|Tuesday, May 15, 2012|
|Beer = Economic Prosperity|
"No, Mom, Dad, really. Beer is, like, you know, important and stuff like that. It can be a job." How about this?! The 20-something's dream is real! You really can have your beer and a career, too! According to a study by Colorado State University's Regional Economics Institute, in 2010, local breweries supported 938 direct jobs and accounting for spinoff impacts, Larimer County breweries support a total of $309.9 million in output, 2,488 jobs and $141.9 million ot local payrolls. So, sit back, pop the top on your favorite brewsky, and read all about it right here.
|Monday, May 14, 2012|
|The Moral Case for Capitalism|
As a student of history and economics, I've long believed that capitalism is a much more moral system of human exchange than socialism or communism. Capitalism causes mutually beneficial relations between people. In the process it honors individuals, their talents, their ambitions, their choices and their values. To say that a system based on self-interests and the profit motive is more moral than one where government controls the means of production (through tight regulation or ownership) and redistributes private wealth is counter-intuitive to some people. But, it's true, though hard to effectively articulate.
The best explanation I've seen on this is a piece titled "An Audacious Promise: The Moral Case for Capitalism" by James R. Otteson. To set up his case, he dismantles the argument by President Obama that capitalism has failed. Don't be put off by what seems like a political statement because it's not really an article about politics. Otteson's real purpose is to make that case that capitalism as practiced over the past 200 years or so is a bright spot in an otherwise brutish 100,000 years existence of our species.
|Best Cities for Jobs in 2012, Fort Collins in Top 15 Percent|
In a newly released ranking of the top 398 metropolitan areas in the country, Fort Collins is listed as the 59th best place for jobs in 2012. That puts the community in the top 15 percent in the nation. The rankings are produced by newgeography.com and you can see them here.
Among the findings:
- Texas continues to be a job machine with 16 cities listed in the top 50.
- Regulation-heavy and union-friendly California by contrast only has two cities in the top 50, which is the same as Wyoming: Casper, #10; Cheyenne, #32.
- Colorado has a very respectable showing with Pueblo (#54), Boulder (#56), Fort Collins-Loveland (#59), Denver-Aurora-Broomfield (#74) and Greeley (#79) in the top 100.
|Why the Slow Economic Rebound|
As you know, I've made the point several times on this blog that regulations and economic policy uncertainty dampen economic activity. Economic history says that at this point, after a sharp economic contraction, there should be a very strong recovery underway. So, why isn't that the case? According to two recent studies, the answer is: increased regulations and policy uncertainty.
|Friday, May 11, 2012|
|Rents Are Up|
Apartment rents are up in Fort Collins to over $1,000 per month and vacancy rates have dropped to less than 3 percent. Why? Well, neither this story in the Northern Colorado Business Report nor this one in the Coloradoan mention it, but a big reason is the '3-unrelated' ordinance passed by the Fort Collins City Council about 5 years ago. The ordinance doesn't allow more than 3 people who are unrelated to live in the same rental property. The result has been to dramatically skew the rental market as young renters, most lycollege students, have had to find other living arrangements. More people are now chasing available units. It's a classic example of government interference in the market with adverse consequences that aren't tracked back to the true cause.
The real estate market is responding by building more units. In the short-term, however, it's a strong market for landlords and a challenging one for renters.
|Thursday, May 10, 2012|
|Regulations Matter More Than Taxes, Say Small Firms|
Taxes matter but a survey of 6,000 small businesses conducted by Thumbtack.com in conjunction with the Kauffman Foundation shows that they care twice as much about licensing regulations. You can find the survey results here, including a state-by-state assessment of business-friendliness. Colorado, by the way, rates an overall score of B+. The Front Range fared best in the state. Where Colorado got poor marks was training.
|The Shrinking Workforce|
In a previous post I mentioned that the unemployment rate would be one of the most politicized numbers of the year because it's a presidential election year. With a lethargic recovery underway, that has certainly been the case. While the official unemployment number continues to drift down towards 8 percent, the real story is the shrinking workforce. For American men, the labor force participation rate is the lowest since this number started being tracked in 1948. You can find a couple of interesting charts and analysis here.
Time will tell what all of this means but having experienced people still young and healthy enough to work drop out of the workforce is not a good thing.