August 1, 2015

China’s economic meltdown could hurt Nebraska

Economy2China saw explosive economic growth over the past few years and now that is cooling off dramatically.

The Chinese economy is struggling after big drops in stocks and some investors believe that trend will continue.

Creighton University Economist Ernie Goss says China is Nebraska’s fourth largest international customer so their economic problems will be felt here.

“What it means for Nebraska is food sales abroad and that is going to have a negative impact there as well,” Goss says.

There is also the possibility of increased interest rates here. Goss says, “About $1-trillion of our debt. The Chinese own China own that. If they sell off that debt or buy less of it, that means the prices of our debt will come down. That would be treasuries and yields would go up. In other words our mortgage rates would increase.”

Goss says China’s goal is a growth rate of 7%. He doubts if that goal will be met but adds that we may never know.

Deadline to comment on Renewable Fuel Standards is today

Gov. Pete Ricketts speaks at a news conference on the RFS. Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds is to his right and Novozymes General Manager Kyle Nixon is to his left.

Gov. Pete Ricketts speaks at a news conference on the RFS. Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds is to his right and Novozymes General Manager Kyle Nixon is to his left.

Gov. Peter Ricketts wants you to complain to the EPA about the RFS.

The EPA, of course, is the Environmental Protection Agency.

The RFS is the Renewable Fuel Standard.

The EPA has proposed weakening the RFS, requiring the nation’s fuel supply have billions of gallons less of bio-fuels mixed in; a change which would greatly reduce the demand for ethanol.

Ricketts holds out hope that public pressure could convince the EPA to leave the RFS alone.

But, could public pressure actually change the proposal by the EPA.

“Well, certainly, the only chance that we have to be able to change their perspective is for people to reach out and let them know and just like anything else our federal officials want to hear from their constituents,” Ricketts tells Nebraska Radio Network.

Today is the deadline for public comment.

The easier and quickest way to comment is through the Internet. Go to regulations.gov to post a comment about the RFS.

Nebraska is second in ethanol production behind Iowa. Nebraska officials say a cutback in ethanol demand could greatly harm the state economy.

The governor’s office released an economic analysis by Fuels America released this year that claims the RFS is driving $184 billion in economic activity and more than 850,000 jobs with $46 billion in wages across America.

The local impact for Nebraska is estimated at $11.1 billion and nearly 40,000 jobs. Likewise, the impact for Iowa is projected at $19.3 billion and 73,000 jobs.

The United States produces 14 billion gallons of biofuels a year.

Nebraska officials claim the EPA is reneging on its commitment to follow Congressional action in 2007 that revised the RFS.

Officials warn EPA renewable fuels proposal could hurt Midwest (AUDIO)

Gov. Pete Ricketts speaks during a news conference at Novozymes in Blair

Gov. Pete Ricketts speaks during a news conference at Novozymes in Blair

State officials, agricultural leaders, and business executives warn that Nebraska’s economy could be harmed if the Environmental Protection Agency follows through with a proposal to lower the federal Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).

General Manager Kyle Nixon of Novozymes says the company plans to expand its facility in Blair if demand for ethanol remains strong.

“The ethanol industry has proven that it can deliver. The technology is there and it is consistently developing. The RFS works,” Nixon tells supporters during a news conference held at the plant in Blaire, “We are asking our employees, our Blair residents, and everyone in the state of Nebraska and Iowa to have their voice heard in support of the RFS.”

Gov. Ricketts speaks with Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds at Novozymes as Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson looks on

Gov. Ricketts speaks with Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds at Novozymes as Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson looks on

Gov. Pete Ricketts tells the crowd the EPA proposal would cut back on the standard and harm the state economy.

Ricketts says the current Renewable Fuel Standard creates jobs and helps the environment.

“And it’s important for us to be able to take care of the environment by using ethanol. It also allows us to be less reliant on foreign oil,” according to Ricketts. “So, you can see this is an industry that really creates win-wins, not only for Nebraska and Iowa, and creates great jobs here in the Midwest, but it’s important for the entire country.”

Ricketts urges residents to protest the change as the Monday deadline for taking public comments fast approaches.

“What now the EPA is considering doing is pulling the rug out from underneath our ethanol industry, the companies that depend on the ethanol industry, and our farmers here in Nebraska by slashing billions of gallons from that renewable fuels standard,” Ricketts says.

The governor’s office released an economic analysis by Fuels America released this year that claims the RFS is driving $184 billion in economic activity and more than 850,000 jobs with $46 billion in wages across America.

The local impact for Nebraska is estimated at $11.1 billion and nearly 40,000 jobs. Likewise, the impact for Iowa is projected at $19.3 billion and 73,000 jobs.

The United States produces 14 billion gallons of biofuels a year.

Nebraska officials claim the EPA is reneging on its commitment to follow Congressional action in 2007 that revised the RFS.

Novozymes is a leader in the biofuels industry. Enzymes from its Blair plant allow agricultural products like corn starch and corn stover to be converted into conventional and advanced biofuels. Nixon says a cut back in the RFS could alter plans to expand the plant in Blair.

Those are the news conference urged the public to oppose the change in the RFS before the Monday deadline expires.

Click here for a link to post comments on the RFS.

AUDIO:  News conference held at Novozymes on the Renewable Fuel Standard. [24 min.]

Nebraska remains on top with lowest unemployment rate

Nebraska’s unemployment rate remained unchanged last month.

So did the state’s status.

The state unemployment rate remains at 2.6%. Nebraska remains first among the states with the lowest unemployment rate.

According to the Nebraska Department of Labor, the June unemployment rate of 2.6% was unchanged from May.

“June continued the trend of the unemployment rate at well under last year’s rate and total nonfarm employment holding at over 1 million,” said Commissioner of Labor John H. Albin in a written statement released by his office. “A variety of industries grew over the month and over the year.”

The Omaha metropolitan area unemployment rate stood at 3.2% in June, compared with 2.9% in May. In Lincoln, the unemployment rate rose from 2.2% in May to 2.6% in June.

Nonfarm employment continues to hover above a million. In June, employment reached 1,007,608, up more than 6,000 from a year ago.

The sector experiencing the most growth in June was leisure and hospitality, up more 2,700 jobs. The category of mining and construction also grew by more than 2,000.

The national unemployment rate is 5.3%.

Workshops to help new home buyers planned in O’Neill

CNHDBuying a home is a process many people go through, but few people fully understand. A non-profit group that serves 17 counties in central and north-central Nebraska is hosting home-buying workshops this month.

Melissa Krysl, with Central Nebraska Housing Developers, says the workshops will cover the process from start to finish.

Krysl says, “We talk about everything from deciding if you are ready to purchase a home to obtaining a mortgage loan, looking at houses, handling a mortgage obligation, closing the sale and just taking care of the home once you own it.”

Funding assistance is available to those who complete a REACH-certified workshop and meet other requirements.

“We do have a downpayment assistance program,” she says. “Those funds are available under certain guidelines and qualifications and taking the workshop is a requirement to being able to obtain those funds.”

Krysl says around 60% of workshop participants end up buying a home.

She says monthly workshops will be held on Thursday (July 16th) and on July 23rd in O’Neill. Both nights are necessary for REACH certification. A preregistration fee of $50 is required.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton