Economy

Kentucky lawmakers are planning to help home and business owners in tornado-stricken areas. Earlier this month, tornadoes ripped through Northern and Eastern Kentucky, causing millions of dollars in damage. But lawmakers are working on legislation to give storm victims refunds on sales tax for building materials.

TN Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

New guidelines issued by the U-S Department of Labor mean claimants will have to conduct documented work searches to continue receiving jobless benefits. Under terms of federal legislation enacted in February, claimants will also be required to meet face to face with state job service workers.

The Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet  says jobless rates declined in 114 of the state’s counties from January of last year to January of 2012. State officials say Woodford County had the lowest unemployment rate in the state, at 6.9 percent. Webster, Fayette, Union, Oldham, and Henderson Counties are among those listed with relatively low rates, ranging from 7.2 to 7.9 percent.

A compromise to help employers avoid high federal unemployment insurance taxes has easily cleared a House committee. The proposal would allow Kentucky to borrow money from a bank or other organization to repay federal loans. Kentucky borrowed nearly one billion dollars from the federal government to pay for unemployment insurance during the recession.

The Office of State Budget Director Mary Lassiter says General Fund Receipts in the bluegrass state increased 3.8 percent in February, compared to February of 2011. Total revenues topped 574 million dollars, compared to just under 553 million dollars for the same month last year.

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Owensboro leaders announced Friday a project that will invest 44 million dollars in the city's downtown area. A key portion of that investment will be a new convention class Holiday Inn hotel, to be located on the west side of the newly planned convention center. In addition,  Boardwalk Pipeline Partners LP has come to a preliminary agreement with the Riverfront Jam, LLC developers to relocate the Owensboro office to a downtown location.

Officials with the U-S  Treasury Department are trying to alert people who receive paper checks for Social Security benefits that they must switch to electronic payment by March first of 2013. Walt Henderson, the Director of the E-F-T Strategy Division of the U-S Treasury's Financial Management Service, says about fifteen percent of the recipients in Kentucky still receive paper checks and will need to make the change.

Second District Congressman Brett Guthrie of Kentucky says he's heard plenty of constituents expressing concern about higher gasoline prices in recent days. The Republican from Bowling Green says the higher prices at the pump are difficult for consumers to accept in an already troubled economy.

Second District Congressman Brett Guthrie of Kentucky says he's heard plenty of constituents expressing concern about higher gasoline prices in recent days. The Republican from Bowling Green says the higher prices at the pump are difficult for consumers to accept in an already troubled economy. He says the higher fuel prices are also being felt in the trucking industry, and he warns that increases in shipping costs  could lead to higher costs for numerous products, from manufactured goods to groceries. 

In a statement released today the US Postal Service says it will close eight mail processing centers in Kentucky, including locations in Bowling Green, Elizabethtown, London, and Somerset. The processing work currently done at those centers will be processed at facilities in other cities in the future.

Some petroleum industry analysts say the higher prices on gas pumps in the region may not have hit their peak yet. Upward movement was reported during the day yesterday, with retail prices hitting $3.75 per gallon at several stations in Bowling Green. Gasbuddy.com analyst Patrick DeHaan predicts the upward pressure could continue through the end of the week.

Owensboro-Daviess County Tourist Commission

James Barnett of the Daniel Pitino Shelter in Owensboro says his agency is seeing more "first-time" homeless than ever. Barnett says the difficult economy has forced people who had never sought assistance in the past to ask for help.

A nationwide foreclosure settlement with five major mortgage lenders means thousands of Kentuckians will receive direct payments, loan modifications, or principal write-downs. Kentucky was one of the last states to agree to the $25 billion deal with Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi, and Ally Financial. Attorney General Jack Conway says the Commonwealth will receive $58.8 million of the settlement.

More than 40 U.S. states have agreed to a nationwide settlement over foreclosure abuses. The deal would force the five largest mortgage lenders to reduce loans for about 1 million households.

Five years ago, a subprime mortgage firestorm was melting down the U.S. economy, but most analysts didn't see it happening.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, testifying before Congress in February 2007, said the housing sector "is a concern, but at this point we don't see it as being a broad financial concern or a major factor in assessing the course of the economy."

If he and the vast majority of economists were blind to the economic and financial calamity taking shape then, could they also be missing the start of a huge economic boom now?

A boom? Really?

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