High Plains Public Radio

HPPR Economy and Enterprise

Agriculture:
crop production
crop irrigation
livestock production
dairy production
research & development

Energy
oil & gas production
wind energy
biofuels production
food processing
manufacturing

Transportation & telecommunications
rail service
air service
highways
internet service

Economic indicators & conditions:
workforce demographics
employment rates
land values
tax collections

Entrepreneurship:
small business development
technology application
innovation

The Wichita Eagle

Kansas has traditionally had a lower unemployment rate than the nation at large. But that looks to be changing next year, if analyst predictions hold true. As The Wichita Eagle reports , the latest numbers have Kansas at 4.4 percent unemployment, slightly lower than the national average. But the U.S unemployment rate just dropped once again, to 4.6 percent. Meanwhile, experts expect the Kansas unemployment rate to rise to about 4.7 percent in 2018 based on current data. Governor Sam...

Gett/Motley Fool

The market for agriculture drones looks to be far bigger than many analysts suspected, according to a new report by The Motley Fool . In fact, the addressable market for drones performing agricultural work could be as high as $33 billion.* Drones were first used for agricultural purposes in Japan. Now Goldman Sachs is predicting the agriculture sector to be the largest user of drones in the U.S. over the next five years. And drone makers are increasingly turning their focus to...

Following last week’s move by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to cut oil production by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd), crude oil prices rose above the $55 per barrel mark Monday, hitting a 16-month high, Reuters reports.

Eric Gregory / Journal Star

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2016 Farm numbers were released last week. As Farm Futures reports, farm income for 2016 is forecast to drop by almost 15% from last year’s levels. This is the third straight year net cash farm income has dropped. Most of the income decrease can be attributed to a drop in income from livestock and animal products. John Hansen, head of the Nebraska Farmer’s Union, says the lower prices are putting a strain on producers and lenders. He said he’s expecting “a...

Mike Wilson / Farm Futures

The death of Fidel Castro this week sent south Florida into a tizzy and upended Cuban diplomatic relations with the incoming Trump administration.But on the High Plains, the demise of the island nation’s Communist leader is having a different effect. In the wake of the Obama administration’s loosening of the U.S. trade embargo with the country, many High Plains ag producers found the new Cuban market to be an export boon. As Agweb reports, U.S. agricultural exports to the island have averaged...

Scott Olson / Getty Images

Things are looking up in the heartland. A new USDA study reports that some of the employment and population declines that have plagued rural America in past year have recently turned a corner. According to U.S. News and World Report , rural unemployment has now fallen close to levels last seen before the Great Recession. In 2010 rural unemployment hovered near 10 percent. It’s now been almost cut in half, falling to levels it hasn’t seen in almost ten years. Perhaps most startling is...

AFP/Getty Images

This week saw good news for High Plains oil producers, and bad news for consumers at the gas pump. As Fortune reports, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed Wednesday to curb its output by some 1.2 million barrels a day. The cut effectively ends a two-year period that saw worldwide oil markets glutted by overproduction. OPEC, driven by Saudi leadership, had been pumping massive amounts of oil into world markets in an effort to drive down production in the United...

news9.com

Oklahoma’s poverty rate remains above the national average. As News 9 reports, more than 600,000 Oklahomans are living in poverty, according to the latest numbers out from the U.S. Census Bureau. That works out to one out of every five residents in the state. The state’s poverty rate has held steady since the Great Recession of 2008. Almost half of Oklahomans who live in poverty have jobs. And three out of four have a family to feed. Franklin Gibbs provides an example of what poverty looks...

Bloomberg News

The Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries, otherwise known as OPEC, will meet this week to determine whether the group will curb production. High Plains oil producers are watching anxiously, in hopes OPEC will ramp down production. Such a move would likely send worldwide oil prices higher and increase profits on the High Plains—while also raising gas prices for consumers. OPEC supplies roughly 40 percent of the world’s crude. Two years ago OPEC decided to fight for market share...

energy.gov

A Microsoft data center’s electricity will be powered by a wind farm being constructed in western Kansas. As the Hutchinson News reports, the Bloom Wind Project is located about 20 miles south of Dodge City on 15,000 acres of land in Ford and Clark Counties and once completed, will supply a Microsoft data center in Cheyenne, Wyoming with 178 megawatts of power, the wind farm’s total output, which will be coupled with 59 megawatts of power generated by the Happy Jack and Silver Sage wind farms...

AP photo

The Hutchinson News has published a different kind of Christmas list. This one comes from a farmer in Stanton County, Kansas, and it wasn’t written to Santa Claus. Instead, it’s addressed to Donald Trump. Here are some of the requests of farmer Jim Sipes. First, he wants the Trans-Pacific Partnership to pass. Sipes says the TPP would be “very good for nearly all aspects of U.S. agriculture.” Next, a better Farm Bill than the current one, which Sipes claims provides an inadequate...

cfra.org

The Center for Rural Affairs warns cutting income tax rates could potentially break Nebraska’s economy in the middle of its slow-but-steady recovery. As senior policy associate Brian Hansen writes, “those in Nebraska pushing for income tax cuts promise that doing so brings economic and job growth, but Kansas’ results make those promises ring hollow.” Hansen points out that Nebraska’s neighbor to the south cut taxes on most businesses and wealthy residents in 2012. Since then, the Sunflower...

Reuters/NBC News

Black Friday may soon be a thing of the past on the High Plains, as in the rest of the country. As NBC News reports, Black Friday is slowly being replaced by what many retailers are referring to as “Black November.” And some of the deals that consumers have come to expect on Friday are already available. For example, Amazon launched its Black Friday store last Tuesday. The Black November idea allows consumers to spread their spending out over a longer period. This is good news for cash...

Food Network

The cost of a Thanksgiving meal for the average American has lowered to below five dollars a person this year, according to the American Farm Bureau. The group traditionally does an informal price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table. This year their study concluded that a feast for 10 this year will cost $49.87, or just under five bucks per belly. The cost is down by almost 25 cents since last year. And the most expensive item on the table—the turkey—is running...

Lisa Krantz / San Antonio Express News

Texas employers added almost 14,000 jobs last month, according to the latest report from the Texas Workforce Commission. Over the past year, the Lone Star State has added almost 210,000 jobs to its job-rolls, reinforcing the resiliency of the Texas economy. As MySanAntonio.com reports, the state’s unemployment rate fell one percentage point, down to 4.7 percent, last month. That’s lower than the national rate of 4.9 percent. The largest gains came in the trade, transportation and utilities...

Low gas prices expected to spur Thanksgiving travel

Nov 22, 2016
AAA

There is good news at the pump for people of the High Plains planning to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday. Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas ranked first, fourth and fifth for least expensive gas prices in the nation Monday, according to AAA . Oklahoma boasted the least costly average price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline at $1.85 per gallon Monday, while Kansas was fourth at $1.90 and Texas was fifth at $1.92. In Colorado, average gas prices were $2.06 per gallon, according to AAA. According...

Andy Sacks / Getty Images/MSNBC

Donald Trump won almost every farm state in this year’s presidential election. The electoral map is a wide swath of red, stretching from the Carolinas through much of the Midwest and into the Plains. And, now that their man has won, farm groups say they’re hoping to change the president-elect’s mind about the economic importance of agricultural exports. As Agriculture.com reports, U.S. corn and soybean farmers are urging Congress to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact during the...

The U.S. Geological Survey says a deposit in West Texas is the largest continuous oil and gas deposit ever discovered in the United States. On Tuesday, the USGS announced that an area known as the Wolfcamp shale contains 20 billion barrels of oil and 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. That is nearly three times more petroleum than the agency found in North Dakota's Bakken shale in 2013. As NPR's Jeff Brady reported, the amount of oil in the Wolfcamp shale formation is nearly three times...

Forbes.com

Employers across the country are having trouble filling jobs, according to a new report from the Pew Charitable Trusts . These days it takes about 28 workdays to fill the average job vacancy. Ten years ago, jobs were filled an average of four days faster. One issue is the low unemployment rate. Since the recession ended, the number of openings has increased faster than the number of new hires. Politicians have often blamed the difficulty on a “skills gap.” These lawmakers have said that more...

AP photo/The Oklahoman

There are very few corners of America’s oil and gas industry that are abuzz with prospects for a bright future these days. But one of them is the niche market for dirty-water disposal in Oklahoma. The market is worth about $3 billion, and as Bloomberg reports, Brian Kalt thinks he has it cornered. Kalt has a plan that will prevent producers from having to pump the wastewater produced by fracking back into the ground. Kalt’s company will extract the salt particles from the water and release...

Oklahoma Farm Report

Last week, Oklahoma’s controversial “Right to Farm” bill was defeated by voters. The state’s farmers and ranchers are now wondering what the short- and long-term effects of the bill’s rejection will be. As AgWeb reports, the short answer is: nothing. That’s because the bill wasn’t meant to cause immediate changes, but was rather an attempt to obviate future legal challenges from animal-rights groups and other special interest organizations. Derrell Peel is a professor of agribusiness at...

Meclee / Wikimedia Commons

As The Dallas Morning News pointed out this week, it’s possible that a Trump administration could cause oil prices to drop even further. Trump has indicated that, in his first 100 days, he’ll “absolutely 100 percent” approve plans for the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas. The problem with this plan is, it will only serve to introduce more crude into an already glutted world market. OPEC recently ramped up production to a record high, sending oil prices even lower than their...

digitaltrends.com

With each year, the number of Americans who earn their living by freelancing increases. And as the number of people who work from home grows, so does the number of freelancers who are taking to the countryside. According to an online study conducted for Upwork and the Freelancers Union freelancers now account for 35 percent of the American workforce. And of those, almost 20 percent choose to live a rural lifestyle. The move to the heartland is a result of changes in technology; freelancing in...

oilprice.com

High Plains oil producers received a tough blow this week, as oil prices fell once again on a persistent oversupply of worldwide crude. According to OilPrice.com, recent data suggests that the world will soon touch a milestone rate of oil consumption: 100 million barrels every day. In a normal world, increased demand would mean increased profits. But the International Energy Agency is reporting record production from OPEC members, driving down expectations for demand growth. Producers may get...

WTAMU/amarillo.com

Colleges and universities on the High Plains are seeing increased enrollment in agricultural programs, reports Amarillo.com. According to a Texas Farm Bureau report, attractive employment prospects causing more students to consider ag-based careers. Despite recent struggles in the farming economy, these students are signs that a bright agricultural future may be on the horizon. Canyon’s West Texas A&M University is among the universities that have seen a rise in ag enrollment. Denese...

Houses are bigger and cheaper in Gurley, Ala. than in big cities Credit Art Meripol / The Wall Street Journal Edit | Remove Rural citizens might want to keep an eye out for an influx of techies in the near future. Many urban tech companies are leaving the big city and setting out for parts unknown—and that could mean a tech future for the High Plains. Tech companies are being attracted to less developed areas by lower rents and affordable housing for employees. The usual targets for these...

Vasily Fedosenko / Reuters/Quartz.com

Now that the election is over, we can get back to focusing on what’s important in the world. According to Quartz.com, there’s a new device available that allows cows to text message their farmers when they’re pregnant. The technology, known as SmaXtec , was created by an Austrian startup. Ranchers can place connected sensors into a cows’ stomachs to transmit health data over Wi-Fi. The device doesn’t just signal when a cow is pregnant, but can also tell owners when the animal is sick. The...

Daniel Acker / Denver Business Journal

Car sales are continuing their downward trend in Colorado, the Denver Business Journal reports. This September, new vehicle registrations were down by over 13 percent from the same time last year. This marks the second month in a row that Colorado has shown year-over-year declines in new vehicle registrations. The slump isn’t unique to the Centennial State, though. Nationwide, industry trends show movement away from new car purchasing. Auto sales across the US peaked in September...

Federal Reserve Bank of Philadephia

Of late, the Kansas economy has been the worst in the country, according to the Los Angeles Times . The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia recently released its monthly survey of economic indices for the 50 states. The survey combines a number of metrics, including nonfarm payroll employment, average hours worked in manufacturing by production workers, unemployment rate, and inflation-adjusted wages and salaries. During the period from July through September, Kansas showed a...

Wikimedia Commons

Beef and poultry operations nationwide are keeping a close eye on a ballot measure in Massachusetts, Politico reports. The state ballot initiative, known as “Question 3,” would essentially ban inhumane confined animal-feeding operations. The law would require giving farm animals enough space to lie down, stand up, extend their limbs and turn around in their pens. Though eggs or meat aren’t big business in the New England state, animal rights supporters have seized on the ballot...

Pages