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The Economic Perspective 03/01/2024

The Latest Trending Economic, Environmental and Demographic News Curated for You By The Balmoral Group

The Balmoral Group provides practical, professional and precise Economics, Data Analytics, and Engineering Consulting services and is part of a globally integrated team.

Happy Friday!

Greetings from TBG's Seattle Branch, where the University of Washington has announced that their iconic Cherry Blossom trees officially have green buds on them. UW will be monitoring the blossoms via video streaming over the next few weeks until they bloom, bringing thousands of visitors to bask in their beauty. 

Today in Florida, our very own Balmoral Group team members Dr. Laila Racevskis & Dr. Dan Dourte are facilitating the last session of the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve Symposium titled, How Are We Working Together? This session is designed to present updates on TBG’s current DEP-funded Apalachicola Regional Restoration Coordination Project, in which we are providing support services to help DEP achieve restoration goals in the region. Dan & Laila are busy engaging audience participants and facilitating interdisciplinary dialogue among experts, furthering our understanding of restoration challenges, lessons-learned, and future opportunities.  

This week’s edition of the Economic Perspective focuses on U.S. Supply Chains, WA's Climate Commitment Act, Water Scarcity, and Heat records. Our data visualization shows contractor outlook for infrastructure. 

We hope you enjoy the read and let us know what you think! Please feel free to forward this to anyone you think would be interested. If you’d like to view previous editions please click here, or to subscribe please click here!

Amy Bainbridge

Your Friendly Neighborhood Senior Resource Economist


U.S. Supply Chains Continue to Strengthen

Authorized under the $52 billion U.S. CHIPS and Science Act, the U.S. Department of Commerce plans to invest $1.5 billion in New York-based semiconductor manufacturer GlobalFoundries Inc. The investment will increase domestic semiconductor research and manufacturing, which should help alleviate gaps in the supply chain identified during the pandemic. An increase in steel availability is also in the works from Nucor. The company plans to build a new $860M rebar micro mill that uses nearly 100% recycled scrap at a site in the Pacific Northwest. Read more here and here.

Effort to Repeal Washington State’s Climate Commitment Act

An effort is currently underway to repeal Washington’s carbon emissions pricing program, a landmark in the country, which sets a cap on the state’s total carbon emissions. Washington Initiative 2117 would repeal the 2021 Washington Climate Commitment Act (CCA), a state law that provided for a cap and invest program designed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 95% by 2050. This initiative is expected to appear on the November ballot, and, if voter-approved, would remove $1.3 billion from the budget and effectively end dozens of climate related programs. These programs already have belated start dates of Jan.1 2025, with stipulations they will not take effect if the funding disappears. About 75% of the state's total emissions are covered by the CCA's cap and invest program. AP News

Water Scarcity Threatens Chipmakers like TSM and Could Push Prices Higher, According to S&P

Semiconductor manufacturing firms are at risk of water shortages as processing technologies advance. Chip making factories consume large amounts of water to cool machinery and ensure wafer sheets are free of dust and debris. As chip design becomes more advanced more steps are included in production which requires increased water consumption. Water consumption grew 35% per unit when TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) advanced to 16-nanometer process nodes in 2015. This is expected to continue to grow by mid-high single digit percentage points every year. Chipmakers are already collectively consuming water equal to Hong Kong. Read More.

Florida Ranked as Hottest State

Last year marked the warmest on record, with global temperatures 2.12 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th-century average. Payless Power analyzed 15 years of weather data, ranking Florida as the hottest U.S. state, averaging 74.1 degrees. Notably, the increase is attributed to rising minimum temperatures rather than maximums, with Florida experiencing a 3.2-degree jump in average temperature since 2009. Featured among the top 25 hottest U.S. cities are Florida's Miami, Cape Coral, Tampa, Orlando, and Jacksonville areas. Conversely, Alaska, North Dakota, and Montana were the coldest states. St. Louis, Missouri, claimed the hottest city, while Fairbanks, Alaska, ranked as the coldest. Read more here.

A String of Monthly Temperature Records Broken - February

It is very likely that this past month will be the warmest February on record. Even though the data has not been finalized, scientists have been confirming to the public that the month is well on its way to having the highest global average temperatures ever recorded for the month of February. This can be attributed to overall climate change, and the very warm Pacific Ocean water temperatures from El Nino. If this is confirmed, it will be the ninth consecutive monthly temperature record to be broken. However, environmental detriments have followed from this long pattern, from ice caps melting to dangerous heat levels. Read more of the article here on Reuters – Climate and Energy.

Data Visualization of the Week

Contractor Outlook Positive for Infrastructure 

Year-end U.S. Census Bureau data shows that total construction spending was up 14% from December 2022 to December 2023, with spending in the nonresidential sector increasing by 20% over the same period. Despite continued labor shortages and material cost escalation, contractors anticipate further infrastructure project opportunities in 2024. According to AGC’s 2024 Construction Hiring and Business Outlook, 30% of surveyed contractors expect the value of projects in the transportation and bridge/highway sector to increase. Construction Dive.


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