Economics in the News – Nov. 28 – Dec. 4, 2022
Economics impacts our lives every day. Below are some of the top storylines from this past week related to economics.
o Across the United States 600 million tons of waste is generated in the construction and demolition of buildings and infrastructure, according to a 2018 estimate from the Environmental Protection Agency. Mock-ups, often designed by architects and consultants, are used to test the visual impacts of a project and performance to see how a project will hold up under use.
Mock-ups which have traditionally accounted for waste are being recycled to build benches, trellises and other structures with materials on hand. For example, some of the mock-ups are being repurposed to use garden structures for more than 550 community gardens run by volunteers on city-owned lots. [The New York Times]
o The deadline to comply with Real ID for airline travel is being pushed back to 2025. The security standard was supposed to take effect in May 2023 after it was delayed from 2020. Real ID is a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, but compliance has been slow due to the pandemic, state-level resistance and federal bureaucracy.
Real ID, which now has a target date of May 7, 2025, will be required for commercial air travel. The pandemic created delays in the timeline, and less than half of state-issued licenses and ID cards were compliant as of April 2021. [Bloomberg]
o Pandemic relief and historically low interest rates helped millions of millennials purchase their first home. The median age of homebuyers lowered for the first time in nearly a decade. However, as the Federal Reserve increases the federal funds rate, the combination of fewer houses on the market and high mortgage rates in 2022 have shut millennials out from buying homes.
According to a survey from the National Association of Realtors, the average age of homebuyers increased to the highest on record – 53 years old. By mid-2022, fist-time home buyers purchased just 26 percent of homes, the lowest level in nearly 40 years. The millennial generation has always lagged in homeownership, because of decreased earnings caused by starting their careers during the Great Recession. Many face lower earnings, high student debts and reduced wealth. [The Washington Post]
o A 2021 climate assessment from the University of Vermont revealed that the state’s average temperature has warmed by nearly two degrees Fahrenheit since 1900. Even more alarming, the state’s precipitation has increased by 21 percent.
Dairy once accounted for 70 percent of Vermont’s agriculture economy, but the higher temperatures contributed to cows eating less and producing less milk.
New farmers, often first-time farmers, are changing the agriculture scene throughout Vermont. From farmed shrimp to malt to goat cheese, the warming climate has expanded the growing season in Vermont. It has allowed farmers to grow in sustainable ways, as experts anticipate more floods and droughts to further complicate the state’s traditional agriculture. [The Washington Post]
o Have you received your first heat bill this season? The United States Energy Information Administration said in its November report that it expects retail natural gas heating to increase by 25 percent on average and electricity bills to rise 11 percent. Households that use heating oil are expected to see a 45 percent rise in their heat bill, compared to last winter.
In 2021, the average American consumer spent roughly $179 on gasoline and $176.67 on heating a month, making up nearly the same percentage of consumer expenditures. The sanctions that the U.S. government have placed on the Russian government after their invasion of Ukraine have limited the supply of oil. That shortage will likely worsen in February when the European Union’s ban on Russian petroleum products goes into effect. [The Wall Street Journal]