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September 23, 2013

Host: Ted Simons

Arizona Unemployment

  |   Video
  • Arizona unemployment rate is now a full percentage point higher than the national average. Arizona Board of Regents Economist Dan Anderson will discuss what’s behind our jobless rate.
  • Dan Anderson - Economist, Arizona Board of Regents
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: arizona, unemployment, economy, jobless,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening. Welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Arizona's jobless rate went up by three tenths of a percent in August. It's now at 8.3%, a full percentage point above the national rate. Here to help explain is Dan Anderson, an economist for the Arizona Board of Regents. Good to see you again.

Dan Anderson: Good to see you.

Ted Simons: 8.3 up from 8.0. Surprise?

Dan Anderson: Surprised a little bit. Because the increase in the unemployment is not because people are losing jobs. We actually created in the last year about 40,000, jobs. I think what's happening is that people are hearing the good news or the better news, I hate to characterizes as good, but the economy is getting better. Particularly at the national level maybe more quickly than here. People hear that and that encourages them to look for work. The people are unemployed because they don't have a job and are actively looking but I think it's a false signal. People are coming looking for jobs, it causes the unemployment rate to rise. They start to search for jobs. We see the same thing when the economy is getting bad. A lot of times when the economy is really bad we actually see the unemployment rate decline because people get so discouraged they quit looking for jobs so the rate falls, not because things are getting better but because people withdraw from the labor force. Now people are coming back into the force, looking for jobs, it causes the unemployment rate temporarily to rise.

Ted Simons: Is Arizona any different in that particular schematic? I mean, a full percentage point above the national rate, I thought we were having a comeback in Arizona.

Dan Anderson: We're having a comeback here, but Arizona is very dependent on migration. We have a lot of people that are moving to the state, a lot of mobility that’s important here. One of the most critical times to move is during the summer. Their children are out of school so they can relocate maybe individuals have graduated from school and have moved here looking for jobs. So we usually see a large influx of people into the population right around the end of the summer. This ties in with that in August.

Ted Simons: As you mentioned I think 40,000 nonfarm jobs over all. Biggest gains, government, education, health services. Any surprise there's?

Dan Anderson: Well, the government piece you have to understand is a comparison between July and August. The schools are starting up in August so it looks like a lot of people are unemployed in government, but compared to a years ago there are fewer people in the public sector today than months ago. It was just a seasonal influence there. The other sectors, health care has been a growing sector for months and months. That's not surprising. Over a 4% increase compared to a 2% increase for the economy as a whole.

Ted Simons: When we talk about how services -- I imagine once the affordable care act gets up and running who knows what happens to jobs?

Dan Anderson: It's hard to say but I think it's an area of continued growth for Arizona.

Ted Simons: Sounds like biggest loss, professional and business, manufacturing and construction. What are professional and business services?

Dan Anderson: Probably the biggest part of professional business services is the temporary help businesses. A lot of companies hire individuals maybe during the summer to take care of people going on vacation, maybe to cover an excess increase in business not sure if it's permanent or not. You bring staff on temporary. If the individuals pan out maybe they convert to permanent.

Ted Simons: Basically that number would drop because what, it might be a good thing that number drops because those people may be moving to permanent jobs.

Dan Anderson: Plus the fact some people on vacation return from vacation and those positions are now filled on a permanent basis.

Ted Simons: Manufacturing and construction also down. That's got to be a concern.

Dan Anderson: The area of concern to me is manufacturing. We really need a strong manufacturing sector. The construction piece is a seasonal piece. If you look at construction over the year it's up. But just between July and August it's down. May have been due to weather, may have been just due to timing of projects that got completed and people haven't moved to something else. We'll watch that in the months ahead. I think it will turn around. The long term one is manufacturing.

Ted Simons: sounds like the job gains hit a 10-year average, just nowhere near previous years when things were picking up again. It sounds in general this is a one-month snapshot.

Dan Anderson: I wouldn’t be too excited particularly in a very seasonal month like August when because of the heat and just a lot of other things you may not get an accurate view of what's going on. But we're still in that position that we have been in for many months which is the economy is recovering slowly. We're not booming as many people have seen maybe in previous cycles where we recover the jobs that we have lost in six or eight months. This has been years of recovery and I'm afraid we have years yet to go.

Ted Simons: Would you be surprised if next month the unemployment rate did not go back down a bit?

Dan Anderson: I would be surprised if within the next month or two that it didn't turn around. Month to month it's hard to say but after you have two or three months under your belt I would be really surprised if the rate doesn't start to move down toward the national average in the next month or two.

Ted Simons: We should be getting closer. This gap is one percentage point, the highest in two years.

Dan Anderson: That's a big difference. A lot of people are looking for jobs. It takes a while to interview and just go through that process. I expect that it will return to more reasonable relationship between the two shortly.

Ted Simons: Dan, good to have you.

Ted Simons: Thank you.

Raising Children in a Competitive Culture

  |   Video
  • Sociologist Hilary Levey Friedman has written a book titled “Playing to Win: Raising Children in a Competitive Culture.” It looks at the role of after-school competitive activities in future life success. Friedman’s book also examines gender roles in competitive activities. Friedman will talk about her book and concepts.
  • Hilary Levey Friedman - Sociologist and Author, “Playing to Win - Raising Children in a Competitive Culture”
Category: Sports   |   Keywords: education, sports, culture, education, competition,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Playing to win: Raising Children in a Competitive Culture. That's the title of a new book focusing on the increasing role of after-school competitive activities in the lives of children. I spoke with the book's author, sociologist, Hilary Levey Friedman. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Hilary Levey Friedman: Thanks for having me.

Ted Simons: Playing to win. Just the book's title encompasses a lot of what we're going to talk about here Why did you pick that title?

Hilary Levey Friedman: That's what kids are doing these days. It's play, it's fun, but there's a lot at stake. Winning is really important. You know, all of the 95 parents that I met while researching this book, they want their kids to win.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about previous generations, previous parents. What we kind of were raised with. How is that different than what we're seeing right now?

Hilary Levey Friedman: One thing that's very different today is that kids are playing in an organized way and it's being organized by adults. That's a change. Kids used to go out and play on the sand lot, in the field. It was very competitive. But now that adults have sort of gotten involved, they keep track of things, there are records, adults are referees, that's a major change.

Ted Simons: Are those changes good or bad?

Hilary Levey Friedman: Well, it's a mix of both. We certainly have the misbehavior of adults, parents and coaches. Sometimes on soccer fields, but at the same time it can teach kids, well, there is going to be a record kept and you should care how you perform and it matters there's a track record of success.

Ted Simons: Is there a loss in the sense of for lack of better word creativity or the ability to just socialize, getting along with each other when you have to do it yourself as opposed to mom and dad and coach putting it all together.

Hilary Levey Friedman: The socialization I don't worry about. Chapter 6 is just based on my interviews with kids. The thing they highlight that they love is the friends they make, especially friends who go to other schools. The socialization I worry less about. Creativity is a different story. It's something that we should be concerned about. It's a common trope that we talk about in the educational system today, are kids too caught up in standardized tests, rope memorization. Unfortunately we don't know if it matters or not. Just as I was finishing this research the iPad for kids came into vogue. So we had one dad says his daughter is always bored in the car. I would say they just pull out the devices. I would worry more about that than organized activity.

Ted Simons: Indeed. So as far as competition now, we have critics now saying there are sports where there are no winners and losers and every kid gets a trophy and that's not a good thing. Others say it builds self-esteem. Where do you fall on that, and is there too much competition?

Hilary Levey Friedman: In America we live in a nation of extremes. We go from everyone is a winner, participation trophy, to only one winner and the trophy has to be bigger than the child. It's funny we can have such competing notions in American childhood today. I do feel that the participation trophies are not the best message to be sendig to kids. Why is that? First of all the kids are very savvy. They know those trophies don't mean much. Maybe the first one means something but quickly it becomes clear, I didn't really win that. Why does someone have a bigger trophy? Kids get it. We don't want to sends the message they can't trust adults. A lot of psychological research indicates that when you introduce an extrinsic reward like a trophy it decreases the intrinsic motivation kids have. A child may love to play chess or soccer but once you introduce a trophy next time they will say, hey, what do I get? They may not want to do it just for the love of it.

Ted Simons: When is competition beneficial? When is competition harmful?

Hilary Levey Friedman: Well, every child is different. Even within the same family. I'm expecting my second boy. They may not be the same personality type. Some children are just naturally more competitive. So if you have a child who is not very competitive at all, you might think about getting them involved in an activity that's not head-to-head competition. For example, with chess, you're against your opponent and there's almost always a winner and loser, where with dance when you go to competition you're part of a group. Everyone gets something. So it's less of a one, two, three, four. It's very clear how that ranks. If your child complains about a stomach ache every week going, that's probably a red flag. This is not the right outlet for your child but there are many benefits to being exposed to competition at a young age. I believe it's important for kids to learn how to perform under time pressure when the stakes are not as high. When they’re in grade school is a safe environment in which to fail. Let's face it, we're all going to fail.

Ted Simons: Looking back on my childhood and previous generations, we didn't have so much structure, yet a lot of us learned these lessons eventually. I keep thinking of the parents who pipe in Beethoven to the crib. This is going to make the kid go to Harvard by the time he's six years old. Are we going too far with the benefits of competition without realizing that kids will sort it out eventually?

Hilary Levey Friedman: That is true, by our very nature human beings are competitive. We're social, always comparing ourselves to other people. So really the root cause of this is more the stories that have come out about increased difficulty in getting into college, let's say. Even though that's ten years down the road, parents start panicking, what if my child doesn't get into college? Certainly in the economy today we know how important a college degree is. That gets pushed down into younger and younger ages and let's take soccer as an example, you know it used to be you could walk on to the soccer team in high school. That would basically be unheard of these days because kids are developing that foot-eye coordination at such a young age. How can you compete with kids who have been doing that earlier an earlier? Basically all the parents I met ask should we be doing this, but no one is willing to take the chance and say let's just see what happens. You don't want to not give your child every opportunity.

Ted Simons: Who are some of the people you interviewed, how is that impacting today's families, today's schools? How is it impacting today's kids?

Hilary Levey Friedman: One of the biggest effects on family life is a lot of family meals are taking place in a minivan. So those conversations that you might have had just sitting down, even learning table manners, most nights of the week you're on the go. That's a big problem. There's also leisure time for parents. This becomes their leisure. Reading maybe on the sidelines of a soccer game or becoming friends with parents whose children are doing similar activities. There's a loss of time together as a family and time as an individual. That is worrisome.

Ted Simons: Is there also a loss of broad based exposure to sports? When I was a kid you played all the sports and figured out you're better at this, not as good at. That seems like kids are specializes the minute they start walking these days.

Hilary Levey Friedman: That's true. I don't lay the blame at the foot of parents. This is coming from other adults involved in a lot of sports. So often there's an overlap in seasons. Let's take soccer and Lacrosse. The child may say, can I be a half hour late or 15 minutes late for a practice one day a week and the coach says no, if you do that I'm not going to play you on the game this weekend. Other people are forcing kids to specialize. There are serious concerns about that in terms of working different muscles in the marked for identification, children developing overuse injuries that we have not seen before.

Ted Simons: What do you want folks to take from your book?

Hilary Levey Friedman: First I want parents to understand that it's up to them to ask questions at the beginning. To say, what is the best opportunity for my child? I'm going to expose them to lots of options but listen to my child, ask them questions and find out what they are interested in. Second, about asking questions, when you sign up for any class you should know who is the teacher or coach. What is their training, what is their background? Forget about Jerry Sandusky. Do they know the proper way to teach my child and for the age they're at. Most importantly, if you ask the right questions and trust that coach or teacher you should step back and let them take the lead and let them teach your child. Try not to interfere too much. That's a lot of what's wrong with sports today.

Ted Simons: Interesting stuff. I imagine a lot of parents are not even cognizant of what's happening as far as the changing nature of childhood. It's good to have you.

Hilary Levey Friedman: Thank you.

Valley Forward Environmental Excellence Awards

  |   Video
  • For the 12th consecutive year, Arizona Forward, in partnership with SRP, presented the 33rd Annual Valley Forward Environmental Excellence Awards. Known as the “Academy Awards” of the environmental community, the awards spotlight distinguished projects throughout the Valley that demonstrate a high level of environmental commitment and contribute to sustainability. Diane Brossart, President and CEO of Arizona Forward, will discuss the awards.
  • Diane Brossart - President and CEO, Arizona Forward
Category: Environment   |   Keywords: awards, enviroment, sustainability, arizona,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Arizona forward in partnership with SRP recently presented a 33rd annual environmental excellence awards spotlighting projects that contribute and show commitment to sustainability and the environment. Diane Brossart is president and CEO of Arizona forward. Good to see you.

Dianne Brossart: Good to see you as well.

Ted Simons: It's not valley forward, it's Arizona forward. The first ceremony year that all of Arizona was represented. Talk to us about that.

Dianne Brossart: We have one category that we opened upstate wide. We had entries from northern Arizona and southern Arizona and central Phoenix area. That was for environmental Stewardship, kind of long standing commitment to the environment and programs that have a lasting impact.

Ted Simons: Environmental excellence awards. Who decides who wins, how do you decide what to even look at?

Dianne Brossart: We had over 110 entries this year, so no shortage of projects, which is good for Arizona. We have a professional panelist of jurors selected for the expertise in each of the award categories. Which range from buildings and structures to development and landscape, art, media, education, technology, livable communities. It's a wide spectrum. They spent 2 days in a dark room looking at these.

Ted Simons: And we had awards of merit and then we had Crescordias which were a little higher category. What is a Crescordia?

Dianne Brossart: It's a Greek term meaning to grow in harmony. It's how we're growing in harmony with the natural environment. It’s the top award per category. One per category. The judges can elect to withhold Crescordia if they feel that there's nothing of that caliber. It’s a very prestigious award to win.
Ted Simons: The awards of merit were pretty prestigious in themselves.

Dianne Brossart: Well the whole thing is just wonderful!

Ted Simons: Well let’s get to some of the winners here and the big winner, this is the president's award, went to Grand Canyon trust volunteer program.

Dianne Brossart: I was especially excited about that because it is northern Arizona project and it recognizes the sustainability of Arizona's most iconic and important natural asset, the Grand Canyon. They have 3,000 individuals donating18,000 hours of volunteer time to 25 conservation-based programs throughout the year. Really amazing and they mentor the next generation of environmental stewards. They have citizen based scientists that go out and assist and look over the lands that are mostly public and Native American lands in northern Arizona. They were the big winner. They were very excited about that.

Ted Simons: They certainly were. Three-time winner was this DARTS.

Dianne Brossart:: I bet you don’t know why it was called that!

Ted Simons: I still don’t know why it’s called that. It looks like a building.

Dianne Brossart: I just learned today! It's a cool infill project in downtown Phoenix that houses architectural firm as well as several dental offices. So Dental arts building. DARTS. It's Green council certified, lead certified at the platinum level, which is the highest. It's a great infill project. Saves energy, saves water use. It has a lot of redeeming qualities.

Ted Simons: It’s a beautiful building.

Dianne Brossart: It's a really neat building.

Ted Simons: I guess you have to get a root canal, that’s the best you can do.

Dianne Brossart: We just had a mixer in there. You can have cocktails too.

Ted Simons: We have Phoenix sky train . Had to win something. This is an amazing project. Multiple award winner as well.

Dianne Brossart: It is. Congratulations to the decide of Phoenix for this wonderful project which just opened in April of this year. It's lead gold certified. I understand it's the only public transportation campus in the world to receive that honor. They have 10,000 users a day. Reduces vehicular traffic around the airport by 20%. Emissions by an estimated 6,000 tons in the first year of operation.

Ted Simons: Effective and just some of the shots absolutely gorgeous.

Dianne Brossart: It has great public art too. It won in the public art category too.

Ted Simons: Indeed a public art and transportation connectivity.

Dianne Brossart: See. You're a wonderful M.C., you are really starting to get this stuff.

Ted Simons: Haha I paid attention. Phoenix neighborhoods using green standards. Sustainable community winner. What’s this all about?

Dianne Brossart: I really like this project too. It's another city of Phoenix project, and it takes some of the hardest hit neighborhoods in that community that are affected by vacant and abandoned foreclosed properties and turns them into Green affordable homes near transit, amenities and community resources. It really has transformed parts of the city that otherwise would be blighted. They have solar power and energy savings and all kinds of Green building techniques built into them. So it's a great project.

Ted Simons: Some of the before and afters, just basically what you're looking at here, sustainability, moving forward both in an environmental frame of mind.

Dianne Brossart: Exactly. It's inspiring to see some of the neat things going on around the valley and state in this context. You may not otherwise ever know about it.

Ted Simons: A winner public policy an plans was a master plan for the Navajo community. Talk to us about that.

Dianne Brossart: Right. This was an amazing project. It's the only category where we accept plans and this is over 19 million acres. So it's huge. They are helping the tribe create policies and design standards for housing and land management. So each of the 110 Navajo communities now has a defined area for development.

Ted Simons: That's fantastic. Tom thumbs trailhead in the McDowell mountain preserve won for buildings and structures. Another beautiful structure.

Dianne Brossart: Beautiful. It's in Scottsdale. It's in the base of the McDowell mountains, so it's beautiful by itself but this building is especially interesting because it has no connection to water, sewage or electric services. The project required a whole new way of thinking. It has photovoltaic panels, provides 100% of its required power and it's off the grid.

Ted Simons: It certainly is. If you go out there, you're out of it so to say. All right, I love this one. This is rehabbing an old courthouse in Pinal County. Look at the before and afters. This is neat.

Dianne Brossart: This I learned is Arizona's oldest government building still in use. The 1891second Pinal County courthouse rehab. They use key environmental features. Reused and recycled bricks, flooring, doors and windows, retrofitted the original windows to insulate with low E-glass. Low water plumbing fixtures, high efficiency water heaters. Apparently the building attracts thousands of visitors each year. It's a huge economic base as well.

Ted Simons: That's fantastic. Look at that. This is the way it was. Now look how this things winds up after renovation. That's fantastic.

Dianne Brossart: Beautiful.

Ted Simons: Okay, real quickly, the Fire Side Elementary School, one for constitutional buildings. This is a nice school.

Dianne Brossart: Now I love this. It’s a beautiful school. What is really cool is that not only is it creating energy savings and using environmental attributes but it's teaching kids, the next generation of environmental stewards, about these things. They have a rainwater harvesting system out front that collects water and is used to water the plants.

Ted Simons: Look at that. Those poor kids! After elementary school it's all downhill from there. But not for you. Every year it's amazing how many new projects are out there.

Dianne Brossart: It really is. It's my most favorite Arizona forward event in that it's so inspiring and showcases what we're doing right, which I think is very important. So often which we look at what's wrong and focus on the negative. That's lot of really good things happening around the state.

Ted Simons: It was a wonderful evening. Always encouraging to see all these projects and have them honored and recognized. Thank you so much for joining us.

Dianne Brossart: Thanks, Ted.