Economics of Rural Transit Publications Available

Mobility is important to older adults’ quality of life. Mobility can be a challenge as we age, and it can be even more challenging for people in rural areas who must travel longer distances to reach destinations. At the same time, sparsely populated rural areas can struggle with funding and business models to meet the needs of local residents. Sarah Fasanando, masters student in the School of Public Health, Jim Mjelde, and I have two new publications addressing rural transit. Rural Transit Needs for Older Adults (EAG-061) discusses… Read More →

Current Economic Situation, COVID-19, 9/25/2020

Among the masks, social distancing, and uncertainty that have become part of the “new normal” attributed to COVID-19, mixed economic signs also seem to be the norm. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports employment claims that have fallen substantially from Spring 2020 levels. Unemployment has dropped to 8.6 percent as of September 24, from 10.2 percent as of August 20, just over half the May high of 17.1 percent. On the other hand, that is still almost double the 2009 unemployment rate and more than double the rate… Read More →

Simple Steps for Small Business Cybersecurity

Recent graduate Blane Counsil and I have a new Extension publication offering cybersecurity tips for small businesses. There are many steps business owners and their employees can take to protect their business and their customers’ data. It’s less complicated than you might think. Physically securing IT resources is important,but barriers to access may deter potential criminals. Making sure all employees follow security protocols is critical; people are the weakest link in any security plan. See the pub in the AgriLife Bookstore (search for EAG-060 or “cyber”) or at… Read More →

Current Economic Situation, COVID-19, 8/21/2020

Five months into the U.S. COVID-19 pandemic and rapid-onset recession, schools across much of Texas and the U.S. are opening to both on-campus and online education with social distancing and heightened cleaning procedures. As Americans began to resume more normal activity patterns in June and July, coronavirus cases surged, forcing a retreat to homes and numerous cancellations of fairs and other statewide and local celebrations. My kids’ school moved the start date up and then pushed it back. They started school this week with temperature checks and masks…. Read More →

Setting up and Strengthening your Google and Facebook Presence

If you can’t find a business online, does it even exist? Consumers increasingly rely on web searches to find not only goods and services but also local locations, hours, contact info, and reviews. Still, many small businesses do not have a website, social media, or Google listing. Setting up a website can be time consuming, but improving your online search results and engaging in social media can be simple steps with big benefits for your business. Google and Facebook both have sites to help small business owners use… Read More →

Current Economic Situation, COVID-19, 5/19/2020

Clearly, this is a difficult time, and many people are truly struggling with health and economic concerns. This morning I read an article calling the current situation “the worst downturn in generations — one with no bottom in sight.” I’ve lost my radar for hyperbole amid the recent news of doom and disaster, but I don’t think the author intended hyperbole. Most of the article wasn’t really news: the idea that economic downturns disproportionately affect young and relatively less skilled workers is established in the economic literature. The… Read More →

Current Economic Situation, COVID-19, 4/30/2020

Next week, May 3-9, is Hurricane Preparedness Week. Weather analysts expect this to be a bad year for hurricanes. It’s a bad year for a bad year. The coronavirus complicates evacuation and sheltering plans, and some experts believe the combined effects of COVID-19 and a hurricane would be immense. It seems somewhat strange to think about planning to evacuate the coast when we’ve been hunkered down at home for the past six weeks. On the other hand, I live further inland and can totally picture myself waiting out… Read More →

Current Economic Situation, COVID-19, 4/23/2020

The big news this week is that states are easing COVID restrictions, which is both good for the economy, at least in the short term, and risky. Several states, including Texas, have begun the process of reopening the state’s economy. In Texas, that will be a slow process, with nonessential retail outlets initially being open for curbside pick-up only. No wandering around boutiques or dining in restaurants just yet. Other states, including Georgia, are taking a more aggressive approach. There is still widespread debate about whether we are… Read More →

Current Economic Situation, COVID-19, 4/16/2020

This hasn’t been a good news week on most fronts. Keep reading for some bright spots at the end of this article. The U.S. Department of Labor released a glimmer of good news this morning, announcing Americans filed 5.2 million new unemployment claims the week ending April 11. That is down by 1.37 million from an adjusted 6.6 million the previous week. Still, more than 15 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the past few weeks. March unemployment should be released tomorrow, April 17. The IMF announced… Read More →

Current Economic Situation, COVID-19, 4/9/2020

Earlier this week, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar admitted in a Texas Tribune interview that the state is in a recession. He said that calling the current economic conditions a recession helps people manage expectations, also noting that COVID-19-related business disruptions and not lower oil prices are the primary drivers of the downturn. Recent data point to financial hardship for both unemployed persons and businesses. The BLS reported that 6.61 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending April 4, slightly lower than last week’s revised 6.68… Read More →