Health Insurance - Health District Rankings
January 22nd, 2007

Economic Snapshot – First Six Months FY2007

Economic Notes:



Health Insurance

  • Overall, the proportion of the population that lacks any kind of health insurance in Utah has been increasing. In 2005, 11.6% of Utahns did not have any kind of insurance coverage.
  • Utahns aged 18 to 34 made up nearly one-half (45.6%) of all Utahns who were uninsured.
  • Household income was negatively associated with health insurance coverage. Only 3.9% of those living in households with incomes $65,000 or over were uninsured, compared to 32.8% of those in households with incomes under $20,000.
  • As a proportion of all uninsured Utahns, those living in households at or below 200% pov¬erty made up (67.0%).
  • For adults 18 years and over, those who had less than a high school education were the most likely to lack health insurance (35.6%). However, adults who had completed at least a high school education accounted for most uninsured adults (81.3%).
  • An estimated 10.8% of Utah's population is Hispanic or Latino, however this group makes up 34.7% of all uninsured Utahns.
  • Utahns who lacked any kind of health insurance were significantly more likely than Utahns with insurance coverage to report that they were in fair or poor health (14.0% and 9.2% respectively).
  • The most common type of insurance coverage for Utahns was provided through a current or former employer or on (77.5%), however, the proportion of insured Utahns receiving this type of insurance has decreased by 5.4% since 2001.
  • Over half (58.6%) of uninsured Utahns reported they could not afford health insurance as a reason for being uninsured.
  • 32.8% of uninsured Utahns reported that an employer did not offer health insurance as a reason for lacking health insurance.
Health Insurance by Health District
Rank (% w/o Health Insurance) District% of Persons With No Health Insurance
4Bear River9.9%
5Salt Lake11.4%
7Utah Co11.8%
8Southeastern12.5 %
10Weber- Morgan14.2%
Source Utah Department of Health, 2005 Health Status Survey (HHS) http://health.utah.gov/opha/publications/2005hss/ovr /2005HSS_Ovr_Report.htm

The Zoning Policy That Worked Too Well

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — When Simon Lim, president of the Holborn Group, bought a one-block building site in downtown Vancouver last summer, he had plans for a hotel and a commercial and condominium complex. But a few months later, city planners proposed rezoning the site, which is known as the Bay Parkade. The change would require Mr. Lim to double the amount of commercial space, with priority given to a new office tower.

“I have to admit when I first caught wind of this policy change, I wasn’t exactly a happy puppy,” said Mr. Lim, who is developing another downtown hotel- condo project, called Vancouver’s Turn. “I suspect there is some profit in developing commercial, but it is significantly more profitable to build residential.”

Over the last 15 years, downtown Vancouver has become a leader in North America’s urban housing renaissance. Under Vancouver’s “living first” policy, which was adopted 20 years ago, the downtown population has increased to 80,000 from 40,000, out of a total city population of 600,000. By 2030, planners expect 120,000 people to live in the city’s shimmering glass skyscrapers, which overlook the snowcapped North Shore mountains, English Bay and Coal Harbour.

But now, city officials and businesses are concerned that downtown Vancouver may become a victim of its own success, and that residential development will encroach on jobs and office space. Officials put a moratorium on new housing near the business district two years ago, after allowing two condo towers — one called Living Shangri-La — in what was supposed to be a commercial-only zone.

Last month, the city released a jobs and land- use study, which concluded that the downtown peninsula could run out of job space within five years under current zoning regulations.

“ ‘Living first’ was genius — we now have 80,000 people living downtown,” said Brent Toderian, the city’s planning director. But a successful downtown is a balanced organism, he said. “We are now at a different point in the evolution towards balance, as we shift gears to protect office capacity.”

Planners are considering several options, including raising the limits on building height, offering incentives to developers and capping residential construction. Vancouver is also experiencing a period of significant growth, driven by a spike in the price of natural resources, which has benefited the forest products and mining companies based in the city; an active professional services economy; and the construction linked to the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Nevertheless, encouraging new office construction will not be an easy task, Mr. Toderian said. The Vancouver office market has a number of relatively small tenants, and he said there was a reluctance on the part of local developers to build office towers on speculation. And now the Bay Parkade project, which is a test case of the city’s new approach, has some developers suggesting that office growth is not viable.

“The problem is, in the grand scheme of dollars and cents, residential is much more profitable,” Mr. Toderian said. “We have to fight to protect the viable option from the more profitable option.”

According to the city’s jobs and land-use plan, downtown will need about 65 million square feet of space to accommodate job growth over the next 20 years. That is about 10 million more than the capacity under current land-use regulations. Class A office vacancy rates have already dropped to 3.3 percent, down from 12.3 percent two years ago, and recent transactions set a new high of 40 Canadian dollars ($34) a square foot, according to Jennifer Robertson of Cushman & Wakefield.

Commercial tenants say they are feeling the squeeze.

“We were disappointed there wasn’t more new building in the city,” said Iain Mant of Fasken Martineau DuMoulin, a law firm based here. This spring, Mr. Mant said, the 350-employee firm will relocate from a “fairly oppressive” 37-year-old building to the Bentall V, the only new office tower under construction downtown.

“We thought we would have more options to consider,” he said. “But the projects you kept hearing about ended up being residential and hotel.” There are currently 47 residential buildings under construction in the central core.

Last March, Propaganda Games, a division of Buena Vista Studios, leased two and a half floors in an office building on West Georgia Avenue, downtown’s primary business corridor. “It was very difficult to get contiguous floors,” said Howard Donaldson, vice president for studio operations. “The market is so tight.”

The company, which has grown to 120 employees from four in less than two years, had considered locating in Burnaby, a Vancouver suburb. “But we liked the central location with so many other businesses nearby,” Mr. Donaldson said. Mass transit was also an important consideration. Over half of Propaganda’s employees regularly use SkyTrain (the city’s light-rail system), ferries, commuter trains or buses, he said.

“Vancouver probably has one of the most thriving central business districts in North America,” said Don Vassos, regional managing director of CB Richards Ellis. But the amenities that make the district attractive as a place to live — waterfront parks, mountain views and a lively dining and entertainment scene — now threaten local economic growth. “Commercial sites have been gobbled up by developers who are building residential,” Mr. Vassos said. “That creates serious problems from a tax point of view.”

The city’s housing moratorium, which affected areas that had previously been optional commercial or residential, was an important step, Mr. Vassos said. “It’s in everybody’s interest for the commercial sector of the real estate industry to be increasing with the population. We can’t afford to have thousands of people living downtown who jump in a car in the morning and head off to the suburbs for a job.”

As part of a proposed deal with the city, Mr. Lim would be allowed to increase the residential density of his Bay Parkade site, which is on West Georgia Avenue, in return for expanding the commercial component. But Mr. Lim also said he would “like some flexibility on height,” a move that would probably obstruct the city’s revered view corridors, which preserve public views from downtown streets.

“We are being told there is a commercial shortage,” said Mr. Lim. “But nobody is throwing big fat rent checks at me.”

Vancouver is not a “head-office city,” said Tony Astles, a senior vice president of Bentall Real Estate Services who is managing the development of the Bentall V on behalf of SITQ, Quebec’s public employees pension fund. “You have smaller tenants that don’t occupy large blocks of space.”

To mitigate the risk, Bentall V was built in two “vertical phases,” with the second phase started two years ago after the city’s economic upswing. “But in the long run,” Mr. Astles said, “there is not enough commercial space in the pipeline, and the city will have to take some action in order to prepare for that eventuality.”

The land-use study will have policy implications for developers and other stakeholders, Mr. Toderian said, but he said he saw no crisis ahead.

“Most downtowns would love to have our problem,” he said. “We are well-positioned to do that deeper level of urbanism.”

Source: the New York Times, 1.17.07

This Weeks Leads

  • Timberland
  • Timberland Retail, Inc. trades as Timberland.
  • The 25-unit chain operates locations nationwide.
  • The shoe stores occupy spaces of 1,200 sq.ft. in malls, specialty centers and street front locations.
  • Growth opportunities are sought throughout the existing markets during the coming 18 months.
  • For details, contact
    • Greg Rainforth,
    • 200 Domain Drive,
    • Stratham, NH 03885;
    • 603-772-9500,
    • Fax 603-773- 1635;
    • Email: grainforth@timberland.com
    • Web site: www.timberland.com
  • Sandella’s Café
  • Sandella’s, LLC trades as Sandella’s Café at 150 locations throughout AZ, CO, CT, MI, NE, NY, PA and TX.
  • The cafes occupy spaces of 1,200 sq.ft. to 2,000 sq.ft. in strip centers and urban/downtown areas.
  • Growth opportunities are sought nationwide during the coming 18 months.
  • For more information, contact
    • Mark Fraum,
    • Sandella’s, LLC,
    • 9 Brookside Place,
    • West Redding, CT 06896;
    • 203-544-9984 Ext. 7,
    • Fax 203-544-9981.
  • Legal Sea Foods
  • Legal Sea Foods, Inc. trades as Legal Sea Foods at 31 locations throughout FL, MA, MD, NJ, NY, RI, VA and Washington, DC.
  • The seafood restaurants occupy spaces of 4,000 sq.ft. to 5,500 sq.ft. in freestanding locations, malls and downtown areas.
  • Growth opportunities are sought throughout FL, MA, MD, NJ, NY, Philadelphia, PA; RI, VA and Washington, DC during the coming 18 months.
  • For more information, contact
    • Richard Heller,
    • Legal Sea Foods, Inc.,
    • One Seafood Way,
    • Boston, MA 02210;
    • Website: www.legalseafoods.com.
  • Sweet & Sassy
  • Sweet & Sassy, a 30-unit chain operates locations throughout AL, CA, FL, GA, MO, NC, NV, OH, PA, TN, TX and UT.
  • The children's hair salons occupy spaces of 3,000 sq.ft. to 4,000 sq.ft. in malls, lifestyle, power and specialty centers.
  • Plans call for 40 openings throughout Omaha, NE during the coming 18 months, with representation by Integrity Commercial Realty.
  • Typical leases run five to 10 years. Preferred cotenants include Ann Taylor, Banana Republic and Target.
  • Preferred demographics include a population of 200,000 within five miles earning $75,000 as the average household income.
  • Competition is cited as Cool Cuts 4 Kids and Libby Lu.
  • For details, contact
    • Ruben Reynoso,
    • c/o Integrity Commercial Realty,
    • 1400 Civic Place,
    • Suite 223,
    • Southlake, TX 76092;
    • 817-912-0252 Ext. 105,
    • Fax 817-912- 0253

  • Economic Snapshot – First Six Months FY2007
    • Sales and Use Taxes (Gen Gov’t) +4.7%
    • Corporate Franchise Taxes (Gen Gov’t) +33.3%
    • Individual Income Taxes (Education) +8.2%
    • Severance Taxes (Gen Gov’t) +11.9%
    • Motor Fuel Taxes (Transportation) +1.5%

    Source: Utah State Tax Commission, 1/17/07

    Key Tax Related Economic Indicators

    • Labor market 
    • Year over year non-farm employment grew by 4.9%. The bulk of this growth has come from construction and business services, while natural resources and mining has experienced strong growth. Employment growth is accompanied by a 2.3% increase in the average monthly wage.
    • Business investment conditions 
    • The Bloomberg stock index for companies headquartered in Utah shows positive growth. Furthermore, the Creighton University (Nebraska) business conditions index (December) indicates economic growth in Utah will continue during the coming months.
    • Construction activity 
    • Year over year new residential construction was up 6.7% in valuation and 1.4% in the number of new dwelling units. However, year over year new non- residential construction values fell 7.8%.
    • Taxable sales 
    • Third quarter total sales posted a 13.3% increase over the third quarter of 2005. Mining and natural resource sales increased by 72.7%, construction related sales by 33.0%, electric and gas by 6.5%, motor vehicle sales by 8.7% and recreation related sales by 11.0%.

    Source: Utah State Tax Commission, 12/13/06

  • Economic Notes:
    • Oil sinks towards $50 level, Copper up
    • US crude prices fell to their lowest level in 20 months on Wednesday after Saudi Arabia effectively ruled out any prospect of an immediate production cut by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in response to recent price weakness. The February West Texas Intermediate dropped 10 cents to $51.12 a barrel in early afternoon trade on the New York Mercantile Exchange, having touched an intra-day low of $50.28 earlier in the session, its lowest level since May 2005. This was the last month when oil prices traded below $50 The three-month copper price gained $40 to $5,640 a ton.
    • World Business confidence
    • Unlike the broader economic data, which have suddenly become stronger, global business confidence remains soft. Sentiment continues to signal below trend economic growth, as it has consistently done so since late summer 2006. Confidence remains moribund among vehicle and transportation companies. Businesses have also turned more cautious in their hiring and are cutting inventories. The most optimistic businesses are in South America and in financial services and defense industries. Pricing pressures have abated substantially from their summer peaks.
    • EU New Passenger Car Registrations
    • December saw EU-15 new passenger car registrations fall by 0.5% on a year-on-year basis— roughly in line with Economy.com's projections. December's decline comes on the back of two months of strong positive growth, as progressively higher interest rates and slower euro zone GDP growth have increasingly filtering through.
    • Risk of Recession
    • The Moody’s Economy.com probability of recession held steady in December at 22%, from November’s upwardly revised number. The yield curve held steady in its inverted form in December, and average hours worked were unchanged. Further increases in the S&P 500 index for the month and an improvement in consumer confidence helped depress recession risks some. The chance of the economy being in recession in six months remains elevated but modest.
    • California Manufacturing Survey
    • The fourth quarter purchasing manager's index for California indicated no growth in the state’s manufacturing sector. For the first time since the survey was started, production was lower in the fourth quarter than the third quarter. The employment index also fell below a level of 50, indicating a contraction.
    • Import and Export Prices
    • The U.S. Import Price Index rose 1.1% in December. The advance followed a .5% rise in November and was lead by a 4.8% increase in petroleum prices. Export prices rose 0.7% in December, after increasing by 0.4% in the previous month.
    • Retail Sales (MARTS)
    • Total retail sales rose an unexpectedly strong 0.9% in December, but November’s gain was revised downward to 0.6% from 1.0%. Non-auto sales rose 1.0% as auto sales were surprisingly sluggish. Year- over-year growth rose to 5.4% in total and 5.8% excluding autos. Growth was led by gasoline stations, electronics and appliance stores and restaurants.
    • Treasury Budget
    • The unified surplus for December was $44.5 billion, larger than the CBO’s preliminary estimate of a $40 billion surplus. The federal government has run a deficit of $80.4 billion through the first quarter of fiscal year 2007; this is 33% smaller than the deficit at the same point in fiscal year 2006.
    • Treasury International Capital Flows
    • Net portfolio flows to the U.S. amounted to $68.4 billion in November, which is down substantially from $85.3 billion in October. However, it is still just sufficient to cover the trade gap for that month.
    • Business Inventories (MTIS)
    • Total business inventories increased 0.4% for November, in line with consensus expectations. Inventories at retailers were down 0.3% for the month. Total business sales increased by 0.5%. The total I/S ratio held steady at 1.30.
    • industrial production
    • U.S. industrial production increased 0.4% in December, easily besting the market's expectation of a more modest gain. To be sure, the anticipated drag on utilities output from near-record warm temperatures did emerge; however, manufacturing output during the month was much firmer than even the most optimistic estimates. At 0.7%, the monthly gain was the largest since June 2006 and reversed a good portion of the three consecutive declines in output in the preceding months.
    • Oil and Gas Inventories
    • Underground storage of natural gas decreased by 89 billion cubic feet during the week ending January 12. This was slightly above expectations calling for a 81 Bcf draw. Inventories are now 20.1% above the five-year average. This report is likely to have a neutral to slightly bullish effect on prices.
    • MBA Mortgage Applications Survey
    • Mortgage demand decreased 0.6% in the week ending Jan 12. Purchase applications decreased 7.0% and refinance applications increased 6.3%.
    • NAHB Housing Market Index
    • Homebuilder optimism increased two points to 35 in January. However, the survey index measuring single-family sales for the next six months remained at 49.
    • PPI
    • Producer prices for finished goods rose by 0.9% in December, somewhat faster than what was expected. Increases in prices for food and energy goods were largely responsible for overall inflation during the month. Excluding food and energy products, core producer prices rose by only 0.2%, matching expectations. At earlier stages of processing, core prices for intermediate goods fell by 0.1%, while core prices for crude goods rose by 1.0% on the month.
    • Chain Store Sales
    • Chain store sales were unchanged in the week ending January 13, according to the ICSC. Year-over- year growth soared to 4.9%, the strongest growth since mid-September, as sales fell sharply in the comparable week last year. Colder weather and lower gasoline prices were cited as supports to sales.

    Source: Economy.com, Financial Times

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    If we can help, please call or email us at

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