Archive for September, 2010

New survey: Fantasy football does not sack workplace productivity

Fantasy football is not hurting employee productivity, according to a new survey of human resource pros around the country.

The majority of respondents said fantasy football had little to no impact on productivity, according to the survey released Thursday by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Ranking the level of distraction on a scale of 1 to 10 — with 1 being no noticeable impact — nearly 70 percent said four or lower. Less than 8 percent of respondents said the level of distraction rated a 7 or 8. None of the respondents felt the phenomenon deserved a 9 or 10.

“Other surveys show that people are indeed managing their fantasy teams from work. However, what we are hearing from the human resources community is that this is not at all affecting the level of output workers are expected to deliver,” John Challenger, chief executive officer of the survey company, said in a statement.

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Economic growth slows in second quarter

Two important economic numbers were just released by the government.

U.S. economic growth slowed to an annual rate of 1.7 percent in the second quarter, the commerce department said Thursday. That compared with 3.7 percent in the first quarter.

But it was a slight upward revision from the previous second-quarter estimate of 1.6 percent.

Meanwhile, initial claims for jobless benefits fell 16,000 in the latest week to 453,000, the labor department said. That puts new jobless claims back to where they were at the start of 2010, MarketWatch reported.

MarketWatch said U.S. stock futures turned modestly higher after this data was released at 8:30 a.m. because the numbers were better than expected.

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Power Breakfast: Southwest-AirTran deal, MARTA, Delta, Chinese currency, McDonald’s, financial overhaul

When the $1.4 billion Southwest-AirTran deal announced this week is completed, fliers — especially those used to AirTran — will notice plenty of changes, from the way they book to the way they board, Associated Press reported.

On fares, for example, the “Southwest effect” is well-documented — when it enters a new market, fares fall, often steeply, AP wrote.

Travelers in Atlanta should see lower fares to places where Southwest flies but AirTran does not, such as Cleveland, Louisville and Little Rock.

The article also discusses the merger’s likely effects on passengers of both companies and on smaller markets.

In the AJC:

In other media:

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Apparel company adding 150 jobs in metro Atlanta

Phillips-Van Heusen Corp., one of the world’s largest apparel companies, is relocating and expanding its current Georgia distribution operation to McDonough in Henry County — adding about 150 jobs, the governor’s office announced Wednesday.

That will bring its existing workforce to approximately 300, the news release said.

Phillips-Van Heusen, which owns and markets the Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger brands worldwide, will move from its existing facility in Austell to the 852,000-square-foot Liberty Distribution Building in McDonough. The company’s new facility will be fully automated and can accommodate an increased workforce, as well as allow for potential expansion of the distribution operations in the future, the release said.

“We look forward to establishing this new facility in McDonough, which will allow us to continue to meet the needs of our growing and expanded retail and wholesale businesses,” Kevin Urban, the company’s executive vice …

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Going after a temporary holiday job?

With unemployment still in double digits in metro Atlanta, are you more likely to go after a temporary holiday job now?

Toys R Us says it will hire about 45,000 employees to help with the holiday season, doubling its U.S. work force, Associated Press reported.

The company said it is hiring more workers than in the past three holiday seasons because of an additional 600 smaller stores located in malls and shopping centers, AP wrote. Those “pop-up” stores are called Toys R Us Express.

In metro Atlanta, Toys R Us has already added a dozen stores in malls and outlet centers, with more on the way. Other retailers and distributors also pump up hiring during the holidays.

Given how tough it is to find a job these days, will you consider temporary employment? Or will you hold out for a permanent position?

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Postponing marriage because of the economy?

The recession has changed many lives in expected and unexpected ways — from prematurely ending careers, to postponing retirement, to smaller things like going longer between dry-cleaning or hair-salon trips.

Now, new Census data says a long-term decline in marriage accelerated during the Great Recession, with more couples postponing marriage and often choosing to cohabit without tying the knot, the New York Times reports.

The nation crossed an important marital threshold in 2009, with the number of young adults who have never married surpassing — for the first time in more than a century — the number who were married, the NYT says.

“People are unsure about their job security, and a lot of people lost their jobs,” Mark Mather of the Population Reference Bureau, told the Times. “Getting married is obviously a big step and if you’re not comfortable about your future, it makes sense that you’d postpone a big decision like this.”

Will McElroy, 26, of Atlanta, has …

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Power Breakfast: Atlanta incomes hit hard, Delta union votes, Cobb budget, Georgia State law school

As the struggling economy continues to erode jobs and wealth, family incomes in Atlanta are taking a hit across the board, AJC staffer Katie Leslie reports.

In metro Atlanta, new Census data show the top 20 percent of wealthiest households lost nearly $2,000 in 2009 income, dropping to $106,712 from $108,409 in 2007.

At the same time, metro Atlanta’s poorest 20 percent of household incomes dropped from $26,466 in 2007 to $24,562 in 2009, Leslie writes.

Statewide, the top 20 percent of wealthiest households earned $94,323 in 2009, down from $95,286 in 2007, according to the ACS data. Georgia’s poorest household incomes dropped from $25,581 in 2007 to $19,272 in 2009.

Dorsey Farr, an economist with the Buckhead firm French Wolf & Farr, points to the rise in unemployment from 2007 to 2009 as a leading cause for Georgia’s household income declines.

“We did have a fairly large unemployment problem when [the 2009 data] was captured. If your wage goes from any level to …

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Worried about career bust?

Tens of thousands of metro Atlantans over 55 have been especially hard-hit by the recession and ensuing weak recovery, AJC staffer Dan Chapman reports.

The jobless rate for over-55 Americans hit 7.3 percent in August — a level not seen in at least 60 years of federal record-keeping.

The unemployment rate for older workers is lower than the overall rate, but it has risen faster this recession than for any other age group, Chapman writes.

And no other cadre stays unemployed as long as older Americans, who in many cases have deeper financial obligations and less time than younger workers to regroup from the loss of steady income, Chapman reports.

Those lucky enough to find work are unlikely to make what they previously earned, further crimping a once-comfortable retirement scenario.

Are you in this group? What has your job-hunting experience been? Think your age has gotten in the way of landing a job?

Do you have any good tips?

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Battling other states for biotech companies

We have the brains and desire. But not the money or history.

Bottom line: Georgia is second-tier when it comes to attracting biotech firms – and our image is lower than that.

Mike Cassidy

Mike Cassidy

The straight-forward assessment comes from none other than Mike Cassidy, president and CEO of the Georgia Research Alliance, who is charged with turning around the situation – despite heavyweight competition from states like California, Massachusetts and North Carolina.

“We need to get our image consistent with reality. We are scientifically sophisticated,” Cassidy, 56, said during a recent interview. “But when I say Silicon Valley or Route 128 [outside Boston], you know what I’m talking about. If I say Georgia, the man on the street doesn’t associate it with a high-tech economy.”

That’s partly because of the decades of head start those other areas received during World War II, when the federal government tapped top research universities like Stanford and MIT, Cassidy said. …

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Power Breakfast: Southwest-AirTran merger, boomer career bust, MARTA cuts, Fed, BlackBerry tablet

The big business story of the day — by far — was Monday’s announcement of the Southwest-AirTran combo.

AJC staffer and former airline beat reporter Russell Grantham provides some good perspective. He writes:

A little over seven years ago, AirTran Airways’ chief executive stood before cheering employees and Atlanta’s mayor to do a little chest-thumping.

Even as Delta Air Lines and other competitors were still struggling with the post-9/11 recession, then-CEO Joe Leonard announced that AirTran was ordering potentially more than 100 new jets in a bid to supercharge its growth.

“We think we can put our business model where we want it, and there’s not much our competitors can do about it,” said Leonard.

Well, except one competitor, as it turns out.

The $3.4 billion deal Southwest Airlines announced to acquire AirTran is largely aimed at rescuing both carriers from dwindling growth opportunities without igniting a damaging fare war, say some industry analysts.

The …

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