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Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 19, 2018

Women’s march planned for local legislative briefing

Jan 16, 2018

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL

When local legislators attend the first of three legislative briefings Saturday morning at the Washington County Courthouse, local organizers are hoping to make it the local part of an international march for gender balance.

Organizer Carol Ray recalls January 2017 when the first national Women’s March was held shortly after President Donald Trump’s election to protest gender inequality. On the anniversary of the march this weekend, a second march is being planned nationally with the headquarters in Las Vegas, Nevada. This anniversary event will kickoff a national voter registration and mobilization tour targeting swing states to register new voters, engage impacted communities, harness collective energy to advocate for policies and candidates that reflect the organization’s values and collaborate with partners to elect more women and progressives candidates to office.

“Last year when people were marching a couple of us talked about doing something here, but there wasn’t a lot of response,” Ray said. “When it came around again, and we saw that the march had taken place on all but one continent — there was even one in Antarctica — so June Henderson and I had been talking and we thought to see what we could organize. As we started thinking about it, we realized it would coincide with the legislative briefing Saturday so we decided to start there and just be there. After that, we would march for a while and make our presence known as women who disagree with some of the things the government is doing.”

The legislative briefing is scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon Saturday in the courthouse’s third floor courtroom. Representatives Jarad Klein and David Heaton and Senators Rich Taylor and Kevin Kinney are expected to attend.

The Women’s March was a worldwide protest on January 21, 2017, to advocate legislation and policies regarding human rights and other issues, including women’s rights, immigration reform, health care reform, reproductive rights, the natural environment, LGBTQ rights, racial equality, freedom of religion, and workers’ rights. Most of the rallies were aimed at Donald Trump, immediately following his inauguration as President of the United States, largely due to statements that he had made and positions that he had taken which were regarded by many as anti-women or otherwise offensive.It was the largest single-day protest in U.S. history. The Washington March drew 440,000 to 500,000 people. Between 3,267,134 and 5,246,670 people participated in the Women’s March in the United States.In total, worldwide participation has been estimated at over 5 million.

“it’s a message of resistance to Donald Trump’s policies and what has been going on in Washington which is reprehensible to lots of women,” Ray said. “Even though this is a red state, there are lots of us here who disagree with that and we agree with Martin Luther King in that if you don’t speak up about things that are going on then you are just as guilty as people who are perpetrating these things.”

Ray said men are welcome to march during the event. She said there is no way to tell how many people will attend to march. She said there is an event for the march created on Facebook to give people more information about the march. She also said certain people have been contacted to march.

Comments (3)
Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Jan 17, 2018 16:23

Unemployment rate below 3 percent for first time in 17 years

Dec 26, 2017

DES MOINES — Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 2.9 percent for November. The last time the rate was this low was in December 2000. The state’s jobless rate was 3.5 percent one year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate remained at 4.1 percent in November.

“Following two months of losses, Iowa businesses displayed growing confidence in the economy in November and added 6,300 jobs to their payrolls,” said Beth Townsend, Iowa Workforce Development director. “Manufacturing is vital to our state’s economic security, and job creation has been especially strong within Iowa’s factories. Compared to last year, no sector has added more jobs to the Iowa economy than manufacturing. This growth has no doubt contributed to the state’s falling unemployment rate which now rests at 2.9 percent.”

The number of unemployed Iowans decreased to 49,100 in November. The current estimate is 10,700 lower than the year ago level of 59,800.

The total number of working Iowans increased to 1,637,600 in November -- 2,000 higher than October and 2,100 higher than one year ago.


Seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment

Iowa businesses added 6,300 jobs in November, rebounding from losses accrued during the prior two months. Private sectors were responsible for all of the job growth with the largest growth being in service industries. This is welcomed news as over the past two months private services were responsible for much of the job loss. Goods producing industries have now trended up for three consecutive months with hiring within Iowa’s factories offsetting construction sector losses. Government trended down slightly (-400) and is nearly unchanged versus this time last year.

Professional and business services added the most jobs in November following losses in September and October (+2,500). Within this super sector, administrative and support services gained 2,000 jobs to fuel most of the monthly growth. Manufacturing gained 1,700 jobs and was fueled by hiring in durable goods factories (+1,600). This is now the third consecutive month of growth for manufacturing which has unmistakably trended up throughout the year. Financial activities rebounded from a slight decline last month and gained 1,500 jobs in November. Finance and insurance was responsible for most of the growth although real estate and rental industries contributed 300 jobs. In total, seven of 10 super sectors added jobs in November. Overall, losses were slight and limited to other services (-700), construction (-400), and information (-100).

Over the past 12 months, Iowa establishments have gained 22,700 jobs (+1.4 percent). During that time, no sector has added more jobs than manufacturing (+9,200). Nondurable goods factories are up 5,000 jobs and durable goods are up 4,200 jobs. Healthcare and social assistance has advanced by 5,700 jobs and has fueled all of the growth in the education and health care super sector. The financial activities sector experienced two months of declines in August and September, but has since rebounded and is now up 4,400 jobs versus last year thanks to this month’s gain. Losses have been dominated by construction (-6,100) which has trailed last year’s mark for much of the year and has been steadily trending down following record levels last year. Other services are down 1,400 jobs over the past 12 months and information has pared 1,000 jobs.

Visit www.iowalmi.gov for information about current and historical data, labor force data, nonfarm employment, hours and earnings, and jobless benefits by county.

Statewide and local data for December will be released Jan. 23.

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Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Jan 17, 2018 13:12

U.S. oil industry set to break record, upend global trade

By Liz Hampton | Jan 17, 2018

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Surging shale production is poised to push U.S. oil output to more than 10 million barrels per day - toppling a record set in 1970 and crossing a threshold few could have imagined even a decade ago.

And this new record, expected within days, likely won’t last long. The U.S. government forecasts that the nation’s production will climb to 11 million barrels a day by late 2019, a level that would rival Russia, the world’s top producer.

The economic and political impacts of soaring U.S. output are breathtaking, cutting the nation’s oil imports by a fifth over a decade, providing high-paying jobs in rural communities and lowering consumer prices for domestic gasoline by 37 percent from a 2008 peak.

Fears of dire energy shortages that gripped the country in the 1970s have been replaced by a presidential policy of global “energy dominance.”

“It has had incredibly positive impacts for the U.S. economy, for the workforce and even our reduced carbon footprint” as shale natural gas has displaced coal at power plants, said John England, head of consultancy Deloitte’s U.S. energy and resources practice.

U.S. energy exports now compete with Middle East oil for buyers in Asia. Daily trading volumes of U.S. oil futures contracts have more doubled in the past decade, averaging more than 1.2 billion barrels per day in 2017, according to exchange operator CME Group.

The U.S. oil price benchmark, West Texas Intermediate crude, is now watched closely worldwide by foreign customers of U.S. gasoline, diesel and crude.

The question of whether the shale sector can continue at this pace remains an open debate. The rapid growth has stirred concerns that the industry is already peaking and that production forecasts are too optimistic.

The costs of labor and contracted services have recently risen sharply in the most active oilfields; drillable land prices have soared; and some shale financiers are calling on producers to focus on improving short-term returns rather than expanding drilling.

But U.S. producers have already far outpaced expectations and overcome serious challenges, including the recent effort by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to sink shale firms by flooding global markets with oil.

The cartel of oil-producing nations backed down in November 2016 and enacted production cuts amid pressure from their own members over low prices - which had plunged to below $27 earlier that year from more than $100 a barrel in 2014.

Shale producers won the price war through aggressive cost-cutting and rapid advances in drilling technology. Oil now trades above $64 a barrel, enough for many U.S. producers to finance both expanded drilling and dividends for shareholders.



Efficiencies spurred by the battle with OPEC - including faster drilling, better well designs and more fracking - helped U.S. firms produce enough oil to successfully lobby for the repeal of a ban on oil exports. In late 2015, Congress overturned the prohibition it had imposed following OPEC’s 1973 embargo.

The United States now exports up to 1.7 million barrels per day of crude, and this year will have the capacity to export 3.8 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas. Terminals conceived for importing liquefied natural gas have now been overhauled to allow exports.

That export demand, along with surging production in remote locations such as West Texas and North Dakota, has led to a boom in U.S. pipeline construction. Firms including Kinder Morgan and Enterprise Products Partners added 26,000 miles of liquids pipelines in the five years between 2012 and 2016, according to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Several more multi-billion-dollar pipeline projects are on the drawing board.

U.S. drillers say they can supply plenty more.

“We continue to see and drive improvements” in drilling speed and efficiency, said Mathias Schlecht, a technology vice president at Baker Hughes , General Electric Co’s oilfield services business.

New wells can be drilled in as little as a week, he said. A few years ago, it could take up to a month.



The next phase of shale output growth depends on techniques to squeeze more oil from each well. Companies are now putting sensors on drill bits to more precisely access oil deposits, using artificial intelligence and remote operators to get the most out of equipment and trained engineers.

As expanded investments push more producers to add wells in less productive regions, technology will help make those plays more profitable, said Kate Richard, chief executive of Warwick Energy Group, which owns interests in more than 5,000 U.S. wells.

In an interview, she estimated about a third of the money from private equity investments in shale will be used to wring more oil from overlooked regions.

Higher prices - up about $10 a barrel in the last two months - also may encourage the industry to work through a backlog of some 7,300 drilled-but-uncompleted shale wells that have built up because of crew and equipment shortages.

The higher prices have suppliers that provide hydraulic fracturing services, such as Keane Group and Liberty Oilfield Services , buying expensive new equipment in anticipation of more work.

U.S. fracking service revenues are expected to grow by 20 percent this year, approaching a record of $29 billion set in 2014, according to oilfield research firm Spears & Associates.



The shale revolution initially upended the traditional industry hierarchy, making billionaires out of wildcatters such as Harold Hamm, who founded Continental Resources , and the late Aubrey McClendon of Chesapeake Energy .

Top U.S. oil firms such as Exxon Mobil and Chevron a decade ago turned much of their focus to foreign fields, leaving smaller firms to develop U.S. shale. Now they’re back, buying shale companies, land and shifting more investments back home from overseas.

Exxon last year agreed to pay up to $6.6 billion for land in the Permian basin, the epicenter of U.S. shale. Chevron this year plans to spend $4.3 billion on shale development. The majors’ shift is driving up costs for labor and drillable land in the region, another boost to wages and wealth in rural areas. In the shale industry hub of Midland, Texas, unemployment has fallen to a mere 2.6 percent, said Willie Taylor, executive director of the Permian Basin Workforce Development Board, a group that helps firms find staff. Companies are now offering signing bonuses to attract workers to West Texas. One oil company flies workers to Midland from Houston weekly to fill a local labor void, he said.

“It was an employer’s market,” he said. “Now it’s more of a job seeker’s market.”

Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Jan 16, 2018 13:35
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