Archive for October, 2010

New survey: Economy to grow at slower pace

The U.S. economy should continue to grow this year, though forecasters have lowered their expectations about the pace of recovery, according to a new survey reported by the Associated Press.

The National Association for Business Economics survey, set to be released Monday, found that economists have become more cautious in the third quarter, AP wrote. Fifty-four percent expect growth of more than 2 percent in 2010 — down from 67 percent in a similar survey last quarter.

Still, the economists saw improvement in a number of areas, AP said.

“The U.S. recovery from the Great Recession continues, with business conditions improving,” said William Strauss, an economist and adviser at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago who helped conduct analysis for the report.

Demand and profit margins continued to grow in the quarter, AP wrote. The survey showed better margins for the services, goods-producing, finance, insurance and real estate businesses. Margins stagnated in the …

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Power Breakfast: Trauma centers, Ga. bank failures, Vine City, Coke, Obama, Web profiling

AJC reporter Carrie Teegardin has an interesting story about the “corridor of death” — the South Georgia segment of I-75 leading to Florida’s beaches — and what’s being proposed to deal with it.

The stretch of road earned the name because people who get in car crashes in much of South Georgia are at least 50 miles from a trauma center – a hospital equipped to handle serious injuries, Teegardin writes.

Georgia voters will decide on Nov. 2 whether they want to add $10 to the cost of annual vehicle registrations to improve trauma services statewide. Hospitals, emergency services workers and public health officials say the $80 million that would be raised every year by passage of Amendment 2 is needed to save lives, Teegardin reports.

Georgia has 17 hospitals designated as trauma centers, short of the 25 to 30 centers that public health officials say the state needs, Teegardin  writes.

Trauma-related injuries – usually the result of car crashes, falls and work accidents …

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Seeing a change in the labor market?

Virtually every group is taking it on the chin in this economy — older workers, younger workers, blue-collar, white-collar, men and now — women.

AJC reporter Dan Chapman writes that women are catching up to men when it comes to unemployment.

In Georgia, the unemployment gap has narrowed, with 9.2 percent of women unemployed last year, about a percentage point below male unemployment, Chapman writes.

In the past year, as male unemployment has dipped significantly, the female jobless rate has barely shifted, according to the labor department.

For black women, unemployment stands at 14 percent, Chapman reports. Single women who “maintain families” are nearly twice as likely to visit the unemployment office as men who are married with a spouse.

Clearly, the labor market has not been kind to anyone. Long-term unemployment, for example, is getting worse, with 50.7 percent of the jobless in Georgia now out of work for at least 27 weeks.

What are you experiencing? Can you share a …

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Power Breakfast: AirTran and pilots reach new labor deal, unemployment, Gwinnett indictment, UPS, NCR, G-P, France

There’s good news on the labor front. After more than five years of negotiations, AirTran Airways and its pilots union reached a tentative agreement on a new labor contract, AJC reporter Kelly Yamanouchi writes.

The deal includes improvements in pay, benefits and productivity for AirTran pilots, though neither the company nor the union released details, Yamanhouchi says. It is subject to approval by the AirTran pilots union’s leadership and members and would take effect Dec. 1, AirTran spokesman Tad Hutcheson said.

Hutcheson said the company is pleased that it has reached an agreement “that will reward our pilots for their hard work while still allowing AirTran to maintain our low cost structure.” The company is also in contract negotiations with its flight attendants.

The agreement comes on the heels of  Southwest Airlines’ announced plan to buy AirTran, which has its largest hub in Atlanta, Yamanouchi writes. About 1,500 of its 1,700 pilots are based at the …

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Feeling more secure when flying?

Heading home for the holidays will, for many air travelers, contain new hurdles, Associated Press is reporting.

New measures aimed at thwarting potential terrorists include the growing presence of body scanners that take overly detailed images of the human frame, AP writes. One model that uses X-rays has raised health worries, but security needs have trumped those concerns, AP reports.

Also, the Secure Flight program is a behind-the-scenes effort by the TSA to better match potential terrorists with watch lists. The program requires airlines to collect a passenger’s full name, birth date and gender at booking. Passengers that don’t provide that information at least 72 hours before a flight won’t be issued a boarding pass, AP reports.

Do you feel more secure with these efforts? Is it worth the extra hassle and cost?

Or do you think it’s too time-consuming or intrusive, given the measures already in place?

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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Have you switched from selling to remodeling your home?

The silver lining in residential real estate appears to be home remodeling.

As some home builders across metro Atlanta sat idle this summer, many home remodelers were busier than ever, AJC staffer Michelle Shaw reports.

The deteriorating housing market, and the credit crunch that started it all, left many homeowners who had wanted to trade up looking for a way to make their old spaces new.

But some remodelers have doubts that their good fortune will hold up in these tough times.

Do you think they will? Are you remodeling or thinking about doing it? Have you given up trying to sell?

If you’re a building trades worker or employer, have you switched from new construction to the remodeling game?

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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Power Breakfast: Airline industry rebounding, Ga. jobless rate, Gwinnett indictment, GM Doraville, AT&T, Toyota

The airline industry is picking up steam.

Rebounding travel demand — especially among business and international fliers — is boosting the bottom line at Delta and other big carriers, AJC staffer Kelly Yamanouchi reports.

Atlanta-based Delta, along with American Airlines and US Airways, on Wednesday posted sharply improved third quarter earnings as well as double-digit revenue gains, Yamanouchi writes.

Delta logged a profit of $363 million, or 43 cents a share, reversing a loss of $161 million, or 19 cents a share, a year earlier.

The company said its profit would have been nearly three times that, $929 million, were it not for one-time charges to reduce debt, ground some regional jets at subsidiary Comair and lingering expenses from its merger with Northwest Airlines, Yamanouchi reports.

Delta President Ed Bastian said the airline sees strong demand through the holidays. Corporate travel has increased and revenue is especially strong in international markets, he …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Airline industry rebounding, Ga. jobless rate, Gwinnett indictment, GM Doraville, AT&T, Toyota »

Georgia unemployment stuck at 10 percent in September

Georgia’s unemployment rate remained at 10 percent in September, the state labor department reported Thursday.

September was the 36th consecutive month that Georgia has exceeded the national unemployment rate, which is currently 9.6 percent, the labor department said.

“Our state’s job market remains weak and employers have not resumed hiring at a pace necessary for recovery,” Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond said in a statement. “Employers are hesitant to commit to the financial risks associated with hiring and training new employees in an uncertain economy.”

Although the unemployment rate was unchanged from August, the number of payroll jobs decreased two-tenths of a percentage point in September to total 3,813,800, the labor department said.

The persistent problem of long-term unemployment got worse in September. There were 236,600 unemployed Georgians who have been out of work for at least 27 weeks, the labor department said. This represents an increase of 66 percent …

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Got a solution for the end of free checking?

What’s your banking strategy as free checking becomes extinct?

The days when you could walk into a bank branch and open an account with no charges or strings attached appear to be over, Associated Press is reporting. Now you have to jump through hoops — keep a high balance, use direct deposit or swipe your debit card several times a month.

One new account at Bank of America charges $8.95 per month if you want to bank with a teller or get a paper statement, AP writes.

Are you switching banks to try to avoid fees?

Are credit unions a better option? Your mattress?

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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Power Breakfast: Atlanta hedge fund accused of bilking investors, mental health, TSA, Coke, Home Depot

The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged two metro Atlanta hedge fund managers, their company and the fund with defrauding investors in 2005 by overvaluing investments to hide losses while diverting millions for their own use, AJC staffer Scott Trubey reports.

An attorney for Paul T. Mannion Jr. and Andrew S. Reckles denied the charges and said investors were not harmed.

Mannion, 48, of Norcross, and Reckles, 40, of Milton, ran PEF Advisors, whose main fund was Palisades Master Fund LP. They are accused of putting the stock of a now-defunct Pennsylvania company into a so-called “side pocket,” a place for hedge funds to stow devalued, low volume stocks to help avoid heavy losses, Trubey reports.

Side pockets are legal, but the SEC alleges Mannion and Reckles overvalued the stock in order to charge excessive fees, Trubey writes. They also improperly borrowed $2 million from the Palisades fund to finance personal investments, and stole and exercised stock …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Atlanta hedge fund accused of bilking investors, mental health, TSA, Coke, Home Depot »