Archive for May, 2012

Metro Atlanta’s jobless rate falls to lowest level in more than 3 years

Metro Atlanta’s unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent in April — its lowest level since December 2008 when it was 7.7 percent, the state labor department said Thursday.

The jobless rate dropped from 8.7 percent in March and 9.3 percent a year ago.

The rate declined because the number of new jobs grew by 14,800 to 2,331,100. That was highest number of jobs in metro Atlanta since November 2011.

For the core metro counties, Gwinnett posted the lowest rate at 7.6 percent. Cobb was next with 8 percent, followed by DeKalb (8.9 percent), Fulton (9.2 percent) and Clayton (10.5 percent).

Statewide, Metro Athens had the lowest area rate at 6.5 percent, while metro Dalton had the highest at 11.4 percent.

Last week, the labor department said Georgia’s unemployment rate declined for the ninth consecutive month in April to 8.9 percent. It the first time in more than three years the rate has dropped below 9 percent.

Statewide, the rate declined as the number of new jobs grew by 31,900, to …

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World’s richest woman is no longer a Walton, or even an American

The world’s richest woman is from Down Under and she makes $1 million every 30 minutes of every day, according to an ABC News story.

Mining and media magnate Gina Rinehart’s $29 billion fortune surpassed Wal-Mart widow Christy Walton’s cash pile by $3 billion.

Rinehart has capitalized on Australia’s resources boom like no-one else; her wealth ballooning up $18.87 billion in the past year, according to BRW magazine’s annual rich list.

When she debuted on the list after her father’s death in 1992, her net wealth was estimated at $75 million. Since then she’s multiplied that some 386 times.

The ginormous increase flows from foreign investment in new projects, increased production and a recovery in the iron ore price, BRW reported.

And she’s just going to get richer. ”If the demand for natural resources remains strong, additional multi-billion mines are almost inevitable,” BRW Rich List editor Andrew Heathcote said. “There is a real possibility that Rinehart will become not just …

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H.P. employees may hear of layoffs Wednesday

Wednesday could be D-Day for lots of employees of Hewlett-Packard, including those in Georgia.

That’s when the tech giant is expected announce plans to cut as many as 30,000 jobs across the company, according to a report in the New York Times  and other media outlets.

 Employees of its Georgia properties in Alpharetta and Suwanee have to be bracing for the announcement which is expected to come when H.P. releases its earnings report for its second fiscal quarter. No one seems to be speculating on how the cuts will affect its workers in Georgia.

The company will seek layoffs and voluntary retirements and the total could be as much as 10 percent of the 325,000 people it employs worldwide, the NYT reported. 

H.P. has a reputation for being late or less than successful in many recent tech trends like providing cloud computing services for big companies and smartphones and tablet computers.

What has been your experience with H.P. products? Anyone worried about his or her job with …

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Rewatch, share our chat on airport’s new international terminal

Were you late in joining our live video chat with AJC airlines reporter Kelly Yamanouchi and Hartsfield-Jacksons General Manager Louis Miller? Couldn’t join us at all?

Check out the replay of our chat, below. And don’t forget to share it with your Facebook friends and other travelers.

And thanks again for participating.

PREVIOUSLY: Not sure how to navigate Hartsfield-Jackson’s new terminal for international travelers? Join AJC airlines reporter Kelly Yamanouchi and the top Atlanta airport official in a live video chat now on this blog post.

Kelly’s guest is Louis Miller, general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson.

To participate in the chat and ask a question, you need to be logged into Facebook. Don’t have a Facebook login? Leave a comment below, in our regular blog commenting area, for our moderator to post for you.

Return to this post after the chat for a replay you can share with others.

Follow AJC airlines/airport reporter Kelly Yamanouchi: Facebook | Twitter |

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Google Chrome world’s most popular browser

The Internet king is dead, or at least has to share the crown.

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, the web browser leader since the Netscape coup (circa 1995), has been surpassed globally by Google’s Chrome browser, according to recent numbers from StatCounter.com. There’s a good write-up at PC Magazine.

Chrome now make up about 33 percent of web traffic, a percentage point or two over IE. Firefox has about 24 percent of the market.

It is quite a change from a year ago, when Google only had a 20 percent share, IE 45 percent. Since then, Chrome has been on a tear: IE has dipped quite a bit and Firefox, largely funded by Google revenues, has remained fairly stable.

Chrome surpassed Firefox to become the No. 2 browser in December.

IE still reigns supreme in North America, however, 38 percent to about 24 percent, but Chrome is gaining ground there too.

So what’s your favorite browser?

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Southern Co. CEO: ‘We’re just a wee bit sexier than Spam’

Not many buttoned-down CEOs of publicly regulated utilities rise through the ranks after blowing the whistle on a colleague involved in financial improprieties. And not many CEOs have a diagram on their office wall of Napoleon’s march to Moscow in 1812, when most of his troops died, largely because of poor preparation.

Tom Fanning

Tom Fanning

Meet Tom Fanning, a big believer in preparation. Fanning, 55, began his career at Southern Co. three decades ago after graduating from Georgia Tech. He leads an $18-billion-a-year utility with operations in four southeastern states. Fanning talks about his whistleblowing experience, work-life balance and how to fistfight.

Q: About 20 years ago, you blew the whistle on a colleague for allegedly violating the law. Would you please discuss that and how it changed your life?

A: I was a treasurer of a Southern Co. unit. We had hired a guy who I believe tried to commit a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violation to get influence around a bid we were doing in …

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FBI wants Internet wiretap option

(Associated Press)

(Associated Press)

The FBI is forging ahead in its push for U.S. laws that would allow the agency to wiretap social networking sites and other providers of Internet communications, such as email and instant messaging, according to CNET.com.

FBI Director Robert Mueller confirmed during a congressional hearing this week that the FBI still wants an Internet wiretap law, but he did not say when the Obama administration would present a proposal.

The explosion of online communications as more Americans rely less on traditional wire line telephones has made it harder to keep track of illegal activities, the FBI argues. The agency wants providers of Internet-based devices and service providers to install back doors for government eavesdropping.

From CNET:

The FBI’s proposal would amend a 1994 law, called the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA, that currently applies only to telecommunications providers, not Web companies. From the FBI’s …

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Verizon: Don’t worry about unlimited plans

(John Spink, jspink@ajc.com)

(John Spink, jspink@ajc.com)

(Updated 3:31 p.m.)

Verizon scrambled this week to clarify a top official’s suggestion that a new data plan option would lead to phasing out unlimited data plans that were grandfathered in 2010.

Sometime this year, Verizon will allow customers to add multiple smartphones and tablets to a “shared data plan,” and on an LTE network that allows faster video streaming and media downloads.

Verizon expects the combination of  shared plan and  faster network will lure customers into committing to more expensive data packages.

There were reports that Verizon would be dropping the unlimited plans when the shared data plans make their debut based on comments by Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo.

At an investor conference this week, Shammo was quoted as saying,“A lot of our 3G base is unlimited. As they start to migrate into 4G, they will have to come off of unlimited and go into the data share plan.”

Instead, Verizon customers who …

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Dems ‘defriend’ Facebook co-founder over dodged taxes

(Associated Press)

(Associated Press)

A Facebook co-founder’s ability to avoid paying an estimated $67 million in federal taxes by renouncing  his U.S. citizenship isn’t sitting well with two sitting Democratic U.S. senators.

Sens. Charles Schumer and Bob Casey Jr. want to punish Americans who follow the footsteps of  Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, who turned in his citizenship badge and will avoid paying millions in taxes after the social networking site goes public Friday.

Bloomberg estimates that Saverin, already a 30-year-old billionaire who ranks No. 634 on Forbes’ list, will avoid paying $67 million in U.S. capital gains taxes because he became a Singaporean last September, well before this week’s initial public offering. Singapore doesn’t tax capital gains.

Schumer and Casey called Saverin’s relocation an “avoidance scheme” and want to re-impose taxes on expatriates and bar them from re-entering the country.

The plan would impose a mandatory 30 percent tax on future capital …

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Panera Bread tries to manage free Wi-Fi clogs

(Special)

(Special)

How important is free Wi-Fi in attracting and keeping restaurant patrons?

So important that Panera Bread, one of the first to offer free wireless Internet access to customers with laptops and smartphones, is trying to come up with more strategies to keep its Wi-Fi hungry customers happy, according to a USA Today report.

Panera Bread customers sometimes experience slowdowns in Internet speed because the system is so clogged with users, the report says. The restaurant chain has more than 30 locations in Georgia, the majority in metro Atlanta.

Monthly connections to Panera’s wireless network grew to 2.7 million sessions in April from 2.2 million a year ago, according to the report. Some locations have had to limit Wi-Fi access during high-traffic lunch hours.

As a result, Panera’s vice president of technology, Blaine Hurst, told USA Today the chain is trying to come up with ideas to keep customers happy. One idea the chain is considering is rewarding loyal …

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