Archive for January, 2010

Power Breakfast: Jobs Summit, Haiti, JAL bankruptcy, Kraft-Cadbury deal, banks

Education is key if many of the unemployed are going to get new jobs.

In this “Darwinian job market,” as the state’s labor commissioner labeled it on Monday, survival is a challenge even for the fittest.

But there is help out there — help that many workers haven’t been using and may not even know about, writes AJC reporter Michael Kanell.

Programs like subsidies for school, training for new skills and income tax credits are all under-used – but they could soften the economic blow of being laid off, panelists and attendees said at Monday’s “jobs summit” in Midtown.

Moreover, speakers argued, the flexibility to learn prepares the worker for the future and the economy for growth.

The all-day event, which drew about 160 to the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center, was hosted by Labor Commissioner Michael L. Thurmond, who called it “a first step.”

“This is a Darwinian job market,” he said. “We can respond to this man-made tragedy in a way that will limit the severity and …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Jobs Summit, Haiti, JAL bankruptcy, Kraft-Cadbury deal, banks »

Nearly 600,000 suffering in Georgia job market

Nearly 600,000 Georgians are unemployed, underemployed or too discouraged to look for work, the state labor department said Monday.

In a new analysis of data released at the Georgia Jobs Summit today, the labor department said 463,000 Georgians are unemployed.

Another 97,800 are underemployed, meaning they want to work full-time, but can only find-part-time jobs. Georgia Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond said this number was “much higher” than he anticipated it would be. In 2008, there were 70,900 underemployed workers and there were 51,200 in 2007.

Finally, there are another 26,700 discouraged residents who have searched for work during the past year, but have given up because of the slim prospects. In 2008, there were 14,000 discouraged workers.

All told, 587,500 Georgians are in one of the three categories in 2009.

“This is a Darwinian economy and a Darwinian job market,” Thurmond told about 160 attendees of the jobs summit at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference …

Continue reading Nearly 600,000 suffering in Georgia job market »

Part 2: Experts answer your credit questions

Here’s the second installment of answers to your questions from Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Atlanta.

Because of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday Monday, Part 3 will run on Tuesday.

Q: I have very good credit, but found an old medical bill written off in 2006 on my credit reports. Otherwise, there are no negatives or late payments on my reports. This one must have fallen through the cracks as it’s only for $52 and I have always had insurance. Honestly, don’t know how it wasn’t paid either by insurance or me, but it wasn’t. How long does this have to remain on my report? I can pay it but they still will not remove it, or so they told me. How do I handle this?

A: This is a tricky one, because the notation on your credit report is so old. If you contact the company that sent the bill, you will create a new Date of Last Activity, which means the old bill will suddenly show up as a current obligation on your credit report. If you leave things as they are, this …

Continue reading Part 2: Experts answer your credit questions »

Power Breakfast: Transit gets new funding plan, Haiti, health deal, foreclosure, bank fraud

After several failed attempts, there appears to be a new financing mechanism for transportation projects.

AJC reporter Ariel Hart writes that the three-year push for transportation funding got big-time backing Thursday, as Gov. Sonny Perdue announced his support for a referendum on a regional sales tax. Perdue also said he would ask the Legislature to approve $300 million in borrowing for transportation projects statewide.

He said he hoped future governors and Legislatures would continue to pass $300 million per year in bond funding for transportation projects, for a total of $3 billion over 10 years.

For the regional taxes, the state would be divided into 12 regions, Hart writes. Each region would vote in 2012 on whether to approve the tax. A region’s citizens would be voting on whether to approve the 1-cent sales tax, and on the list of projects to be built with that money.

If the tax is approved, shoppers would probably start paying it within the following year. All the …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Transit gets new funding plan, Haiti, health deal, foreclosure, bank fraud »

Answers to your credit questions

Here is the first installment of answers to the questions you submitted, provided by Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Atlanta.

Please return Friday for the second part, with other installments to follow next week.

Q: I currently have only two debt obligations, my car and student loan payments. I have a credit score of 713 and do not own a credit card. I really do not like to use credit cards, but would like to know if getting one is the only way I can boost my score. If so, do you have any recommendations on cards to apply for? I would be getting this solely to help boost my score by using it sparingly.

A: Getting a credit card is not the only way to increase you score, but if you don’t have one now it can help over time. Paying more than the minimum on your car and student loans will also help. However, it is true that creditors will look more favorably on those who have a mix of credit, and have shown they can handle it responsibly. If you open a credit card …

Continue reading Answers to your credit questions »

Power Breakfast: Atlanta nonprofits seek Haiti aid, Obama announcing bank fees, Atlanta Fed cuts, bio energy, boats

Atlanta-based nonprofits, from CARE to Habitat for Humanity, have started efforts to collect everything from money to medicine to tents to help Haiti rebuild after Tuesday’s devastating earthquake.

AJC reporter Kristi Swartz writes that groups have set up Web sites for people to donate money, food and other items, and are using Facebook and Twitter to solicit help.

The country’s phone lines are out, making communication nearly impossible. MAP International, which gives medicine and supplies to poor countries, was able to contact staffers Tuesday night by using e-mail or satellite telephones.

MAP is sending medicines and medical supplies worth $2.8 million to hospitals and clinics in Haiti, Swartz reports.

Atlanta’s Habitat for Humanity International is sending a team to assess the damage to low-cost housing, spokesperson Katie Evans said.

UPS is committing $1 million in cash and free shipping, spokesperson Lynnette McIntire said.

The Coca-Cola Foundation pledged a $1 million …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Atlanta nonprofits seek Haiti aid, Obama announcing bank fees, Atlanta Fed cuts, bio energy, boats »

Final day for your credit and debt questions

January is generally not a kind month for consumers who may have spent too much during the holidays.

If you have a credit card or debt issue, please post your question below, as others have during the past few days.

Starting Thursday, experts from Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Atlanta will answer some of them. Each day for about a week, answers to three or four questions will be posted on this blog.

Continue reading Final day for your credit and debt questions »

Power Breakfast: Heating bills are rising, Delta union vote, Google rethinks China, health reform

It looks like Mother Nature pulled a fast one on consumers.

Natural gas customers caught a break last fall when the price of the fuel fell as supplies rose, AJC staffer David Markiewicz reports. But the benefit of those lower rates is being negated by the deep freeze that’s enveloped Georgia.

Consumers’ furnaces are running more, and the result is noticeably higher heating bills, Markiewicz writes.

“Even though natural gas prices are significantly lower than last winter, the increased usage will equate to higher bills,” the Georgia Public Service Commission said in an advisory this week.

December 2009 was 30 percent colder than December 2008, the PSC said. January has been even colder so far. That’s driving up consumption, gas marketers and the PSC said.

Consumption was up 23.7 percent in December 2009 over December 2008. Through Jan. 10, it was up 119 percent this January over January 2009.

Also in the AJC:

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Heating bills are rising, Delta union vote, Google rethinks China, health reform »

Day 2 for credit and debt questions

Keep your credit card and debt questions coming. Just post them on this blog, like many did yesterday.

Beginning Thursday, experts from Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Atlanta will answer some of them.

They’re fully prepared. January is their busiest month because of the debt hangover from the holidays.

Continue reading Day 2 for credit and debt questions »

Power Breakfast: Delta pursuing JAL, Georgia-Pacific, Atlanta Fed, police goal, Children’s Healthcare

Delta is not taking “no” for an answer.

Delta said Monday it still intends to pursue a partnership with JAL to expand its Asian network, a day after reports emerged that the Japanese carrier will decline a cash offer from either Delta or American for a stake in its operations, AJC reporter Kelly Yamanouchi writes.

“As we have said from the beginning, the primary goal for Delta is building a long-term strategic alliance with Japan Airlines, benefiting both airlines tremendously,” said Delta spokesman Trebor Banstetter in a written statement. “Delta stands ready to back this partnership with financial assistance, but for us this isn’t a necessary component of an agreement.”

If Japan Airlines restructures without investments from Delta or American Airlines, industry observers say that may be better for both the Japanese carrier’s stability and the U.S. carriers’ finances, Yamanouchi writes.

JAL is already an American partner in the Oneworld global alliance. But with JAL in …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Delta pursuing JAL, Georgia-Pacific, Atlanta Fed, police goal, Children’s Healthcare »