Money

What is Utah Doing to Prepare for a Water Crisis?

Apr 14, 2016
www.usbr.gov

  When it comes to water, what would it take to get to the point where we turn on the faucet and nothing comes out?

“We almost saw that scenario in California this last summer, and frankly it didn’t take that many poor winters for California to experience the most severe drought on record.”

Retirement is just around the corner.
Global Action on Aging

The Utah director of a national program for retired adults is working with lawmakers to study a  state-sponsored program that will help residents save for their retirement. Alan Ormsby is Utah director of the American Association of Retired Persons.  He said more than half of working people in Utah don't have a financial plan for when they retire.


This year, the Utah State University Athletics Department’s slogan is “the climb.” While administrators were probably thinking about athlete performance, their scores and stats aren’t the only thing climbing.

Since 2008, the USU student athletic fee has increase by 311 percent. At this point, the department receives more than $4 million in revenues every year from student fees alone. Yet despite this, they are still claiming a deficit of almost half a million dollars. That’s according to the 2013/2014 USU Appropriated Budget.

The athletics department is requesting $1.5 million from the state legislature this year.

The Obama administration said Friday it will allow a special enrollment period from March 15 to April 30 for consumers who realize while filling out their taxes that they owe a fee for not signing up for coverage last year.

The special enrollment period applies to people in the 37 states covered by the federal marketplace, though some state-run exchanges are also expected to follow suit.

Costs Of Oil: Will Alternative Fuels Take A Hit?

Feb 19, 2015
energy.utah.gov

What I assumed to be an pretty straightforward question—how does A affect B, how does the cost of one thing affect the allure of another— turned out to not have a straightforward answer in terms of the price of oil and the alternative fuel market. 

 

In search of answers, I spoke with energy market analysts, trade association representatives, lobbyists, people within government organizations and basically anyone else paid to know about oil prices and their effect on alternative fuel. 

kuer.org

Oil revenues form a big part of the Utah government’s budget. The state receives funding from not only the state’s gas tax, but also from public trust lands. These funds pay for a variety of things such as road maintenance, public schools, and hospitals. However, a drop in gas prices could hamper that funding.

Tammy Lucero, the Uintah County Economic Development Executive Director, said that oil from Uintah County alone forms an important part of the state’s revenues.

Compromises of private corporate or consumer data are all too common. This month, health insurer Anthem announced its customer data was hacked.

Yet even President Obama last week poked fun at our common line of defense: the lazy password.

"It's just too easy for hackers to figure out usernames and passwords like 'password' or '123457.' Those are some of my previous passwords," he said.

In short, passwords have, in some cases, undermined their own security intent.

blm.gov

After sinking to their lowest in years, the nation’s gas prices are slowly making their way back up. Utah is still enjoying low prices at the pump. According to the auto club AAA, Utah has the nation’s second lowest average price of gas. It’s $1.92 per gallon. However, prices in Utah’s oil country are much higher.

In January, Uintah and Duchesne county commissioners asked Gov. Gary Herbert for an investigation. According to Uintah County Commissioner Mike McKee, the difference in prices defies the evidence.

Costs Of Oil: Jobs Dry Up In Utah's Oil Fields

Feb 9, 2015
Lower prices at the pump
Elaine Taylor

Dirt roads zigzig through the Uintah Basin, connecting thousands of oil and gas wells. The area is rich in natural resources, and many of the towns that have sprouted up in this rangeland are built around the drilling and extraction of these resources.

The future of these wells—and the people who make a living from them—is uncertain, as oil prices remain at some of the lowest levels seen in years.

“In the month of December, oil prices have decreased between 35 to 40 percent,” said Benjamin Blau, a professor of economics at Utah State University.

Blau said these low prices stem from a slower global demand for oil while production is increasing.

“Currently, Utah is ranked 11th in the nation in oil production, and so whenever oil prices decrease, you can expect to see slower production,” Blau said.

Updated at 9:50 a.m. ET

Some 257,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy in January, continuing a 12-month span of growth that saw at least 200,000 jobs added each month, according to the Department of Labor. Even so, in a separate survey released by the department's Bureau of Labor Statistics, the benchmark unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 5.7 percent.

Nearly 20 years after an earlier proposed merger was rejected by U.S. regulators, Staples says it is acquiring Office Depot for $6.3 billion. Combined, the two office supply giants would have annual sales of some $39 billion.

"Staples began discussions to acquire Office Depot in September 2014," the companies said in a news release. "The agreement has been unanimously approved by each company's Board of Directors."

Overstock.com announced this week that the online retailer will offer customers a streaming-video service sometime this year.  UPR spoke with company chairman, Jonathan Johnson, about the new service.  Johnson said the company is also planning to extend Overstock products to customers in China.

In February 2014 Overstock.com announced the company would begin accepting bitcoins.  Kerry Bringhurst asked Johnson if the use of  this crypto-currency is growing.

Worldstock Fair Trade Information

Updated at 9:50 a.m. ET

The U.S. economy added 252,000 jobs in December, capping a 12-month stretch of job growth unmatched since 1999, according to the Labor Department. In a separate survey, the department says that the unemployment rate dipped to 5.6 percent from 5.8 percent the previous month.

It's flattering to be King of the Hill.

And these days, the U.S. dollar is wearing the crown. It has climbed to its highest point in 11 years, with global investors pushing it ahead of the euro and other major currencies.

But while it's a compliment to have a strong dollar, the honor is not without its downsides. When the dollar rises against other currencies, it increases risks to U.S. manufacturers.

So economists are looking for signs that a good thing may be starting to go too far. These questions and answers may help explain what's happening.

U.S. Department of Education

The start of 2015 opened up an opportunity for college-bound students in Utah and across the U.S. who need help paying for tuition. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or "FAFSA," determines how much financial aid schools can award based on a family’s financial situation. The application can be filed now, and Dr. Laurie Wolfe with the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators said being prepared can make the process less stressful.

"It's a good time to sit down with the family," Wolfe said. "And start talking about,'What do we need to be looking at?’ I highly encourage people to get hold of a copy of that application now, look through it, pull together the documents that you need."

The list of documents includes income-tax returns and investment statements. The application deadline is June 30, but to avoid missing any deadlines for special scholarship programs, Wolfe recommends completion before Feb. 15.

The U.S. economy grew at a surprisingly fast 5 percent annual rate in the third quarter of 2014, up sharply from the 3.9 percent of the last revision. The figure blew past the consensus estimate of 4.3 percent put forth by economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

It's the fastest the U.S. economy has grown in one quarter in more than a decade: The GDP grew at a 6.9 percent pace in the third quarter of 2003.

Update at 10:30 a.m. ET: Dow Tops 18,000 For First Time

As the year's end approaches, economists are looking back and assessing the news stories that shaped 2014.

Though their lists may vary, most analysts are pointing to five developments that had very big impacts on the U.S. economy. These were the biggies for 2014:

Oil Prices Plunge

No one saw this one coming. When 2014 began, a barrel of crude oil was selling for about $110. It hovered there until late spring, when the price ticked up to nearly $115.

How The Gender Pay Gap Has Changed (And How It Hasn't)

Dec 15, 2014

The pay gap between men and women has been narrowing for decades. But it persists, and it gets larger as women move toward the middle of their careers.

In a recent paper, Harvard economist Claudia Goldin looked at the gap in a bunch of different ways — how it's changed over time, how it changes over the course of people's careers, and how it varies from industry to industry.

An Old Power Company Scam Makes A Comeback

Nov 18, 2014
Rocky Mountain Power

An old scam is using a new technology to fool unsuspecting customers of Rocky Mountain Power. Because of this, the company has issued a warning to their customers to be leery of anyone calling them for payment of over-due bills.

The perpetrators called businesses, as well as residents, claiming that their bill is overdue and aggressively demand payment in the past scam. According to Paul Murphy, spokesperson for Rocky Mountain Power, the new tricks are easier to fall for.

“They use a caller ID system that makes it look like the call is coming from Rocky Mountain Power," Murphy said. "And they actually give a number that when you call, sounds like the automated telephone answering service used by Rocky Mountain Power, so it’s a very sophisticated way of doing a very old thing which is to take your money.”