Economics, employment, jobs, real estate, taxes, economic development and incentives, workforce development, IPOs, investment and anything related to business in Austin and the Central Texas counties of Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop and Williamson

US Department of Defense

A federal court in New Orleans found BP the primary culprit in the 2010 gulf oil disaster, ruling the company acted with "gross negligence" – a charge four times that of a simple negligence charge. So, how much will $18 billion ruling on the company?

Maybe not much, says Brad Olsen of Bloomberg news. He's been following the Deepwater Horizon spill and its fallout since 2010. He tells Texas Standard's David Brown that the company's already spent $30 billion on cleanup-related costs and "the tab is very clearly going to go higher.” Currently, the energy giant has about $26 billion dollars on their balance sheet. Olsen says, as the fines currently stand, BP can afford it.

Whole Foods has come under fire for launching a pilot program to sell rabbit meat in some of its stores. The Austin-based company says it's spent four years developing humane rabbit farming practices in response to consumer demand.

But regardless, some animal rights activists are hopping mad. petition asking Whole Foods to suspend its sale of bunny meat has garnered more than 13,000 signatures. A group calling itself the House Rabbit Society staged demonstrations at 44 Whole Foods Markets across the country. And PETA has announced it's joining the movement

National Association of Realtors

Austin is the best city in the United States for aspiring homebuyers between 20 and 34 years old, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). It said even though housing prices in Austin have shot up in the last few years, the city's median home value of $252,520 is still about half of what it is in Boston and a third of what it is in San Francisco.

"Which is the reason why we still place Austin as reasonably affordable," NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun says. "This is where the millennial generations are moving into and [where] the job opportunities are available."


The state of Texas is offering $2.3 million to SpaceX, a commercial spaceflight company with plans to build a spaceport along the Gulf Coast.

The plan to build a rocket-launch facility in South Texas has been years in the making, and while there are still a few finishing touches to put on the plan, it looks like everyone is on board.

The nation's unemployment rate moved up a bit in the month of July, to 6.2 percent, as more Americans who'd been sitting on the sidelines started looking for work, according to the latest monthly report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nonfarm payrolls increased by 209,000 jobs, a bit less than economists had expected.

FAA Seeks $12 Million Fine Against Southwest Airlines

Jul 29, 2014

The Federal Aviation Administration announced Monday that it intends to fine Southwest Airlines $12 million for flying Boeing 737 airplanes without making proper repairs.

Beginning in 2006, Southwest began "extreme makeover" alterations to address cracking of aluminum skin on 44 jetliners, the FAA said in a news release.

ChinLin Pan/KUT

According to, since 2001 tech firms like Apple, Google, and Facebook have expanded employment by 41 percent. This has lead to Austin resembling a smaller Silicon Valley – and Texas as a whole altering the face of its economy.

In keeping with Austin's renowned music scene, many of the region's exports are less about tangible services and more about entertainment and innovative ideas and applications. Economist and author Richard Florida christened such a move to a arts and knowledge-based economy as "The Rise of the Creative Class."

Fears of possible listeria contamination have led to a national recall of whole peaches, nectarines and other fruits packed by a California company. No illnesses have been reported, but the Wawona Packing Co. has told retailers such as Wal-Mart, Costco and Trader Joe's to pull its products.

Sara Combs, courtesy the UT-Austin International Office

Some young people in Africa are struggling with problems that many Americans take for granted – including serious unemployment and access to basic needs.

A group of 25 young Africans from 18 different countries have been at UT-Austin this summer to bring to life their business plans for addressing some of the challenges in their countries.

It’s part of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative. The national program is in its fourth year but this is the first time participants have spent time at a university prior to a summit in Washington.

The Federal Communications Commission received more than 1 million public comments on the issue of net neutrality during a five-month commenting period that ended Friday.

Cigarette giant Reynolds American announced Tuesday that it's buying rival Lorillard in a $27 billion deal that unites two of the country's biggest tobacco companies.

The acquisition creates a giant to rival Philip Morris USA, which is owned by Altria Group Inc., the No. 1 tobacco company in the country. Altria's Marlboro brand dominates the U.S. cigarette market.

Analysts' expectations of continued growth in the jobs report for June were surpassed by federal data issued this morning, as the Labor Department says U.S. employers added 288,000 jobs last month. The government released the numbers one day early because of the July 4 holiday.

Update at 8:35 a.m. ET: 288,000 Jobs Added

"Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 288,000 in June, and the unemployment rate declined to 6.1 percent," the Bureau of Labor Statistics says.

The Mexican town of Tequila in the western state of Jalisco is the heart of a region that produces the legendary spirit. Any bottle of tequila must be made from the Weber Blue species of agave, grown and distilled in this region.

Field after field of agave gives this land a blue hue, defining an economy and its traditions.

Ryan Kailath/KUT

Black-owned businesses in Texas are growing at a faster rate than Texas businesses as a whole – but they are trailing on several economic indicators, according to a new report.

The number of black-owned businesses in Texas increased 74 percent from 2002 to 2007, while the total number of Texas businesses rose only 25 percent in that period. While the increase seems impressive, the report goes on to say that this is largely because more than 95 percent of black-owned businesses in Texas are owned by single proprietors with no employees.

Benefit Corporations Look Beyond The Profit Motive

Jun 18, 2014

A corporation has one core obligation: to make money. But some companies are signing a deal, promising to create not only profit but also a tangible benefit to society and the environment. They're called benefit corporations, and their movement has caught the ear of lawmakers across the country.

In the tiny town of Gilsum, N.H., you'll find the headquarters of W.S. Badger Co. Inc. The company makes all-natural cosmetics marketed under the name Badger Balm. When CEO Bill Whyte founded the company two decades ago, the staff was lean.

The computer hack of Austin-based Stratfor in 2011 resulted in credit card numbers and damaging emails being leaked online. A new investigative report from the Daily Dot examining still-sealed court records found that the FBI knew about the hack, because one of its informants helped to orchestrate it.

In addition to directly facilitating the breach, the FBI left Stratfor and its customers—which included defense contractors, police chiefs, and National Security Agency employees—vulnerable to future attacks and fraud, and it requested knowledge of the data theft to be withheld from affected customers. This decision would ultimately allow for millions of dollars in damages.

Daily Dot reporter Dell Cameron was a lead reporter on the story. Listen our interview with him here.

The Federal Aviation Administration says it has issued the first permit in its history for an unmanned aircraft to fly over U.S. soil. Oil company BP will use a drone from the company AeroVironment to conduct surveys in Alaska.

The first drone flights under the recently issued waiver have already taken place, the FAA says.

From the agency's news release:

Larry D. Moore

National Instruments is cancelling a project that would have created 1,000 jobs in Austin over a decade.

The $80 million expansion project of NI's headquarters on North Mopac Boulevard received millions in economic incentives from the city, county and state. All those agreements have also been canceled.

"We want to continue to leverage our investments and drive for growth," National Instruments spokesperson Stacy Schmidt says. "But in the current economy and the challenges in the test and measurement industry, we're choosing not to move forward at this time."

It's time for your quick rundown of the week that was in technology and culture.

Yesterday, entrepreneur Elon Musk sauntered on to stage and unveiled his latest product: not a smart phone, but a spaceship.