Business & Economy

Just Economics is trying to get a living wage for working class in Western North Carolina.
http://justeconomicswnc.org/

  The Asheville nonprofit Just Economics has been pushing for local businesses to pay a living wage. 

    

A new report from the Brookings Institution ranks four North Carolina cities among the top 15 in the country where poverty is soaring fastest: Raleigh, Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Greensboro-High Point. 

Jobs
Thinglass / Shutterstock.com

North Carolina’s unemployment rate hasn’t moved much in the past several months as the state continues its slow trek towards job growth.

The North Carolina Department of Commerce reports a July jobless rate of 6.5 percent.  That’s one-tenth higher than the month before, but 1.6 percentage points lower than a year ago.

Michelle Mills
Leoneda Inge

North Carolina’s manufacturing story is old and complicated.  In just the past decade, the state has seen many traditional manufacturing operations shut down, devastating tens of thousands of workers and their families.

But this decade has also witnessed the growth of a new kind of manufacturing. Next Generation manufacturing is cleaner and more nimble and requires highly-skilled workers.  And you have to start early building a talented workforce.

Teen Suicide
www.teensuicideprevention.org

A new study out of Duke University shows there is a direct correlation between mass job layoffs and a spike in suicide-related behavior among girls and African American teenagers.

Anna Gassman-Pines found when 1 percent of a state’s working population lost their jobs, suicide-related behaviors increased by 2 to 3 percentage points among girls and black adolescents in the following year. 

Pieces from Stanley Furniture's Young America collection.
High Point Market

  

North Carolina has a rich history of producing furniture. High Point has been at the center of the market for more than a century. 

But the industry looks much different than it did just a few decades ago. Globalization caused many companies to send manufacturing overseas. Most recently, Stanley Furniture Company closed its plant in Robbinsville.

Some large companies are trying to reverse that trend, while small custom furniture shops pop up across the state.

Craft beer sales have been growing by double digits, even as overall beer sales have flattened. And several independent craft beer makers — all based in the Western U.S. — are expanding production to the East. But to keep the flavor true, they have to tinker with beer's main ingredient: water.

Every day, a half-dozen employees of Oskar Blues Brewery file into a small room in Brevard, N.C. It's cluttered with boxes, petri dishes and test tubes.

Pigs on a Farm
Eric Mennel / WUNC

Last year, according the State Department of Agriculture, North Carolina exported about $3.7 million in meat products to Russia. So far this year, that number has increased ten-fold, to $40 million. Now that Russia has banned the import of American beef, pork, and poultry products, that surge will come to a halt.

A picture of a man charging an electric car.
David Dodge / Green Energy Futures via Creative Commons

Eight different auto manufacturers and 15 different utility companies are teaming up with the Electric Power Research Institute to test technology that will allow them to determine when electric cars can recharge.

A picture of a window with a for rent sign.
capl_@_washjeff.edu / Creative Commons

Several major property management companies in Carrboro and Chapel Hill are no longer accepting federal housing assistance vouchers.  Housing assistance advocates say options for low-income families in the area are dwindling.

James Davis of the Orange County Housing Authority said at a press conference in Carrboro yesterday that there's a misconception that Section 8 recipients don't work, or that participating in the Section 8 program is difficult.

A picture of a sold sign in front of a house.
AKZOphoto / Creative Commons

A new national survey shows mortgage closing costs are rising across all 50 states. 

Holden Lewis is a mortgage analyst for Bankrate.com.  He says North Carolina ranks as the 12th most expensive state. 

“Mortgage closing costs went up this year about five or six percent compared to last year.  And lenders say that the reason is regulation,” Lewis said. 

Sales Tax Holiday
waaytv.com

This weekend would normally be North Carolina’s Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday.  But that ended last year.  The state Retail Merchants Association is asking business owners to track sales anyway.

The state legislature’s argument for doing away with the Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday was it cost North Carolina $13 million dollars in lost sales tax revenue.

But supporters of the popular sales tax holiday say consumers saved $13 million dollars.

Unemployment lines
Wikimedia

    

North Carolina lawmakers voted last year to end long-term unemployment benefits.

The move meant the state stopped accepting money from the federal government for workers who had been out of a job for 20 weeks or more. Legislators said they made the change in order to start paying down more than $2 billion in jobless benefits the state already owed to the federal government.

In 2011, a new videogame premiered that not many expected would be a hit. The game is called Spent and it is about surviving homelessness.

Spent is a collaboration  between Urban Ministries of Durham and the interactive firm, McKinney.

Carol Jackson

Willie Latimore has a really hard time getting fresh food. He lost much of his right leg to diabetes a few years ago, and he uses a wheelchair to get around. He lives at Carriage House Apartments in Raleigh, where the rent is based on income.

Dollar Tree
Leoneda Inge

North Carolina-based Family Dollar was opening hundreds of stores a year, until this year.  Now it’s being bought by Dollar Tree, one of its biggest rivals.

There are several Family Dollar discount stores in Durham, but they aren’t new.  In fact, Family Dollar announced earlier this year it would close 370 stores nationwide.

Nathan Winter / Flickr Creative Commons

    

When children are living in poverty, it can have long-term consequences for their health, education and their own economic status. 

But in many cases, their families don’t have access to social services, or know where to get help. 

Showhomes, Home Staging
Eric Mennel / WUNC

About a year ago, Cora Blinsman’s mom passed away. Needless to say, it was a really hard on her. She started taking stock of her own life. Cora had been a full-time, stay-at-home mom for 20 years, and she was feeling burnt out. She needed space. So … she got a lot of it.

Chapel Hill bus
bendertj / Flickr/Creative Commons (Image cropped)

There are two informal gatherings this week in which the public is invited to share ideas about the future of downtown Chapel Hill, including the development of Rosemary and Franklin streets. The project is called Chapel Hill Downtown Imagined:

Kid Finance

Jul 17, 2014
makethedifference.org

Children learn a great deal about money from their parents. But which aspects are parents wont to teach and which do they often conceal? Researcher Lynsey Romo sought to answer that in her new study, "Money Matters: Children's Perceptions of Parent-Child Financial Disclosure".

Meanwhile, an exhibit at Marbles Kids Museum aims to facilitate money talk in kids as young as five and the North Carolina Bankers Association works with middle and high school students.

    

Reynolds American and Lorillard, two of the country’s biggest tobacco producers, announced a merger yesterday that is expected to reshape the tobacco industry. 

A picture of a pack of Newport cigarettes.
Officer / Wikipedia

Reynolds American plans to acquire Lorillard as part of a $27 billion merger. The deal would bring together the second- and third-largest tobacco companies in America.

Reynolds owns the popular Camel and Pall Mall cigarettes, but now they stand to acquire Lorillard's iconic Newport brand.

Reynolds President Susan Cameron said she's had her eye on it for some time.

A picture of segments of pipeline.
Harald Hoyer / Creative Commons

PSNC Energy is taking feedback from property owners about plans to lay a natural gas pipeline. The company wants to extend an existing transmission line from Northern Wake County into Eastern Franklin County and south to Zebulon.

PSNC Spokeswoman Angela Townsend said the company is working to keep up with anticipated population growth in the area. She did not comment on the projected increase of customers or pipeline capacity. Townsend said the extension would be up to 29 miles long.

Lorillard's major brands
Lorillard

America's second and third-largest tobacco companies have announced the terms of a potential merger. Reynolds American Inc. will buy Lorillard for $27.4 billion. The Newport cigarette brand will follow Lorillard to Reynolds, where it will join Camel and Pall Mall, and VUSE (Reynold's e-cigarette brand).

Reynolds is based in Winston Salem, NC. Lorillard is located in Greensboro.

Soccer Ball Image
Flickr/Sonny Abesamis

    

As the 2014 World Cup draws to a close, all eyes are on Brazil. Historical data shows the effects of this tournament may go far beyond the walls of the stadium.

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