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ABA Report: Farm Banks Well Positioned for 2015

March 26, 2015 Comments off

ABA Report: Farm Banks Well Positioned for 2015
Source: American Bankers Association

Farm banks significantly increased agricultural lending by 13.6 percent in 2014 and held $94.6 billion in farm loans at the end of the year, according to the American Bankers Association’s annual Farm Bank Performance Report.

Asset quality continued to improve at the nation’s 2,036 farm banks as non-performing loans declined to pre-recession levels. ABA defines farm banks as banks whose ratio of domestic farm loans to total domestic loans is greater than or equal to the industry average.

“The agricultural economy may be faced with headwinds in 2015, but farm banks are well positioned to continue serving the needs of farmers and ranchers across the country,” said Brittany Dengler, ABA senior research manager, economic policy and research. “Banks hold nearly half of all farm loans and will remain an important source of ag credit.”

See also: 10 Financial Tips for America’s Young and Beginning Farmers

PJM Interconnection Economic Analysis of the EPA Clean Power Plan Proposal

March 24, 2015 Comments off

PJM Interconnection Economic Analysis of the EPA Clean Power Plan Proposal (PDF)
Source: PJM Interconnection

At the request of the Organization of PJM States, Inc., PJM Interconnection has analyzed potential economic impacts on electric power generation in the PJM footprint resulting from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. The plan, proposed by EPA in June 2014, seeks a 30-percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity sector by 2030 (compared to 2005 levels). PJM does not take positions for or against pending regulations but does provide independent expert analysis on the potential economic and reliability impacts of proposed regulatory rules and legislation.

The Organization of PJM States, which represents state utility regulators in the region served by PJM, requested analyses of several scenarios including a comparison of regional compliance versus state-by-state compliance. PJM included additional scenarios with different assumptions in the analysis to provide modeled results covering a wide range of possible outcomes. In total PJM analyzed 17 distinct scenarios – each was evaluated with and without the implementation of the Clean Power Plan. The scenarios covered varying combinations and levels of renewable resources, energy efficiency, natural gas prices, nuclear generation and new entry of natural gas combined-cycle resources.

High-level insights from the economic analysis include:

• Fossil steam unit retirements (coal, oil and gas) probably will occur gradually. As the CO2 emission limits decline over time, the financial positions of high-emitting resources should become increasingly less favorable, with lower-emitting resources displacing them more often in the competitive energy market.
• Electricity production costs are likely to increase with compliance because larger amounts of higher-cost, cleaner generation will be used to meet emissions targets.
• The price of natural gas likely will be a primary driver of the cost of reducing CO2 emissions if natural gas combined-cycle units become a significant source of replacement generation for coal and other fossil steam units.
• Adding more energy efficiency and renewable energy and retaining more nuclear generation would likely lead to lower CO2 prices; this could result in fewer megawatts of fossil steam resources at risk of retirement because lower CO2 prices may reduce the financial stress on fossil steam resources under this scenario.
• State-by-state compliance options, compared to regional compliance options, likely would result in higher compliance costs for most PJM states. This is because there are fewer low-cost options available within state boundaries than across the entire region. However, results will vary by state given differing state targets and generation mixes. PJM modeled regional versus individual state compliance only under a mass-based approach.
• State-by-state compliance options would increase the amount of capacity at risk for retirement because some states likely would face higher CO2 prices in an individual compliance approach.

See also: State-Level Detail (PDF)
See also: FAQs (PDF)

Gaming Careers: Gateway to the Middle Class

March 24, 2015 Comments off

Gaming Careers: Gateway to the Middle Class
Source: Oxford Economics/American Gaming Association

This new report produced by Oxford Economics in partnership with the American Gaming association explores how the United States’ casino gaming industry creates jobs and opportunities, promotes educational opportunitites, and supports the middle class.

free registration required2

How Millennials Get News: Inside the Habits of America’s First Digital Generation

March 17, 2015 Comments off

How Millennials Get News: Inside the Habits of America’s First Digital Generation
Source: Media Insight Project (American Press Institute and AP-NORC Center)

For years, researchers and social critics have worried that the newest generation of American adults is less interested in news than those who grew up in the pre-digital age.

Much of the concern has come from data that suggest adults age 18-34—so-called Millennials—do not visit news sites, read print newspapers, watch television news, or seek out news in great numbers. This generation, instead, spends more time on social networks, often on mobile devices. The worry is that Millennials’ awareness of the world, as a result, is narrow, their discovery of events is incidental and passive, and that news is just one of many random elements in a social feed.

A new comprehensive study that looks closely at how people learn about the world on these different devices and platforms finds that this newest generation of American adults is anything but “newsless,” passive, or civically uninterested.

This study extends the work from the Media Insight Project’s 2014 Personal News Cycle to provide a deeper investigation of the news and information habits of Millennials age 18-34. It included two components — a quantitative survey of Millennials nationwide and qualitative interviews and follow-up exercises with small friend groups of Millennials in Chicago, Illinois; San Francisco and Oakland, California; and at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The researchers sought to supplement the quantitative survey research with a qualitative component to obtain a deeper understanding of Millennials’ online lives and news consumption habits.

2014 Leapfrog Hospital Survey Results Now Available

March 16, 2015 Comments off

2014 Leapfrog Hospital Survey Results Now Available
Source: Leapfrog Group

These results are based on surveys submitted by hospitals across the country that have demonstrated a commitment to transparency by participating in the voluntary Leapfrog Hospital Survey. The survey assesses hospitals on three key areas: how patients fare, resources used in caring for patients, and leadership and structures that promote patient safety. This website also includes information on hospitals’ Hospital Safety Scores.

Record 10.8 Billion Trips Taken On U.S. Public Transportation In 2014

March 11, 2015 Comments off

Record 10.8 Billion Trips Taken On U.S. Public Transportation In 2014
Source: American Public Transportation Association

Americans took 10.8 billion trips on public transportation in 2014, which is the highest annual public transit ridership number in 58 years, according to a report released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

Some of the public transit agencies reporting record ridership system-wide were located in the following cities: Albany, NY; Boston, MA; Canton, OH; Columbus, OH; Denver, CO; Indianapolis, IN; Madison, WI; Minneapolis, MN; Olympia, WA; Orlando, FL; St. Petersburg, FL; Riverside, CA; Salt Lake City, UT; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; Spokane, WA; Tampa, FL; and Wenatchee, WA.

SIIA Estimates $8.38 Billion US Market for PreK-12 Educational Software and Digital Content

March 4, 2015 Comments off

SIIA Estimates $8.38 Billion US Market for PreK-12 Educational Software and Digital Content
Source: Software & Information Industry Association

The Education Technology Industry Network (ETIN) of the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), the principal trade association for the software and digital content industry, today released its “2014 U.S. Education Technology Industry Market: PreK-12 Report.” The report values the overall PreK-12 non-hardware education technology market at $8.38 billion, compared to last year’s valuation of $7.9 billion.

Data in the report was collected directly from 144 service providers and publishers to show a supply-side view of the market not available through traditional customer data collection techniques. This report contains longitudinal data from the three years of the study and shows key trends within the industry.

Revenues from Online Courses grew 320 percent with several significant companies reporting revenues in this category for the first time. Testing and Assessment ($2.5B) was the largest single category of any market segment.

+ Executive Summary (PDF)
Full report available for purchase.

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