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Economy

Updated at 5:34 p.m. ET

The Federal Reserve is cutting interest rates for the first time in over a decade — a preemptive move aimed at extending the already record-long economic expansion.

The Fed on Wednesday lowered its target for the key federal funds rate by a quarter percentage point. The move should decrease the cost of borrowing, including for credit cards, auto loans and mortgages.

Ten days into the partial government shutdown, it's time to ask a dreaded question: What if this keeps going?

A new congressional session begins Thursday, at which time Democrats become the majority in the House. There's no indication that progress will be made before then on the political standoff over funding a border wall that President Trump is demanding.

What's running — and what isn't — during the shutdown

Updated at 4:39 p.m. ET

The economy expanded at a 3.5 percent annual rate in the third quarter, the Commerce Department said Friday. That's slower than the second quarter's blockbuster 4.2 percent, but it puts the economy on pace for the fastest annual growth in 13 years.

Private analysts had estimated a 3.4 percent growth rate in gross domestic product for the third quarter.

Consumer spending jumped at a 4 percent rate in the July-September quarter — the fastest in about four years and topping the 3.8 percent in the prior three months.

The U.S. economy added 201,000 jobs in August, the Labor Department said on Friday, continuing its nearly eight-year streak of monthly gains. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at a very low 3.9 percent.

Despite a strong economy, about 40 percent of American families struggled to meet at least one of their basic needs last year, including paying for food, health care, housing or utilities.

Updated at 9:08 a.m. ET

The economy continued to add jobs at a steady pace last month, and the unemployment rate remained low. Analysts have been looking for signs that wage growth might pick up, but it held steady, too.

Payrolls grew by a lower-than-expected 157,000 in July, and the unemployment rate edged down to 3.9 percent, as projected, the Labor Department said Friday.

A basic tenet of economics is that when demand for something goes up, so does its cost. So, many economists wonder why today's high demand for workers hasn't translated into bigger increases in pay.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has called this a puzzle that defies a single or easy explanation. It isn't just, for example, that productivity has slowed, making it harder for businesses to justify paying more — though that is certainly a factor.

Updated at 10:07 a.m. ET

The U.S. economy had a blockbuster second quarter, with growth surging to a 4.1 percent pace, the Commerce Department said Friday. That was nearly double the first quarter rate of 2.2 percent and the strongest pace in nearly four years.

President Trump has been steadfastly claiming that his policies will catapult the U.S. economy into a much higher rate of growth — 4 percent over the next few years.

President Trump is eager to tout a fast-growing economy, boosted by the tax cuts he pushed through Congress. That makes Friday morning's report on gross domestic product a highly anticipated news event.

Did GDP growth top 4 percent in the second quarter — more than double the first-quarter pace — as many economists project?

Forecasts are all over the board, with estimates even among Federal Reserve economists diverging widely.

The events of 10 years ago show why these forecasts are so important.

When the year started, we were astounded to hear Venezuela’s 2018 inflation rate could top 13,000 percent. That’s pretty bad hyperinflation. But Venezuelans now look at that forecast as the good news.

The recent Black Girls Day at the Capitol highlights minority women’s economic issues in Florida. Several organizations want improvements on education and better access to health care.

The U.S. economy shed 33,000 jobs in September, according to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while unemployment fell to 4.2 percent.

The September payrolls drop broke a nearly seven-year streak of continuous job gains, but economists caution that the drop is likely representing the short-term consequences of bad weather, not a long-term shift in the job market.

Before this report, the economy had added an average of about 175,000 jobs per month; the unemployment rate has been at 4.3 or 4.4 percent since April.

Obama's Economic Tour Arrives in Jacksonville

Jul 25, 2013
whitehouse.gov

It's hard to find anyone who thinks President Barack Obama's series of heavily promoted economic speeches will be the flash point that unclogs the system in Washington — including the president.

A day after he kicked off the tour in Illinois and Missouri, Obama travels today to a seaport in Jacksonville, to yet again deride the wide gulf between his vision for a new American prosperity driven by a burgeoning middle class and the intense gridlock snarling up Congress.

University of Central Florida

It's a mostly sunny economic forecast for Florida for the next three years, boosted by a strong housing market recovery. That's according to a quarterly report released Tuesday by the University of Central Florida's Institute for Economic Competitiveness.

The institute’s three-year financial forecast says more homes are being built and sold, and housing prices are going up. UCF economist Sean Snaith points out that’s good news even for homeowners who aren’t planning to sell. 

Upward Mobility Not Easy in Tampa Bay

Jul 23, 2013

A poor child's chance of climbing into the upper class as an adult depends on where he or she lives. That's according to a new study by economists at Harvard and the University of California-Berkeley. Among 30 big metro areas, Tampa Bay ranks 22nd, with just 7 percent of children raised in a household in the lowest fifth level of income likely to end up in the top fifth level.

(Most recent update: 10 a.m. ET.)

The nation's jobless rate edged down to 7.5 percent in April from 7.6 percent in March and employers added 165,000 jobs to their payrolls last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday morning.

Florida No. 3 for Bank Branch Closings

Jan 23, 2013

Following a nationwide trend of bank closings, Florida had a net loss of 18 bank branches in last year's fourth quarter. That's according to new figures from SNL Financial. Only Indiana and Pennsylvania fared worse. Experts attribute the closings to low interest rates and expect the decline to continue. Bank of America had biggest net loss -- 47 branches nationwide. JPMorgan Chase & Co. added the most offices -- 16 -- and is focusing on expanding in Florida and California, the SNL report said.

Tampa's Economy Looking Up

Sep 18, 2012
WUSF Public Media

The Broookings Institute has ranked Tampa 30th out of 100 U.S. metro areas in how much it's economy has improved in the last quarter.

Amy Green

It may take only a little sugar to make candy and cookies tasty treats, but sugar is big business.

This election cycle, sugar growers gave more to political campaigns than tobacco companies.

Big Sugar spends big to preserve a complex government program that benefits the industry by boosting the domestic price of the crop.

It costs consumers about $2-billion annually.

And in South Florida, nearly 700,000 acres are dedicated to growing sugar cane.

vichie81 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

With Labor Day behind us, millions of Floridians are returning to work today--but taking home slimmer paychecks than in previous years, according to a new report.

Over the holiday weekend, Florida International University's Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy released its annual State of Working Florida report. The CliffsNotes version is this: Florida's typical worker earns about $1,000 less today than in 2010. 

Joe Raedle / Getty Images News

Florida’s economy presents a challenge to the two presidential candidates.

The state’s unemployment rate has fallen over the past year. And home prices in Tampa and Miami markets are starting to rebound.

President Obama is trying to argue that’s a good reason for his reelection.

Republican nominee Mitt Romney wants voters to think things would have been better if not for Obama.

John O'Connor / WUSF

Ken Jones is a Tampa native and attorney for a local financial firm.

He's also tasked with leading the group that's hosting the biggest event to hit Tampa since the Super Bowl in 2009.

This is the fifth convention Jones has worked on.

He sat down with WUSF for Florida Matters. Here's five things we learned from the interview.

ntwowe / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The average cost to close on a $200,000 mortgage is $3,754, according to Bankrate.com. But in Florida, homebuyers can expect to shell out a few hundred extra dollars.

According to Bankrate's latest survey, Florida is among the top five most expensive states to close on a home. In 2012, the average closing costs on a $200,000 mortgage were as follows:

Jeffery Turner / Flickr Creative Commons

The foreclosure-tracking website RealtyTrac released its midyear report today, and Tampa Bay stood out nationwide as the metro area with the highest increase in foreclosures.

Aimee Blodgett / USF News

Florida and the Tampa Bay area are well-positioned to work with businesses in developing countries around the world.

That's the opinion of Ian Solomon, the U.S. Executive Director of the World Bank, who's in town this week to meet with local business leaders.

Clermont Struggles With Homeless Students

Feb 29, 2012
60 Minutes

The Associated Press has a terrific profile out on a homeless student in Lake County, the latest in a series of stories using Florida as the face of the Great Recession.