That’s The Randle Report for January 22, 2019

Join us again tomorrow morning for all of the American South’s business, economic development and political news in real time and in one place. Use the sort buttons or the search window to find any story you need to find from last week, last month, last year or several years ago. Click on the headline above to access Southern Business & Development’s website, the economic development magazine of the American South; the third largest economy in the world.

China’s Annual Economic Growth Rate Is Slowest Since 1990

BEIJING—China’s economic expansion languished to its slowest pace in nearly three decades last year, as a bruising trade fight with the U.S. exacerbated weakness in the world’s second-largest economy. The 6.6% growth rate for 2018 reported Monday is the slowest annual pace China has recorded since 1990. The economic slowdown, which has been sharper than Beijing expected, deepened in the last months of 2018, with fourth quarter growth rising 6.4% from a year earlier. Adding to the gloom was the trade conflict with Washington. The uncertain outlook for Chinese exporters caused companies to delay investing and hiring and in some cases even to resort to layoffs—a practice often discouraged by China’s stability-obsessed Communist Party rulers. The official jobless rate ticked up to 4.9% last month from 4.8% in November. The Wall Street Journal

Government Shutdown, Trade Tensions Weigh on U.S. Households

Fears over the global economy are weighing on American households even though demand for factory goods remains solid. An index of U.S. consumer sentiment fell to its lowest level in more than two years in January, the University of Michigan said Friday. Richard Curtin, the survey’s economist, said the decline reflected worries about the government shutdown, trade tensions, volatile markets, a cooling global economy and uncertainty over what the Federal Reserve will do next. January’s preliminary reading of 90.7 was the lowest since October 2016 and well below the forecast of economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal who had expected a reading of 96.4. The Wall Street Journal

Truckers See Momentum Slowing Heading Into 2019

Trucking companies face an uphill climb in 2019 as a freight boom that delivered record profit for carriers over the past year begins to soften. Fleets extracted double-digit rate increases from shippers last year, as demand surged on strong economic growth forcing retailers, manufacturers and other companies to scramble to book transportation in tight shipping networks. Such gains may be hard to match in coming months amid slowing industrial growth, wavering consumer confidence and ongoing trade tensions. Trucking companies that expanded capacity in 2018 with an unprecedented run-up of new equipment orders will have less leverage to raise shipping prices if freight demand falls, as some analysts predict. The Wall Street Journal

Texas’ Long-Awaited Bullet Train Plans to Start Construction

When it comes to fighting traffic for hours on the long trips between Dallas and Houston, there may be a new silver bullet— none other than the Texas Bullet Train. This Japanese-inspired downtown Dallas to northwest Houston high-speed rail would be the first of its kind in the United States. “Would be” because it’s long felt like a rumor — but now it’s looking a lot more like a “will be.” Masaru Yosano, chief general manager of Central Japan Railway Company, tells WFAA that plans are going forward, complete with a specific time frame. “We will start the construction next year,” Yosano says. Paper City

Tellurian’s $15B terminal in Lake Charles, La. scores key permitting milestone

As the race to build liquefied natural gas terminals continues the Gulf Coast, Houston-based Tellurian Inc. reached a key milestone Friday as a federal agency released a 523-page study of the proposed $15 billion terminal in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The study, called final environmental impact statement, is not a permit itself but it is an important milestone in the permitting process for any new terminal because federal agencies use the findings to decide whether to give proponents the green light to build the project. Tellurian will still need a final order from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission before it can build the terminal. Houston Chronicle

N.C. unemployment rate unchanged as national rate increases

North Carolina’s December 2018 unemployment rate remained unchanged from November while the national unemployment rate increased. North Carolina’s unemployment rate held steady at 3.6 percent while the national unemployment rate grew by 0.2 of a percentage point to 3.9 percent. North Carolina’s December 2018 rate decreased 0.9 of a percentage point from a year ago. The employment report released Friday by the N.C. Department of Commerce also showed that since December 2017, total nonfarm jobs grew 87,200 with the total private sector growing by 82,700. Triad Business Journal

Federal employees working without pay during shutdown won’t get NC unemployment benefits

RALEIGH — The state’s Department of Employment Security confirmed Friday that the federal workers who have been working throughout the government shutdown without pay are ineligible to receive unemployment insurance from the state. On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Labor had issued guidance on the issue — determining that furloughed government employees working without pay would not be eligible for unemployment insurance because they would eventually be paid for the time worked, according to the Wall Street Journal. But DES, the state agency that manages unemployment insurance in North Carolina, did not confirm it had received those instructions until Friday. Raleigh News & Observer

Mayor Fischer: Louisville is strong, well-positioned for the future; and we need to brag!

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Delivering his ninth annual State of the City address from the Muhammad Ali Center on The Champ’s birthday, Mayor Greg Fischer today challenged the community to have the same courage, vision and determination that made Ali one of the most beloved, respected and well-known people the world has ever seen. The Mayor noted that Ali came of age at a time of great change and “refused to let the world dictate what his life could be,” making him a great role model today, “because this is another moment of great change: in society, in technology, and in our economy.” It’s time, he said, “to embrace Ali’s spirit and boldly make our own future.” Lane Report

Kentucky Expecting Ongoing Growth in 2019

Kentucky business leaders see a year of continued economic expansion. The urban centers are where the most activity is, with big construction and development projects driving dollars into the financial arteries. Logistics and related operations are surging at and near the Northern Kentucky and Louisville international airports. Kentucky’s significant vehicle manufacturing sector expects stable business despite slight overall sales decreases as the sector eases back after several successive record years. Bourbon making and bourbon tourism continue their upswing and continue to attract hotel projects. Lane Report