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The Economic Perspective 5/19/2023

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.


Happy Friday, everyone!


The WateReuse Florida Board proclaimed May 14 - 20, 2023 as Water Reuse Week to highlight the importance of practicing water conservation and the use of reclaimed water in efficient and effective ways by local governments, utilities, citizens, and businesses across the state. Florida is recognized as a national leader in water reuse, which serves as an important means for the conservation and protection of the state's water resources. Let's celebrate water reuse and conservation in Florida!


This week's edition features pieces on recent changes in costs of certain construction materials like concrete and gypsum, linkages between fossil fuel production and wildfires in the west, and salmon habitat protection in California, among others.


Enjoy the read and feedback is always appreciated! 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! Have a great weekend!


PPI Bid Prices Remain High Despite Drop in Some Materials Costs

The April 2023 reading of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Producer Price Index (PPI) index, which measures the change in prices manufacturers and producers receive for goods sold over time, shows that prices for final demand rose another 0.2% last month. Although a small increase, the change signals continuing inflationary pressures in the U.S. economy. Year-over-year, cement prices were 13.7% higher in April, while concrete (13.2%) and gypsum products (10.2%) also remained high. Lumber costs have declined by 15% to 39%, depending on the product, over the same period. Read more here.


Fossil Fuel Production Linked to Western Wildfires A new study published this week finds that emissions traced to major carbon producers contributed to roughly 19.8 million acres (37% of the total area burned) scorched by wildfires over the last forty years (1986-2021). Researchers found that 88 major fossil fuel producers and cement manufacturers contributed to 48% of the long-term rise in Vapor Pressure Deficient, one of the drivers for increase in burned forest areas across the western United States and southwestern Canada. This gauge of atmospheric “thirst” is a critical tool for tracking how climate change is exacerbating wildfires. Read more here.


California's High-Speed Rail is Running Out of Money, but Progress Has Been Made

In 2008, California voted to build the nation’s first high-speed railway to connect Los Angeles with the Central Valley and San Francisco. 15 years later, no track has been laid, and executives say there is not enough money to finish the project. An estimated $88 to $128 billion will be needed to complete the entire system, and inflation and rising construction costs are contributing to this high price tag. The project has reportedly spent $9.8 billion to date, completing the infrastructure design and environmental clearance for 422 of the 500 miles; there is hope that federal funds can be acquired to fill the funding gap and complete the project. Read more here.


72 Steel to Open Steel Mill in Pennsylvania

Brooklyn-based steel company 72 Steel has committed to building a state-of-art steel manufacturing plant in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. The nearly 44-acre site will replace the former Jones & Laughlin/LTV steel mill. 72 Steel will produce rebar and other products widely used in construction. Read more here.


California to Reintroduce Salmon on Yuba River

California Governor Gavin Newsom and state and federal officials announced a historic agreement to reintroduce Chinook salmon to the northern fork of the Yuba River after nearly a century. The plan involves constructing a fishway around Daguerre Point Dam to provide access to 12 miles of habitat for various fish species. The $60 million project aims to decrease the risk of extinction for threatened species. Concurrently, negotiations are underway for the renewal of a water transfer program, raising concerns among environmentalists who emphasize the need for an environmental review and prioritize dam removal for long-term environmental protection. Read more here.


Data Visualization of the Week

Statewide Potable Water Reuse - Survey Research Analysis


The Florida Department of Environmental Protection funded research to gather a statewide baseline of Florida residents’ attitudes towards and perceptions of recycled water, including indirect and direct potable water reuse. The results showed that nearly half of respondents think that tap water is unsafe, and about two-thirds of respondents drink filtered or bottled water. Overall, the results showed there is public support for reclaimed water use. Survey respondents reported that, after learning more about it, most (65%) support indirect and direct potable reuse in their community for all household purposes; 29% said they neither support nor oppose it; and only 6% reported that they would oppose it. Read more here.



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