The Humboldt Economic Index. produced by Dr. Erick Eschker and his team at the Economics Department of HSU, does not show a pretty picture this month. The leading indicators are, shall we say, mixed.
Lumber is up, but Hospitality, Retail and Home Sales were down in July, as were building permits and help-wanted advertising. On the positive side, manufacturing orders are up slightly and UI claims are down. The national jobless rate declined to 6.1 percent in June while the unemployment rate was 7.2, virtually the same as the State as a whole.
Here’s what you’ve been waiting for: gas prices. “Both California and the Northern California region have seen 8% decreases in their average gas prices this month, while Eureka’s average price stayed at $4.25 in June.” Enjoy the report, and our continued thanks to the HSU team.
A new law just signed by Governor Brown (AB 2486) and effective immediately allows wine and cider tasting at Farmers’ Markets under the following conditions:
-The wineries (or cideries) must grow ALL the fruit in their product
-Only one winery can hold tastings on a given day
-Each Farmers’ Market can determine whether to hold testings
-The tasting area must be cordoned off
-Samples are limited to 3 ounces of wine or cider per adult customer.
The bill, which was authored by Assemblyman Mark Levine, D-San Rafael, passed both houses UNANIMOUSLY.
The delightfully named Portia Bramble of the North Coast Growers’ Association reported that Winnett Vineyards from Willow Creek would be a likely participant at the Arcata Farmers’ Market, at least by next season. This is one story which does not seem to have a downside.
Don’t read this if you’re looking for good news for airline passengers. A friend of the blog compiled the following links which show that no matter how bad it gets, there’s always room for worse.
1. You’ve noticed the carriers imposing more and more fees along with the regular airline fares? Try 1200% in the past seven years, like from $2.4 B in fees in 2007 to $31.5 B in 2013. More carriers are counted in the later figures but the fees are all coming from the same source: you. 60% of these fees are from the sale of frequent flyer points, 25% for baggage fees, the rest from such services as early boarding and extra-leg-room seating fees. Here, courtesy of Yahoo Finance is a full accounting.
2. I’m sure you’ve heard by now that TSA is also raising its fees. The current fee is $2.50 for non stop and $5 for a connecting flight. The new rate is $5.60 per flight with any connecting longer than four hours counting as a separate flight. That may not sound like much but it adds up, especially when you miss your connection due to delays leaving ACV and end up with a ten-hour layover at O’Hare. Here is an account from USA Today.
3. The impact of the war in Ukraine and its spinoffs will be enormous and it is probably too early to assess. The route changes resulting from the war are coming at a time when fuel prices are at an all-time high. When the carriers are squeezed, guess who they’ll pass the increase onto? The Hindu Business Line newsletter carried an analysis but the link is no longer available. Time moves quickly in the Middle East.
LOCAL UPDATE: The Airport Advisory committee did not have its meeting as scheduled yesterday for lack of a quorum but Emily Jacobs reported that there was “some” interest in serving ACV demonstrated by other carriers at the confab in Edmonton. Someone reported that Santa Rosa is improving its runways in anticipation of DIRECT FLIGHTS TO HAWAII. Wouldn’t that be great? Yes, it would.
A Silicon Valley one-percenter is proposing to split the state six ways. Guess which part will end up with all the money? It ain’t us.
Meanwhile, on September 18th, a referendum in Scotland will determine whether Scotland remains part of the United Kingdom or goes independent. The similarities between the Scottish situation and the putative State of Jefferson are interesting to compare.
MONEY: Scotland is a rich country due to the North Sea oil reserves. They can leave the Brits behind and still survive economically. (Scotland can already afford to educate its university students for FREE.) A State of Jefferson on the other hand will end up as the Appalachia of the West. Other than tourism and weed, which will be selling for pennies after legalization, what do we have? Oysters. Good oysters, but still…Every candidate for office in Humboldt County in the last twenty years has run on a platform of bringing jobs to the county. Where are those jobs? I must have missed something.
HISTORY: The Scots were an independent people until 300 years ago with their own culture and language. ( To this day the average American has about as much chance of understanding a Scot speaking what is now is considered the Scottish dialect as he would have understanding someone from Newfoundland.) 300 years ago there were no “white” people in “Jefferson”. The State of Jefferson would have the highest proportion of Native Americans of any area in the State. Separating from California would not enhance their economic situation one bit. If it would, tell me how. Yes, they would carry more clout locally because everyone else will be broker. But will their situation really improve? Will anyones?
POLITICS: The Scots have long been more “socialist” than the rest of the UK. Within recent memory they were still sending a Communist or two to Parliament every year, usually from Glasgow. The factories and tenements of Glasgow were the inspirations for Karl Marx’s Capital. Glasgow is the only place where I ever had a cabbie return a tip because good Marxists don’t believe in tipping. The Scot’s desire to be free of “imperialist state” of the UK has deep roots and may well carry the day. Politics in “Jefferson” is more chaotic. With a 20% participation in the recent elections, it seems clear that most Jeffersonians (is that what they call themselves?) are not participating in politics because they’re hopeless or too stoned. This paves the way for the Tea Party or other fringe groups to fill the vacuum. Not a pretty sight.
Anyway, September 18th should be interesting. If the Scots opt for independence will they be part of NATO? Will they adopt the Euro? What will happen to the North Sea oil, in which the Norwegians also have an interest? It’s been a long time since our states changed boundaries. In November, will the divide-and conquer strategy of the SV plutocrats win out over the welfare of the rest of us? Stay tuned. And for God’s sake register to vote.
This is my third post about “The Caribbean Picnic”, on Henderson where the GoGo Bistro used to be. I finally made it in there yesterday. It’s a PUERTO RICAN restaurant with CUBAN food also. The two main offerings are Cuban sandwiches (ham, pork, usually pickles) and a Puerto Rican sampler, both $9. I’ve eaten a lot of Cuban sandwiches, having family in Florida, and this was not only better than average, it’s HUGE, easily two meals for the average person. They also have a selection of pretzels, not the little brittle kind but serious big puffy ones. The staff is welcoming and helpful and I will definitely be back. Any of you who visit this place, please share your opinions with us.
On another note, Marcelli’s Pizzaria (their spelling) had a soft opening a few days ago and folks were streaming in for lunch at what used to be Big Louie’s. They don’t have a website yet but they’re open 7 days and the menu looks a lot like the old BL one. You can call them at 497-6374 for eat-in, takeout, delivery or take’n’bake. So much to be grateful for! Please share your reviews with us. Bon appetit.
I tend to think of Umpqua as a small, local bank but it’s not. Since the early 90′s it has grown from six branches to 364, including those that were acquired from Sterling Bank in April of this year. They have 5000 employees in branches in Washington, Oregon, California , Nevada and Utah and are looking to open more, while consolidating for efficiency.
How do they distinguish themselves from all the other banks and credit unions seeking your money? By a folksy approach that includes including displays of local products in its branches, and handing out chocolates with each cash withdrawal. Each Umpqua branch has a telephone direct to Ray Davis, the president, whose approach to growing the bank has been to build a $22B bank while still operating small.
Umpqua has four branches in Humboldt now but has announced that 27 branches will be closed before the end of the year- 13 in Washington and seven each in Oregon and California. No specifics available yet, but Umpqua has attracted the attention of no less a news source than the Economist. That’s bigtime.
I usually deal with credit unions, with the exception of my mortgage with NVB, so I have no experience as an Umpqua customer. Do you deal with them? What have been your experiences? We’d love to hear from you.
According to the filings in the Times-Standard this morning, the site of the late lamented GoGo Bistro in Henderson Center is going to reopen as “The Caribbean Picnic” and the short-lived Luna effort on 5th Street, the New Moon Cafe, is becoming the “Gonzales Mexican Restaurant.” Good luck to both efforts. When I first moved back here, I couldn’t believe the number of Mexican restaurants in Eureka, but they’re all surviving. They move, they change, but they never actually go out of business (with the exception of the moribund place catty-corner from the SBDC, where I never saw a single person actually EAT anything. They’re apparently reopening but I couldn’t find anyone on the premises). Really curious to see the menu at the Caribbean picnic place. Something a little different!
The Post Office’s inspector General has proposed just that. In a while paper released earlier in the year, the IG suggested that USPS start offering financial services such as check-cashing, bill payments, international money transfers and even small loans.
When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Postal workers are looking for work, and there are a lot of them . The USPS is second only to Walmart among civilian employers with 491,000 workers. Meanwhile our poorest citizens are losing access to banks , which always seem to close their branches in the poor neighborhoods first. Poor people pay dearly for payday loans and check-cashing services. It has been estimated that 25% of American households are un-banked or under-banked meaning they have no or inadequate access to checking and savings services. These folks pay more for banking services than the rest of us do.
This arrangement may seem outlandish to us but many Asian and European countries have been doing this for years. Japan Post operates one of that nation’s biggest banks. I once hosted a particularly obnoxious German tourist who wouldn’t stop complaining about the fact that he couldn’t make long-distance calls from our post offices. Hey, there’s another idea…
Anyway, the idea of expanding postal services, especially those helpful to our poorer citizens appeals to me. What do you think?
RCB WILL BE ON HIATUS FOR A FEW DAYS. Your comments are welcome and will be responded to by the middle of next week. See you soon!
Today is the last day SkyWest Air will serve Modesto City-County Airport, leaving Modesto without regular air service for the first time in at least 20 years. Modesto, with a population of 203,000, has twice the potential ridership of Humboldt and Del Norte counties combined. The Modesto Bee has a brief writeup, also carried in the LA Times..
The airlines have been complaining about supposedly onerous regulations which are driving up their personnel costs. These new rules, in effect since January, require pilots to be allowed ten hours of rest between shifts, up from eight. From a passenger’s point of view, a rested and alert pilot is invaluable. To the FAA and to the carriers, it’s just an added expense in a time when the emphasis is on packing the planes as full as possible.
The FAA in particular has been a monstrous employer for years. The PATCO strike was largely brought about by the FAA’s inhumane scheduling of the air traffic controllers in a bizarre six hours on, six hours off schedule which afforded no one enough rest. At LAX the ATC’s rented apartments as crash pads since they didn’t have enough time to get home to the Valley for a real rest. Reagan of course destroyed PATCO. I don’t recall the name of he successor union but it sounds as if improvement has been slow to come.
This leaves ACV competing with Redding, Modesto and God knows who else for air routes which will have to be secured by pledges of customer revenue. Sound familiar?
CORRECTION: In the earlier post on the Airport Advisory Committee I erroneously stated that the trip to Edmonton in which Gregg Foster and Emily Jacobs will be pitching for additional service to ACV was happening on June 3. They’re leaving on June 23rd instead and they have their work cut out for them. The Fly Humboldt Facebook page has further info on the Edmonton meeting. Let’s hope for the best but Modesto losing ALL air service? That’s scary for people who intend to continue to conduct business by commercial airline flights.