Louisville’s Top Earners Make Nearly 20 Times The Average Income, New Report Says Thursday, Jun 16 2016 

New data show that while the wealthy in Kentucky keep earning more money, the poor continue to make even less.

The report from the Economic Policy Institute, which uses IRS income data from 2013, found income inequality has increased in every state since the 1970s.

In Kentucky, the wealthiest 1 percent make an average of $619,585 per year, while the bottom 99 percent earn an annual income of $37,371, according to the report. This means the state’s top earners make nearly 17 times more than the rest of the Kentuckians are averaging, which is up from about 10 times more in 1979.

Kenton County, in northern Kentucky, had the biggest income gap, with its top 1 percent earning nearly 22 times more than the rest of the county. In Jefferson County, the top 1 percent of earners made 19.1 times more than the county’s average income.

EPISource: Economic Policy Institute

Anna Baumann, a policy analyst from the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, said what’s happening in Kentucky reflects a nationwide trend.

“At the national level, and even in Kentucky, (income inequality is) returning to a level that we haven’t seen since the Great Depression,” said Baumann. “So there are some major causes for concern about the sustainability of that kind of income inequality for our economy.”

Baumann said the large income gap makes it harder for lower-income families to move out of poverty.

“(Income inequality) means we are funneling our income growth to those at the top, and that puts the American dream out of reach for a lot of people.”  

KCEP is pushing for tax reform to close loopholes for top earners and advocates raising the federal minimum wage.

The report ranked Kentucky 39th among the states in income inequality. New York ranks first, with its top 1 percent earning about $2 million per year. The state’s average annual salary is $44,000.

For National Bourbon Day: What Started The ‘Bourbon Boom?’ Tuesday, Jun 14 2016 

Hartfield & Company opened their doors in September of 2015, making it the first bourbon distillery in Bourbon County since Prohibition. It’s a small craft operation that opened with little fanfare — but it’s already outgrown its space.

“We can’t keep our stuff on the shelf, actually,” says founder Andrew Buchanan. “We are currently in about 2,000 square feet, but to keep up with demand we need a much larger facility and are moving into about an 18,000-square-foot building.”

This is just one example of the “bourbon boom” that the spirit industry is experiencing, and it’s a development that has a real economic impact in the state. As part of the Kentucky Bourbon Affair — a six-day schedule of tours and tastings at local distilleries — Mayor Greg Fischer welcomed nearly 2,000 thirsty visitors to the city Tuesday.

“Today is National Bourbon Day, and there’s no better place to celebrate our signature spirit this week than Louisville,” Fischer said in a news release. “We look forward to sharing our unique Bourbon culture and booming culinary scene with a glass of Kentucky’s finest amber nectar.”

Fred Minnick, author of “Bourbon Curious: A Simple Tasting Guide for the Savvy Drinker,” says the increased demand for bourbon didn’t actually start with drinkers, but with the producers.

“The thing is, bourbon has always been here, has always been supporting the state,” Minnick says.

In 2009, an additional sales tax was added to bourbon distillers. After that, the Kentucky Distillers’ Association decided they were tired of paying more taxes.

If you bought a bottle of bourbon in the store, it was 60 percent tax,” Minnick says.

He says up until that point, distillers had often relied on “lore and legends” to sell their product, but they changed tactics to focus on the economic effects that bourbon had on the state. Distilleries began releasing or collaborating on impact studies in an effort to convince local governments to reduce taxes.

And it worked — leading, in part, to the subsequent surge in bourbon’s popularity.

A 2013 study by the University of Louisville found that Louisville is one of the biggest winners in the bourbon renaissance, with distillers providing 4,200 jobs, $263 million in payroll and $32 million in tax revenue each year.

Barry Kornstein, the lead researcher of the study, says bourbon also helps create jobs outside the industry.

“For every one job in the bourbon industry it leads to 3.5 jobs in other areas of the state, like in agriculture, for example,” Kornstein says.

And that number is growing, with nearly $130 million in capital investments as distilleries flock to the city and its historic Whiskey Row, including Heaven Hill’s Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, Brown-Forman’s Old Forester Bourbon Experience, Angel’s Envy, Kentucky Peerless, the Bulleit Experience at Stitzel-Weller Distillery, the Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse, Michter’s, Copper & Kings and more.

“One of the things (distillers) like to say is that there is more barrels of bourbon in Kentucky than people,” Minnick says. “It’s a fun little quote to throw out there, but it’s true. There is a lot of bourbon aging in warehouses here, and that’s all going to help build roads and schools and government infrastructure.”  

Kentucky Tax Revenues Were Down In May Monday, Jun 13 2016 

Despite a strong showing during the first 10 months of the year, tax revenue was down last month in Kentucky, dashing hopes of a sizable surplus at the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

State revenues are still expected to have grown by 3.9 percent over the fiscal year, slightly above the rate the state estimated and budgeted for of 3.2 percent.

“Monthly revenue collections were hampered by declines in several accounts, some expected and some not,” state budget director John Chilton said in a news release.

Some of those “expected” declines include revenues from taxes on insurance premiums, limited liability entities and coal. Coal severance receipts have fallen every month this fiscal year, with a total decline of 32.2 percent.

Unexpectedly, revenues from the state income tax declined 14.8 percent for just the second month this fiscal year.

In all, May receipts into the state’s general fund fell 7.5 percent compared with May of last year — a decrease of $57.3 million.

Receipts into the road fund also took a hit, falling 5.9 percent during May. Most of that decline was due to a 22.6 percent drop in revenue from the motor vehicle usage tax, which is collected when a vehicle is first registered or there is a transfer of ownership.

In October, the state’s Consensus Forecasting Group predicted that the general fund would end the current fiscal year with a $242.3 million surplus, an estimate touted by then-Gov. Steve Beshear as a highlight of his outgoing administration.

Before taking office, Gov. Matt Bevin provided a gloomier assessment of the state’s economic health, citing a report from the outgoing budget director that predicted a $500 million shortfall by the end of the fiscal year.

There’s still one more month in the fiscal year. According to Chilton, the state will avoid a shortfall as long as June receipts aren’t more than 2.9 percent less than June 2015.

GE Appliances Sale To China-Based Haier Is Final Monday, Jun 6 2016 

General Electric’s Louisville-based appliance division has a new owner.

GE Appliances is now part of the China-based Haier Company. The multibillion-dollar sale was finalized on Monday.

About 6,000 people work at Louisville’s Appliance Park, which was constructed by GE more than 60 years ago. The division will now be called “GE Appliances, a Haier Company.”

Chip Blankenship will continue as president and CEO. He said employees should not expect any major shakeups under the new owner.

“Really what we need to do is remain competitive and win in the marketplace, and that really determines our level of success and our employment levels,” he said.

Blankenship said Haier would continue to recognize the IUE/CWA as the local labor union and will negotiate a new contract. He also said Haier would invest in a program to help people prepare for careers in manufacturing.

“You have heard me say in the past that manufacturing is in a crisis because we can’t find enough people who are qualified to make our products, maintain our high-tech machinery or have the problem-solving and teamwork skills to improve our operations and compete for more business,” Blankenship said.

The purchase price was $5.6 billion.

U.S. Economy Adds Just 38,000 Jobs In May, Far Short Of Expectations Friday, Jun 3 2016 

The U.S. economy added just 38,000 jobs in May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in its monthly report — far fewer than the 160,000 that economists had anticipated.

NPR business editor Marilyn Geewax called the number “shockingly low.”

The unemployment rate declined by 0.3 percentage points, the Bureau says, to 4.7 percent — but that can be attributed to people dropping out of the workforce, Marilyn says.

The number of workers who would like to work full-time but can find only part-time work increased by nearly half a million, to 6.4 million, the BLS says.

Economists had anticipated 160,000 new jobs last month, and even that was seen as “not a very high number,” NPR’s Yuki Noguchi reported. But it would have been enough to keep up with population growth.

The actual growth of 38,000 jobs falls far short of that standard.

A recent strike by Verizon workers pulled the jobs report down somewhat, as was widely expected: More than 35,000 workers were off the job and counted as unemployed for the sake of this month’s report, Reuters says.

Indeed, the report showed information-sector employment declined by 34,000 jobs, which the BLS attributed to the strike. (The strike is now over, and Verizon employees have returned to work.)

The mining and manufacturing sectors continued to show job losses, the BLS says, while the healthcare sector is still adding jobs.

The BLS also revised downward the job gains for the last two months.

Growth for March was revised from 208,000 to 186,000, and for April from 160,000 to 123,000. April’s job growth had already been regarded as weak, even with the original numbers.

This month’s jobs report is being closely watched for clues to when the Federal Reserve will raise short-term interest rates, as part of their plan to gradually return rates to normal levels after years at nearly zero.

The Fed meets in two weeks, and then again in late July, The Associated Press reports.

The weaker the report, the more likely the Fed is expected to wait a while before the next rate hike.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

St. Catharine College To Close At End Of July Wednesday, Jun 1 2016 

Officials from St. Catharine College announced Wednesday that the school will shutter its doors next month.

According to a news release, following recent meetings of the board of trustees, chairman John Turner told faculty and staff of the planned closure at a campus-wide meeting on Wednesday.

“It is with great sadness that I announce today, after exploring all possible options, the board of trustees has determined the challenges facing St. Catharine College are insurmountable and we will be closing the college at the end of July,” Turner said.

Turner said a decline in overall enrollment and the federal Department of Education’s admitted wrongful withholding of student aid has proven to be too difficult to manage along with the college’s debts.

The school says the debt Turner referenced was due to the construction of new facilities, including residence halls, a health sciences building and a library.

“Without the enrollment and with the DOE’s chokehold on our cashflow, the debt is simply not manageable,” Turner said.

The college said summer camps and classes will proceed as scheduled, but no classes will begin in the fall. SCC employs 118 full-time faculty and staff employees, as well as numerous part-time staff and adjunct instructors.

SCC is a private institution that was founded in 1931. Total undergraduate enrollment for school-year 2014-15 was 939 students.

Read the letter from the SCC Board of Trustees here.

LISTEN: Inside Phoenix Hill Tavern’s ‘Museum’ Of Memorabilia Monday, May 23 2016 

On a rainy Friday afternoon, about a half-dozen people stay dry inside the storied Phoenix Hill Tavern on Baxter Avenue.

The venue ended a 40-year run when it closed last year. And as anyone who ever visited knows, the 25,000-square-foot event space was also known for its memorabilia and antiques, which are being sold at auction.

All hands were on deck as auctioneers fixed, labeled and organized some of the legendary pieces, such as a $50,000 chandelier, a bullet-riddled Phoenix Brewing Co. sign and a gigantic stuffed moose head.

Bullet holes in an Phoenix Hill Brewing Co. sign up for auctionRoxanne Scott | wfpl.org

Bullet holes in a Phoenix Hill Brewing Co. sign up for auction.

“The owner grew up going to auctions and flea markets,” said auctioneer Caitlin Wardlow Herrell of Ben Rogers, who owned Phoenix Hill Tavern and Jim Porter’s Good Time Emporium. “There’s not a store that you go to to buy this stuff. He just kinda comes across it, and the whole time it was open, he was constantly adding to it. It’s like a museum.”

An astonishing chandelier owner Ken Rogers had made in Germany Roxanne Scott | wfpl.org

An astonishing chandelier owner Ben Rogers had made in Germany.

Allee Harmon, another of the auctioneers, looked fondly at a metal toy train up for sale. He spoke affectionately about a railroad lantern from the days of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. His mother was a secretary for L&N.

Collectors can have a piece of the L&N RailroadRoxanne Scott | wfpl.org

Collectors can have a piece of the L&N Railroad.

“She mentioned that she still gets a pension at 93, when she worked there close to 65-70 years ago,” Harmon said.

Interest in the items here has been high. Everyone, it can seem, wants to hold onto a piece of the Phoenix Hill Tavern.

“We have people who want to buy a small lamp to have a piece of Phoenix Hill,” Herrell said. “We have people who want to buy a specific set of tables and chairs because that’s where they first met.”

Other items of interest to collectors include a Steepleton pool table, a jumbo Big Boy fiberglass mascot and signed stars from various celebrities who’ve visited the venue. Those include Dave Matthews, Blues Traveler, Jessica Simpson, Reese Witherspoon, Tricia Yearwood and Miley Cyrus, among others.

One of the many signed stars auctioned at the Phoenix Hill TavernRoxanne Scott | wfpl.org

One of the many signed stars auctioned at the Phoenix Hill Tavern.

“It’s bittersweet, you know, that it’s gone,” Herrell said. “But there’s a new way to keep a piece of Phoenix Hill.”

The NRA’s Economic Impact In Louisville Is Expected To Be Huge Friday, May 20 2016 

Neal Robertson sits in The New T&B Classic Cuts Barbershop on 18th and Muhammad Ali in Louisville. He’s in a exuberant mood — singing and joking with passersby, customers and the barbers there.

But his mood quickly shifts when he starts talking about the National Rifle Association.

Robertson, 53, is president of the West Louisville Urban Coalition, a group of organizations working to improve the neighborhoods west of Ninth Street. He says he’s concerned about the NRA’s annual meeting in Louisville.

“My thoughts on the NRA coming to town — who has a problem with gun violence — is it’s very bad for our community,” he says, referring to a historic spike in homicides and shootings in Louisville this year.

In the first quarter of 2016, homicides are up 44 percent over the same period last year, according to data from Louisville Metro Police. Shootings are up 39 percent over last year.

The West Louisville barbershop is about six miles from the Kentucky Exposition Center, where the NRA convention is being held. And that proximity is important for economic reasons, too.

The NRA is controversial, but along with controversy comes money — big money.  And their stop in Louisville is no exception. More than 70,000 people are expected to attend this weekend’s convention.

According to the Louisville Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, the estimated economic impact of the NRA conference is $53 million. Cleo Battle, executive vice president of the CVB, says economic impact is a major factor in considering what events they try to lure to Louisville. 

Economic impact includes the direct spending visitors make when they’re here. That might include hotels, taxis and souvenirs. Impact also includes business-to-business goods and services, such as more labor or merchandise for a major event like the NRA. And it includes workers who will see a boost in wages from working during the event, who then might turn around and spend that money locally.

But even an educated estimate is hard to pin down, according to Janet Kelly, executive director of the Urban Studies Institute at the University of Louisville. Still, Kelly says, economic boosts can apply to the city at-large — across classes and businesses.

“I know that it’s awfully hard to judge economic impact,” Kelly says. “And there’s a tendency to overstate them because many times we count all economic transactions as having an economic impact.”

Robertson, the West Louisville resident, doesn’t buy that the wealth will spread, so to speak, from the NRA conference citywide.

“Ma’am, I’m guaranteeing you that not one red cent will make it to West Louisville,” he says.

Here’s What The Obama Administration’s New Overtime Rule Means Wednesday, May 18 2016 

The U.S. Department of Labor on Wednesday began finalizing a rule that would make millions more Americans eligible for overtime pay.

The order states that any person earning less than $47,476 per year ($913 per week) who works more than 40 hours per week must receive overtime pay.

OT Rule mapDept. of Labor

The Labor Department says the new rule will put more money into the hands of the middle class, or give them more free time:

“By increasing the number of workers who are eligible for overtime when they work more than 40 hours in a week, employers will have a choice. They can either increase their employees’ salaries to at least the new salary threshold, pay workers the overtime premium for extra hours, or limit their work to 40 hours in a week.”

In an interview with NPR, Labor Secretary Tom Perez said middle-class jobs must pay middle-class wages.

“The angst that people feel across this country is so frequently the product of the fact that they’re working hard and falling further behind,” Perez said. “They feel like they lost leverage. And the reason they feel that is because in the case of the Fair Labor Standards Act, they indeed lost a lot of leverage.”

Kentucky U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell released a statement criticizing the rule. He called it “another job-killing regulation” by the Obama administration:

“Our economy continues to be stuck in the worst recovery since World War II and the only solution the Obama Administration can come up with is more red tape that will hurt our nation’s working middle class. Just like Obamacare’s 30-hour work week, this regulation will once again incentivize employers to cut worker hours, provide fewer benefits, and hinder flexible work arrangements for hardworking Americans. That doesn’t help anyone get ahead. I’ve already heard from many concerned constituents in Kentucky on how this misguided regulation will hurt them.”

McConnell said he is co-sponsoring legislation introduced by Senators Scott and Alexander that will require the Department of Labor to study the overtime rule and its effects on small businesses.

GLI, Louisville’s chamber of commerce, also responded to the announcement of the new rule on Wednesday. In a statement, COO Sarah Davasher-Wisdom called the rule inflexible:

“While GLI is pleased to see a compromise on the wage level on the overtime rule unveiled today,  the measure still makes the critical errors of limiting flexibility, ignoring regional distinctions in compensation, and demanding full implementation by December 1st rather than a phased approach. GLI continues to support Congressional efforts to reverse the rule or offset its negative effects on business, specifically, Majority Leader McConnell’s proposal to allow workers to opt for paid time off as opposed to overtime pay.”

Employers have a little more than six months to prepare, as the rule will take effect on Dec. 1, 2016. A copy of the final rule can be found here.

Hillary Clinton And Jim Gray Win In Kentucky Wednesday, May 18 2016 

Kentucky Democratic senatorial candidate Jim Gray wins big and Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton squeaks by Bernie Sanders, in Kentucky’s Democratic primary. So what can Kentuckians expect from the Democratic victors? Will Jim Gray deny that he voted for Barack … Continue reading →

The post Hillary Clinton And Jim Gray Win In Kentucky appeared first on Hillbilly Report.

Next Page »