On the shop floor, workers wonder what Brexit will bring

LONDON — It’s an understatement to say that Michael O’Brien is worried about Brexit.

O’Brien is a supervisor at Clarity-The Soap Co., which employs visually impaired adults at a factory in east London. A tall man with a thatch of gray hair, O’Brien has a manner so easy that it sounds as if he is talking about the weather rather than an issue that bitterly divides British society — the country’s looming departure from the European Union.

“(This job) means everything to me,” he said, standing beside a machine that magnifies documents so he can track invoices. “When I came here 4 ½ years ago, I was in a bad way. I got (laid off) from my last job, didn’t think I’d work again. And I came here and it’s given me a lifeline.”

Amid the rancor and political bickering that this week sent Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal down to the biggest defeat in history, people across the U.K. are worried about what the impasse in Parliament means for them and their families. The anxiety is palpable at Clarity, where people understand that jobs can be precious and hard to come by.

The company traces its roots to 1854 as a social enterprise that employs people with disabilities: Queen Victoria was its first patron and Charles Dickens supported it. Clarity has survived two World Wars, the Blitz and the Great Depression, so Brexit should be a piece of cake. But uncertainty about what rules will apply to trade with the European Union after Britain leaves the bloc is crimping the company’s ability to plan for the future.

Before Britain voted to leave the EU in June 2016, Clarity was preparing to increase production as part of an effort to expand its offering of high-end products, including soaps hand made in the Lake District …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News

Should Utah taxpayers get a sales tax or income tax cut? Governor and legislative leaders don’t agree

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert and GOP legislative leaders see eye to eye about broadening the state’s sales tax base to include some still-to-be specified services — but not on where the 2019 Legislature should cut taxes.

At Friday’s 2019 Economic Outlook and Public Policy Summit, both incoming Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, and House Speaker Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, said they’d like to see the state income tax rate lowered.

In his proposed budget released last month, the governor called for a net $200 million sales tax cut, while at the same time beginning to impose taxes on some services, to lower the state’s 4.7 percent sales tax rate below 3.9 percent.

“We can try to lower the rate on sales tax, but it basically makes the problem worse,” Adams told the 1,000 business and community leaders gathered at the Marriott Hotel at the City Creek Center.

The new Senate leader said states that focus on lowering income tax rates have better economies, calling it “just statistically true that income tax is an economic driver. So if we’re going to lower taxes, that’s what tax we’re looking at.”

Wilson said there are a lot of options on the table when it comes to cutting taxes during the 45-day session that begins Jan. 28. This year, there’s more than $1 billion in budget surpluses and revenue growth available.

“You’re going to see some interesting discussion over the legislative session of how we move into a more service-oriented sales tax and broaden that sales tax base but lower the rate. We’re not attempting to generate new revenue,” he said.

But when it comes to a tax cut on top of that, the new speaker also preferred to look at the state’s 4.95 percent income tax rate, already reduced from 5 percent by the 2018 Legislature.

He said any …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News

Delta CEO touts service improvements on the horizon as Salt Lake airport expands

SALT LAKE CITY — As Salt Lake City International Airport undergoes a massive $3.6 billion redevelopment, the leader of the nation’s second-largest air carrier is touting improved passenger experiences on the ground and in the air when the new facility comes online.

Speaking Friday to an audience of business leaders at the Salt Lake Chamber’s annual Economic Outlook and Public Policy Summit in downtown Salt Lake City, Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian said the expansion of the international terminal and upgrading of other amenities will greatly enhance air travel for passengers.

“We believe at Delta, and we fight against the notion that air travel is just something that must be endured,” he told the audience gathered in the main ballroom of the Marriott City Center Hotel at City Creek. “It should be part of an experience that you look forward to along the journey.”

He said the carrier is implementing plans to replace dozens of older aircraft with new jetliners that will provide more comfort and room for domestic passengers.

“It’s coming to Salt Lake in May,” he told moderator Natalie Gochnour with the Kem Gardner Policy Institute. “It’s a 110-seat airplane that will be the most comfortable domestic product you fly.”

The Airbus A330-200 will have the widest seats in the Delta system, he said.

“There is larger overhead bin space, there’s WiFi, live TV, even the lav(oratory) has a window,” he added.

Bastian noted that the airliner is 25 percent more fuel-efficient than the planes that it is replacing, which will help the airline significantly impact operational expenses. The first replacement jets are expected to arrive in Utah in May, he said.

He mentioned plans for a potential direct flight to Asia once the first phase of the redevelopment of the Salt Lake airport is completed in fall 2020 with an enlarged and enhanced international terminal. …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News

Utah jobless rate remains at 3.2 percent

SALT LAKE CITY — The state added nearly 4,000 new jobs per month over the last 12-month period, new data shows.

The Utah Department of Workforce Services reported Friday that Utah’s nonfarm payroll employment for December 2018 grew by an estimated 3.1 percent, adding 47,200 jobs to the economy since December 2017.

Aaron Thorup, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic

For the month, the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained unchanged from the prior month to register at 3.2 percent. Utah’s current employment level registers at 1,542,600, while approximately 49,900 Utahns were unemployed during the month and actively seeking work.

Nationally, the U.S. jobless rate increased two-tenths of a percentage point from last month to register at 3.9 percent.

The report stated that Utah’s private sector employment grew by 3.3 percent for the 12-month period, adding 41,500 new positions. Nine of the 10 private sector industry groups measured in the establishment survey posted net job increases in December, with natural resources and mining as the one exception as it remained unchanged from the prior year.

The largest private sector employment increases were in trade, transportation and utilities, creating 15,000 jobs; education and health services adding 5,900 jobs; and professional and business services, 5,400 new positions. The fastest employment growth by percent occurred in trade, transportation and utilities, climbing 5.2 percent; other services rising 4.3 percent; and manufacturing up 3.4 percent.

“2018 ended with an average annual job growth rate of roughly 3.1 percent, which is in line with our long-run average. It’s slower than 2017, but still a healthy pace for our labor market to grow,” said DWS chief economist Carrie Mayne. “In 2019, we may see some slowdown in job creation, mainly because employers will struggle to find people to fill their positions. In other words, the tight labor market will actually cause …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News