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The Economic Perspective 2/3/2023

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.

In honor of Black History Month, an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans, we’d like to spotlight Sir Arthur Lewis, a leading figure and pioneer in the field of economic development. Dr. Lewis received the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences (jointly) in 1979 for pioneering research into economic development research with particular consideration of the problems of developing countries. Read his Nobel Lecture here.

This edition features articles on the Colorado River, Florida's proposed budget for 2024, how drones are being used to rescue endangered flora, and more.

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Deadline Passes with no Deal on Voluntary Water Cuts

Seven states that rely on the drought-stricken Colorado River did not reach the deadline of Jan 31st, set by the Federal Government, to strike a deal on voluntarily cutting water use. The river has over-allocated for many years, but due to effects of climate change this issue has worsened in the past couple decades. Six states submitted a proposal that reduces water use, called the "Consensus-Based Modeling Alternative." The goal of this plan is to keep the Colorado River’s reservoir from reaching “dead pool” levels, which happens when water levels are too low for flow downstream to occur. While this plan remains unofficial at the moment, states will need to reach an agreement, or responsibility may shift to the federal government to find ways to cut. CNBC.

Florida's Proposed FY24 Budget

The State’s proposed budget for FY '24 is $114.8 billion, a 3% increase from the current budget. The departments of health, education and transportation have the most funds with $36 billion, $30 billion and $14.7 billion, respectively. Of FDOT’s $14.7 billion, $13.4 billion would go to projects in the work program, which include highway construction and resurfacing, bridge repairs, seaport, aviation, rail, transit and safety investments. The budget also includes $3.4 billion for environmental protection. An overview of the budget can be found here and a summary by agency can be found here.

Drones to the Rescue: of Endangered Plants

The title of the recent paper published in Nature’s Scientific Reports provides a clear enough description of what was accomplished here: “Collecting critically endangered cliff plants using a drone-based sampling manipulator.” Scroll through the beautiful visual story here at Reuters. The upshot: drones are being used on an island in Hawaii to collects seeds from critically endangered species of cliff-dwelling plants so that they can be propagated in nurseries and returned to the wild to increase populations. The island where it’s being used is home to about 250 plant species only found on that island – and nearly all of them are critically endangered. See the story here: Reuters.

Construction Wages Up, Positions Still Vacant

Despite a 6.1% year-over-year increase in average hourly earnings for construction workers in December 2022, 80% of contractors still report difficultly in filling positions. The Associated General Contractors of America’s 2023 Construction Hiring & Business Outlook surveyed more than 1,000 construction firms, finding that even though 72% of contractors increased base pay rates and about 30% increased bonuses and benefits in 2022, the measures have not been sufficient to recruit new workers. According to Associated Builders and Contractors Economist Zachary Fritz the situation will not be fixed any time soon as, “contractors are now competing not only with other contractors, but also with Amazon and the distribution segment and potentially jobs that offer remote work." Construction Dive.

Funding for Indian River Lagoon

The Indian River Lagoon is set to receive a major boost in its fight against harmful nutrients as a windfall of federal money is promised for more than 30 stormwater-related projects across Brevard County. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is expected to disburse $19.5 million in grant money from the American Rescue Plan Act for projects that curb the flow of nitrogen and phosphorous into the intracoastal waterways. Projects primarily include exfiltration pipes and stormwater basins, as well as baffle boxes to remove pollutants before they reach the lagoon. Florida Today

Data Visualization of the Week

Racial Representation among Doctoral Earners

The Data Visual below, from the Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings, displays the shares of doctorates (among Americans) going to different groups relative to the same group’s share in the resident population (age 25 and over). If the relative share is 100, then the group has parity. Both Black and Hispanic Americans receive well below their share of doctorates, but the share is increasing. Economist Dr. Dick Startz at the University of California, Santa Barbara estimates it will be 22 years before Black doctorates reach parity and 90 years for Hispanic doctorates.


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