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Begin forwarded message:

From: Bonneville Research <>
Date: May 26, 2017 at 11:11:57 AM MDT
Subject: May 29th 2017 Monday Report  - Utah 10 Month Jobs Report

May 29th, 2017
Memorial Day
Quote of the Week:
"If you don't like something, change it.
If you can't change it, change your attitude" 
Maya Angelou
National Economic Notes:
Global Business Confidence: +0.4
Global business sentiment is solid, particularly in the U.S., as it has been since before last year's presidential election. Confidence has risen in Europe in recent weeks. Confidence is consistent with a global economy that is expanding at a pace that is above its potential. Businesses' biggest complaint is regulatory and legal issues, with a record close to half of respondents saying these issues are their greatest worry. One-fifth of respondents say the cost and availability of labor is their most serious problem.
Chicago Fed National Activity Index: -0.42
The pace of U.S. economic growth picked up in April. The Chicago Fed National Activity Index increased to 0.49 in April from 0.07 in March thanks to gains in production-related indicators. Two of the four broad categories that make up the index improved from March. Only one made a negative contribution to the headline index. The contribution of production-related indicators surged to 0.46 in April from 0.01. Employment-related indicators contributed 0.1 point to April's CFNAI, compared with 0.05 in March. The personal consumption and housing category contributed -0.08 point in April, down from -0.06. The index's three-month moving average rose to 0.23 in April from a neutral reading in March. The CFNAI's headline index indicates U.S. economic activity was above its historical trend.
ECRI Weekly Leading Index: -0.3
Strong consumer and investment sentiment will support growth in the U.S. economy over the coming quarters, but gains will slow as the expansion matures. The ECRI weekly leading index ticked down in the week ending May 12, falling to 144.5 from 144.8. The WLIg, the headline figure's smoothed annualized growth rate, also declined, slipping to 5%.
Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Survey: +1
The growth rate of factory production has stabilized in May, following a precipitous deceleration in the previous month. The Kansas City Fed's composite index of manufacturing registered an 8, roughly on par with April's reading of 7. The index signals that growth is proceeding at a moderate pace, albeit well slower than in March when the index measured 20. Despite the more subdued state of current conditions, expectations for six months ahead are highly optimistic.
Jobless Claims: +1,000
After falling for three consecutive weeks, initial claims for unemployment insurance edged higher. New filings rose a mere 1,000 from the previous week's revised level to 234,000 in the week ended May 20. The previous week's level was revised higher by 1,000. The four-week moving average fell 5,750 from the previous week's revised average to 235,250. Continuing claims rose 24,000 from the previous week's revised level to 1.923 million in the week ended May 13, and the insured unemployment rate remained at 1.4%.
MBA Mortgage Applications Survey: +4.4%
Mortgage applications were up last week, more than reversing the loss in the prior week. Mortgage rates were down across the board. The composite index increased by 4.4%. The refinance index increased 10.5% while the purchase index moved 0.8% lower.
FHFA Purchase-Only House Price Index: +6.2%
The Federal Housing Finance Agency Purchase-Only House Price Index rose 6.2% on a year-ago basis in March, slightly slower than the previous month's gain. House price appreciation continued, with U.S. prices rising 1.4% in the first quarter, about even with the previous quarter's gain. House prices are rising to greater heights because of steady demand and limited inventories. Gains are broad-based across all regions on a year-ago basis, but house prices in the Middle Atlantic division lag.
Existing-Home Sales: 5.57 mil
Existing-home sales slipped in April, coming in 2.3% below the revised March total, though still 1.6% higher than in April 2016. Single-family and condo sales fell in April as single-family listings fell. The tight market also pushed the median single-family house price to rise at 6% year over year, well above the historical average. Three of the four Census regions registered declining sales in April, and two also have year-over-year declines.  Sales in the West fell 3.3% from March but are still up by 3.5% from April 2016.
Oil Inventories: -4.4 mil barrels
A larger than expected decline in crude oil inventories will put upward pressure on oil prices. Crude oil inventories fell by 4.4 million barrels in the week ended May 19, much more than analyst predictions of a 2.1 million-barrel decrease. Gasoline inventories fell by 800,000 barrels, more than analyst expectations of a 695,000-barrel decline. Distillate inventories decreased by 500,000 barrels, beating analyst predictions of a 248,000-barrel drop. Refinery capacity utilization rose from 93.4% to 93.5%, roughly in line with analyst expectations of a 0.2-percentage point increase. Total U.S. oil demand is 0.8% lower than a year earlier.
Natural Gas Storage Report: +7 bil cubic feet
Natural gas inventories rose by slightly more than industry analysts were expecting, which will put minimal downward pressure on gas prices. Working gas in underground storage rose by 75 billion cubic feet during the week ended May 19, compared with analyst predictions of a 72-bcf build.  In the Mountain region, working gas in underground storage rose by 5 bcf after rising by 6 bcf in the prior week. Inventories are 2.4% lower than a year earlier and 25.8% above their five-year average.
What Do Retail Owners/Tenants Really Think?

The following were comments in a survey of tenants of retail centers nation-wide:
  • "Electric cars are pricey, so we see customers with a higher budget driving them. Having charging stations would be a great way to bring well-qualified customers to the plaza, where they can shop while they wait for their cars to charge." -Mesa, Ariz.
  • "I do wish we were given a list of the tenants and the map of the center. We have guests that get lost in the shopping center, but we do not know how to direct them where to go." -Alexandria, Va.
  • "I love the play areas for kids, but the mall could use a little more dicersity in store types-maybe something like a liquor store, electronics store, or something that appeals to the male market." -Westminster, Colo.
  • "I think there should be a retail advisory meeting every quarter because issues pop up frequently and they aren't always resolved. This way there is interaction with all of the tenants and the front office more often." -Western Springs, Ill.
  • "I would like to do some group advertising with all of the restaurants and other tenants. We need to all work together to get more foot traffic." -St. Louis
  • "I would like to receive a monthly newsletter with information about what is happening-maybe even include a featured store each month so we get to know other tenants in the mall and can help direct customers to their stores as well." -Houston
  • "I would like to see the center be more active and visible in the community by initiating and sponsoring programs. Hosting events on the property would also increase awareness of the center." -San Jose, Calif.
  • "If you are considering new amenities to add for both employee and customer use, please include outdoor areas with covered seating for breaks and lunch." -Gilbert, Ariz.
  • "It would be nice to have a bank deposit option for paying rent instead of the cumbersome current method of sending in a check each month." -Houston, Ala.
  • "Like any other shopping center, parking always becomes and issue on high-traffic days. The availability of storefront spaces should always go to the customer, but employees should have designated spaces, too." -Cedar Hill, Texas
  • "Our recycling program desperately needs to incorporate all streams of waste (glass, organic matter, etc.). Currently, we are only able to recycle paper and plastic, but sustainability is a growing concern for Millennials, as well as our older customer base." -Fortt Worth, Texas
  • "Please add solar panels to the roof so we can tap into an alternate energy source. Plus, solar panels will help us save on our electric bill and savings is everything for small-business survival." -Glendora, Calif.
  • "Shopping at a mall is becoming obsolete, so there needs to be more ways to entertain guests. Some ideas would be a movie theater, ice rink in the winter, more activities at the mall and use of the pavilion." -Western Springs, Ill.
  • "The center needs to turn on all of the lights in the parking structure at night. It is a serious concern for both customer and employee safety with half the lights being out." -Milford, Conn.
  • "The mall should add social spaces within the building's common areas. Additions such as benches, bike racks and a green playing area would be wonderful as well." -Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
  • "There should be more marketing options for tenants to create more traffic and increase revenues. Right now, we are not allowed to have signs outside the mall, which means people don't know that we exist inside the mall." -Princeton, Ala.
  • "We would like to have a quarterly check-in to ensure all maintenance is up-to-date and well maintained." -McLean, Va.
Source: Shopping Center SmartBrief & Commercial Property Executive
Who's Next Up!
Generation Z - The New Workforce 
There's a new generation about to graduate. Just when employers thought they figured out Millennials, the first class of Generation Z is about to enter the working world and likely change the American workforce as we know it. Employers need to be well-informed in preparation for hiring individuals from Generation Z. Here's what companies should know:
Gen Z's are the true digital natives. Born approximately 1995 through 2010, they have never experienced a world without constant connectivity. They have always had a computer in their pocket and will expect technology to be a basic part of the work infrastructure. This generation will lead the way as companies figure out how best to integrate technology in the workplace. To them, tech is a basic part of how the world operates. This will most likely disrupt the traditional sense of corporate hierarchy. For the first time, older generations will no longer be the ones to pave the way.
Gen Z's are the ultimate do-it-yourselfers. They will bring their DIY mentality into the workplace. Every answer they've ever needed has always been at their fingertips. They will find ways make processes and procedures more efficient because they think older generations overcomplicate things.
Gen Z's have high aspirations.  They have a huge desire for career growth. They don't mind working hard, but they expect their efforts to be rewarded and their careers to grow. If employers can nurture Gen Z workers and help them get ahead when they have earned it, they will be loyal employees. They just want their potential recognized.
Gen Z's want constant feedback. Gen Z believes that in order to advance, they need constant and extensive feedback on how they are doing. They are looking for guidance and mentorship from those higher than them. They want bosses who take interest in their careers and the time to listen to their ideas. Surprisingly, face to face is their preferred method of communication with higher-ups, they want actual conversations and connections.
Gen Z's are loyal. Most of Gen Z is hoping to change jobs only 3 or 4 times over the course of their careers. They believe that staying with a company long-term can help them advance successfully. Generation Z wants to work for a company they are genuinely interested in. If they are passionate about the company, they will be hardworking and loyal.
Gen Z's want financial security.  They grew up in the middle of the recession and are ready to work hard for their paycheck. Their focus on financial security will be cutthroat when it comes to establishing careers. Like the generation before them, they want to make a difference, but it isn't their main focus. Money and job security at the top of their list.
Gen Z's will have a side hustle. Most of Generation Z wishes their hobby could be their job. Gen Z is extremely entrepreneurial and they tend to pursue income generating hobbies. This is one example of how they will try to create job and financial security on their own.  While other generations did some moonlighting, it usually wasn't a hobby. For Gen Z, having a job and a money making hobby isn't an either/or option. They will do both.
Gen Z's want flexibility. They believe in working smart. Their lives are so technology-driven and face-paced, they have little patience for wasting time. They have no interest in working 9-to-5 at a desk when it's unnecessary. Allowing this flexibility will not only increase morale, it will create a more dynamic and productive group of workers.
Generation Z came along in the aftermath of 9/11 and grew up during the recession.  These events have shaped their outlook on life. They have a great amount of drive and ambition to bring to the workplace. They are innovative, hardworking, and will be loyal employees.
They intend on making an impact.
The most important thing for employers to know is that Generation Z will be completely different than other generations. Instead of trying to decide if that makes them better or worse than the ones before them, embrace it.
Source: Ginovus
In This Issue
Quote of the Week:
National Economic Notes:
What Do Retail Owners/Tenants Really Think?.
Who's Up Next:
Free Grades 13 & 14
Monday Report Archive

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Dear Winston,
Utah Jobs Report Month #10 2017
What workers are struggling (2017/2016):
  • Natural Resources & Mining -10.2%
  • Utilities -2.6%
What workers are gaining (2016-2017):
  • Building Construction +10.8%
  • Hospitality Accommodations +8.7%
  • Couriers and Messengers +7.3%
  • Specialty Trade Contractors +4.6%
  • Manufacturing +3.8%
  • Food Services and Drinking Places +2.8%
  • Truck Transportation +2.3%
Where are jobs declining (2016-2017):
  • Daggett County -13.8%
  • Wayne County -6.4%
  • Uintah County -5.9%
  • Carbon County -3.4%
  • Emery County -3.1%
  • Beaver County -3.1%
  • Garfield County -1.0%
  • Duchesne County -0.5%
Where are jobs gaining (2016-2017):
  • Piute County +8.1%
  • Iron County +6.0%
  • Tooele County +5.8%
  • Washington County +5.7%
  • Wasatch County +5.4%
  • Morgan County +4.0%
  • Utah County +4.0%
  • Box Elder County +3.4%
  • Davis County +2.9%
  • Sanpete County +2.9%
  • Cache County +2.0%
  • San Juan County +1.7%
  • Weber County +1.7%
  • Sevier County +1.3%
  • Kane County +0.6%
  • Juab County +0.5%
Source: Utah Department of Workforce Services, Workforce Research and Analysis, 5/19/2017

Bonneville Research
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In Case You Missed It!
Utah Economic Scorecard Month 10 FY 2016-17
Total Net Revenue: +6.0% +$450.0m
State General Fund (Unrestricted): +2.8% +$50.8m
  • State Retail Sales Taxes (picking up!) - Up 4.1% +$63.2m
Education/USF: +6.9% up $224.5m
  • Individual Income Taxes: +7.8% or up $230.3m 
  • Corporate Taxes are down -0.5% or $1.35m
Transportation:  -0.3% -$1.4m 
  • Motor Fuel Tax: +16.7% or +$40.4m
  • Special Fuels Tax: +15.1% or +$14.0m
  • Local Transportation Corridor Preservation: -14.4m
Transportation Investment Fund: Down -0.3% or +$1.45m
Liquor Mark-Up:  -1.7% +$2.4m 
Local Government Revenues:
  • Local Sales Taxes (includes food):+4.9% or up $22.5m
  • Public Transit (sales tax): +5.1% or up $9.8m
  • County Option Sales Tax: +4.9% or up $5.6m
  • County Option Zoo, Arts & Parks (sales tax):+11.4% or up $3.8m
  • Tourism, Recreation, Cultural, Convention Tax: +6.2% or $3.5m
  • Transient Room Tax: +13.0% or $5.8m
Source: Utah State Tax Commission, TC-23 5/11/17

Bonneville Research
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  • Serving with Purpose
  • Reaching Forward
In Case You Missed It!
Should Students Get Grades 13 & 14 Free?
Bonneville Research just wrapped up some Strategic Planning work for the Salt Lake Community College, and when we saw this Op-ed piece, we decided it needed to be shared!  We hope you agree.
Four years of free public college might be unrealistic, but two years could help students find better jobs, and keep the country's economy competitive.
Bonneville Research - Who we are and what we do
Bonneville Research is a Utah based team of dedicated professionals who are shameless promoters of quality State and Local Government.  
We believe it is the connections between seemingly disparate segments of a community that form the strength and define the fabric of a neighborhood and a region.
  • If you are a private company looking to locate a new or expanded site, we can help with identifying communities and specific properties that match your unique criteria.
  • If you are a private land owner or manager looking to sell or lease your site, we can help with identifying specific businesses whose typical criteria match that of your site or sites.
  • If you are a developer with a proposed project that just doesn't "pencil," we can help identify specific public and private programs that may assist.
  • If you are a public entity looking to retain existing businesses we can help identify businesses at risk and design strategies to keep them in your community at existing or new sites.
  • If you are a public entity looking to attract new business, we can help with identifying available commercial properties that match criteria of those new businesses you have identified.
  • If you are an Economic Development entity, we can help you identify who is looking at your website and help initiate a conversation with potential new clients.
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Bonneville Research, 170 South Main Street #775, 801-364-5300 off, 801-673-9021 cell, Salt Lake City, UT 84101
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Constant Contact

March 12th, 2018
Quote of the Week:
"Don`t pray for an easy life. Pray for the strength to endure a difficult one."
Bruce Lee
National Economic Notes:

Global Business Confidence: +1.7

Sentiment among global businesses remains strong, unshaken by the recent volatility in global financial markets. Close to one-half of respondents to the survey say that current business conditions are improving and that they will be even better by this summer. Negative responses to the survey questions remain close to a record low. Business confidence is consistent with a global economy that is expanding well above its potential.

U.S. International Trade Deficit: +$3.5 b

The U.S. trade deficit widened more than expected in January and this doesn't bode well for first quarter GDP growth and won't sit well with the Trump administration. The nominal trade deficit widened from a revised $53.9 billion in December (previously $53.1 billion). The deficit came in worse than either we or the consensus anticipated. Nominal exports fell 1.3%; imports were little changed. Utah's exports were $0.526 billion for Manufactured Commodities and 0.060 billion for Services or just ½ of 1% of the U.S. Total.  More ...

Composite Leading Indicators: 100.1

The OECD composite leading indicator stayed steady at 100.1 in January but improved from the 99.9 average for last year. The headline therefore does not point to any notable change in the OECD member economies. The gauge for the euro zone held at 100.6 for the fourth consecutive month. Germany shed 0.1 point from a month earlier, but such a small change is no cause for alarm. The U.S. gauge stayed stable at 99.9. The leading indicator for Russia printed at a solid 101.5, from the downwardly revised 101.3 in the previous month, indicating a firming recovery.

Beige Book: +2.70
The Moody's Analytics Beige Book Index posted a rating of 158 for March's edition of the Federal Reserve report, increasing for the fourth consecutive Beige Book. March's reassuring reading provides additional evidence that the U.S. regional economies are making strides and the reading is more than 40 points higher than March 2017's reading of 117. Regionally, the index held steady in nine Federal Reserve districts, increased in the Chicago and Minneapolis districts, and fell in the New York district.

St. Louis Fed Financial Stress Index: -1.11

Financial stress conditions tightened last week following a down week on Wall Street. The St. Louis Fed Financial Stress Index fell to -1.11 but remains significantly elevated relative to the past several months. The S&P 500 declined 2%, reversing recent gains. The recovery also increased equity volatility, with the VIX rising 19% to 19.6. Interest rates ticked slightly lower, with the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury declining 2 basis points.

Moody's Analytics Policy Uncertainty Index : -0.1

Policy uncertainty slipped but remains elevated. The good news is that the economic costs have been minimal, as elevated uncertainty has occurred through the expansion and businesses appear to have adjusted. Still, a significant increase in policy uncertainty, if it were to occur, shouldn't be ignored, because it could weigh on financial market conditions and hurt business investment. The four-week moving average in our U.S. policy uncertainty index was essentially unchanged at 107.3 in the week ended March 2.

Productivity and Costs: 0%

There was a small upward revision to fourth quarter U.S. GDP, but it doesn't alter the trend, which remains poor. Productivity is now shown to have been unchanged in the fourth quarter (previously -0.1% at an annualized rate). This leaves productivity up 1.1% on a year-ago basis. After falling for two consecutive quarters, nonfarm unit labor costs are now shown to have risen 2.5% at an annualized rate in the fourth quarter (previously 2%).

ADP National Employment Report: 235,000

The labor market remains on cruise control. In February, private-sector payrolls expanded by 235,000 on net. This furthers a string of outsize job gains that have accrued as the economic expansion persists. The pace of growth averaged a strong 212,000 jobs per month in 2017, and 2018 is setting up to be another stellar year for the labor market. Goods producers have made steady progress, adding 37,000 jobs in February. Meanwhile, service providers are driving the majority of growth; payrolls increased by 198,000.

Challenger Report: 35,369

The labor market engine is running smoothly. Employers announced only 35,369 job cuts in February, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas' compilation. Job cut announcements in February were down 20% from January and 4.3% from February 2017. Across industries, cuts were highest in retail, which announced 6,106 cuts over the month. Overall, job cut announcements are low historically as companies hold onto their workers and hiring announcements remain elevated.

Jobless Claims: +21,000

The labor market shows no signs of slowing. Initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits rose 21,000 from the previous week's unrevised level to 231,000 in the week ended March 3. The increase is not cause for concern as the previous week's level was the lowest since late 1969 and new filings remain low historically. The four-week moving average rose 2,000 from the previous week's unrevised average to 222,500. Continuing claims fell 64,000 from the previous week's revised level to 1.87 million in the week ended February 24, and the insured unemployment rate slid 0.1 percentage point from the previous week's unrevised rate to 1.3%.

ISM Nonmanufacturing Index: -0.4

The ISM surveys for February were solid, suggesting the breadth of growth remains fairly broad. The ISM nonmanufacturing survey's composite index slipped from 59.9 in January to 59.5 in February. Despite the decline, the index remains above its fourth quarter average of 57.7. The details were mixed as new orders and business activity increased. The big disappointment was employment, which dropped from 61.6 in January to 55. Overall, the ISM survey doesn't alter the risks to our estimate of first quarter GDP growth, currently tracking 2.4% at an annualized rate. Survey-based and hard data don't always tell the same story, and the ISM surveys capture changes in both economic conditions and sentiment.

Factory Orders (M3): -1.4%

Factory orders took a step back in January, shedding 1.4%, as durable goods orders suffered the largest decline since July. The weakness was broader than we expected, and the nondefense aircraft and defense segments were mainly to blame, and there were other soft spots. That included the important core capital goods segment, where orders fell 0.3%, though the change for December was revised upward. Corresponding shipments also shed 0.1%, marking the first decline in a year. Shipments in nondurable goods are trending consistently higher thanks to stronger demand, adding 0.8% in January. Inventories increased 0.3%.

Semiconductor Billings: -1%

Global semiconductor sales had an impressive start to the year. In January, the three-month moving average of global sales reached $37.6 billion. Though this marks a 1% decline from December, sales are up 22.7% from January 2017. Furthermore, this is the best January performance on record and the outlook remains strong.

Quarterly Services Survey: +5%

The Quarterly Services Survey report bodes well for revisions to fourth quarter consumer spending. U.S. selected services' total revenue for the fourth quarter was up 5% from the fourth quarter of 2016 on a not seasonally adjusted basis. Information services revenue rose 6.5%, professional services grew slightly by 1.3%, and administrative services gained 6.5% on a year-ago basis.

Financial Accounts - Nonfinancial Corporate: +$.60tril

Nonfinancial corporate business balance sheets improved in the fourth quarter. Net worth of nonfinancial corporations rose 2.6% from the prior quarter, marking the third straight quarterly gain. A strengthening global economy coupled with fiscal stimulus in the U.S. will provide tailwinds for corporate profits. Despite strong prospects and elevated consumer and business optimism, capital expenditures by nonfinancial corporate business remain soft.

Financial Accounts - Households: +$2.1 tril

Household wealth grew strongly again in the fourth quarter and continued to support consumer spending. Wealth increased $2.1 trillion to $98.7 trillion, following a downwardly revised $1.6 trillion gain in the third quarter. Year-over-year growth accelerated to 7.8%. Growth in components of wealth tied to the stock market and housing wealth accelerated from the third quarter. Household liability growth increased as well.

Consumer Credit (G19):+ $13.9 bil

Headline consumer credit is off to a slow start in 2018. January's gain-$13.9 billion-came in well below the consensus projection of a $17.8 billion build. The nonrevolving segment was responsible for the lion's share of the increase, growing by $13.2 billion. Revolving credit advanced by only about $700 million.

MBA Mortgage Applications Survey: +0.3%

Mortgage applications were up modestly last week, and interest rate movements were mixed. The total index was up 0.3% from the prior week. Refinancing rose by 1.5%. Purchases decreased by 0.5%.

CoreLogic Home Price Index: +6.6%

The CoreLogic Home Price Index rose 6.6% year over year in January and 0.5% over the previous month. For the first time in 13 years, the index began 2018 at a record high.

Oil Inventories: +2.4 mil barrels

An increase in crude oil inventories roughly in line with industry analyst expectations will have little effect on oil prices. Crude oil inventories rose by 2.4 million barrels in the week ended March 2, just ahead of analyst predictions of a 2.2-million barrel build. Gasoline inventories fell by 800,000 barrels, just above analyst expectations of a 500,000-barrel decrease. Distillate inventories fell by 600,000 barrels, roughly in line with analyst predictions of a 684,000-barrel decline. Refinery capacity utilization rose to 88% from 87.8%, close to analyst expectations of a 0.01-percentage point uptick. Total U.S. oil demand was 3.4% higher than a year earlier.

Natural Gas Storage Report: -57 bil cubic feet

Natural gas inventories fell by 57 billion cubic feet during the week ended March 2, falling just shy of expectations of a 59 bcf drawdown. Implied flow also fell by 57 bcf. This report is not expected to materially impact natural gas prices.

Opportunity Zones
Created as part of the 2017 tax reform deal, the Opportunity Zones Program is designed to drive long-term capital to distressed communities by providing tax benefits on investments in Opportunity Funds.
Governors in each state and U.S. territory (and the Mayor of Washington, D.C.) have until March 21, 2018 to designate a number of Low Income Community census tracts that will be eligible to receive private investment through the Opportunity Zones Program over the next decade.
Read more about the Opportunity Zones Program.
See who is eligible!
"Support for a Non-Aggression Pact on Amazon HQ2"
Dr. Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class and The New Urban Crisis, did something unusual last week. After conferring with other leading experts on cities, he created a "Support for a Non-Aggression Pact on Amazon HQ2" petition and put it on
So far over a thousand leading thinkers from across the country have signed the document.
His candid "this is nuts" view on Amazon HQ2 and why he thinks this is a "teachable moment" for the economic development profession.
Guns in America
The mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, has reignited a national conversation about guns in America. A 2017 Pew Research Center report took an in-depth look at Americans' attitudes toward and experiences with guns, including their views on gun violence and gun policies.

The demographics of gun ownership

In This Issue
National Economic Notes:
Guns in America:
Why Our Brains Fall for False Expertise:
Monday Report Archive

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Where do we import our steel from?
WORLD 21,708,178 35,143,597 29,956,616 34,472,507  
CANADA 6,026,020 5,244,973 5,119,209 5,675,815
BRAZIL 902,980 4,829,544 3,959,361 4,665,427
KOREA 1,851,620 4,402,159 3,458,386 3,401,404
MEXICO 2,559,925 2,502,939 2,723,233 3,155,117
RUSSIA 1,247,673 1,922,042 1,870,379 2,866,695
TURKEY 527,563 2,560,647 2,191,546 1,977,865
JAPAN 1,344,720 2,406,688 1,947,919 1,727,843
GERMANY 1,085,563 1,415,879 1,110,099 1,380,433
TAIWAN 486,340 1,091,339 983,245 1,128,356
CHINA 780,995 2,161,101 789,133 740,126
VIETNAM 39,525 201,217 871,153 679,092
Bob Springmeyer
Bonneville Research
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Why Our Brains Fall for False Expertise, and How to Stop It

Once we are aware of the shortcuts our minds take when deciding who to listen to, we can take steps to block those shortcuts.
At the beginning of every meeting, a question hangs in the air: Who will be heard? The answer has huge implications not only for decision making, but for the levels of diversity and inclusion throughout the organization. Being heard is a matter of whose ideas get included - and who, therefore, reaps the accompanying career benefits - and whose ideas get left behind.
Yet instead of relying on subject matter experts, people often pay closest attention to the person who talks most frequently, or has the most impressive title, or comes from the CEO's hometown. And that's because of how our brains are built.

The group decision-making process, rather than aligning with actual competence, habitually falls for messy proxies of expertise, a phrase coined by University of Utah management professor Bryan Bonner. Essentially, when our brains are left to their own devices, attention is drawn to shortcuts, such as turning focus to the loudest or tallest person in the room. Over time, letting false expertise run the show can have negative side effects.
"The expert isn't heard, and then the expert leaves," Bonner said in an interview with the NeuroLeadership Institute, where I head the diversity and inclusion practice. "They want to realize their potential. [If] people can't shine when they should be shining, there's a huge human cost."

If the people who offer the most valuable contributions to your organization aren't appropriately recognized for it, they won't stay long. Or, possibly worse, they will stay and stop trying. As my mother was fond of reminding me when I got my first management role: "When people can't contribute, they either quit and leave or they quit and stay."

One of the most important assets a group can have is the expertise of its members. But research indicates that even when everyone within a group recognizes who the subject matter expert is, they defer to that member just 62 percent of the time; when they don't, they listen to the most extroverted person. Another experiment found that "airtime" - the amount of time people spend talking - is a stronger indicator of perceived influence than actual expertise. Our brains also form subtle preferences for people we have met over ones we haven't, and assume people who are good at one thing are also good at other, unrelated things. These biases inevitably end up excluding people and their ideas.

In recruiting, management scholars have found that without systemic evaluation, hiring managers will favor and advocate for candidates who remind them of themselves. This plays out in meetings, too, where diversity goals can be undermined by these messy proxies to the extent that we use proxies that hinder particular groups: Height gives men and people from certain nations (whose populations tend to be taller) an advantage, and loudness disadvantages introverts and people with cultural backgrounds that tend to foster soft-spokenness. This phenomenon applies to both psychological and demographic diversity.
People are not naturally skilled at figuring out who they should be listening to. But by combining organizational and social psychology with neuroscience, we can get a clearer picture of why we're so habitually and mistakenly deferential, and then understand how we can work to prevent that from happening.

How Proxies Play Out in the Brain

The brain uses shortcuts to manage the vast amounts of information that it processes every minute in any given social situation. These shortcuts allow our nonconscious brain to deal with sorting the large volume of data while freeing up capacity in our conscious brain for dealing with whatever cognitive decision making is at hand. This process serves us well in many circumstances, such as having the reflex to, say, duck when someone throws a bottle at our head. But it can be harmful in other circumstances, such as when shortcuts lead us to fall for false expertise.

At a cognitive level, the biases that lead us to believe false expertise are similarity ("People like me are better than people who aren't like me"); experience ("My perceptions of the world must be accurate"); and expedience ("If it feels right, it must be true"). These shortcuts cause us to evaluate people on the basis of proxies - things such as height, extroversion, gender, and other characteristics that don't matter, rather than more meaningful ones.
Although we humans may have biased brains, we also have the capacity to nudge ourselves toward more rational thinking.
The behavioral account of this pattern was first captured by breakthrough research from Daniel Kahneman and the late Amos Tversky, which eventually led to a Nobel Prize in Economic Science for Kahneman, and his bestseller Thinking, Fast and Slow. Their distinction between so-called System 1 thinking, a "hot" form of cognition involving instinct, quick reactions, and automatic responses, and System 2 "cool" thinking, or careful reflection and analysis, is very important here. System 1 thinking can be seen as a sort of autopilot. It's helpful in certain situations involving obvious, straightforward decisions - such as the ducking-the-bottle example. But in more complicated decision-making contexts, it can cause more harm than good - for instance, by allowing the person with the highest rank in the meeting to decide the best way forward, rather than the person with the best idea.

Taking Steps to Combat Your Own Decision-Making Bias

Given the extent to which Western business culture puts a premium on individualism and fast decision making, it's understandable that so many people have been trained to go their own way as quickly and confidently as possible. The good news is that with the right systems in place, people can be trained to approach problem solving in a different, less bias-ridden way.
Although we cannot block a biased assumption of which we are unaware, we can consciously make an effort to direct our attention to the specific information we need to evaluate, and to weigh it consciously. Just about any sort of decision can get hijacked by mental shortcuts, so it's useful to have a few tools to nudge yourself and others toward more reflective, rigorous, and objective thinking.

Set up "if-then" plans. To guide attention back from these proxies of expertise, you can formulate "if-then" plans, which help the anterior cingulate cortex - a brain region that allows us to detect errors and flag conflicting information - find differences between our actual behavior and our preferred behavior. By incorporating this type of bias-mitigation plan before we enter into a situation where we know a decision will be made, we increase our chances of making optimal decisions.

For example, you can say to yourself: "If I catch myself agreeing with everything a dominant, charismatic person is saying in a meeting, then I will privately ask a third person (not the presenter or the loudest person) to repeat the information, shortly after the meeting, to see if I still agree."

Get explicit, and get it in writing. One fairly easy intervention is to instruct employees to get in the habit of laying out, in writing, the precise steps that led to a given decision being made. You also can write out the process for your own decision making.

For example, narratives in the form of "We decided X, which led us to conclude Y, which is why we're going with strategy Z" bring a certain transparency and clarity to the decision-making process and serve as a record that can be referenced later to evaluate which aspects of the process worked and which didn't.

Incentivize awareness. Along those same lines, managers should reward employees who detect flaws in their thinking and correct course. At the NeuroLeadership Institute, we have a "mistake of the month" section in our monthly work-in-progress meetings to help model and celebrate this kind of admission.

To use a sports example, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady reportedly pays his defense if they can intercept his passes in practice. (It must help. He's one of two players in NFL history to win five Super Bowls.) The takeaway: By making error detection a team sport, you destigmatize the situation, highlight the learning opportunities, and increase the likelihood of making better decisions in the future.

Set up buffers. Taking your decision making from "hot" to "cool" often requires a conscious commitment to create a buffer between when you receive information and when you make a decision on how to move forward.
For example, before a big decision is officially made, everyone involved should be encouraged to spend 10 minutes relaxing or going for a walk before reconvening one last time to discuss any potential issues that haven't yet come up. This is a way of "cooling off" and making sure things have been thought through calmly. Another way to accomplish this is to engage in a "pre-mortem" - imagining a given decision went poorly and then working backward to try to understand why. Doing so can help identify biases that might otherwise go undetected.

Cut the cues. The most common and research-backed approach involves giving hirers access to fewer of the sorts of cues that can trigger expedience biases. Blind selection is a classic example. In the 1970s and 1980s, top orchestras instituted a blind selection process in which the identity of applicants was concealed from the hiring committee, often by literally hiding the player behind a screen while he or she performed. As a result, the number of female musicians in the top five U.S. symphony orchestras rose from 5 percent in 1970 to more than 25 percent in 1996.

Bonner, the Utah psychologist, says to "take the humanity out" when you can. "Set up situations where people exchange information with as little noise as possible," he says. If you're brainstorming, have everyone write down their ideas on index cards or on shared documents, then review the ideas anonymously - that way the strength of the idea, rather than the status of the source, will be the most powerful thing.

Technology can also be leveraged. For example, the "merit-based matching" app Blendoor strips the name, gender, and photos of an applicant from a recruiter's view, and Talent Sonar uses predictive analytics to shape job listings that attract both male and female candidates, and performs a blind resume review, which leads to a 30 percent larger hiring pool, the company says.

Biases are human - a function of our brains - and falling for them doesn't make us malicious. We have the capacity to nudge ourselves toward more rational thinking, to identify and correct the errors we make as a result of bias, and to build institutions that promote good, clear thinking and decision making. With the right systems, tools, and awareness in place, we can better cultivate the best ideas from the most well-suited minds. It just takes a bit of effort, and in the long run pays off in big ways. The best ideas get a chance to be heard - and implemented - and your best thinkers are recognized and keep on thinking.

Khalil Smith heads the diversity and inclusion practice at the NeuroLeadership Institute. He has 20-plus years of experience in leadership, strategy, and HR, including more than 14 years at Apple Inc.
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