Archive for July, 2010

Does delay of white iPhone 4 signal larger issue for Apple?

Another black eye for Apple?

The company says the white version of the iPhone 4 will not be available until later this year, Associated Press is reporting.

Apple had originally said the phones would be available in late July.

Apple says the white gadgets have been more difficult to manufacture than expected, AP writes. It did not say when the white models will be available.

The company says the black models, which went on sale in late June, are not affected, AP reports.

Given the previous antenna problem — and the strong criticism — do you think Apple is being overly cautious? Correctly transparent?

After years with a golden reputation, is Apple losing its touch?

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Continue reading Does delay of white iPhone 4 signal larger issue for Apple? »

Entering or skipping the housing market this summer?

Home prices fell in metro Atlanta last month, but sales ticked up.

Are you poised to enter the market before the summer ends? Or will you stay on the sidelines?

The median sales price of an existing home in Atlanta declined 2 percent in June from May, and 5 percent from a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors. But the number of houses sold rose 2.3 percent, writes AJC reporter Michelle Shaw.

On the buy side: Prices are low and mortgage rates are real low.

On the do-nothing side: The tax credit is gone and the economy is still sputtering.

Which side are you on?

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Power Breakfast: More state cuts on way, UPS, SunTrust, MARTA, home sales, bank bonuses

More state jobs cuts are on the way.

Gov. Sonny Perdue ordered already slimmed-down Georgia agencies this week to take another 4 percent spending cut starting in August because the state’s new budget relies on federal stimulus money that may never come, AJC staffer James Salzer reports.

Perdue exempted K-12 schools from the latest cut, but not the university system. It will affect  agencies that hand out driver’s licenses, educate college students and run parks, prisons and health care programs that cover more than a 1 million Georgians. Those agencies employ about 90,000 people, Salzer writes.

The move, which will save the state $25.5 million per month, is a preemptive one, the governor’s office told Salzer. Congress could still come through with the stimulus money before the end of the year. But it’s far from certain.

Perdue and lawmakers approved a budget for this fiscal year, which began July 1, that counted on about $375 million in extra federal Medicaid …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: More state cuts on way, UPS, SunTrust, MARTA, home sales, bank bonuses »

Top employees in Atlanta can expect 3.9% raise

Top-performing employees in Atlanta can expect an average salary increase of 3.9 percent this year — slightly higher than the national average, according to a new survey.

A WorldatWork survey of U.S. employers found an average hike of 2.5 percent for all employees — but the size of the raise changes when an employee’s performance is factored in.

Low performers can expect to see minimal increases of up to 0.7 percent — or nothing at all, according to the survey of nearly 2,500 respondents representing 15.5 million employees.

Middle performers can expect a base pay raise of 2.4 percent. And high performers nationally can expect an average increase of 3.7 percent.

Surveyed employers reported that about 24 percent of employees are rated as high performers, while most are classified as middle performers.

San Jose led the pack in pay raises for top performers, with a 4.1 percent increase.

Meanwhile, in another survey, Atlanta moved up to the fourth-best city for college grads, …

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Power Breakfast: Hotels join forces to compete, jobless rate jumps, water war, AirTran, Coke, financial reform

Several Atlanta hotels that normally compete for business are now joining forces to attract customers, AJC reporter Leon Stafford writes.

The hotels are combining rooms, meeting space and restaurants into packages they pitch to meeting planners looking to bring group business to the city, Stafford reports. By offering big blocks of meeting space and rooms, the partners can go after business that books one or two years in advance and compete with convention centers in smaller cities.

“What we realized is we need to fill in the blanks,” Mike Sullivan, marketing director at the Omni at CNN Center, told Stafford.

“It helps us compete against places like Opryland in Nashville or smaller convention cities like Cincinnati,” said Pat Trammel, senior director of sales and marketing for the downtown Hyatt Regency.

The strategy is important to Atlanta’s $11 billion hospitality industry. Hotel occupancy has rebounded for the first six months of the year after suffering …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Hotels join forces to compete, jobless rate jumps, water war, AirTran, Coke, financial reform »

Metro Atlanta unemployment jumps to 10.3 percent

Metro Atlanta’s unemployment rate shot up to 10.3 percent in June, from 9.8 percent in May, the state labor department said Thursday.

The number of unemployed workers in the metro area increased to 273,405 in June — up 12,568, the labor department reported.

“A sharp increase in the number of discouraged workers, rising long-term unemployment, increased new layoffs and anemic job growth suggests that the fledgling economic recovery may be losing steam,” state Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond said in a statement.

In June, 31,434 laid off workers in metro Atlanta filed initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits — an increase of 12 percent. At the same time, the number of payroll jobs fell by 1,000 to 2,268,500.

Last week, the labor department said the state’s unemployment rate declined to 10 percent in June, from 10.1 percent  in May. It was the 33rd consecutive month Georgia’s rate has exceeded the national unemployment rate, which is now 9.5 percent.

Continue reading Metro Atlanta unemployment jumps to 10.3 percent »

Do you support extension of jobless benefits?

The Senate is poised to pass legislation restoring jobless benefits for millions of people unable to find work, Associated Press reports.

Wednesday’s vote comes after the Democratic-controlled Senate voted 60-40 Tuesday to move ahead on the bill.

At issue are payments averaging $309 a week for almost 5 million people, AP writes.

In Georgia, 49 percent of the jobless have been unemployed for 27 weeks or longer, according to the state labor department.

Does this extension affect you? How?

Is this the right move? On one side, there are those who believe it’s important to keep this safety net from shredding, as many families struggle to keep afloat. Others believe the out-of-control federal deficit should be the priority. What do you say?

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Power Breakfast: Extending jobless benefits, governor’s race, Pepsi and Coke, housing, BP, Fed chief

It looks like it’s going to be a big day for jobless benefits.

The Senate cleared the way Tuesday for more unemployment pay to reach millions of Americans who have been out of work for six months or more, the New York Times reports.

Minutes after Carte P. Goodwin was sworn in as the new Democratic senator from West Virginia to replace the late Robert Byrd, the Senate voted 60 to 40 to break a partisan logjam and end debate over the jobless pay, the Times writes. That overrided Republican objections that the $34 billion cost of the additional compensation should not be added to the deficit.

The Senate must still give final approval to the unemployment bill, though the procedural victory assured passage as early as Wednesday, the Times reports. The House was expected to give quick final approval followed by the signature of President Obama.

In the AJC:

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Extending jobless benefits, governor’s race, Pepsi and Coke, housing, BP, Fed chief »

Power Breakfast: Delta turns around finances, election, airport, cola wars, jobless benefits, Toyota

It’s quite a turnaround from bankruptcy.

Delta Air Lines posted its best quarterly result in 10 years — a $467 million profit for the second quarter, AJC staffer Kelly Yamanouchi reports.

And the carrier expects the black ink to continue as business travel slowly recovers.

The profit compared to a loss of $257 million a year earlier. Excluding one-time charges related partly to Delta’s merger with Northwest Airlines, the profit was $549 million, Yamanouchi writes.

Executives said they expect the Atlanta-based airline to be “solidly profitable” in the current quarter and to post a full-year profit, the company’s first since 2007.

Also in the AJC:

In other …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Delta turns around finances, election, airport, cola wars, jobless benefits, Toyota »

Georgia Lottery chief goes after next big game

Georgia Lottery chief Margaret DeFrancisco tries to stay ahead of the pack.

Margaret DeFrancisco

Margaret DeFrancisco

In the lottery’s sprawling downtown offices, DeFrancisco wheels around on a kid’s scooter with a bell on the handlebars so she can avoid “close calls” with the walking crowd. And with the pressure mounting as demand for lottery revenue for HOPE scholarships and pre-k outstrips its growth, she’s searching for new sources of money.

Down the road, DeFrancisco said, don’t be surprised if interactive lottery games appear on one of your mobile devices. A national drawing, possibly one big pop a year with a huge payoff, also has been talked about among lottery chiefs around the country, she said.

Oops. DeFrancisco then clammed up during our interview last week.

“I’m way out there. I’m probably on a limb and I’m probably sawing it,” said DeFrancisco, president of the lottery industry’s trade group.

Last week, the Georgia Lottery reported a 12th straight year of …

Continue reading Georgia Lottery chief goes after next big game »