Business & Economy
Poverty On the Plains PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Tuesday, 01 May 2012 12:42

Report finds poverty in rural areas higher than urban centers

 

Lyons, Nebraska - Today, the Center for Rural Affairs released a report that challenges many conventional assumptions about where poverty and food insecurity exists in the central United States. The report concludes that rural counties in the Midwest and Great Plains are experiencing higher incidence of poverty as well as greater rates of food insecurity, especially among children, than urban centers in the region. These findings challenge conventional thought and policy debates which often conclude, directly or implicitly, that poverty and food insecurity are primarily urban issues.

“Rural poverty continues to be a serious issue in many parts of the Great Plains region, affecting scores of rural households and families,” said Jon Bailey, Director of Research and Analysis at the Center for Rural Affairs and co-author of the report.  “The poverty rates among rural children are most alarming, both in the immediate term and for their long-term development.”

The report, Poverty on the Great Plains, is the third in a series of briefs examining data from the 2010 Census. The analysis covers a 10 state region that includes North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa and selected counties in Colorado, Montana, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

A full copy of the report can be downloaded at: http://files.cfra.org/pdf/census-brief3-poverty.pdf

According to the report, 414,331 people in rural areas (or 13.3% of the regional rural population) were living in poverty in 2010. And that same year 145,065 or 16.4% of rural children in the region lived in poverty compared to 15.6% of children in micropolitan counties and 14.1% in metropolitan counties.

While portions of metropolitan areas of the region are likely to have among the highest poverty rates in the region, the data presented here is county level data that in many cases contains both high poverty and low poverty areas within a county or metropolitan area.

Additionally, Bailey points out that another sign of living in poverty is food insecurity. Food Insecurity is defined as USDA’s measure of lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members or limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods.

Bailey’s report finds that rural people who were food insecure accounted for 12.7% of the population in 2010. And rural children who were food insecure accounted for 23.8%. It is critical for the future of rural residents that the issue of food insecurity be addressed. Solving childhood poverty and food insecurity is particularly important as the physical and intellectual development of children is affected by poverty and a lack of access to healthy food.

“A food insecure household may not experience insecurity throughout the entire year,” continued Bailey. “Any time one has to make a choice between adequate food and other expenses, such as medical bills, a household is considered to be food insecure.”

A previous report also authored by Bailey found that although rural grocery stores play a crucial role in our rural communities, providing vital sources of nutrition, jobs and tax revenue that support the community, they are slowly disappearing across the nation. In Iowa, for example, the number of grocery stores with employees dropped by almost half from 1995 to 2005, from about 1,400 stores in 1995 to slightly over 700 just 10 years later. Meanwhile, "supercenter" grocery stores (Wal-Mart and Target, for example) increased by 175 percent in the 10-year period.

"The growing phenomena of rural ‘food deserts’ - the lack of outlets for purchasing food - is impacting residents in many rural areas of the nation, no matter their age or income," Bailey explained. “And combined with increased rural poverty rates, especially among rural children, food insecurity among rural families is on the rise.”

“In order to reverse these trends in rural America, it is crucial for rural communities and public policy to find new, innovative ways to create rural economic opportunities and revitalize rural economies,” said Bailey.

A 2007 Center for Rural Affairs analysis demonstrated that USDA and Congress have severely over-subsidized the biggest and most powerful farms while consistently under-investing in rural economic development, spending twice as much on subsidizing the 20 largest farms in each of 13 leading farm states as it invested in rural development programs to create economic opportunity for millions of people in thousands of towns in the 20 rural counties with the most out-migration in each respective state - (the full report - An Analysis of USDA Farm Program Payments and Rural Development Funding In Low Population Growth Rural Counties, a.k.a. Oversubsidizing and Underinvesting... can be viewed or downloaded at: http://www.cfra.org/node/603).

According to Bailey, federal contributions to rural development have been plummeting for years – almost one-third of the USDA Rural Development budget has been cut since 2003. And Congress is currently considering making even further cuts to already bare-boned rural development programs. For example, funds for the popular Value Added Producer Grant are in jeopardy and all the money for the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program is currently on the chopping block. The USDA only uses about 1.7 percent of its budget for rural development.

“Addressing poverty and food insecurity, especially among rural children, requires setting profoundly different priorities than are evidenced in the iteration of the Farm Bill currently being debated in Congress,” concluded Bailey.

 
Loebsack, Schilling Call on Negotiators to Prioritize Funding for Large Bridge Projects Like I-74 in Quad Cities to Spur Economic Growth PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Joe Hand   
Monday, 30 April 2012 10:27

Washington, D.C. – Congressmen Dave Loebsack (IA-02) and Bobby Schilling (IL-17) today called on the Members in the House and Senate who are negotiating a comprehensive Highway Bill to prioritize funding for large interstate bridge projects, such as the I-74 Bridge.  Projects like the I-74 Bridge have a national significance and need dedicated federal support to move forward.  Loebsack and Schilling have worked in a bipartisan fashion on numerous previous efforts to stress the importance of the project for local economic growth.

“Large Interstate bridge projects may be some of the most effective investments since they not only put a variety of people and skill-sets to work, but have broad public and private use and economic benefit for the long-term when completed,” wrote the Congressmen. “The much-needed replacement of the I-74 Bridge would not only create construction jobs, reduce traffic backups and aid commerce in traveling to and from our communities, but would – most importantly – improve safety for Americans traveling between Iowa and Illinois.  These projects are truly an investment in America’s and each of our local communities’ economies both today and for the future.”

In 2005, the I-74 Bridge became the most traveled bridge in the Quad Cities with an average of 77,800 vehicles crossing daily.  This is despite the fact that it was built for 48,000 such crossings.  The Bridge itself is functionally obsolete, however, and has never met Interstate standards.  The I-74 Bridge project would also spur economic growth, create construction jobs, reduce traffic backups, and improve air quality.

A copy of the letter can be seen here.

###

 
Voters Prefer IRJA Solution PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Illinois Revenue and Jobs Alliance   
Monday, 30 April 2012 09:43
The Illinois Revenue & Jobs Alliance released a poll earlier this week.
The results confirmed that Illinois voters strongly support a gaming solution that would generate $200 million in increased annual state revenue and create more than 20,500 jobs.

Findings included:
74% prefer finding new revenue sources to raising taxes or cutting gov. programs.
62% support the overall gaming solution laid out in SB 1849.
70% of Collar County voters support the bill.
68% of Northern Illinois voters support the bill.
61% of Southern Illinois voters support the bill.
60% of Cook County voters support the bill.
54% of Central Illinois voters support the bill.

In terms of how voters view the different components of SB 1849, the results were:
69% support increasing the number of slot machines on Illinois riverboats.
68% favor adding slots to the state’s six existing racetracks.
64% support authorizing four new riverboat casinos throughout the state.
62% support a land-based casino in Chicago.

The survey of 800 likely Illinois voters was conducted April 10-12 by Public Opinion Strategies.
The Belleville News Democrat reported on the IRJA’s economic impact study, focusing on Farimont Park in Collinsville, the state’s only Southern-based horse-racing venue.

The Metro-East track has struggled to compete for gambling dollars as markets in St. Louis have expanded gaming options. Fairmont Park President Brian Zander said the positive economic figures in the report should serve as an incentive for Illinois to recapture those dollars during tight budget times.

"What really stands out is the number of jobs that would be created, the permanent jobs and the part-time construction jobs," Zander said. "Also, if you look through this bill that this study analyze, there are millions, hundreds of millions of up-front fees that we pay that would be an addition to ongoing revenues. Again, this is a state that really needs the money."

 
'Wall Street Whiz Kid' Says Best Financial Guide is the Oldest One PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Monday, 30 April 2012 09:39
Money Expert Shares the Advice He Follows

Financial how-to books come and go – they’re published by the hundreds every year. But Peter Grandich, dubbed “The Wall Street Whiz Kid” by Good Morning America’s Steve Crowley, says the one he relies on has been around for nearly 2,000 years.

“I get my financial guidance from the Bible,” says Grandich, author of Confessions of a Wall Street Whiz Kid (www.confessionsofawallstreetwhizkid.com). “Money and possessions are the second most referenced topic in the Bible – money is mentioned more than 800 times – and the message is clear: Nowhere in Scripture is debt viewed in a positive way.”

Grandich, who says his years as a highly successful Wall Street stockbroker left him spiritually depleted and clinically depressed, says the Bible is an excellent financial adviser, whether or not you’re religious.

“The writers of the Bible anticipated the problems we would have with money and possessions; there are more than 2,000 references,” he says. “Our whole culture now is built on the premise that we have to have more money and more stuff to feel happy and secure. Public storage is the poster child for what’s wrong with America. We have too much stuff because we’ve bought into the myth fabricated by Wall Street and Madison Avenue that more stuff equals more happiness.”  He adds, “That’s the total opposite of the truth, and the opposite of what it says in The Bible.”

What’s Grandich’s No. 1 most important biblical rule of finance? “God owns everything. You may have bought that house, but He gave you the money to buy it, so it’s His.”

Some other lessons from the ultimate financial guide?

• Do put money aside for investing: “One of the most revealing parables is Jesus’ story about a wealthy master who left three servants in charge of his financial affairs when he went away on a long journey,” Grandich says. “When he returned, two of the servants had multiplied the coins for which they were responsible. The third buried his to keep it safe.” That last servant ended up out on his ear. The story is a lesson: We must invest our money – and invest wisely.

• Debt’s not prohibited, but it should be avoided: The Bible clearly warns that the borrower will be a servant to the lender, but it also instructs us to lend money. That suggests that there are times when it’s OK to borrow, but it should not become a way of life. The Bible also instructs us to repay what we’ve borrowed.

• The more you make, the more you should give. This is a hard one for people caught up in buying bigger and better things, but there are numerous references to charitable giving. The Bible says that it’s quite all right to buy the bigger house – but the more you make and spend on yourself, the more you need to give to others. That doesn’t include tithing, another very clear demand: God expects you to give 10 percent of your wealth to your place of worship.

• Don’t focus on acquiring possessions. There are many, many warnings that accumulating stuff is dangerous. Material things are fleeting and they’ll do you no good in the long run. What you put your effort into, that’s where your heart will be, Grandich says.

About Peter Grandich

Peter Grandich became renowned in the financial industry when he predicted market crashes and rebounds in The Grandich Letter, a newsletter he created in 1984. It’s currently a blog featuring his commentary on the world’s economies and financial markets as well as social and political topics. Grandich is co-founder, with former New York Giants player Lee Rouson, of Trinity Financial Sports & Entertainment Management Co., a firm that specializes in offering guidance from a Christian perspective to professional athletes and celebrities.

 
Eighty-Five Percent of Consumers Say the Price Needs to Be Right Before They Shop, Reports NPD PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Kim McLynn   
Wednesday, 25 April 2012 14:03

Determining the right price an increasing challenge for retailers

Port Washington, NY, April 24, 2012 — Price trumps sales and special deals, customer service, and convenience as a factor in deciding where to shop for the majority of U.S. consumers, according to The NPD Group, a leading market research company. NPD’s The Economy Tracker*, a monthly monitor of consumer sentiment about the economy and spending, finds that in the most recent survey (March 12) 85 percent of U.S. consumers say that price will be an extremely important/important factor in deciding where to shop in the near future, ten percent more than those who feel sales and special deals are extremely important/important.

How important do you expect that each of the following factors

will be in where you decide to shop in the next 3 months or so?

Expected Consumer Requirements of Purchase

 

Source: The NPD Group/The Economy Tracker, March 2012

By income, 87 percent of those in the household income bracket of $25 to 50,000 selecting price as extremely important/important, 85 percent in the $50,000 to $100,000 income bracket, and 82 percent in the $100,000 plus bracket, according the The Economy Tracker. Seventy-nine percent of young adults, 18 to 34, 86 percent of 35 to 44 year-olds, 88 percent of 45 to 54 year-olds, 89 percent of 55 to 64 year-olds and 86 percent of 65 and older said that price was extremely important/important.

“Shoppers are now savvier when spending money. They have new ways of gauging the marketplace – they can compare prices on the Web while at home or while standing in a brick-and-mortar store with their smartphones,” says John Deputato, senior vice president, advanced analytics at NPD. “We certainly have moved to a time of calculated consumption for shoppers… and price has come to the forefront of the purchase decision.”

Deputato points out that the sophistication of consumers when it comes to price, changes to shopping habits, and the soft U.S. economy has made the decision to set retail prices not only more difficult but more strategically critical for both retailers and manufacturers.

“Manufacturers and retailers recognize that setting the right pricing strategy is a competitive advantage in the marketplace, but pricing is more difficult today than it was prior to the recession,” says Deputato. “We’ve been working with the top retailers and manufacturers conducting price elasticity research to understand the wide range of potential impact on profits depending on the possible pricing decisions. Prices can’t arbitrarily be set, it takes information and a thorough thought process to come up with the right price.”

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*The Economy Tracker Methodology:

The Economy Tracker is based on online surveys completed by approximately 1,500 members of NPD’s online consumer panel in each month. The sample is fielded to a U.S. representative sample; the completed responses are weighted and balanced back to U.S. Census targets. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 2 percentage points overall.

About The NPD Group, Inc.
The NPD Group is the leading provider of reliable and comprehensive consumer and retail information for a wide range of industries. Today, more than 2,000 manufacturers, retailers, and service companies rely on NPD to help them drive critical business decisions at the global, national, and local market levels. NPD helps our clients to identify new business opportunities and guide product development, marketing, sales, merchandising, and other functions. Information is available for the following industry sectors: automotive, beauty, entertainment, fashion, food, home and office, sports, technology, toys, video games, and wireless. For more information, contact us, visit http://www.npd.com/, or follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/npdgroup.

 
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