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Survey: Growth to pick up, hiring steady
WASHINGTON (AP) – June 9, 2014 – U.S. economic growth should accelerate in the second quarter and remain healthy for the rest of this year, according to a forecast by a group of U.S. business economists. Still, growth for the full year will likely come in lower than they previously estimated.
Job growth should remain steady and consumer spending will also likely pick up, a survey by the National Association of Business Economists said Monday. The survey of 47 economists from companies, trade associations and academia was conducted from May 8 to May 21.
The survey also found that economists increasingly agree that the Federal Reserve will end its bond purchase program by the end of this year.
That’s partly because economists are optimistic about growth for the rest of this year: They expect it will jump to 3.5 percent in the second quarter and remain above 3 percent for the rest of the year.
But the pickup comes after harsh winter weather caused the nation’s gross domestic product to contract 1 percent in the first three months of the year, much worse than analysts had expected. GDP is the broadest measure of an economy’s output.
That weak first quarter reading has caused many economists to lower their expectations for 2014 as a whole. The NABE survey found that economists now project growth will be just 2.5 percent this year, down from a forecast of 2.8 percent in March.
The new forecast is still slightly above the annual average growth rate of about 2.2 percent since the recession ended in June 2009 and up from 1.9 percent in 2013. But stronger growth is needed to accelerate hiring and boost wage growth, which has been weak by historical standards.
The NABE’s survey is slightly more pessimistic than the Federal Reserve’s most recent projections, released in March. The Fed expects growth will be between 2.8 percent and 3 percent this year. The Fed may lower its growth outlook for this year when it releases its next forecasts later this month because of the first quarter’s contraction.
Economists are nearing a consensus about the timing of the Federal Reserve’s next moves. Nearly three-quarters expect the Fed will end its bond purchase program in the final three months of this year, the NABE survey found. That’s up from the 57 percent who said so three months ago.
The Fed is purchasing Treasury securities and mortgage-backed bonds in an effort to lower long-term interest rates to encourage more borrowing and spending. It has been steadily paring back the program, from $85 billion a month last year to $45 billion in May.
In addition, 86 percent of economists forecast that the Fed will raise the benchmark short-term interest rate it controls for the first time in 2015. In March, just 53 percent said 2015, while one-third said this year and 15 percent said a rate hike wouldn’t occur until 2016.
The NABE survey found that the economists are more optimistic about hiring. They project that employers will add 209,000 jobs a month this year. That’s up from their March forecast of 188,000.
So far this year, hiring has been a little bit better: it has averaged 214,000 a month from January through May.
More jobs means more people earning paychecks, and that can boost spending.
Economists are more optimistic about consumer spending this year, which they estimate will grow at a 2.9 percent pace. That would be the highest level since 2006.
Copyright © 2014 The Associated Press, Chris Rugaber, AP economics writer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
WASHINGTON – May 15, 2014 – April’s Small Business Optimism Index rose 1.8 points to a post-recession high of 95.2 – the first time it crossed the 95 mark since 2007.
Seven index components improved, one was unchanged and two fell. The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) compiles the monthly index.
“April’s index did pass the 95 mark that seemed to block any progress in optimism for the past five years,” says NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg. “However, the index is still 5 points below the average reading from 1973 to 2008, and far from what is considered expansion levels.”
While the 95 level seemed to be a cap on optimism that has now been passed, Dunkelberg does not yet consider the recession fully over.
“This reading can only be characterized as a high end recession reading,” he says. “Small business confidence rising is always a good thing, but it’s tough to be excited by meager growth in an otherwise tepid economy. … So while the improvement is welcome, as long as small business owners continue to have negative views about the future, the 95 number may fade.”
Review of April indicators
- Labor markets. NFIB owners increased employment by an average of 0.07 workers per firm in April (seasonally adjusted), weaker than March but the seventh positive month in a row and the best string of gains since 2006. The remaining 74 percent of owners made no net change in employment.
- Job creation. Twenty-four percent of all owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period (up 2 points). This suggests that the unemployment will ease a tenth of a point or more. Fourteen percent reported using temporary workers, up 1 point from March. Job creation plans reversed a recent negative trend and rose 3 percentage points to a seasonally adjusted net 8 percent.
- Sales. The net percent of all owners (seasonally adjusted) reporting higher nominal sales in the past 3 months compared to the prior 3 months improved 4 points to a net negative 2 percent – far better than the negative 31 percent readings in 2009.
- Expected real sales volumes posted a 2-point decline after a strong 9-point gain in March, falling to a net 10 percent of owners. While down a bit, it is still the third highest reading since early 2012.
- Earnings and wages. Earnings trends improved 4 points to a net negative 20 percent (net percent reporting quarter to quarter earnings trending higher or lower), the best reading since 2007. Not seasonally adjusted, 15 percent reported profits higher quarter to quarter (up 3 points), and 41 percent reported profits falling (down 1 point).
- Rising labor costs are keeping pressure on earnings. Two percent reduced worker compensation and 23 percent raised compensation, yielding a seasonally adjusted net 20 percent reporting higher worker compensation. The gains in compensation are now solidly in the range typical of an economy with solid growth.
- Credit markets. Credit continues to be a non-issue for small employers. In April, just five percent of the owners reported that all their credit needs were not met, 1 point above the record low. Thirty percent reported all credit needs met, and 53 percent explicitly said they did not want a loan. Only 1 percent reported that financing was their top business problem (tied with the record low) compared to 22 percent citing taxes, 20 percent citing regulations and red tape and 15 percent citing weak sales. Small business owners are far more concerned about taxes, regulations and health care costs than financing issues.
- Inventories. The pace of inventory reduction was steady, with a net negative 6 percent of all owners reporting growth in inventories (seasonally adjusted). Reductions are good if in response to strong sales, but not so good if it is in response to weak sales.
- Inflation. Seasonally adjusted, a net 12 percent of owners raised selling prices, up 3 points after an 8-point rise in March. Twenty-five percent plan on raising average prices in the next few months (up 2 points). Only 3 percent plan reductions (unchanged) – far fewer than actually reported reductions in past prices. Overall, the report suggests the U.S. economy will see a bit more inflation.
© 2014 Florida Realtors®
Sun, Surf and Fun!
Fort Lauderdale is a coastal city on the Atlantic Ocean. It is also known as the “Venice of America” due to its expansive canal system. The city is most famous for its beaches and boats.
If you enjoy the outdoor lifestyle than Fort Lauderdale Beach is for you. Athletes enjoy running along the road by the beach where they pass beach goers, coffee shops, and restuarants. You can rent bicycles and explore the beach or take a quick ride down Las Olas Blvd or Riverwalk. You can go boating on the miles of waterways, take a water taxi, or take one of the river cruises that are offered.
There is also plenty of shopping in the Fort Lauderdale Beach area. There are lots of small shops along the beach and a mall with over 300 retail outlets near by.
Fort Lauderdale beach is also only a short trip away from Miami’s South Beach!
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|Courtesy of H.U.M.A.N.|
In the grand tradition of vending machines, most pay-by-coin food dispensers are chock full of Oreos, whoopie pies, Cheetos, and Coke. Heart disease waiting to happen.
But as it turns out, there’s another option for automated convenience foods. It’s called H.U.M.A.N. (Helping Unite Mankind and Nutrition). And H.U.M.A.N.’s machines are making their way across South Florida. Most recently, they set up shop in Fort Lauderdale’s Holy Cross Hospital.
In addition to businesses, H.U.M.A.N. is all about getting into schools, especially given the government’s new Smart Snacks in School guidelines. Come July 1, any school participating in the National School Lunch Program must provide healthful snack options. South Florida is no exception. And H.U.M.A.N. wants to help.
The rapidly expanding healthful-vending franchise is based out of Southern California, but it has lots of franchisees in Florida, says CEO Sean Kelly. Locally, the machines are at locations such as Gulliver Prep, Miami City Ballet, Gulliver Academy, the Met 1 building, and Sapient Nitro.
But what does “healthful” really mean? There’s no hard and fast rule, says Kelly, but H.U.M.A.N. has nutrition experts on staff who look for things such as high-glycemic carbs, natural proteins, low sugar, etc. Each machine is also customized to its location, offering items that customers will actually eat.
“The worst thing you can do is stock a vending machine full of broccoli at a school. Don’t get me wrong — I think broccoli is fantastic, but ask an average kid to eat nothing but broccoli, and that’s just being unrealistic.”
|Courtesy of H.U.M.A.N.|
They’re not seeking eating perfection, Kelly explains. What they are seeking is to gradually make snack choices healthier. “Our goal is to make healthy food more convenient than junk food.”
Enter Smart Snacks in School. The rules are pretty explicit and set limits on calories, fat, sugar, and sodium while encouraging the consumption of dairy, whole grains, protein, fruits, and vegetables. Most local schools probably don’t currently comply. But comply they must by this July 1.
Instead of ditching vending altogether, as some schools might seek to do, they can go the healthful route instead, says Kelly, and his company has been trying to help them make the transition.
H.U.M.A.N. set up a website, wrote a series of guides, and is offering a free audit — all to help potentially confused schools figure out how to get in line with the government’s new rules.
Even if schools don’t want to go the vending route, they can still count on H.U.M.A.N. for guidance. No pressure, Kelly says.
All in all, the new guidelines should make for a marked improvement. Gotta wean kids off Doritos and Snickers at some point; otherwise, we’ll have some serious health-care crises ahead.
Follow Hannah on Twitter @hannahalexs.
Buyers want ‘green’ more than they think
WASHINGTON – April 8, 2014 – More than 65 percent of homebuyers recently surveyed say they desire an “environment friendly” home, but only about 15 percent are willing to pay more for a home with such features, according to the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) “What Home Buyers Really Want: Ethnic Preferences” study. The study found that energy efficiency was a top priority across races and ethnicities.
But when NAHB changed the way the question was phrased to emphasize the benefits of environmentally friendly features in trimming utility bills, more buyers said they were willing to pay for it.
In the survey, buyers were asked to choose between a highly energy efficient home that saved 2 to 3 percent on utility bills over the life of the home versus a home without those features. When couched as a long-term savings, more than 80 percent of buyers preferred the more expensive energy-saving home.
The NAHB survey looked at ethnic differences in green housing preferences. Whites, on average, would pay $6,774 more for a home with energy efficiency features that lower utility bills; African American buyers are willing to pay $7,578 more; and Asian buyers will pay $8,251 more.
Hispanic buyers were willing to pay the most – an average of $9,146 more for a home with such features, according to the survey.
Source: “What Home Buyers Really Want: Ethnic Preferences (Part IV),” National Association of Home Builders’ Eye on Housing Blog (April 3, 2014)
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