reporting that it’s fully booked,” Harper says.

To further make the point on the significance of the event during the “winter visitation trough,” he says that there are just a few big weekends during the height of the tourist season that beach hotels fill up.

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