Archive for July, 2012

Gas prices up 4 cents from last week

We don’t have to tell you that gas prices have jumped at the pump.

The national average for a gallon of regular gas is up 16 cents since July 1, according to AAA. Georgia’s average price of $3.40 is up 4 cents from last week; Florida’s average of $3.42 went up 2 cents and Tennessee’s average of $3.28 rose 6 cents from last week, AAA reported.

Blame the uptick at the pump on speculators, said AAA spokeswoman Jessica Brady.

This is how she explains it: Last week, U.S. stockpiles of crude oil unexpectedly climbed by 3 million barrels to the highest level in 13 years — a sign of weak demand. Demand for new houses also dropped unexpectedly in June. Despite the lackluster demand numbers and eased tensions with Iran, speculators continue to keep upward pressure on oil prices in hopes European leaders will take measures to stimulate demand, Brady said.

The good news: Prices should start to stabilize in August, she said. “Although gas prices will likely inch up this week, we shouldn’t …

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Atlanta easiest city to recruit executives

If you’re a company trying to attract top executive talent, Atlanta is the place to be, according to a survey done by an executive search and consulting firm.

In its poll of 50 U.S. search consultants, Heidrick & Struggles found that Atlanta is perceived to be the easiest place to recruit people to work.

Key reasons: a strong business infrastructure, affordability and quality of life.

“Atlanta has it all. It is an incredible city to live in and has a vibrant business community, today, more than ever before,” said the firm’s Laura Brinsmaid. “People are weighing out all aspects of their lives to determine if a job change will fit into their overall lifestyle outside of 9-5,” she added.

Some of Atlanta’s lures:

– Diverse employment opportunities.

– A wealth of regional and national headquarters.

– Amenities including arts, culture, restaurants and sports.

Other “best in class” cities to recruit top talent include Chicago, Denver and Dallas, the survey said.

“On the opposite end …

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Will you invest $20 in new MAC software?

Apple Inc. released its new operating system for Mac computers Wednesday.

The new software, called Mountain Lion, narrows the gap between the PC and phone software packages, making Mac personal computers work more like iPhones and iPads.

Notes Associated Press’ Anick Jesdanun, in a review of the system:  “Mountain Lion is made for a world where your computer is just one of your computing devices, along with your iPhone and your iPad. Apple wants to make it easier to switch from one to the other, several times a day.”

Jesdanum notes these Mountain Lion highlights:

- Better integration with social networks such as Facebook, including built-in features to facilitate sharing on Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr .

- Power Nap keeps your Mac updated even while it’s in “sleep” mode. It will get your email messages, back up your files and download software updates automatically.

- A new Messages app will replace iChat. It will allow you to send messages to other Apple users, whether …

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Unemployment rate up in metro Atlanta in June

The preliminary unemployment rate in metro Atlanta rose to 9.3 percent in June, up from 8.6 percent in May, the Georgia Department of Labor said.

The rate was 10.2 percent in June 2011.

The rate increased because 17,526 new job seekers entered the labor force, but were unable to find work. Also, there were 350 new layoffs in retail trade, administrative and support services, educational services, and health care and social assistance.

In metro Atlanta, jobs decreased to 2,338,700, down by 2,000 from May, but up by 32,200 from 2,306,500 in June 2011.

The metro Atlanta area includes the following counties: Barrow, Bartow, Butts, Carroll, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, Dawson, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Haralson, Heard, Henry, Jasper, Lamar, Meriwether, Newton, Paulding, Pickens, Pike, Rockdale, Spalding, and Walton.

Metro Athens and metro Gainesville had the lowest area jobless rates at 7.5 percent, while metro Dalton had the highest at 12.3 …

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Strangulation risk prompts recall of 223,000 strollers

If you’ve bought a Peg Perego baby stroller with a tray, please check it.

The company has recalled about 223,000 of its strollers after finding that children can become trapped and strangled between the trays on the strollers.

The Fort Wayne, Ind. company said a 6-month-old boy strangled to death in a stroller in 2004, while a 7-month-old girl was nearly strangled in 2006. The company recall includes Venezia and Pliko-P3 strollers made between January 2004 and September 2007. Only strollers with a child tray and one cup holder are part of the recall.

Read more about the recall here.

According to the company, the model numbers for the recalled Pliko-P3 stroller include IPFR28US34xxxxxxxx, IPFT28NA63, IPFT28NA64, IPP328MU10, IPP328MU09, IPP328US09, IPP328US10, IPP329US10, IPPA28US32, IPPA28US33, IPPA28US34, IPPD28NA34, IPPF28NA32, IPPF28NA57, IPPF28NA65, IPPF28NA66, IPPF28NA67, IPPF28NA68, IPPO28US32, IPPO28US34, IPPO28US62, IPPO28US69, IPPO28US70, and IPPO28US71.

The model …

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Feeling less financially secure? You have company

Feeling financially insecure these days?

If so, you have company.

Bankrate.com’s Financial Security Index dropped this month to its lowest level since March, and it recorded the biggest month to month decline since August 2011.

According to the survey, people are less secure about their jobs, their savings, their debt, their net worth and their overall financial situation.

That should about cover it.

Nationwide, 28 percent of people say their overall financial security is lower now than it was one year ago, although 23 percent say they feel better today.

Americans feel most insecure about their savings, with 39 percent saying they are less comfortable now than a year ago. Only 16 percent reported feeling better.

Bankrate.com senior financial analyst Greg McBride said, however, that “despite another poor jobs report in early July, feelings of job security were the least affected and remain the component of financial security that Americans feel is most improved relative to one …

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More Americans living paycheck to paycheck

More than a third of U.S. households say they live paycheck to paycheck.

Less than a third feel comfortable financially.

Only about a third think they can afford to retire by age 65.

Those are some of the findings in a new report by the Consumer Federation of America and the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. More than 1,500 household financial decision-makers were surveyed.

The recession clearly has set households back in achieving their financial goals: compared to 1997, households are faring far worse financially.

For example:

– In 1997, 31 percent said they lived paycheck to paycheck. Now it’s 38 percent.

– In 1997, 38 percent said they were behind in saving for retirement, while 51 percent feel that way now.

– In 1997, 50 percent said they felt they could retire at 65. Now it’s just 34 percent.

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Atlanta home values to fall in next year, report says

Home values in 69 of 157 U.S. markets are expected to rise in the next year, according to the Zillow Home Value Forecast, but Atlanta is not one of the fortunate cities projected to see a gain.

Zillow foresees a 1.6 percent decline in Atlanta home prices to June 2013. Nationally, home values are expected to appreciate by 1.1 percent over the next year, from June 2012 to June 2013.

Some markets are expected to take giant leaps. Phoenix would see a 9.9 percent gain, Miami-Fort Lauderdale 6.1 percent, and Riverside, Calif. 5.6 percent, Zillow said.

Only St. Louis, where a decrease of 2.6 percent is expected, and Baltimore, where a decline of 2.2 percent is projected, would see bigger drops in the next year in home values than Atlanta.

As Zillow notes, “The housing market’s recovery continues to show tremendous variation market by market.”

Zillow also said that home values nationwide increased 2.1 percent from the first to the second quarter of 2012, and that on an annual basis, …

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Google’s 16GB Nexus 7 tablet sold out

google-nexus-7Google seems to have underestimated demand for its first tablet computer, or, at the very least, overestimated the public’s love of “the cloud.”

TechCrunch and other media sites are reporting the 16 gigabyte version of the Nexus 7, a 7-inch Android 4.1 tablet, is sold out at the Google Play store.

The $200 8GB version, available only online, is still in stock. Since the Nexus 7 does not have a memory card slot, and the micro-USB port does not currently support mass storage devices, consumers seem to prefer the $250 model with more storage capacity.

New orders for the 16GB tablet have been halted, according to The Guardian. Asus, manufacturer of the tablet for Google, is allegedly ramping up production to meet demand.

Sears, and perhaps other brick-and-mortar stores, appears to still have the 16GB unit in stock.

Though the Nexus 7 has received glowing reviews and seems popular, Google has not released any sales figures.

I ordered a 16GB version July 13 but was told by Google it …

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WellStar CEO: ‘If you are doing better than anyone else in the country, you better ask why’

Reynold Jennings is no stranger to controversy. The pharmacist-turned-hospital executive has had to mop up after fraud investigations at two companies he worked for during his 43 years in health care.

Reynold Jennings

Reynold Jennings

Then a year ago, Jennings, 66, was called out of retirement in Kennesaw to become CEO of WellStar Health System after its chief executive was fired for allegedly having a “special relationship” with another executive. With 12,000 employees and $1.5 billion in net revenue, WellStar runs five metro area hospitals, six urgent care centers, two hospices and other outpatient facilities.

Jennings, a Dalton native and UGA pharmacy graduate, talks about what he learned from the financial scandals, WellStar’s challenges and his prescription for staying married to his high school sweetheart for 45 years.

Q: You worked for the hospital division of National Medical Enterprises in the 1990s when its psychiatric division was accused by the federal government of committing …

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