Economic Perspectives with Hopeton Hay on KAZI 88.7 FM in Austin, TX

Archive for October, 2009

Economic and Job Trends Focus of November 2 Economic Perspectives

Posted by HH on October 31, 2009

The state of the economy and job trends will be the focus of the November 2 Economic Perspectives’ interview with Brian Kelsey, Director of Community and Economic Development at the Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) on KAZI 88.7 FM.  Kelsey will discuss local, state, and federal trends in the economy, where job opportunities will be in the future, and racial disparities in unemployment.


Brian Kelsey

Kelsey has worked in economic development at the local, regional, and federal levels, focusing on research and data analysis. His work at CAPCOG involves tracking regional competitiveness issues and providing consulting services to cities, counties, and local economic and workforce development organizations.

Before joining CAPCOG in 2005, Brian worked for the Council on Competitiveness in Washington DC, where he co-authored a popular guidebook on regional economic development. Brian started his career in a local economic development fellowship program in Sonoma County, California.

Brian earned a master’s degree from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. His bachelor’s degree in economics and history is from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where graduated Phi Beta Kappa with highest distinction.

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Recovery Act Stimulates Increase in SBA Loans

Posted by HH on October 28, 2009

Changes under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to U.S. Small Business Administration loan programs led to a rebound in SBA-backed loans for small businesses and greater access to much-needed capital.

Since the Recovery Act was signed on Feb. 17, SBA has supported more than $11.3 billion in lending to small businesses through its two largest loan programs and seen its average weekly dollar volume increase by more than 60 percent in comparison to the weeks before the Recovery Act.  Additionally, the average number of loans approved per week has increased by more than 50 percent. The dollar volume for September 2009 ($1.9 billion) was the highest single-month total since August 2007.

“These numbers, along with our conversations with lenders and small business owners around the country, show that the Recovery Act hit the mark,” SBA Administrator Karen Mills said. “The Recovery Act was critical to unlocking the market and as a result we’ve helped put billions of dollars of much needed capital in the hands of small business owners during this tough economic time, and brought more than 1,200 lenders back into SBA’s loan programs.  With half the nation’s workforce either working for or owning a small business, these dollars played a critical role in driving economic recovery across the country.”

Karen Mills

Karen Mills

As a result of the credit crunch, SBA lending saw a significant decline in the fall of 2008 and early 2009. For the seven weeks prior to the Recovery Act being signed, SBA’s average weekly dollar volume was $165 million.  The average weekly average since the Recovery Act was signed, through Sept. 25, was $275 million.  

Mills cited Recovery Act provisions that reduced fees on SBA loans and raised SBA guarantees to 90 percent, as well as actions that reinvigorated the secondary markets for SBA-guaranteed loans as especially helpful in improving access to SBA-backed credit. 

Overall, SBA loan approvals for the fiscal year amounted to a combined 50,829 loans (preliminary number) worth $13.1 billion under the 7(a) and 504 loan programs.  The comparable figures for fiscal year 2008, which ended just as the nation’s economy entered the financial crisis, were 78,317 and $17.96 billion.  

The dollar volume totals for SBA loans in fiscal year 2009, which ended Sept. 30, do not include loans made under the agency’s ARC, (America’s Recovery Capital) loan program.  Launched on June 15, the agency has approved 2,715 ARC loans worth more than $88 million as of September 29.  Thus far, nearly 740 lenders have made ARC loans, and the number of participating lenders is increasing by an average of about 50 per week.

For more information about these and other SBA programs, visit the SBA Web site at, or contact your local SBA field office.  You can find contact information for your local SBA office at .

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Financial Services Committee Approves Maloney-Frank bill to Speed Up Credit Card Reforms

Posted by HH on October 25, 2009

The Financial Services Committee unanimously passed H.R. 3639, the Expedited CARD Reform for Consumers Act of 2009, which would move up the effective date for credit card reforms from February 22 to December 1. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA), changes the date by which banks and credit card issuers would have to comply with the remaining provisions of the Credit CARD Act, new consumer-friendly legislation signed by President Obama earlier this year. The bill now moves to the House floor for consideration.

Rep. Carol Maloney

Rep. Carol Maloney

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) said: “This marks a step forward in bringing consumers badly-needed relief,” Maloney said. “Just in time for the holidays, Congress can lock in a ban on interest rate hikes on existing balances and the tricks that have kept far too many consumers trapped in a never-ending cycle of debt: tricks like double-cycle billing, due-date gamesmanship, and applying payments to lowest rates first.”

“The card companies brought this on themselves, by using the time between when the bill was signed by President Obama and when it goes into effect to ‘get in under the wire’ with a last gasp of unfair practices,” Maloney said. “Today’s action shows Congress can act with speed when necessary to provide consumers the protection they need.”

In reporting the bill out, the committee voted to keep the original effective date of February 22, 2010 for prepaid gift cards (which are now all printed and on the way to retailers for the holiday season), and for small credit card issuers with under 2 million cardholder accounts. The six largest card issuers control over 80% of the credit card market.

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Strategies for Career Success Focus of October 26 Economic Perspectives

Posted by HH on October 23, 2009

In this time of economic and job insecurity, people need to make their mark and prove that they are essential and indispensable to their company. According to Carla Harris, a twenty year veteran of Wall Street, knowledge and diligence simply aren’t enough to successfully climb the corporate ladder in today’s competitive work environment.  The October 26 edition of Economic Perspectives on KAZI 88.7 FM features an interview with Harris, author of EXPECT TO WIN: Proven Strategies for Success from a Wall Street Vet.   In her book Carla looks closely at her own ascent to the top and offers strategies that will ensure career advancement and success in any industry.expect_to_win

During her twenty-year career on Wall Street, Harris she’s executed the IPO’s for UPS, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, and Redback, as well as the $3.2 billion common stock transaction for Immunex, one of the largest biotechnology offerings in United States History. While climbing the competitive corporate ladder, Harris sought guidance from her mentors and superiors, but found some of their career advice too general. As her own career advanced, Harris built her “key survival tools” or “pearls,” and vowed when she reached upper management and people looked to her for advice, she would provide them with what they needed to do to fulfill their true career potential.

In EXPECT TO WIN is Harris offers advice in an easy-to-read format using “Carla’s Pearls.” Her proven strategies of success include:

  • You Are the Captain of Your Career: The 90 Day Rule
  • Leveraging Your Voice: Articulate Your Views and Expectations
  • Power in the Network: Competitive Advantage
  • Expect to Win: Show Up With Your Best Self Every Day
Carla Harris

Carla Harris

Carla Harris is currently a managing director for Morgan Stanley and has spent over seventeen years of her career in capital markets. She has been the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including Black Enterprise’s “75 Most Powerful Women in Business” (2006), Black Enterprise’s “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” (2006), Fortune’s “The Most Influential List” (2005), Ebony Magazine’s “15 Corporate Women at the Top” (2004), Essence Magazine’s list of “The 50 Women Who Are Shaping the World” (2003), and Fortune’s list of “The 50 Most Powerful Black Executives in America” (2002).

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The Silent Depression: How are Minorities Faring in the Economic Downturn

Posted by HH on October 19, 2009

On Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at 10:00 a.m., the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing titled “The Silent Depression: How are Minorities Faring in the Economic Downturn.” The hearing examined the disparate effects of the current economic downturn on minority populations in the United States, with particular attention on the recent increases in unemployment and home foreclosures. Additionally, the hearing explored the effectiveness of Federal government initiatives in ensuring that minority populations are adequately included in the nation’s efforts toward economic recovery.  Enclosed below is an excerpt from the written testoimony provided by Marc Morial, President of the National Urban League.

The State of Africans Americans in Our National Economy

I do not say this to alarm or inflame.  I am just stating a plain fact based upon our experience that includes decades of service delivery and research.  We see it in the faces of the people who come to us for help each year.  We hear it in the voices of the men and women seeking jobs that just aren’t there.  We feel it in the pain of those who come to us for help in keeping a roof over their heads.

Marc Morial

Marc Morial

And our direct experience is borne out by our empirical research.  Each year, the National Urban League publishes the Equality Index as part of our annual State of Black America report.  The Equality Index is an indicator of the relative status of blacks and whites in America.  It consists of five sub-indices: economics, education, health, social justice and civic engagement. Equality is indicated by an index of 100%, therefore an Equality Index less than 100% suggests that blacks are doing worse relative to whites, and an Equality Index greater than 100% suggests that blacks are doing better than whites. 

According to our 2009 Equality Index, African Americans are at about 71% compared with white Americans.  The Economic Index is 57.4%.

According to our 2009 State of Black America Report: nationally, the typical African-American family today possesses less than 10 percent of the net worth of the average white family; almost 30 percent of black families have zero or negative net worth; and far fewer blacks than whites benefit from inherited wealth or assets.

While this is but a snapshot, it paints a dire picture.  Among other things, it illustrates that African Americans just don’t have the cushion that protects us from economic catastrophe when an economy goes into freefall.  

We are starting to see some hopeful signs in other areas of the economy that indicate we may be turning course.  Of course, the job numbers are a lagging indicator, so we hope that they will begin to improve as other areas of the economy begin to point to recovery.

However, even if this is the case, it does not necessarily mean that the African American community will be out of the woods.  In fact, our long-term research indicates a troubling trend that must be proactively reversed.

Catching Up From the End of the Line

According to our State of Black America 2009, African Americans have been doing progressively worse in each economic expansions.  For example, median household income increased during the 1991 expansion, but declined in the 2001 expansion.  

During the first six years of the 1991-2001 recovery, real median income for African-American households grew by 15.6 percent while the real median income of white households grew by 8.9 percent.   Poverty rates declined by 19 percent and 8.5 percent, respectively.  For the duration of the 1992 expansion, real median household income grew by 23.6 percent for African Americans and by 13 percent for whites, while poverty rates declined by 30.6 percent and 17 percent, respectively.  

Although unemployment declined for both groups during each of the most recent expansions, the six-year decline for African Americans during the 1991-2001 expansion was nearly six times greater than the decline during the 2001-2007 expansion.  For whites, the magnitude of the difference was thirteen times.

Between 2001 and 2007, whites saw a net gain in the rate of homeownership (1.2 percent) while African Americans experienced a net loss (-1.0 percent)

To read the entire written testimony of Morial go to:

To peruse all the written testimony provided at the haring go to

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Strategies for Fostering Equitable Economic Growth in Central Texas Focus of October 12 Economic Perspectives

Posted by HH on October 11, 2009

Ayleen Perez and Cloteal Haynes will discuss the PeopleFund Conference on Economic Opportunity on the October 12 edition of Economic Perspectives on KAZI 88.7 FM.  Perez is the communications and outreach manager of PeopleFund and Haynes is a long-time board member.  The Conference will be held October 24 at Austin Community College’s Eastview Campus.

Every year, the Conference unites community leaders, business owners, policy makers, developers, and artists to discuss the changes in the region and effective ways to further positive and equitable growth. From adult education and job opportunities to affordable housing options, the Conference addresses the key issues facing low- to moderate-income communities, and highlights strategies for creating opportunity for Central Texans. The program includes a regional and local economic snapshot, as well as breakout sessions addressing both community and business issues.

Ayleen Perez

Ayleen Perez

Cloteal Haynes

Cloteal Haynes

The Conference will feature two keynote addresses.  The morning address will be delivered by Kenia Davalos, Los Angeles County Commissioner and Latino Business Advocate.  The afternoon keynote address will be delivered by President Obama’s newly appointed National Director of the U.S. Minority Business Development Agency, David Hinson.

PeopleFund provides affordable loans and counseling to ventures that create jobs, generate wealth, provide care for our children, and develop green technologies. It has invested over $20 million in underserved areas of Central Texas.

Ayleen Perez joined the PeopleFund staff in July 2009 as the Communications and Outreach Manager. In addition to community outreach and brand recognition, Ayleen’s responsibilities include planning and implementing public forums, such as our Conference on Economic Opportunity, that address critical economic needs in Central Texas. Born in Caracas, Venezuela but raised in Miami, Florida, Ayleen moved to Austin in November 2001 and has worked within the Latino community ever since.

Cloteal Haynes is managing partner of Hayes-Eaglin-Waters.  She has has over 30 years of planning and construction experience and has a masters degree from LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin.  Cloteal is a graduate of Leadership Austin and a board member of the Austin Black Contractors Association.

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African American Unemployment Rises in September, Healthcare Job Gains Continue

Posted by HH on October 6, 2009

African American unemployment grew from 15.1 percent in August to 15.4 percent in September according to the latest report of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Overall unemployment was virtually unchanged increasing slightly from 9.7 percent in August to 9.8 percent in September.

Unemployment rates in September were 9.0 percent for whites and 12.7 percent for Hispanics. The unemployment rate for Asians was 7.4 percent, not seasonally adjusted.

Among the unemployed, the number of job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs rose by 603,000 to 10.4 million in September. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) rose by 450,000 to 5.4 million. In September, 35.6 percent of unemployed persons were job-less for 27 weeks or more.

Industry Data

Employment in health care continued to increase in September (19,000), with the largest gain occurring in ambulatory health care services (15,000). Health care has added 559,000 jobs since the beginning of the recession, although the average monthly job gain thus far in 2009 (22,000) is down from the average monthly gain during 2008 (30,000).

In September, construction employment declined by 64,000. Monthly job losses averaged 66,000 from May through September, compared with an average of 117,000 per month from November to April. September job cuts were concentrated in the industry’s nonresidential components (-39,000) and in heavy construction (-12,000). Since December 2007, employment in construction has fallen by 1.5 million.

Employment in manufacturing fell by 51,000 in September. Over the past 3 months, job losses have averaged 53,000 per month, compared with an average monthly loss of 161,000 from October to June. Employment in manufacturing has contracted by 2.1 million since the onset of the recession.

In the service-providing sector, the number of jobs in retail trade fell by 39,000 in September. From April through September, retail employment has fallen by an average of 29,000 per month, compared with an average monthly loss of 68,000 for the prior 6-month period.

Government employment was down by 53,000 in September, with the largest decline occurring in the non-education component of local government (-24,000).

Employment in transportation and warehousing continued to trend down in September. The number of jobs in financial activities, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and information showed little or no change over the month.

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Developing a Better Business Model Focus of October 5 Economic Perspectives

Posted by HH on October 5, 2009

If the founders of Google, PayPal, or Starbucks had stuck to their original business plans, we’d likely never have heard of them. Instead, they made radical changes to their initial models, became household names, and delivered huge returns for investors. How did they get from their Plan A to a business model that worked?  Why did they succeed when most new ventures crash and burn?  How can entrepreneurs avoid the risk of today’s high-risk economy?Plan B cover

John Mullins, co-author of GETTING TO PLAN B: Breaking Through to a Better Business Model, will be the October 5 guest on Economic Perspectives on KAZI 88.7 FM.  In the book, Mullins and co-author Randy Komisar argue that the startup process, largely driven by poorly conceived business plans based on untested assumptions, is seriously flawed. But there is a better way to launch new ideas—without wasting years of your time and loads of investors’ money.

In GETTING TO PLAN B, Mullins and Komisar present a field-tested process for rigorously stress-testing your initial business idea, and using the evidence you uncover to make swift corrections that tip the business equation in your favor. Focusing on five elements that determine any business model’s economic viability— its revenue, gross margin, operating, working capital, and investment models—the authors’ approach significantly reduces your risk of failure by:

  • Comparing your idea with existing models to steal what works and avoid what doesn’t
  • Identifying “leaps of faith”: the as-yet-untested questions you bank your business on
  • Conducting fast, inexpensive, data-driven experiments to test your assumptions
  • Using this data to make smart strategic changes and course correct before it’s too late

Through examples from their firsthand experience and research in large businesses around the world like Skype, Ryanair, and Costco, and smaller startups like Silverglide Surgical Technology and the African Leadership Academy, Mullins and Komisar reveal how companies have used such systematic experimentation to transform their current business into a viable Plan B.

John Mullins is the author of the definitive book on assessing new venture opportunities, The New Business Road Test and an Associate Professor of Management Practice at London Business School.

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