Topic: Cost of Living
News
Aug. 11, 2017

Expenditures for delivered energy in the United States in 2015 totaled $1.127 trillion, a 20% decrease in real terms from 2014, according to recently released data from EIA’s State Energy Data System. Adjusted for inflation, total energy expenditures in 2015 were the lowest since 2004. Total energy expenditures, expressed as a percent of the United States gross domestic product, were 6.2% in 2015, the lowest since 2002.

News
Aug. 6, 2017

The Southern California pattern is similar to what’s happening throughout the nation. A National Association of Realtors survey found home sellers had lived in their homes for nine or 10 years in recent years, said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. Historically, the average was six to seven years. “It’s not a California issue,” Yun said. “People nationwide are staying in their homes longer.”

News
Aug. 1, 2017

Major health insurers in some states are seeking increases as high as 30% or more for premiums on 2018 Affordable Care Act plans, according to new federal data that provide the broadest view so far of the turmoil across exchanges as companies try to anticipate Trump administration policies. Big insurers in Idaho, West Virginia, South Carolina, Iowa and Wyoming are seeking to raise premiums by averages close to 30% or more, according to preliminary rate requests published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Insurers face a mid-August deadline for completing their rates. The companies have until late September to sign federal agreements to offer plans in 2018.

News
Aug. 1, 2017

Beyond US President Donald Trump's decision in June to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Paris climate agreement, a more profound challenge to the global climate pact is emerging. No major advanced industrialized country is on track to meet its pledges to control the greenhouse-gas emissions that cause climate change.

Wishful thinking and bravado are eclipsing reality. Countries in the European Union are struggling to increase energy efficiency and renewable power to the levels that they claimed they would. Japan promised cuts in emissions to match those of its peers, but meeting the goals will cost more than the country is willing to pay. Even without Trump's attempts to roll back federal climate policy, the United States is shifting its economy to clean energy too slowly.

. . . Most pledges are almost silent on the range of policies being used, making it difficult to discern which are actually effective. The EU, for example, submitted little information about the complex pledge-implementation process that is already under way. The gap between promise and action is especially large for the strategies that governments are using to boost energy efficiency, for which the real costs are often opaque. Equipment prices can be easily assessed but these are frequently only a fraction of the total deployment costs.

The pledges are impenetrable in other ways. Even the Obama administration, which vowed to set a high standard for openness, did not disclose the assumptions it used to model future emissions. More information is needed to evaluate the plausibility of carbon sequestration by forests, projected outcomes of climate policy and business-as-usual market trends — especially in light of the change in US leadership.

News
Aug. 1, 2017

California consumers buying insurance for 2018 through the state’s insurance exchange will see average premiums increases of 12.5 percent, but by comparison pricing, many could limit their premium hikes to 3.3 percent, Covered California officials announced Tuesday.

The increase was a little lower than the average 13.2 Covered California premium hike implemented this year, despite uncertainty over the future of the Affordable Care Act amid Republican attempts to repeal the law.

. . . That “ongoing uncertainty” could mean that roughly 650,000 consumers who buy Covered California’s most popular insurance plans, those in the silver tier, will face a double whammy on their premium prices. The exchange said it may have to add a 12.4 percent surcharge to premiums in that tier because insurers are worried about continued federal funding that lowers out-of-pocket costs for enrollees.

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