Archive for April, 2011

Power Breakfast: Dealing with air traffic controller fatigue, oil and gas prices, U.S. debt, GM, China

How do you deal with worker fatigue — especially if the workers have other lives in their hands like air traffic controllers?

Despite several recent incidents of controllers suspected of sleeping on duty, they won’t be allowed to schedule naps into their work shifts to mitigate fatigue, AJC reporter Marcus Garner writes. Their union floated that idea.

“We don’t pay people to sleep at work at the FAA,” the agency’s top administrator, Randy Babbitt, told Atlanta controllers Monday, echoing words Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood used earlier in the day. “I don’t know anybody that pays people to sleep at work.”

Babbitt told several dozen controllers at the FAA’s Terminal Radar Approach Control center in Peachtree City that, even if the rules allowed controllers to schedule naps during shifts, professionalism would not, Garner writes.

At the same time, Babbitt introduced new work rules designed to address the problem of fatigue, Garner reports.  One …

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Georgia unemployment falls to 10 percent in March

Georgia’s unemployment rate fell to 10 percent in March — down from a revised 10.2 percent in February, the state labor department said Monday.

The state’s jobless rate was also 10.2 percent a year ago.

“The drop in the unemployment rate is encouraging, but I’m more pleased that we’ve now had two consecutive months of job growth, coupled with fewer layoffs,” state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a statement. “It appears that employers are growing more confident that our economy is improving.”

There were 3,812,700 payroll jobs in March — up four-tenths of a percentage point from February, the labor department said.

Sixty percent of the new jobs were added in leisure and hospitality, including 7,000 at eating and drinking establishments. Jobs were also added in manufacturing, wholesale electronic equipment, design of computer systems, transportation and warehousing, educational services, and administrative and support services.

Also, 50,331 laid-off workers …

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Best bosses’ secret? Show some respect

Dear CEOs and HR execs:

There should no longer be any excuses. This special section provides plenty of information on how to treat employees the right way for the right reasons.

The survey results indicate that the cost is little. Pay and benefits are clearly less important to most metro Atlanta employees than intangibles like appreciation and strong leadership.

Employee comments like, “0ur opinions are solicited, and our ideas are implemented,” are one of the reasons these organizations stand out.

Does yours? If not, what can you do to change things? Unfortunately, many workplaces need to change.

I hear from workers all the time, in e-mails about my columns and postings on my blog. The overall picture they paint is not a pretty one.

It’s in line with what Woodward Academy dean Anthony Thomas told section writer Mike Tierney: “You’d be surprised how many people in corporate America who make twice as much as me would trade places.”

Precisely.

Many employees …

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How would you change our tax system?

If you were king or queen and could change the tax system today — Tax Day — how would you do it?

The super rich pay a lot less taxes than they did a couple of decades ago, Associated Press reports.

The Internal Revenue Service tracks the tax returns with the 400 highest adjusted gross incomes each year, AP writes. The average income on those returns in 2007 was nearly $345 million. Their average federal income tax rate was 17 percent — down from 26 percent in 1992, AP reports.

Over the same period, the average federal income tax rate for all taxpayers declined to 9.3 percent from 9.9 percent, AP writes.

The top income tax rate is 35 percent, so many people enjoy a variety of tax breaks, AP reports. There are so many breaks that 45 percent of U.S. households will pay no federal income tax for 2010, according to estimates by the Tax Policy Center, a Washington think tank.

How would you make it better?

Some advocate a national sales tax that would replace much or all of …

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Power Breakfast: Transit projects in your future, gas prices, air traffic controllers, taxes, debt ceiling

For the first time, there’s a wish list that reflects metro Atlanta thinking as a region when it comes to transportation, AJC reporter Ariel Hart writes.

Local governments had until March 30 to submit their wish lists. The Atlanta Regional Commission put them together in one batch of 436 projects, and handed the list over to the state transportation planning director for his review, Hart writes. In summer, a regional group will choose the final projects.

The pool of projects submitted Friday is far from final, Hart writes. It still must endure state scrutiny and debate on the regional level before it is cut to an affordable size and goes to voters, who will decide whether the projects are worth a 1-cent sales tax for a decade. That tax could raise $8 billion, Hart reports.

Metro Atlanta commuters won’t know until this fall which projects make the final list for the 2012 referendum.

If you hit this link you will go to a list of some of the projects.

Hart tells me …

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What’s your take on the current job market?

How do you see the current job market? Changing for the better as some economists say it is or still stuck in neutral?

I’m asking because there are two important stories today focusing on long-term unemployment.

Jobless Americans who haven’t found work in at least 27 weeks represent one of the more pernicious legacies of the Great Recession, AJC reporter Dan Chapman writes.

In Georgia, 51.3 percent of  jobless have unsuccessfully sought work for at least six months, Chapman reports. Only South Carolina (51.8 percent) and New Jersey (51.4 percent) post a higher percentage of long-term unemployed. And only New Jersey surpasses Georgia for the percentage of jobless unable to find work after a year’s search, Chapman writes.

Meanwhile, more than 22,000 Georgians who were in danger of losing extended unemployment benefits beginning in June will continue to receive them thanks to last-minute action by the legislature, AJC reporter Christopher Quinn writes.

The extended …

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Power Breakfast: State tax breaks for some businesses, immigration, jobless benefits, transportation, pilots

Lawmakers this year weren’t able to overhaul the state’s tax system, but that didn’t stop them from handing out tax breaks to some businesses before the 2011 legislative session ended Thursday, AJC reporter James Salzer writes.

The House gave final approval to a bill that would continue a sales tax break for customers of companies such as Gulfstream that refurbish high-priced private jets, Salzer reports.

Tacked onto that bill was a costly measure to give a sales tax break to businesses that build certain tourist attractions, entertainment centers, marinas, golf courses, hotel and conference centers, auto racetracks, and Georgia crafts and products centers, Salzer writes.

And lawmakers alsopassed an extension of a fuel tax break for Delta Air Lines before they ended the session, Salzer reports.

Also in the AJC:

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Most dangerous jobs in America

The most dangerous job in America has more to do with putting food on your table than saving your life, according to a new analysis of federal statistics by the Daily Beast news website.

“Police officers and firefighters are everyday heroes, but it may be time to recognize farmers and fishermen, as well,” the Daily Beast writes.

In fact, fishermen were engaged in the most dangerous job, with 200 fatalities per 100,000 full-time workers and 800 injuries per 100,000 full-time workers, the Daily Beast said.

For many jobs, the Daily Beast said, “the greatest occupational hazard is literally getting to work. Fishermen must deal with the prospect of becoming lost at sea or falling overboard; farmers face heavy-equipment accidents; roofers are always a fall away from death.”

Firefighting, of course, is extremely dangerous, too. It came in second on the list, with 4.4 fatalities per 100,000 full-time workers and 11,600 injuries per 100,000 full-time workers.

You may disagree …

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Power Breakfast: Hartsfield helps metro area capture headquarters, foreclosures, immigration, job openings

Once again, Hartsfield-Jackson helps the metro area score an economic victory — or two.

Two foreign companies said they will move operations to metro Atlanta, creating more than 200 jobs between them, AJC reporter Leon Stafford writes.

Leaders at both companies cited the convenience of getting anywhere in the world via Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport as a factor in their decisions, Stafford reports.

Reliance Worldwide Corp., a maker of valve controls used in water heater systems, said it is moving its headquarters from Australia to metro Atlanta to be closer to customers in the U.S. market, Stafford writes.

Health Lean Logistics, based in Barcelona, Spain, is making metro Atlanta its U.S. headquarters. Health Lean is a unit of Gesaworld Group and manages the consumption and supply of materials in healthcare facilities, Stafford reports.

Each company expects to create more than 100 jobs in Atlanta with the moves, Stafford writes.

Also in the AJC:

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Will young professionals continue to choose Atlanta?

Young professionals have been moving into the city of Atlanta by the thousands, transforming abandoned warehouses into lofts, vacant lots into dog parks and communities long in decline into neighborhoods of choice, AJC reporter Craig Schneider writes.

Atlanta is on the leading edge of a national trend: Since 2000, neighborhoods within three miles of downtown Atlanta have seen a 61 percent surge in residents aged 25 to 34 who have at least a four-year degree, according to U.S. Census figures.

What about the future? Here are a few questions –

Given the economic slowdown of the past few years, do you think this will continue or stall?

A lot of the young professionals do not have kids yet. When they do, will they move to the suburbs like past generations did or stay intown? Will the recent problems in Atlanta Public Schools affect that decision?

Finally, will increasing traffic congestion and higher gas prices help to solidify this trend?

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

For …

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