Archive for June, 2010

New survey: More than half of U.S. workers hurt by recession

Fifty-five percent of adults in the work force say they have suffered from unemployment, a pay cut, a reduction in hours or have become involuntary part-time workers since the recession began 30 months ago, according to a new national survey released Wednesday.

The survey by the Pew Research Center also found that the recession has led to:

– A new frugality in Americans’ spending and borrowing habits;

– A diminished set of expectations about their retirements and their children’s future;

– A concern that it will take several years, at a minimum, for their family finances and home values to recover.

The survey found that 54 percent of Americans say the U.S. economy is still in a recession, while 41 percent say it is beginning to come out of the recession. Just 3 percent say the recession is over.

Not all survey findings are bleak, the Pew Center said in a news release.

Sixty-two percent of Americans believe that their personal finances will improve in the coming year, …

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Power Breakfast: Security breach at Ga. insurer, Georgia Dome, iPhone, home prices, Aaron’s, UPS, Google

The state’s largest health insurance company has warned 70,000 Georgians that their personal medical information, Social Security numbers and credit card data may have been wrongly accessed because of a Web site security breach, AJC staffer Craig Schneider reports.

The security problem at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia is part of an even larger Web site breach of its parent company, WellPoint, which has sent warning letters to 470,000 people across the country, Schneider writes.

Information was exposed for five months, said company spokeswoman Cindy Sanders. It affected applicants under the age of 65 who were applying for individual policies.

A small number of site users were able to access private information after manipulating the Web address that people applying for insurance use to track the status of their application, she said.

Also in the AJC:

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Long-term unemployment is not going away

Sub-prime mortgages. Foreclosures. Bankruptcy. TARP.

All words that became part of our everyday conversation as the devastating financial crisis unfolded.

Michael Thurmond

Michael Thurmond

Now, unfortunately, another term will be getting a lot more use as the shakeout from this mess continues. In fact, until the economy started to add some jobs recently, the depth of this problem was masked by the overall downturn. I’m talking about long-term unemployment — a calamity that will be with us for quite some time.

There are many stats that could bring this problem home, but a few will suffice. A year ago, the long-term unemployed — those out of work for 27 weeks or longer — made up 24 percent of Georgia’s jobless. Today, it’s 47 percent and tomorrow the number will likely be higher.

More than 225,000 Georgians who are ready to work — and used to work — have not been able to find a job in more than six months. They’ve struck out — on the pavement and on the Web — for at least …

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Power Breakfast: Beverage tax passed in Baltimore, MARTA, Delta, Ga. chicken, Greek strike, Google

Is this just the first major loss by Coke, Pepsi and other beverage companies?

The industry suffered a defeat in Baltimore, where the city council passed a 2-cent tax last week on bottled drinks such as soda, water, beer and distilled spirits, AJC reporter Jeremiah McWilliams writes.

It was a rare setback for Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Dr Pepper Snapple after months of successes in beating back “soda tax” threats around the country, McWilliams reports.

The measure in Baltimore wasn’t so much about the health issues surrounding sugary drinks — the focus of some beverage-tax supporters — as it was about tight public budgets.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake pushed hard for the tax as a way to plug the city’s estimated $121 million budget deficit. A number of retailers and bottlers opposed the tax, which excludes juice and dairy drinks, McWilliams writes.

“We don’t want to lose,” said Kevin Keane, senior vice president of public affairs for the American Beverage …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Beverage tax passed in Baltimore, MARTA, Delta, Ga. chicken, Greek strike, Google »

Delinquent on your homeowner’s dues?

If you think the bank is the only one that can go after your home, think again.

Fall behind on your homeowner’s dues and your homeowners association also can go after you by placing a lien against your home or condo. As a last resort, associations can start foreclosure proceedings.

If you belong to a homeowners or condo association and have dealt with this issue, we’d like to hear about your experience.

We’d also like to hear from association board members who’ve wrestled with this problem.

Please post your comment below. Also, AJC reporter Tammy Joyner is working on a story about this and would love to hear from you. You can contact her at tjoyner@ajc.com or 404 526-5870. Thanks.

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Can BP win you back with a lower pump price?

Will you fill up at a BP pump for a lower price?

As more Americans shun BP gasoline as a form of protest over the Gulf oil spill, station owners want BP to do more to help them convince motorists that such boycotts mostly hurt independently owned businesses, not the British oil giant, Associated Press is reporting.

To win back customers, they’d like the company’s help in reducing the price at the pump.

BP owns just a fraction of the more than 11,000 stations across the U.S., AP reports. Most are owned by local businessmen whose primary connection to the oil company is the logo and a contract to buy gasoline.

In recent weeks, some station owners from Georgia to Illinois say sales have declined as much as 10 percent to 40 percent, AP reports.

Are you boycotting? Will a lower price win you back?

Is it right or not to take out your feelings about BP’s actions on independent operators?

For instant updates, follow me on …

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Power Breakfast: Another Georgia bank fails, state finances, Hartsfield, PINs, BP, G-20

Congressional leaders may have just reached a deal on financial reform, but banks keep failing in Georgia.

The latest: First National Bank of Savannah, reports AJC staffer Peralte Paul.

The bank’s tagline was, “We’re always here — like the sunrise over Savannah,” wrtes Paul. But the sun set Friday when federal regulators seized the institution.

It is the ninth Georgia-based bank to fail this year and the 39th in the state to be seized since 2008, Paul reports.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Savannah Bank, which has more than $1 billion in total assets, will assume First National’s deposits, Paul reports.

First National had $252.5 million in total assets and $231.9 million in deposits at the end of March.

The FDIC estimates the cost to its Deposit Insurance Fund will be $68.9 million.

Also in the AJC:

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Power Breakfast: No extension for jobless benefits, green jobs, airport protest, financial reform OK’d

Metro Atlantans found it tougher to get a job last month as the region’s unemployment rate inched up to 9.9 percent, the Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate failed Thursday to extend unemployment benefits to people who haven’t been able to find a job.

In Georgia, roughly 7,000 people a week lose unemployment insurance, AJC reporters Dan Chapman and Bob Keefe write.

“Those extensions were critical; they were all I had coming in,” said Chuck Mitchell, a Conyers tax adviser who received the benefits during 18 months of unemployment. “It wasn’t enough to cover my mortgage note, but every little bit helped. It definitely kept us afloat.”

U.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, Republicans from Georgia, oppose extending the benefits. All Senate Republicans vowed to filibuster any financial assistance for the jobless if it added to the federal deficit.

“If it’s paid for, I’ll support it,” Chambliss said. …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: No extension for jobless benefits, green jobs, airport protest, financial reform OK’d »

Should jobless benefits be extended?

You know the issue.

On one side, you have out-of-control federal deficits that need to be reined in.

On the other side, you have millions of unemployed workers who have not been able to find jobs because of the weak economy.

Which side are you on? Should jobless benefits be extended?

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Power Breakfast: Recession slows Atlanta’s population growth, unemployment, soda tax, BP, iPhone 4

The recession takes another victim — Atlanta’s population growth.

After years of rapid population increases, the pace of growth in the city is slowing, AJC reporter Leon Stafford writes.

Atlanta’s population increased by 0.7 percent between July 1, 2008, and July 1, 2009, to 540,921 residents, according to new numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s one of its slowest growth rates in a decade.

The recession is to blame, University of Georgia demographer Doug Bechtel told Stafford.

“From a demographic perspective, population changes in three ways: births, deaths and migration,” he said. “Since the ’60s, Atlanta’s growth has been people moving here. What has happened is that because of the recession, that migration isn’t happening as much. People are not moving around.”

Instead, he said, the increases are coming from births, which grow at a slower pace.

Also in the AJC:

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