Tags : economy

Investigating tax credits, subsidies and incentives

By Zachary Matson

Each year local and state governments provide private companies with billions of dollars of tax credits, subsidies and other forms of incentives to mover or open new facilities in their communities. These deals are shrouded behind layers of quasi-public agencies, weak disclosure rules and secretive businesses, but rarely the economic benefits turn out as originally billed.

IRE board president and columnist David Cay Johnston and Greg LeRoy of Good Jobs First provided insights into exploring these deals and their true costs to the public on a panel at the recent IRE Conference in San Antonio.

Johnston said ...

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The great divide: Investigating income inequality

By Gwen Girsdansky

IRE Board President David Cay Johnston and Paul Overberg from USA Today spoke about how to investigate income inequality on Friday at the IRE Conference.

When researching trends, the speakers recommended looking at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, bank deposits (which are available for every bank branch in the United States), the Luxembourg Wealth Study and the work of Emmanuel Saez, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

Johnston and Overberg recommended different sources to talk with to find trends or investigating trends. This includes educational leaders, a district superintendent or community college president. Colleges, either ...

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Don't miss at IRE 2013: Breaking local stories with economic data

The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism will offer a free workshop from 2-5 p.m. on June 19 at the IRE Conference in San Antonio: Breaking Local Stories with Economic Data. Government data offer unparalleled opportunities to distinguish your reporting with trend stories about what’s happening in your local economy.

Especially this year, with the release of the every-five-year Economic Census, journalists will have a unique opportunity to track changes in their local community from 2007 — before the recession — to 2012. Instructors Paul Overberg of USA Today and Jeannine Aversa, late of The AP, now with ...

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Wednesday wrap-up: Breaking local stories with economic data

Wednesday was a busy day preparing for the start of sessions on Thursday, but one panel was already under way -- “Breaking Local Stories with Economic Data,” hosted by the (Sponsored by Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism).

Paul Overberg of USA Today and Thomas Dall and Jeannine Aversa of the Bureau of Economic Analysis shared tips on using data to uncover local economic trends that set your reporting apart.

The release of the five-year Economic Census provides a timely opportunity to track changes between 2007 and 2012.

Here’s a quick snapshot from the Reynolds Center post of ...

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Covering the repurchase market and shadow banking

Veteran journalist Mary Fricker has put together a guide for the Reynolds Business Journalism Center on how to cover the repurchase market and shadow banking, which she says is "inherently unstable. It triggered the financial crisis in 2007 and 2008. It’s a key reason that our recovery is weak. Yet in 2008, when the financial markets were collapsing, no one I knew had ever heard of it, including me. Now that’s a great story.”

The following elements are part of Fricker's coverage  guide:

Fricker has also helped put together ...

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Resources for covering the federal budget, fiscal cliff

As the White House and Congressional Republicans inch toward an agreement before the fiscal cliff deadline, the opportunity remains for digging deeper into the federal budget and the impact of a deal -- or lack of deal -- on both the country's broad economic health and local communities. Find help in these links and resources.

Econocheck
A collaboration between IRE and the Sunlight Foundation, Econocheck is free to both members and non-members. It offers a wealth of data for covering the economy, including the following topics:

  • Jobs and Employment
  • Taxes, Government Finances and Debt
  • Health Care and Insurance 
  • Prices and Inflation ...
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Behind the Story: The reality of Oklahoma's Quality Jobs Program

Last month, the Oklahoma Impact Team for KWTV News 9 in Oklahoma City and KOTV News on 6 in Tulsa, Okla., examined the much-touted Oklahoma Quality Jobs Program to see if it works as intended or amounts to a corporate giveaway. They found that three-quarters of a billion dollars in tax rebates have been awarded to approximately 660 companies, some of which have eliminated jobs or sent jobs overseas while collecting payments under the program. Companies met job-creation predictions about one-third of the time.

Alex Cameron and Jeff Raymond of the Oklahoma Impact Team for KWTV and KOTV sent IRE ...

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Behind the Story: The big business of 'green' buildings and LEED certification

Can a 50-story Las Vegas hotel be environmentally-friendly?  This is the question USA Today reporter Tom Frank sought to answer when he began reporting on the increase in construction of so-called environmentally friendly buildings.  Through his investigation, Frank found that green commercial construction has increased.  Non-profits are behind the movement, but few have assessed the real impact of their programs.  Often, green building improvements are simply cheap routes to large tax breaks.  Frank’s ongoing Green Inc. series explores the challenges non-profit groups face in helping for-profit businesses “go green.”

His investigation began with an online search of the U ...

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SBA disaster loan data updated in NICAR Database Library

In the wake of a disaster, individuals and business owners are often left with severely damaged property. Many turn for help to the Small Business Administration, which approves low-interest loans to help rebuild. For declared disasters in 2011 alone, the Small Business Administration approved over $1 billion in loans.

NICAR has updated the SBA database of these loans, which is now current through Sept. 2012. 

WHAT'S IN IT?
Disaster loans through the SBA are one of the primary forms of federal assistance for individuals and non-farm, private-sector businesses who have suffered losses. The data have information on the borrower ...

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Join a live discussion about Econocheck

NICAR adviser David Herzog will be on hand Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 2 p.m Eastern (11 a.m. Pacific) for a live Q&A about EconoCheck on the Journalism AcceleratorEconoCheck, an IRE-Sunlight Foundation resource launched during the 2012 campaign, helps reporters quickly find and understand data about key indicators. Drop by to discuss how journalists can continue to tap into it for post-election economic reporting and how we might improve it.

What do you think about the way EconoCheck presents tools and information? Please join us to share your experience and ask anything you want to know.