Economics and Finance

Real gross domestic product – the total value of the production of goods and services adjusted for price changes – grew in 49 states in 2013. Nationally, nondurable–goods manufacturing contributed the most to real GDP growth, while mining played a key role in the fastest growing states – North Dakota, Wyoming, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Colorado.

Veterans are enrolling in postsecondary education institutions in large numbers, most of them with extensive occupational experience. Many colleges use Prior Learning Assessments to award academic credit when the knowledge and skills an individual has gained outside the classroom--including employment, military training and service, civic activities, and volunteer service--can be matched to college-level coursework. Veterans who earn credit for general courses are able to complete their degrees in a shorter period of time, reducing...

The Border Legislative Conference, a program of The Council of State Governments West, released a report, “The U.S.-Mexico Border Economy in Transition,” at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. The report is the result of four Regional Economic Competitiveness Forums held along the U.S.-Mexico border in 2014 to collectively generate a shared vision and policy recommendations to strengthen economic competitiveness. The report lays out the major issues involved in border region economic development, compiles the many innovative ideas developed at the forums and weaves them into a series of policy recommendations that draw on the experiences of those who understand the border best: the individuals who live in border communities and who cross back and forth between Mexico and the United States as a part of their daily lives.

Insourcing is a practice that reverses the trend of multinational corporations operating overseas. Businesses increasingly are choosing to relocate to the United States, and in some cases, foreign-owned corporations are employing American workers for the first time. Insourcing saves and creates jobs, and state policy can play a pivotal role in affecting businesses’ decisions to locate stateside.

States face a conundrum as they struggle to regulate and tax e-cigarettes and other vapor systems that deliver nicotine to their users. Definitions in current tobacco and smoking laws can be amended to apply; however the evidence-base to establish equivalency to tobacco has not yet been established. Only three states have totally prohibited the use of e-cigarettes in public places, but 41 states prohibit the purchase of e-cigarettes to minors. Just two states have established taxes on these new products.

Econ Piggy

According to information released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the union membership rate continued to decline in 2014. The rate, defined as the percent of wage and salary workers who are members of a union, was 11.1 percent in 2014, down 0.2 percentage points from 2013. Since 1983, the union membership rate has fallen or remained the same every year except two - in 2007 and 2008, the rate increased slightly. In 1983, the membership rate was 20.1 percent.   

The poverty guidelines for 2015 are available and published here in the Federal Register. These guidelines -- often cited as 100 percent of the federal poverty line -- are used to determine eligibility for a number of stata and federal programs. Sometimes eligibility is greater than 100 percent; for instance, the Affordable Care Act allows states to expand Medicaid eligibility to 138 percent of federal poverty. 

E-cigarettes are a nicotine delivery system. They heat liquid containing nicotine and flavorings into a vapor by passing it over a small electronic battery. According to The Wall Street Journal, sales grew from $2 million in 2009 to $722 million in 2013.

States know that increased international exposure can contribute to economic growth and increased trade and foreign investment. While higher education institutions traditionally have focused on recruiting international students, several states now are formalizing their approach to attracting foreign students and encouraging foreign exchange in strategic economic and workforce development plans. This eCademy session identifies trends in state government activity supporting internationalization and examines why this is an area of increasing opportunity for states.

According to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report, average gas prices in January 2015 are at the lowest point in over 5 years and are on track to dip below $2 a gallon by February 2015. Missouri has the lowest average gas price of any state at $1.77 per gallon while Alaska ($2.81) and Hawaii ($3.31) have the highest prices.

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