Scot Chisholm developed what was to become Classy, a peer-to-peer crowd funding software platform. In 2020, Classy merged with GoFundMe, and Chisholm stepped down from his role as CEO to become a strategic advisor for the company. Since Chisholm has gained most of his CEO start-up experience through trial and error, he plans to pass on his knowledge  to other budding entrepreneurs.

An increase of West Nile virus activity was reported in the state. A positive infection has been reported in a Hill County horse. Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services reported the confirmed case, along with three confirmed human cases, in Dawson, Rosebud and Yellowstone counties, along with another case confirmed in a horse in Pondera County. All cases were hospitalized for their illnesses.

Belgrade’s Bootstrap Ranch, the sole facility in Montana that rehabs severely brain-injured adults, was forced to close last week. In May, the nonprofit’s board of directors decided that the Belgrade ranch would close by Aug. 15.The ranch had three hard-to-place clients who were finally placed by the facility.

According to Lee Enterprise newspapers NorthWestern Energy customers have come out strongly against the utility’s energy supply plan during the first three stops of a listening session tour with state utility regulators. Customers testifying in Helena and Great Falls and Billings told Montana’s Public Service Commission, that the state’s largest monopoly utility needed to pivot away from power plants burning coal and natural gas..

Two months after a railroad bridge collapse sent some carloads of oil products plunging into Montana’s Yellowstone River, the cleanup workers are gone. The railroad responsible, Montana Rail Link, in conjunction with federal and state officials has halted most cleanup work and stopped actively looking for contaminated sites. More than half of the 48,000 gallons (180,000 liters) of molten petroleum asphalt that spilled has been recovered. Downstream intakes for drinking water and irrigation reported no impacts.

The federal government will be taking over the security at Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport on October 8. With heavy foot traffic, the airport has decided it’s time to restart its use of the Transportation Security Administration for airport security. Surpassing two million passengers in 2022, Bozeman Yellowstone has seen growth in traffic. The current staffing shortages have caused frustration with long lines and delays during security.

In 2004, the Forest Service petitioned for the OTO’s Dude Ranch listing on the National Register of Historic Places and, over the past few decades, the agency has poured money into making sure the buildings stay standing. Now dudes have come back to the OTO for the first time in over half a century. For the past two years, the Arizona-based True Ranch Collection has hosted a “pop-up” tourist ranch, with the proceeds going to the Forest Service. But the future of the OTO hangs in the balance as the pop-up ranch’s permit expired this year. Now, the Forest Service must decide what’s next for the iconic 3,263-acre property.

Ben and Madison Miller arrived in Sidney on January 2021, as Ben took a job as associate pastor of the Sidney Lutheran Brethren Church. Two and a half years later, Madison Miller was offered a job as the chief executive officer (CEO) of the Boys and Girls Club of the MonDak. She started work on July 28. Originally from Tum Water, Washington, with a population of 30,000 Miller said it was a transition for them both. Miller is working with the former CEO who is staying on as a staff member in research and development.

By Chris Woodward, The Center Square

A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction blocking a plan to build a water diversion pipeline in southwest Montana meant to aid Arctic grayling, a rare species of freshwater fish.

District Judge Donald W. Molloy issued the injunction this week in a lawsuit brought by Wilderness Watch and other environmental groups against the U.S. Fish & Wilderness Service and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. The pipeline is meant to divert cold water to the indigenous fish population that’s dwindled in the Red Rock Lakes Wilderness area.

The Missoula-based Wilderness Watch argued the water diversion pipeline within the wilderness area is a “blatant violation of the Wilderness Act, which prohibits the agency from intentionally modifying Wilderness habitat.”

Molloy wrote in the injunction that “in light of the Wilderness Act’s strict requirements, the mere possibility that the proposed action may aid in Arctic grayling conservation is not enough to create necessity.”

Montana Trout Unlimited, a fish conservation group that supports the project, called the ruling “a blow to the grayling, the spirit of collaborative conservation and Wilderness character.”

“This delay and its proponents stand to have far greater negative impacts to this Wilderness ecosystem by risking the disappearance of one of the most unique and iconic species than the short and modest construction efforts implementing the project in a Wilderness area would entail,” the group said.

For the first time in years, drought figures have decreased across the board. This wet season has significantly lowered the chances of wildfires this year.

QuoteWizard, in analyzing drought data in at-risk wildfire states in advising wildfire insurance companies, determined that severe drought has decreased by 88% in Montana since 2022.

They have reported that, even with the decrease, 8 percent of Montana is experiencing a severe drought in 2023 and 29 percent of the state faces an extreme wildfire risk. The state is actually at the top of most-at-risk states for fires – followed by Idaho, New Mexico, Oregon, Colorado, Texas, California, Wyoming, Utah and Washington.

Nationally, drought area decreased for all of the states most at risk of a wildfire.

Their report stated, “More than 11.2 million properties were at risk of wildfires in 2022, and most wildfire-prone states are facing severe droughts. So far this year, nearly half of states that were previously experiencing severe drought dropped by 100%, including California. Montana is most at risk of wildfires, with 29% of the state facing extreme risk, even though its drought risk decreased by 88% since last year.”

Despite the conclusion of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) that air quality measures are adequate in the operation of NorthWestern Energy’s Laurel Generating Plant, a Thirteenth Judicial District Court has ruled that the DEQ’s issuance of a permit in 2021 was unlawful. The decision, made by District Court Judge Michael Moses, brings into question the air quality assessments done by DEQ specialists and invalidates the permit the state agency issued. That means construction must be halted on the Yellowstone County Generating Station near Laurel, which the utility company claims is essential to meet the future energy needs of Yellowstone County.

NorthWestern Energy responded saying they will seek an immediate stay to allow continued construction, and will appeal the decision. Company spokespeople noted that while the District Court found only two limited issues with Montana DEQ’s analysis, “… the court unfortunately took the extreme step to vacate the air permit.”

Neighbors of the proposed project, called the “Thiel Road Coalition”,who have been organized in part by the Montana Environmental Information Center, (MEIC) say they are concerned about the plant’s impacts on their health, property, businesses and the Yellowstone River.

Earthjustice represents MEIC and Sierra Club in the lawsuit, in conjunction with four citizens, who filed suit on October 21, 2021, challenging the permit for NorthWestern Energy’s proposed 175-megawatt methane gas-fired power plant located next to the CHS Refinery at Laurel. The suit claims the DEQ’s evaluations did not consider the plant’s potential “greenhouse gas emissions and associated climate impacts in Montana,”

 “We are very concerned that this project will harm people who live near the proposed plant,” said local resident, Steve Krum. “Every time we have raised concerns about the impacts this plant will have on the quality of life of the neighbors and the Yellowstone River, those concerns have been dismissed.”

In a press release, NorthWestern Energy stated that it “appreciates that Montana District Court Judge Michael Moses supported the majority of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality’s air quality permit…”  issued to NorthWestern Energy “after significant review and analysis for construction of the Yellowstone County Generating Station.”

In its press release, MEIC stated, “The Court’s ruling critiqued DEQ for failing to analyze the gas plant’s greenhouse gas emissions and associated climate impacts in Montana, as well as the plant’s impacts on our quality of life.” MEIC further stated that “if constructed, the Laurel Generating Station would emit at least 769,706 tons per year of climate-harming greenhouse gasses. This is equivalent to the annual emissions of 167,327 passenger vehicles.”

The Montana DEQ issued the air quality permit to NorthWestern Energy on Sept. 8, 2021, “After significant review and analysis,” said NorthWestern Energy Vice President of Supply and Montana Government Affairs John Hines, who oversees environmental compliance and stewardship. Hines expressed his concerns saying, “This ruling appears to require new criteria to be analyzed and jeopardizes reliable service for our Montana customers during critical times when customer energy demand is high, the coldest nights and the hottest days, typically times when renewable resources are generating little or no energy.  Our air permit was reviewed and approved by the DEQ using standards that have been in effect for many years. ..We will work with the DEQ to determine the path forward.”

MEIC said in its press release, that the DEQ violated the Montana Environmental Policy Act by issuing the permit “without fully evaluating the environmental consequences of plant construction and operation.”

“My business, my family and my home will be directly impacted by NorthWestern’s proposed project. We have raised our concerns every step of the way, and state and local governments keep ignoring us,” said Kasey Felder, a landowner, small business owner and member of the Thiel Road Coalition. “We were worried we would get a ‘Braveheart’ ending to this story.  It’s a relief to know the scales of justice are still in balance, and the little guy can be heard.”

“For too long it’s felt like a David versus Goliath battle. I’m so tired of the government and NorthWestern ignoring us. We live here. We have raised concerns time and time again about the impacts of this plant,” said Carah Ronan, farmer, small business owner and member of Thiel Road Coalition.

John Hines pointed out that NorthWestern Energy relies on the energy market “more than any of our peer energy companies in the region. The region faces an increasing probability of near-term deficits in its energy supply during peak load conditions, and the chance of shortages is expected to grow unless the region invests in new capacity, resources always-available to generate energy in all weather conditions.”

“If it was operating today,” he said, “NorthWestern Energy’s Montana customers could have avoided at least $4.7 million in market purchases from Dec. 20 to 26, 2022 during the Arctic cold front when record low temperatures were set in several areas of Montana.

“The Yellowstone County Generating Station natural gas plant is a critical part of a balanced and affordable portfolio that includes renewables and generation that is available on-demand, 24/7,” said Hines. “A balanced portfolio is essential to support the responsible transition to cleaner generation resources without compromising energy service reliability.”

Although left unidentified, the MEIC press release stated “…lower-cost clean energy resources are available.”

During peak- use NorthWestern Energy needs 1500 megawatts of power. They can generate only 750 megawatts, which forces the utility to go out into the market to purchase as much as 50 percent of the power needed to meet demand. One-third of the power NorthWestern Energy provides to the state is consumed in the Billings area – about 450 megawatts.

As the public demands more “clean energy” from alternative resources, reliance on wind and solar energy is becoming greater, but those energy sources need a dependable back up for “when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.”

The Laurel site is 36- acres purchased from CHS. The property is adjacent to a NorthWestern Energy sub-station and transmission lines, which are being enlarged to accept the energy that is generated.

The $250 million natural gas plant will generate 175 megawatts of electricity, operating reciprocating internal combustion engines. The Laurel Generation Station is projected to be operational by the winter of 2023-24.

Chicago recorded 697 total homicides in 2022, far more than any other city in the United States, but New Orleans had the highest murder rate per capita, according to a new report from a nonprofit research group. 

Chicago had more total homicides in 2022 than Philadelphia (516), New York City (438), Houston (435) and Los Angeles (382), which rounded out the top five, according to a report from Wirepoints, an Illinois-based research and news organization that surveyed 2022 crime data from 75 of the largest U.S. cities.

New Orleans had the highest homicide rate in the nation in 2022 with 74.3 homicides per 100,000 people. It was followed by St. Louis (68.2), Baltimore (58.1), Detroit (48.9) and Memphis (45.9), Wirepoints found.

The nation’s lowest homicide rates were concentrated in the West, according to the report. The cities with the fewest homicides out of the 75 surveyed were Plano, Texas, and Gilbert, Arizona. Plano reported 1 homicide and Gilbert reported 3. 

Samuel Stebbins, 24/7 Wall St, The Center Square

The United States has long been considered among the most innovative countries in the world – and America’s status as a global hub of innovation is partially attributable to public funding of research and development. The federal government spent nearly $138 billion on R&D in 2020 alone.

The private sector is also an engine of innovation, from companies on the Fortune 500 to small startups. Amazon, for example, spent over $62 billion on R&D in fiscal 2022.

Several key indicators can reveal how much of the innovation that takes place in the U.S. is concentrated in a certain place. According to personal finance website, WalletHub, which created a weighted index of 22 measures indicative of innovative capacity, Montana ranks as the 16th least innovative state in the country.

Montana’s ranking on the innovation index is reflected, in part, by employment in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields as a share of total employment. According to May 2021 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, STEM jobs account for 5.7% of all employment in the state, the 21st lowest share among states.

All innovation rankings in this story are from Wallet Hub’s report Most & Least Innovative States.

Montana Academy of Salons, 300 S 24th St W #B01, 59102, 771-8772, Linda McPherson, schools

Landie Drywall & Painting, 23255 Wahupa, Frenchtown 59834, 544-0143, David Lande, service

Billings Lady Outlaws, 3054 Hunters ridge Loop, 59102, 690-9648, Lacey Sullivan, service

The Truesdell Corporation, 1310 W 23rd St, Tempe, AZ 85282, Erica Bryant, general contractors

Stacie Jones’ Cleaning Services, 2211 3rd Ave N, 59101, 307-388-8740, Stacie Jones, service

The Shady Lady’s – Cosmetic Tattooing, 111 Main St – Ste 5, 59105, 561-1681, Jordynn Cossitt, service

Born Again Beauty & Ink by Megan Price LLC, 745 Henesta Dr, 59102, 998-8886, Megan Price, service

Rhino Electric, 3126 Morning Glory Circle, 59102, 540-3775, Ryan Teini, electrical contractors

Rotech (Overland) 2110 Overland Ave, 59102, 245-9792, Suzy Martinez, retail sales

Lifebridge Counseling LLC, 1330 Colton Blvd, 59102, 698-3389, Cathy Bevier, service

Aguilar Cleaning Enterprise Services, 8951 Jerry Lee ln, 59106, 714-920-7189, Jesse Aguilar, service

Affiliated Mortgage Zachery Blair, 822 Avenue C, 59102, 602-525-1120, Zachery Blair, service

Palouse residential Properties LLC, 611 N 31st St, 59102, 281-900-7102,  Russell Perkins, real estate properties

Taichi Tuina Healing, 511 N 30th St, 59101, 916-1332, Jing Chong, service

Mystic River Dirtworks LLC, 6444 Neibauer Rd, 59106, 690-6698, James Kamminga, service

Purely Obsessed Permanent Jewelry LLC, 1503 13th St W, 59102, 962-5518, Michelle Carnahan, retail sales

Brandish Construction LLC, 304 Grand, 59101, 855-0476, Howard Lewis, general contractors

Steel City Drones LLC, 282 Foxcroft Rd, Pittsburgh PA 15220, 412-980-1941, David King, retail sales

 Wizard Office Services 221 Prospectors Ln, 59105, Dillon Heath, service

Monaco’s Photography, 928 Broadwater Ave – Ste 201, 59101, 200-2724, Sarah Monaco, service

Freeform, 3319 Rimrock Rd, 59102, 850-4331, Joshua Tolentino, misc

Northwest Fugitive Recovery, 43 W Meadow Dr, 59102, 200-4697, Timothy Westervelt, service

Camping World RV Sales of Billings, 976 Rosebud Ln, 59102, 847-229-6465, n/a, service

Nomadic properties LLC, 5116 Yellowstone Falls Ln, 59106, 360-8894, Jace Palmer, real estate rentals,

Hayes Design & Build, 3385 Granger S #64, 59102, 946-2466, Joshua Hayes, general contractor

Bearded Bulldog Pub Grub, 2503 Montana Ave, 59101, Jen Marble, restaurants

Steamworld, 3619 2nd Ave S, 59101, 561-5566, Britani Bishop, service

Homegoods Inc – #1105, 2618 King Ave W- Ste 1, 59102, 774-308-0056, Kristin Adams, retail sales

JT Homes, 6010 Farmstead Ave #30, 59102, 951-316-3808, Jessica Tapp, real estate rentals

Good Day Assisted Living, 1847 Forest Park Dr, 59102, 561-4244, Dan & Steph Flesch

Rogers Concrete, 55 Clark Dr, Columbus 59019, 321-1855, Raylee Rogers, service

MEL Construction, 5030 Chevelle Rd, 59106, 701-230-9453, Mark Littleghost, general contractor

Beartooth Cross Stitch, 3227 Parkhill Dr, 59102, 413-8716, Alisa Clarke, service

Gluck Building Company, 26901 Agoura Dr – Ste 100, Calabasas CA 91301, 818-880-8220, Thomas Gluck, general contractors

MRM Unified Campus LLLP, 2822 Minnesota Ave, 59101, 259-3800, service

Glacier Vapor, 2346 Grand Ave, 59102, 545-9413, Marshall Corriz, retail sales

Albertsons #3367, 5317 Grand Ave, 59106, 371-2755, Albertson’s LLC, retail sales

Shilhanek Designs, 3112 Rosemont Way, 59101, 561-5457, Tarin Shilhanek, service

Caliber Collision Centers, 4130 Kari Ln, 59106, 998-2190, Lori Eaton, auto business

Elevation Transport Services, 2147 Phoebe Dr, 59105, 839-1733, Craig Smith, service

Black Hills Federal Credit Union, 1595 Grand Ave – Ste 235B, 59102, 831-1204, Tyson Taylor, banks/loan agencies

Dust Officers, 4059 Orrel Rd-#2, 59101, 661-0144, Scott Crenshaw, service

Apollo Detail, 332 Bonnie Ln, #2, 59101, 515-441-9367, Nathan Lucero, services         

By Chris Cargill, The Center Square

Raising the minimum wage is one of the many policy ideas peppered with tradeoffs, but one of the few that have such a direct impact on businesses and employees alike. Lawmakers in Idaho and Montana have introduced legislation intended to raise the minimum wage. The legislation in Idaho has been introduced by Rep. Steve Berch.

House Bill 48 would repeal a prohibition on local governments setting their own minimum wage. Meantime in Montana, House Bill 201 introduced by Rep. Kelly Kortum would hike the minimum wage to $11.39 per hour plus tips. The minimum wage in Montana currently sits at $9.95 per hour, while Idaho’s minimum wage is the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour.

Currently, there are only 54 cities or counties around the nation that have their own minimum wages which vary from their state minimum wage. The patchwork of different wages makes it difficult in some states for small business owners to properly plan for and track employee hours, especially if employees work at multiple locations. The broader issue, however, is the financial impact on small businesses and the workers themselves. It is true that some workers will see paychecks rise as a result of minimum wage increases, but many more end up seeing wages fall as hours are reduced. We know this from experience, and projections.

A great Congressional Budget Office tool gives users the opportunity to see the impact of raising the minimum wage. It shows some positive impacts, including a decrease in the number of people living in poverty. But it also shows negative aspects – specifically, the change in employment and the overall change in real family income. Under a scenario where the minimum wage would increase to $15 per hour, both see dramatic declines.

Research from the Harvard Business Review had similar findings. It concluded “for every $1 increase in the minimum wage, we found that the total number of workers scheduled to work each week increased by 27.7%, while the average number of hours each worker worked per week decrease by 20.8%. For an average store in California, these changes translated into four extra workers per week and five fewer hours per worker per week — which meant that the total wage compensation of an average minimum wage worker in a California store actually fell by 13.6%.

This decrease in the average number of hours worked not only reduced total wages, but also impacted eligibility for benefits.” The University of Washington conducted a review of Seattle’s increase of the minimum wage to $15, phased in over several years. Researchers wrote “those earning less than $19 an hour saw wages rise by 3.4% once the city’s minimum wage was $13, while experiencing a 7.0% decrease in hours worked.” In other words, the hike was costing jobs.

In fact, the research showed there would be 5,000 more jobs in Seattle if the hike had not been adopted. While some businesses might be able to afford the hit of a minimum wage hike, others will not. Restaurants, retail and hospitality, for example, run on very low profit margins. The impact there is likely to be much more severe. In the end, some workers will benefit from a hike in the minimum wage, but others will see fewer hours and lower earnings. It’s a tradeoff – not necessarily the rosy picture some activists and lawmakers project. Chris Cargill is the President & CEO of Mountain States Policy Center.

While Montana’s economy has been doing quite well over the past couple ofyears, economists are projecting changing winds in 2023.

During the recent Economic Outlook Seminar, Bureau of Business and Economic Research Economist Pat Barkey said that while Montana’s economy grew by over two percent in 2022 it is likely to plummet to zero in 2023 and perhaps even dip into negative territory of  -1.1 percent. 

Barkey said that whether there will be a recession is uncertain. He noted, “A recession was supposed to be here last year.” A recession is still more likely than not – at the very least, the state’s economy will slow significantly, he said. Whatever the next year brings, “it will be a lot different than a year ago.”

In fact, Barkey explained that “There’s something called the Fed recession in our future. It’s been engineered, it’s there, it’s something the Fed is trying to do, or might do.”

While some aspects of inflation have slowed, there remains the likelihood of higher interest rates and diminished investments.

The impact of a recession could be lessened for Montana should the in-migration from other states continue, bringing with them more spending and wealth to the state. It was reiterated several times that the new comers to Montana are good for the state because they are bringing new wealth and spend money.

Barkey said he calls the likely downturn the “rich-cession” because it has had a bigger impact on higher income people than lower income. That is due in large part because of the huge demand for labor.

While not all the numbers are in, overall 2022 appears to have been a very good year for Montana, continuing the economic surge the state experienced in 2021. Statewide average growth was over 5.3 percent in 2021 – the highest it had been since 2006.

According to BBER, 2021 growth was well above average in Flathead, Gallatin and Missoula Counties, driven by the reopening of the economy after the pandemic. The one exception in the state was counties in the eastern portion of the state that are dependent upon the oil and gas industry, which has struggled given that political winds directed investment away from it.

Most of Montana’s economic activity and growth happens in its seven population centers – only 10 percent of state growth occurred outside the seven largest counties.

Perhaps, much to some people’s surprise, Barkey said that mining is Montana’s and Yellowstone County’s most prominent industry.

Barkey expressed some dissatisfaction for the decisions of the Federal Reserve because they were slow in raising interest rates – “they were asleep,” he said. Raising interest rates sooner would have slowed consumer spending sooner, which is what is driving the US economy and needs to be “moderated”.

”We are starting to run out of fuel for consumer spending,” he said, noting that consumers are running out of savings and starting to rack up charges on their credit cards.

“The economy is healing but not healed.”

Inflation is starting to ease a bit – lumber prices have come back down, commodity prices have “settled down”, big ticket consumer purchases are expected to decline in price 4 percent —“all prices are softening.” “Supply chain congestion is better than a year ago.”

While housing prices increased 52 percent statewide since 2020, creating affordability issues for many people, they have weakened somewhat but home sales have slowed.  As interest rates increase home sales will continue to be slow.

Nevertheless, the construction industry has continued to be strong and may become stronger as material prices decline.

A real concern is energy prices, which have come down somewhat but are “still 42 percent higher since the pandemic.” Barkey was critical of President Biden’s policies which have discouraged investors to invest in oil and gas, which has kept the industry down and gas prices high. That industry’s struggles has been very detrimental to Montana, and to Yellowstone County other eastern Montana counties.

Since the economic impacts of COVID mandates,Montana’s health care industry has had significant struggles dealing with labor shortages and rising costs. It is expected to ease in 2023, however.

Lower consumer prices will ease pressure on the labor market. “We need less demand for workers; those pressures are pushing up costs,” said Barkey, but he also pointed out that the labor shortage was materializing before the pandemic. “The workers are there – they are working – the problem is we need more of them.”

There has been a seven percent increase in wages – but that is not more than the rate of inflation.

“Wages ae not so fat and happy as you think.”

The strength of Montana’s economy over the past couple years is evidenced in income tax collections in the state. They still show double digit growth, but “beware of any forecasting,” warned Barkey, “No one knows where you are until we go through April” – and can see tax returns.

“Last year’s 2 percent growth is amazing.” but Barkey’s forecast for 2023 will see a “slamming on the brakes” for the state.

Montana’s economy may not be as dependent upon performance as it is dependent upon the “fragile” world economy.

Barkey provided predictions from HIS Markit:

—While 2023 may see a recession it will also see the beginning of a recovery from recession which will gain momentum in 2024.

—economic weakness is expected in several segments with residential investment leading the way.

—the price of US farm output, currently more than double its pandemic low, which remain elevated through 2022 will ease as crops come in in 2023.

—slowing growth will cause oil prices to ease to $84.

—consumer spending will grow modestly through 2024, constrained by a rebound in personal savings rate from the unsustainable lows below 3 percent. Fixed income will decline to 4.1 percent in 2023 with weakness concentrated in construction, both residential and nonresidential.

—labor markets will remain tight but the trend in payroll gains is slowing.

—the fed will raise its policy rate by March to the range of 4.75 percent to five percent and allow its balance sheet to decline by about one-third through 2024.

—inflation will decline in three steps. Already underway are declines in the prices of energy and agricultural commodities that are allowing headline inflation to fall quickly below core inflation. In a second step there will be easing in supply-chain tensions, or decline in the pries of certain core goods; such as vehicles, fist used and then new. In step thee, a recession eventually tempers inflation pressures emanating from labor markets.

—a risk exists that a resilient economy remains strong for longer than previously anticipated, requiring a more aggressive and persistent monetary tightening (higher interest rates) to contain inflation which would precipitate a later and more severe recession.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has temporarily blocked President Joe Biden’s plan to cancel billions of dollars in federal student loans. The action is in response to a petition from six Republican-led states that sought a pause on the proposed student debt relief while the court rules on their request for a longer-term injunction.

The lawsuit by the six Republican-led states—Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, and South Carolina—is before the appeals court after a lower court judge rejected the suit a day prior.

The states argue that the debt relief program bypassed Congress and poses a threat to the states’ future tax revenues, as well as money earned by state entities that invest in or service the student loans. But U.S. District Judge Henry Autrey in St. Louis determined that while the six states had raised “important and significant challenges to the debt relief plan,” their lawsuit lacked the necessary legal standing to pursue the case.

Biden’s student debt relief program, announced in August, seeks to cancel up to $10,000 to borrowers who earn less than $125,000 per year (or $250,000 as a couple per year), or $20,000 in debt relief to Pell Grant recipients who meet similar income standards.

Applications opened on Oct. 14. Nearly 22 million borrowers had applied for the debt relief program since —  about half of the more than 40 million Americans that the Department of Education expects are eligible for some amount of debt relief.