Tracking Liftoff: Liftoff!

In a highly anticipated move, the Federal Reserve finally raised the target range for the federal funds rate, hiking it by a quarter-percentage point. This was the first rate hike in nearly a decade and signals the central bank’s confidence in the U.S. economy. The course of interest rate normalization is expected to be gradual but will ultimately be determined by incoming economic data. Based on the Fed’s “dot plot,” which shows Federal Open Market Committee members’ expectations for interest rates in the future, officials are expecting the federal funds rate target to increase one percentage point by this time next year.

View the evolution of this decision in our interactive graphic below.

The Economic Impact of Richmond 2015 in Richmond MSA and Virginia

In September 2015, Richmond hosted the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) World Road Cycling Championships. Based on the number of spectators and spending in the region, the event was a success!

This international sporting event attracted an estimated 645,000 spectators from around the world.

In addition to the spectators, there were 5,284 credentialed participants at Richmond 2015, including athletes and their supporting staff, UCI and Richmond 2015 organizers, race officials and staff, and media representatives and journalists.

An intercept survey we performed during the event found that spending by visitors to Richmond 2015 generated an estimated $138.4 million in economic impact (direct, indirect, and induced) in the Richmond metropolitan statistical area (MSA), and $145.9 million in Virginia.

Combining event organization and visitor spending, the total economic impact of Richmond 2015 was estimated at $161.5 million (direct, indirect, and induced) in the Richmond MSA and $169.8 million in Virginia.

See the full economic impact and survey results here: The Economic Impact of Richmond 2015 in Richmond MSA and Virginia (PDF).

Economic Impact: Manufacturing sector is changing

The manufacturing sector often gets a bad rap.

After all, who wants to do physical work for a declining industry in a dirty factory for relatively low wages?

Each one of those impressions has a historical root of truth, but times, they are a-changin’.

The manufacturing sector is typically more cyclical than other industries, such as health care and professional business services. That is, it tends to lay off a larger percentage of its workforce during recessions because of reduced demands for goods produced.

This is especially true of industries that produce expensive durable goods, such as cars, refrigerators and furniture, that consumers delay purchasing during downturns for fear that they won’t be able to pay off the credit used to buy the items if they lose their jobs.

Long-term trends show manufacturing employment peaked in the nation at 19.5 million jobs in mid-1979 and hit a low of 11.5 million in early 2010 as the nation recovered from the last recession.

Since then, manufacturers have added 864,000 jobs. Looking to the next 10 years, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics conservatively estimates that at least 2.8 million positions will open up in manufacturing as workers retire or move on to new occupations.

In Virginia and the Richmond area, manufacturing employment has increased from its post-recession trough.

According to the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, expansion announcements in 2014 and 2015 by manufacturing firms eventually will add 12,118 jobs to the state — 3,416 of those jobs are expected in the Richmond area.

Movies such as “Rocky” remind us of hard, labor-intensive work at factories, even though the dirty old factory is from a bygone era.

What was once made from brute labor is now created with programmable robotics and simulation models.

And if you still think factory floors are dirty, look at the images of the Rolls-Royce airplane engine plant in Prince George County. You’ll see clean and sheen flooring with suspended equipment, looking more like a laboratory than a factory floor.

Manufacturing jobs also pay very well.

In the nation, they average an annual $63,154 in the first quarter of 2015, compared with $51,656 for all industries in total. The wage for an average manufacturing job stood at $61,659 in the Richmond area during the same time period compared with $50,082 for all jobs in our region.

Turkey By the Numbers

As the most common main dish of Thanksgiving dinner, turkey prices have a large impact on the overall price of the holiday meal. The average price per pound of a frozen whole turkey rose 1.3% last month from September to $1.56 according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But turkey prices have been coming down over the past two years. From October 2014, the price was down 6.5% and was 14.3% lower than its September 2013 peak of $1.82 per pound.

Average Consumer Price, Frozen Whole TurkeysAverage Consumer Price, Frozen Whole Turkeys

For six straight years beginning in 2009, turkey prices have declined from October to November suggesting that the average price paid this month may actually be less than $1.56 per pound.

Turkey prices have risen faster than overall inflation over the past decade, increasing 37% compared with a 19% increase in overall consumer prices.

And where are all those turkeys produced around the nation?  Based on the number of people employed, Minnesota and North Carolina topped the list in the first quarter of 2015 with 890 and 870 employees, respectively.  Missouri (527 workers), California (513), Ohio (292), and Indiana (286) make up the other states that employ at least 200 people in turkey production.

Top 10 States by Employment, Turkey Production (NAICS 112330)Top 10 States by Employment, Turkey Production (NAICS 112330)

The Highest Paying Jobs that Don’t Require a College Degree or Significant Training

There are plenty of lists identifying the top 10 high-paying jobs that don’t require a college degree, but it is misleading to suggest a recent high school graduate can easily step into most of those occupations. Many of the jobs that top these lists are supervisory roles that require years of experience in the industry, while others such as elevator installer and repairer may require a lengthy apprenticeship.

The graphic below (based on data from the BLS) shows that lower education requirements for an occupation are often offset by on-the-job training. Seventy-seven percent of occupations that typically need an associate’s degree or higher don’t require on-the-job training, and the same is true for 55% of those that require some college but not a 2-year degree. Only 8% of occupations that typically need a high school diploma or less also don’t require on-the-job training. Instead, 37% require some short-term training, and 41% require moderate-term training.

Typical On-the-Job Training Needed for Competency in Occupations, by Typical Education Needed for EntryTypical On-the-Job Training Needed for Competency in Occupations, by Typical Education Needed for Entry

There are high-paying jobs for workers without a college degree, but most of them require experience or other training. Postal service mail carriers top the list of occupations requiring short-term on the job training along with a high school diploma or less.  First-line supervisors of police and detectives is the highest paid occupation with moderate-term on-the-job training.

Top 10 Occupations That Require a High School Diploma or Less and Short-Term On-The-Job Training
SOC code Occupation Title Median Annual Wage, 2012
43-5052 Postal service mail carriers $56,490
33-3052 Transit and railroad police $55,210
43-5051 Postal service clerks $53,090
43-5053 Postal service mail sorters, processors, and processing machine operators $53,090
53-7111 Mine shuttle car operators $52,110
53-7033 Loading machine operators, underground mining $48,420
33-3031 Fish and game wardens $48,070
47-5011 Derrick operators, oil and gas $46,900
53-6011 Bridge and lock tenders $45,940
53-7121 Tank car, truck, and ship loaders $44,100
Source: BLS


Top 10 Occupations That Require a High School Diploma or Less and Moderate-Term On-The-Job Training
SOC code Occupation Title Median Annual Wage, 2012
33-1012 First-line supervisors of police and detectives $78,270
33-3021 Detectives and criminal investigators $74,300
53-2012 Commercial pilots $73,280
53-6051 Transportation inspectors $63,680
11-9131 Postmasters and mail superintendents $63,050
53-4041 Subway and streetcar operators $62,730
33-1011 First-line supervisors of correctional officers $57,840
49-9097 Signal and track switch repairers $55,450
33-3051 Police and sheriff's patrol officers $55,270
53-4031 Railroad conductors and yardmasters $54,700
Source: BLS

When it comes to jobs that require no college degree and no on-the-job training, BLS has identified only 35 jobs (out of 820 detailed occupations) that fall in that category. However, recent high school graduates cannot easily step into most of those jobs, as they typically require a few years of related work experience in a different occupation. The list is even smaller for occupations that require no college degree, no on-the-job training, and no related work experience—only eight occupations fit those criteria. Of those eight, five fall under an “all other” title, a bucket for occupations that don’t easily fit into one of the Standard Occupational Classification codes.  The highest paid of those occupations, business operations specialists, all other, earned a median annual wage of $65,120 in 2012—much higher than the $34,750 national median wage in 2012.

Occupations That Don’t Require a College Degree or On-The-Job Training
SOC code Occupation Title Median Annual Wage, 2012
13-1199 Business operations specialists, all other $65,120
29-2092 Hearing aid specialists $41,430
29-2099 Health technologists and technicians, all other $40,700
31-9099 Healthcare support workers, all other $32,800
41-9099 Sales and related workers, all other $25,800
41-9012 Models $18,750
35-9031 Hosts and hostesses, restaurant, lounge, and coffee shop $18,580
27-2099 Entertainers and performers, sports and related workers, all other
Source: BLS

Research support provided by Patrick Clapp.