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Monday, 29 October 2012 15:21

Consumer Spending Rises

* Consumer spending rises 0.8 pct in September * Inflation-adjusted spending up 0.4 percent * Income gains 0.4 percent, real disposable income flat WASHINGTON, Oct 29 (Reuters) - U.S. consumer spending rose solidly in September as households stepped up purchases on automobiles and a range of other goods, but the increase came at the expense of savings. The Commerce Department said on Monday consumer spending rose 0.8 percent, the largest increase since February, after an unrevised 0.5 percent gain in August. Economists polled by Reuters had expected spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity to increase 0.6 percent in September. When adjusted for inflation, consumer spending increased 0.4 percent after edging up 0.1 percent the prior month. Financial markets showed little reaction to the data. U.S. stock markets will be closed on Monday, and possibly on Tuesday, as a mammoth storm threatens the U.S. East Coast. The figures were incorporated in last Friday's third-quarter gross domestic product report. Consumer spending increased at a 2 percent annual pace in the third quarter after rising at a 1.5 percent pace the prior period. That helped to lift economic growth at a 2 percent rate during the quarter, an…
Friday, 26 October 2012 15:48

Minorities with Most Online Degrees

You've seen the commericals -- a young boy plays dress up in an oversized cap and gown and then transforms into a grown man in a business suit. "I am a Phoenix," the young African-American man says. According to a new report by the magazine "Diverse: Issues In Higher Education," the University of Phoenix ad campaign isn't just a marketing ploy. The publication's annual rankings of the top 100 degree producers placed the University of Phoenix Online at the top of the list of U.S. academic institutions awarding associate, bachelor's and master's degrees to minorities. University of Phoenix, owned by Apollo Group Inc., is one of the largest for-profit higher education chains. Over the last 20 years, the number of degrees awarded to students of color has increased substantially, the report says, with more than three times as many racial and ethnic minorities receiving a bachelor's degree in 2010-2011 than in 1990-1991. In addition, minorities now represent 24.5 percent of bachelor's degree recipients, compared with 13.5 percent 20 years ago. But those degrees come with a hefty price tag. According to Department of Education statistics, the University of Phoenix has a student loan default rate that is nearly twice the…
Thursday, 25 October 2012 15:04

Remix Culture Needs New Copyright Laws

In February of 2010, Andy Baio got a nasty letter asking for $175,000.It came from Harmon & Seidman LLC, a law firm that represents creative professionals. The firm was alleging copyright infringement, and asking for "either statutory damages up to $150,000 for each infringement at the jury's discretion and reasonable attorneys fees or actual damages and all profits attributed to the unlicensed use of his photograph, and $25,000 for Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) violations." In essence, they were saying "Fuck you, pay me."This would be considerably less remarkable had Baio not already negotiated, and paid, a licensing fee for the tracks upon which Kind of Bloop, an 8-Bit Tribute to Kind of Blue, was based. But the attorneys at Harmon & Seidman did not represent the estate of Miles Davis; they worked for Jay Maisel, the photographer who shot the iconic photo of Davis that graced the cover of the original album. Maisel claimed that the album's cover, which consisted of a meticulous rendering of the photo in pixel art, was a derivative work, and thus subject to licensing fees. And Baio, who never anticipated the photographer would take issue with what he considered to be fair use, was…
Wednesday, 24 October 2012 14:39

American's Poverty

America's near poor: 30 million and struggling NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- They aren't in poverty, but they are just a step away from falling into its clutches. More than 30 million Americans are living just above the poverty line. These near poor, often defined as having incomes of up to 1.5 times the poverty threshold, were supporting a family of four on no more than $34,500 last year. They are more likely to be white than those in poverty, according to a CNNMoney analysis of Census Bureau data. They are more likely to be elderly. They are more than three times as likely to work full-time, year-round. And they are more likely not to receive help from the government. "People just above the poverty line are just one paycheck or health disaster away from poverty," said Katherine Newman, a dean at Johns Hopkins University. "They are still quite fragile." The near poor have grown by about 10% in number over the past five years, as the Great Recession sent many people falling down the income ladder. The ranks of those in poverty, on the other hand, swelled 24% in the same period. Half of the near poor are white, compared…
Tuesday, 23 October 2012 15:14

More Trouble For Walmart

Walmart and two staffing agencies in the Chicago area were named as defendants in a class action lawsuit filed Monday in Illinois. The suit alleges that Walmart, Labor Ready Midwest, and QPS Employment Group violated federal and state laws by denying workers legally mandated overtime pay and in some cases, paying them less than minimum wage for hours worked. The 20 initial plaintiffs in the case each worked for one of the two staffing agencies and were regularly placed at Walmart stores for temporary work, often stocking shelves in the stores. Walmart utilizes hundreds of such workers in the Chicago area alone, and plans to hire thousands more nationwide during the upcoming holiday season, according to a UFCW press release. Read the full complaint here. Walmart spokesman Dan Fogleman told The Huffington Post that the company is still reviewing the complaint, but that "based on the UFCW's press release, one thing is clear. This litigation is being driven by the same union organizations that have been mischaracterizing several issues about Walmart and are more concerned with creating publicity than with improving workers rights. "We are committed to ensuring that anyone working in our stores -- whether they're employed by Walmart…
Monday, 22 October 2012 15:31

Sending Your Representative to Work

The Center for Talent Innovation (wow... this exists!) has just published a new report — "Vaulting the Color Bar: How Sponsorship Levers Multicultural Professionals Into Leadership" — finding that people of color, from African Americans to Latinos and Asians, feel they have to put up a front in the office. "More than 35 percent of African-Americans and Hispanics, as well as 45 percent of Asians, say they 'need to compromise their authenticity' to conform to their company's standards of demeanor or style," The Harvard Business Review reports. "Forty percent of African-Americans — and a third of people of color overall — feel like outsiders in their corporate culture, compared with 26 percent of Caucasians." The conclusion that the article draws is that while companies are good at diversifying the staff, real change to the corporate culture isn't happening. An Indian executive says she was told her accent was "too stuffy." African-American workers say they're conscious not to come off as the "angry Black." Additional research conducted by another group, CTI, shows that when you "compromise your authenticity," it leads to a lack of loyalty and a tendency for people to leave their jobs. Of course, this, in and of itself…
Monday, 22 October 2012 15:20

Women are back on the job

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Women are finding their way back into the workforce.The economic upswing had until recently been a "hecovery," but the revival is now becoming more balanced between the genders. The number of women employees has jumped by 300,000 in the past six months, nearly the same amount as men. And in September, men and women each saw a job gain of 57,000. "The recovery has definitely picked up for women in the last year," said Joan Entmacher, vice president of family economic security at the National Women's Law Center. Women's financial well-being over the past four years is a hot topic in this year's election, as President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney each court their vote. In Tuesday's debate, Obama hailed his signing of the Lily Ledbetter law, which lengthened the time women could sue employers for pay discrimination. Romney, meanwhile, attacked the president's economic record by saying that 580,000 women have lost jobs and 3.5 million more women fell into poverty in the past four years. Romney would have been right about the jobs figures had it still been spring. Women were hit hard by job losses in the public sector -- particularly in schools…
Friday, 19 October 2012 14:41

Worst Jobs

Fast Food Worker Workers who say their job makes the world a worse place: 38.4% Many fast food workers aren't feeling so good about handing you those greasy burgers and fries. In a survey conducted by PayScale that asked employees, 'Does your job make the world a better place?," 38.4% of fast food workers said their job was actually making the world a worse place. That's the highest percentage for any of the jobs included in the survey and is well above the average of less than 1% across all jobs. Why are fast food workers feeling so low? It's likely that some workers feel as if they are contributing to the country's worsening obesity epidemic, said Katie Bardaro, lead economist at PayScale. "A lot of fast food isn't healthy for you, and [fast food workers] are continuing to feed it to people even though they know that it's not," she said. Telemarketer Workers who say their job makes the world a worse place: 9.4% Interrupting family dinners with phone calls about products that people often don't need may lead some telemarketers to question the worthiness of their line of work. More than 9% of telemarketers surveyed by PayScale said they…
Thursday, 18 October 2012 14:43

The best time to book airfare

A new survey of more than a billion airfare searches has revealed the very best time to book your flight, says a spokeswoman for Kayak. Sifting through an average of 100 million queries per month from January to December 2011, the search site says fliers looking for the best prices should book exactly 21 days prior to departure. Book in that sweet spot, Kayak says, and you'll pay the domestic average of $342 a ticket -- versus the $370 you'd pay on average for a ticket booked six months out. For international trips, that prime booking window shifts to 34 days prior to departure, with average prices at $977 instead of $1,016 for travelers planning six months ahead. The number crunching also proved what many frequent fliers already know: Those who wait until the last minute will almost certainly pay more for their fare. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/18/the-best-time-to-book-airfare_n_1978346.html?utm_hp_ref=money&ir=Money
Wednesday, 17 October 2012 15:22

Choice of college degree may cost you $$$

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Want to make $3.5 million? Major in engineering. That's how much those who graduate with an engineering degree can expect to earn over a 40-year career, according to new Census Bureau data. Which major earns the least? Education, which comes in at $1.8 million. That's even lower than arts majors, who can expect to earn $2 million. Typical college graduates can expect to take home $2.4 million during their career. The Census calculated this data by taking the median earnings for each group in various age increments between 25 and 64. Of course, the occupation one selects can also have an impact on earnings. Engineers working in management earn $4.1 million over their lifetimes, while those working in education, only $1.8 million. Education majors who pursue computers or math jobs can earn $2.6 million, while those in the service sector make only $1.3 million -- less than people with only high school degrees, the Census Bureau said. Those with master's degrees can expect to earn $2.8 million over their career, while doctorate degree holders take home $3.5 million. People with professional degrees earn the biggest bucks, $4.2 million. There was more bad news for education majors…
Tuesday, 16 October 2012 16:17

Local Company Suing Facebook

(Image from wantbutton.com) FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. (WWJ) – A Metro Detroit company is suing Facebook over its new "want" button. Camelot Venture Group in Farmington Hills claims the feature poaches on its own service through its web site wantbutton-dot.com and is confusing to consumers. Users who click Facebook's want button are taken to non-Facebook sites where they can buy merchandise. Camelot wants Facebook to stop using the button and wants any money Facebook has made from it. Camelot first started using its want button in September 2010. Camelot lists numerous companies on its web site as clients of its want button, including Burlington Coat Factory, Sharper Image, Edible Arrangements and Frederick's of Hollywood. Facebook hasn't commented on the suit.   http://detroit.cbslocal.com/2012/10/16/michigan-company-suing-facebook-over-its-want-button/
Monday, 15 October 2012 16:19

10 Brands Rapidly Losing Value

Once again, Coca-Cola was ranked the most valuable brand in the world, according to Interbrand, one of the nation's top global brands experts. Apple, to the surprise of none, was very close behind. Considering the consumer electronics company's growth, it will easily eclipse the long-time number one brand by next year. While some of the biggest brands — including Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN), Samsung and Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) – have grown their value by more than 20% since last year's report, others have fallen precipitously. Goldman Sachs, still one of the world's most valuable financial brands, lost 16% of its brand's worth. BlackBerry lost nearly 40% of its brand's value. Based on the Interbrand report, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed Goldman, BlackBerry and eight other brands that lost the most value compared to last year. Several industries have grown substantially in the past year. Auto companies, still recovering from the recession, saw major gains in their brand value since the last report. Nine of the 11 large European, Japanese and American automakers on 100 most valuable brands list grew in value last year, up a combined 12%. Together, technology firms measured by Interbrand, led by Apple's stunning 129% brand value growth, have…
Thursday, 11 October 2012 13:56

The Most Demanding Generation

Gen X Demands Pay Raises More Often Than Any Other Generation: Report Gen Y catches a lot of flack for being the "entitlement generation," but new research reveals that they're not the most demanding age group when it comes to workplace benefits like flexible hours and increased pay. Generation X, those who are between the ages of 33 and 50, were perceived to be the most demanding generation among job candidates, according to a survey of 1,533 hiring managers and HR professionals conducted in September by SuccessFactors, a provider of employee management software. Companies included in the survey said Gen X job candidates were most likely to ask for a higher job title (49 percent of firms expected this request most from Gen X), higher pay (39 percent), a hiring bonus (37 percent) and flexible working locations (36 percent). Millennials, under 33 years-old, were much less demanding, the data suggested, though these job candidates were more likely to ask for additional training. To be sure, the results are less surprising considering that those age 33 - 50 may be less timid in asking for money than adults who are just starting out in their careers. Baby Boomers, the study found,…
Wednesday, 10 October 2012 14:46

Heating Cost To Rise This Winter

  Oct 10 (Reuters) - U.S. households that mainly use heating oil to warm their homes should pay 19 percent more for it this winter compared to a year earlier, as low distillate stocks and new fuel regulations drive up prices, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday. The roughly 6 percent of U.S. homes that rely on the fuel will pay an average of $407 more this winter, according to the government agency's Winter Fuels Outlook. About 80 percent of all U.S. homes that use heating oil are in the Northeast. The report said low inventories in the U.S. East Coast and Gulf Coast, as well as new low-sulfur diesel regulations for New York state, would tighten the market for distillates. Such fuels include heating oil and diesel. The EIA said 17 percent of the cost increase would be due to higher consumption, while 2 percent would be based on elevated prices. Mild weather limited heating fuel consumption last winter. The EIA based its pricing assumptions on near-normal temperatures for this winter. Natural gas consumers, which account for about half of U.S. homes, should expect to pay 15 percent, or $89, more than last winter, due primarily to forecasts…