Archive for April, 2012

Report: Stock trading via Facebook coming

Let’s say you want to buy shares in ACME Corp. and don’t want to pay a fee or go through a discount brokerage firm.

 Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (AP)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (AP)

Facebook, which will become publicly traded soon, will allow ACME and thousands of other companies to offer their stock through their company Facebook page by June, according to a Business Insider report.

The transactions will be free to the investor, with no brokers involved, the website reported, citing a former Facebook executive appearing at an Ad Age digital conference.

Chris Kelly, a former Facebook chief privacy officer and now a director at Loyal3, said there will be a $2,500-a-month cap on investments to deter day traders. Loyal3 has developed a platform for buying and selling stock.

According to Business Insider and other market speculation, Facebook’s initial public offering could come toward the latter part of May and the company could have a valuation of at least $100 billion.

Continue reading Report: Stock trading via Facebook coming »

New $60 LED bulb for Earth Day

60 Dollar Light Bulb

The new Philips bulb (AP photo)

Are you willing to pay $60 for a light bulb that promises to last up to 20 years?

Philips Lighting North America, which won a federal competition last year to come up with the most efficient possible replacement for the classic 60-watt incandescent bulb, is timing the sale of its new 10-watt LED bulb for Earth Day this Sunday.

The L Prize LED bulb is named for the $10 million U.S. Department of Energy prize that Philips won. The bulb, which has a three-year warranty, should last up to 30,000 hours or 20 years, for example, if left on four hours a day.

Homeowners and industries have been moving away from the classic light bulb to LED or compact fluorescent bulbs, which are more expensive but save more in energy costs over time.

The L Prize bulb  gives off more and better light using much less energy than current incandescent and LED bulbs. The Philips bulb is more efficient than a 12.5 watt bulb Philips currently sells as a replacement …

Continue reading New $60 LED bulb for Earth Day »

Georgia’s jobless rate falls for 8th consecutive month

Georgia’s unemployment rate dropped in March for the eighth straight month, falling to the lowest level since February 2009, the state labor department said Thursday.

The state’s jobless rate declined to 9 percent in March, from 9.1 percent in February and 9.8 percent a year ago.

State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler was encouraged that the rate has been falling “as the number of people in the labor force steadily increased. This indicates a growing optimism among unemployed workers that they will be able to land a job.”

Still, Georgia’s jobless rate continues to lag the national rate, which is 8.2 percent.

In March, the number of jobs in Georgia increased 13,900 from February, the labor department said.

Over the past year, a total of 35,600 jobs have been created. The sectors showing growth since March 2011 were: professional and business services, trade and transportation, education and health services, manufacturing, and leisure and hospitality.

“I’m also encouraged that …

Continue reading Georgia’s jobless rate falls for 8th consecutive month »

Can you function without the Internet?

122011Bookless

(AJC: Jason Getz)

How relevant is the Internet? For a large group of Americans, the answer is not so much.

Sure, 78 percent of adults and 95 percent of teens go online regularly, but not all of us are embracing the online world, according to a new Pew Internet Project study.

Researchers say 20 percent of Americans don’t use the Internet. They include many senior citizens, adults with less than a high school education and those in households earning less than $30,000, where Internet access is less likely.

Nearly half of those who never go online say the main reason is that the Internet is irrelevant to them. “Those who do not use the Internet often do not feel any need to try it, some are wary of the technology, and others are unhappy about what they hear about the online world,” the report concluded.

To be sure, we’ve come a long way. In 1995, only about 1 in 10 U.S. adults were going online. Among other Pew findings:

• Email and search remain “the backbone” …

Continue reading Can you function without the Internet? »

Rich/poor wage gap growing

Since the recession ended nearly three years ago, the top 10 percent of earners in America have seen their pay rise 7 percent before inflation, while those in the bottom 10 percent have seen their earnings increase only 2.5 percent.

The growing gap between the highest and lowest-paid workers continues a pre-downturn trend, one that’s been widening for decades, according to The Wall Street Journal, using data from the U.S. Labor Department.

From 2003 to 2007, the difference in pay increases between  top and bottom earners was 3.5 percent.

Possible reasons?

Globalization and the rise of technology

“Globalization has shifted many of America’s low-skilled, high-paid manufacturing jobs overseas, while technology has made U.S. firms more productive but rendered some jobs obsolete. The result: America’s labor market increasingly looks divided between jobs that require high education and those that don’t,” the report states.

Not everyone thinks this is so alarming, though. Some …

Continue reading Rich/poor wage gap growing »

Twinkies’ survival hangs in balance

Cherish those packages of Twinkies and Ding Dongs. A threatened strike by most of the more than 18,000 workers at Hostess Brands could spell the end of some of the most cherished snacks around.

Hostess, also the maker of Wonder Bread, Nature’s Pride Bread and an array of other baked products, wants to be able to ditch the company’s labor agreements with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers to cut costs. If it can’t, the company is telling a bankruptcy court judge in White Plains, N.Y., this week that it won’t have the cash to keep operating.

“All Hostess Brands operations would shut down and liquidation would begin,” the company said in a letter to employees obtained by CNN Money. “The 18,500 jobs, plus the health insurance that comes with them, would be lost for good.”

The union says it’s willing to work with management to bring down costs but has rejected Hostess’ efforts to change how union …

Continue reading Twinkies’ survival hangs in balance »

Are you paying your fair share of taxes?

The tax day deadline is upon us, and naturally conversation drifts to how much we’re paying and whether it’s too much. Also, who’s not paying their fair share.

Here are some interesting data points to consider in the eternal debate, courtesy of MarketWatch:

– Some 46 percent of taxpayers won’t owe any federal income tax in 2011, said  the Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution.

– The top 20 percent of income earners paid 70 percent of federal taxes in 2007, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That group also had 60 percent of total pretax income.

– In 2011, federal corporate income taxes consumed an estimated 7.7 percent of income for the top 1 percent of income earners, compared to  a 0.4 percent hit to taxpayers in the lowest one-fifth of income, the Tax Policy Center said.

Continue reading Are you paying your fair share of taxes? »

Average gas price drops 3 cents in metro Atlanta

Did you even notice? 

Gas prices in metro Atlanta dropped 3 cents since last week, according to AAA Georgia.

It’s a still too-high average of $3.83 for regular unleaded, but at least it’s heading in the right direction.

We can partly thank talks between Iran and United Nations members on Saturday that eased tensions over whether Iran would block the Strait of Hormuz and cut the global oil supply, according to AAA spokeswoan Jessica Brady.  

“The lessened concern with Iran coupled with slow economic growth in China, and ample supply will very likely cause gas prices to drop,” said Brady. “This is positive news for motorists who may start to see some relief at the pump as the summer driving season approaches.”

The national average price of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.90, a 2-cent drop from last week. Georgia’s average of $3.83 and Florida’s average of $3.94 both dropped 3 cents from last week. Tennessee’s average price of $3.77 dropped 2 cents from last …

Continue reading Average gas price drops 3 cents in metro Atlanta »

Workers suing employers over hours, pay since recession

More American workers, citing federal and state wage and hour laws, have sued their employers since the recession peaked four years ago, a shift that some observers say is partly attributable to a working environment where employees put in longer hours but got paid the same or less.

Lawsuits against employers by employees increased 32 percent from 2008 to last year, and workers’ big issue was putting in more than 40 hours a week on the job and  not getting overtime, according to a story in USA Today.

Employees said employers forced them to work off the clock, improperly classified them as exempt from receiving overtime pay, and used technology to make them work during their time away from the office.

Employers didn’t hire more workers during the downturn, one expert said, because they were able to shift the cost burdens to employees. If they hadn’t been able to do that, they would have hired more people.

Continue reading Workers suing employers over hours, pay since recession »

2 Best Buy stores closing in metro Atlanta

Two Best Buy stores in metro Atlanta will close as the electronics retailer restructures in the face of falling sales and increased competition from online competitors.

Best Buy said Saturday a Fayetteville store at 128 Pavilion Parkway and a Loganville location at 4014 Atlanta Highway will be among 50 stores closing over the next year.

The two metro Atlanta stores were closed Saturday but will reopen Sunday for final sales, the company said. The stores will close permanently by May 12.

Best Buy would not disclose how many employees will be affected but it said the company is helping the workers find other positions within the chain. Those who do not remain with the retailer will be offered severance packages.

Best Buy, the nation’s largest consumer electronics retailer, has 30 locations in metro Atlanta – 22 big box stores and eight standalone Best Buy Mobile stores.

Best Buy is struggling as sales of TVs, digital cameras and video game consoles  have weakened …

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