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Welcome back to this week's edition of The Economic Perspective! As 2023 draws to a close, we reflect back on some of the headlines from the year that caught our attention and gave us optimism for the future. We learned that drones are helping save critically endangered plants in Hawaii, and a wildflower superbloom in California was spotted from outer space! In renewable energy news, we learned that the U.S. is experiencing rapid growth in the use of solar energy and that this trend is expected to continue. There was also good news in the climate change arena, with U.S. net carbon emissions experiencing a slight decline, partly attributable to energy efficiency improvements. The Inflation Reduction Act continues to fund carbon reduction technologies and clean energy investments, and the White House released the first U.S. Ocean Climate Action Plan.
In Florida, we saw the first ever “air taxi” take flight at the Tampa International Airport, which is a new type of aircraft intended for short and medium-range flights between and within cities. The Balmoral Group undertook its first “Get to Work Without a Car” challenge day, and staff rose to the challenge by making it to work with a variety of modes of transportation, including trains, buses, bikes, walking, and even a ferry ride by staff in our Seattle office! Several land conservation deals were approved by Gov. DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet, which included properties within the Florida Wildlife Corridor that will continue to help provide critical habitat linkages. And Florida’s citrus industry, which has experienced a long decline due to diseases and hurricanes, is ending the year on a positive note with citrus production predicted to increase next year.
We wish you all a happy and safe holiday season! We'll be taking a break next week but look forward to sharing interesting news and events with you all the first week of January 2024. This final 2023 edition of our weekly newsletter features articles about recycled Christmas trees used for fish habitat, green cement, declining inflation rates, and more!
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"Christmas for the Fishes" Tree Recycling Program
The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources will be collecting Christmas trees this holiday season that it will use to improve fish habitat. The donated trees will be submerged and anchored in various lakes and reservoirs across the state to provide places where fish can feed, find shelter, and spawn. The trees will refuge and feeding grounds for game fish as well as small fish and invertebrates that are all critical to a thriving ecosystem. Read more here. Image: Kentucky Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Resources.
Truck Transportation Jobs Showing Signs of Market Stability
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported moderate changes in the jobs numbers for truck transportation in November after several months of volatility in employment. Last month, the seasonally adjusted jobs total was 1,581,300, a 700-person increase. It comes after a four-month stretch of volatility with 6,900 jobs dropped in July followed by a 30,700 drop in August that was fueled by Yellow Corp. closing, and then September observed a 14,000 position increase and October dropped 3,600. The 700-job increase for November reflects a market of reasonable stability. Read more here: FreightWaves
Oregon is Number 1 in US for Growth/Export of Christmas Trees
The Pacific Northwest is known for more than just its beautiful coastline, majestic Orcas and rich salmon and steelhead fisheries. It also takes the win when it comes to Christmas Trees. According to the Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association as well as Oregon State University, Oregon has remained steadily at the top of the list as the number one producer of Christmas Trees in the United States. In 2020, for example, Oregon sold 4.5 million trees at a market value of $110 million, ranking the Christmas tree industry as the 14th most valuable agricultural commodity in the state. Stacks of Noble firs, Douglas firs, Nordmann firs, and Grand firs are loaded up and shipped to US and worldwide locations, bringing a little PNW sparkle into everyone’s home during the holiday season. OSU; Statesman Journal
Clinkerless Cement Coming to Florida
French cement producer Hoffmann Green Cement Technologies has entered into an exclusive licensing agreement with US interests to build several clinkerless cement plants around the state of Florida. The new production units will be modeled after the H2, Hoffmann Green’s second vertical production unit based in northwest France. No timeline has been provided at this writing. Read more here.
Fed Lowers Inflation Forecast for 2024, Seeing Core PCE Falling to 2.4%
The Federal Reserve has set back inflation expectations to 2.4% in 2024, 2.2% in 2025, and 2% in 2026. Previous Core PCE predictions were 2.6% in 2024 and 2.3% in 2025. PCE measures what people actually spend, adjusting for consumer behavior when prices change. GDP has seen a half percentage point increase to 2.6% and is expected to slow down to 1.4% in 2024. The FED also expects to reduce interest rates to 4.6% by the end of 2024. Read more here.
Data Visualization of the Week
Top Five Christmas Decoration Exporters
According to a Statista analysis of UN Comtrade data, the vast majority of global exports of Christmas tree lights and other decorations are manufactured in China. While no other countries even come close to China’s export dominance of these holiday products, other countries that have a Christmas light and decoration export industry include Cambodia, Netherlands, India, and Germany.