Archive for June, 2011

Power Breakfast: Telephone ‘town hall’ on transit, metro foreclosure notices fall, lower gas prices, state taxes

You may want to pay close attention to your phone this week because you could be getting a call that might affect $8 billion in tax money, AJC writer Aaron Edwards reports.

Starting this week, the Atlanta Regional Commission will hold a series of “telephone town halls” that will reach out to more than 1 million metro residents for feedback on proposed projects aimed at bringing traffic relief, Edwards writes. The ARC’s effort — the largest public outreach in the region’s history — is just one of the methods that will gauge opinions ahead of the vote.

Opinions gathered from the hourlong town halls will be taken into account when the Atlanta Regional Roundtable, a group of regional officials, chooses a final list of transportation projects for the referendum set for July 31, 2012, Edwards reports. Metro Atlantans will then be called on to decide whether they want the projects — and the 1 percent sales tax to pay for them.

Suggested projects range from grander …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Telephone ‘town hall’ on transit, metro foreclosure notices fall, lower gas prices, state taxes »

Metro foreclosure notices fall in June to lowest level in 30 months

Foreclosure notices in metro Atlanta fell 23 percent in June from May — to the lowest level since December 2008, according to new data released Monday by Equity Depot.

The 7,374 notices represent a 33 percent drop from June 2010, Kennesaw-based Equity Depot said.

Barry Bramlett

Barry Bramlett

For the first half of the year, notices in the 13-county metro area declined 8 percent compared to the same period last year, which set a metro record. June was the fourth consecutive month when the number of foreclosure notices was less than during the same month in 2010.

“The number of new listings are decreasing substantially, which can only be seen as good news,” Barry Bramlett, president of Equity Depot, said in a statement.

In fact, he said, about two-thirds of the foreclosure notices published this month were for properties that had been advertised for foreclosure previously. Notices printed this month are for auctions on the courthouse steps set for next month. But, as in past months, lenders …

Continue reading Metro foreclosure notices fall in June to lowest level in 30 months »

Companies are spending on machines, not workers

There’s an interesting story today from the New York Times about companies spending their money on machines instead of hiring workers.

Workers are getting more expensive while equipment is getting cheaper, the NYT writes.

Two years into the recovery, hiring is still painfully slow, the Times writes. The economy is producing as much as it was before the downturn — but with 7 million fewer jobs, the Times reports.

Since the recovery began, business spending on employees has grown 2 percent, the Times says, citing Commerce Department data. But equipment and software spending has increased 26 percent.

A capital rebound that sharp and a labor rebound that slow have been recorded only once before — after the 1982 recession, the Times writes.

And, the paper says, these trends are likely to continue because equipment prices are dropping and tax incentives are subsidizing capital investments.

“Firms are just responding to incentives,” Dean Maki, chief United States …

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Power Breakfast: Piedmont Healthcare cutting jobs, referendum, military baggage fees, foreclosures, Aaron’s

Piedmont Healthcare announced Thursday evening plans to cut 464 jobs as part of an effort to save an estimated $68 million, AJC writer Misty Williams reports.

Totaling roughly 5 percent of its workforce, the cuts include 171 positions that were vacant or altered because of scheduling changes, Williams writes. Layoffs are coming from across the board, including Piedmont’s four hospitals, physicians group, heart institute and corporate division, spokeswoman Nina Day said.

“This is heart-wrenching,” Day told Williams. “This is not easy stuff when you’re talking about people.”

The move is, in part, a reaction to hurdles many hospitals are facing, including a growing number of uninsured patients, a new state hospital bed tax, anticipated cuts to Medicare reimbursements and the Medicaid expansion in 2014, Day said.

“We do have a positive bottom line,” she said. “We would like to keep it that way for the sake of our patients.”

Also in the AJC:

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Piedmont Healthcare cutting jobs, referendum, military baggage fees, foreclosures, Aaron’s »

Without rail, how would you vote on transportation referendum?

I have an important question for you.

AJC writer Ariel Hart is reporting that metro commuters hoping that a transportation sales tax on the ballot next year will bring train service far into the suburbs may be out of luck.

Some of the highest-profile projects proposed for the 1 percent sales tax may not be capable of completion by the time the tax ends in 10 years, weakening their chances for inclusion in the referendum, Hart writes. Potential projects include rail into Cobb and Gwinnett, and across the top end of I-285.

In a later development this morning, Hart is reporting that MARTA heavy rail from Lindbergh to Emory University or train lines to Turner Field or the Beltline streetcar could be up and running if the tax is approved.

Will you be more or less likely to vote for the tax if rail is included? How much more or less likely? Why?

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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Power Breakfast: Rail’s hurdle to make transportation list, Delta, health reform, Aaron’s, OPEC, debt ceiling

Metro commuters who hope that a 10-year transportation sales tax on the ballot next year will bring them train service far into the suburbs in the next decade may be out of luck, AJC reporter Ariel Hart writes.

Some of the highest-profile projects proposed for a transportation sales tax may not be capable of completion by the time the tax ends, weakening their chances for inclusion in the referendum, Hart reports. While the projects are not disqualified, if they cannot be finished before the tax ends they will be less attractive to voters.

Local advocates for major transit lines — rail — into Cobb and Gwinnett, and across the top end of I-285, said state analysts told them preliminarily that those lines likely could not be complete and running by the end of the tax’s 10-year period, Hart reports. The project advocates emphasized that the state had not finalized its report and did not draw absolute conclusions, Hart writes.

In 2012, the 10-county Atlanta region will …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Rail’s hurdle to make transportation list, Delta, health reform, Aaron’s, OPEC, debt ceiling »

New study: Many will have to work into their 70s and 80s to afford retirement

Planning to work until you’re in your 70s? Unfortunately, you still may not have enough money to retire on.

That’s according to a new study by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute.

If Baby Boomers and Gen Xers delay their retirement past the age of 65, many of them still will not have adequate income to cover their basic retirement expenses and uninsured health care costs, EBRI said in the study.

Even if a worker delays his or her retirement age into their 80s, there is still a chance the household will be “at risk” of running short of money in retirement, the study said.

But, the chance of success in retirement improves significantly as individuals reach their late 70s and early 80s, EBRI found.

A major factor is whether workers are participating in a 401(k) or similar plan after the age of 65.

“Our research finds that many people may have to delay retirement far beyond age 65 to increase the probability that they have enough money to cover their …

Continue reading New study: Many will have to work into their 70s and 80s to afford retirement »

Help available for Atlanta homeowners facing foreclosure

With foreclosures still at super-high levels in metro Atlanta, here’s an event that might help some homeowners at risk of losing their houses.

A free “Help for Homeowners” event on June 17 and 18 will give homeowners a chance to meet with their mortgage company and a government-approved counseling agency to try to work out a solution and avoid foreclosure.

The event is being sponsored by the federal government’s Making Home Affordable Program, HOPE NOW Alliance and NeighborWorks America.

It will take place at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park.

On Friday, June 17, help will be available from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

On Saturday, June 18, the sessions will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information on the government’s program, including what documents to bring, please go to the link provided here.

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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Power Breakfast: Delta moving jobs to Atlanta, Bernanke in Atlanta, pensions, health care, solar power

There are two interesting Delta developments in the news today — one on jobs and the other on customer satisfaction.

First, Associated Press reports that Delta Air Lines plans to consolidate some operations now in Minneapolis to Atlanta, but will offer jobs to everyone in Minnesota who is willing to relocate.

In a letter to employees on Tuesday, CEO Richard Anderson said the moves will save money as fuel prices have risen sharply this year. The number of jobs affected was not disclosed, AP writes.

The company plans to move training centers for flight attendants and pilots in Minneapolis to Atlanta, AP reports. The company also plans to move engineering and technical support teams from Minneapolis to Atlanta.

Meanwhile, AJC reporter Kelly Yamanouchi writes that Delta fell a notch in a closely-watched ranking of airlines based on customer satisfaction.

Delta fell to the No. 5 spot in a ranking of “traditional network carriers” by J.D. Power and Associates in its 2011 …

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Bernanke to speak in Atlanta today

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will be in Atlanta today to talk about the economy.

He is scheduled to deliver a speech to the International Monetary Conference at the Ritz-Carlton in Buckhead, MarketWatch reports. Bernanke is slated to speak at 3:45 p.m., MarketWatch says.

In light of the weak unemployment numbers that came out Friday, the key question is how gloomy he will be, MarketWatch says. Chances are, the central banker isn’t going to be waving pom-poms but won’t be crying, either, MarketWatch writes.

“I don’t think we are going to hear alarm bells,” Yelena Shulyatyeva, an economist for BNP Paribas in New York, told MarketWatch. “He may talk about recent weakness as being transitory or temporary.”

Bernanke will take questions after his prepared remarks conclude, MarketWatch says.

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

Continue reading Bernanke to speak in Atlanta today »