Archive for September, 2012

Atlanta No. 2 in ATM fees for customers

At $1.95, Atlanta banks charge their own customers more to use an out-of-network ATM than banks do in all but one other city, a new survey from Bankrate.com shows. Philadelphia banks charge $1.96. In Chicago, it’s only $1.10.

Atlanta ATM operators also levy an average surcharge of $2.40 to users who are non-customers, although that’s not the highest in the nation. The average ATM surcharge to non-customers is $2.50.

The average ATM surcharge in the U.S. has increased eight straight years.

Atlanta also has the third-highest average overdraft fee in the country at $32.70. Only Denver and Houston have higher average fees for non-sufficient funds.

High bank fees have become a key issue for consumers.

Nationwide, the percentage of free checking accounts offered by banks continues to decline. Bankrate.com said only 39 percent of non-interest checking accounts are available to all customers free of charge. That’s down from 45 percent last year and 76 percent in …

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Ready for more junk mail? Postal Service hopes so

The U.S. Postal Service believes delivering more junk mail to your home or business will generate more cash to help reverse a $5.2 billion loss.

(Jason Getz, jgetz@ajc.com)

(Jason Getz, jgetz@ajc.com)

The agency hopes to lure more businesses and direct mail marketers with rebates and discounts to get a larger share of their deliveries, Postal Service spokesman Tad Kelley told a CBS affiliate in Pittsburgh.

“We’re talking about a national program where a company can take a look at direct mail from a 30-state or more perspective and say, ‘Can I reach more customers?’” Kelly said. The New York Times was the first to report on the agency’s plans.

The Postal Service continues to see a decline in its volume of first-class mail deliveries as more individuals and businesses rely on electronic mail and messaging to communicate. The agency said it handled 38.5 billion pieces of mail in its April-to-June financial reporting period, a decrease of 1.4 billion pieces.

The agency saw a 9 percent …

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Visiting Nurse CEO: ‘There’s a guaranteed job for the entire length of your career’

If there’s an industry that’s more in flux than health care, it’s hard to know what it is. As president and CEO of Visiting Nurse Health System, Mark Oshnock is trying to navigate in an environment clouded by the unknown details of health care reform.

Mark Oshnock

Mark Oshnock

Oshnock, a former industry consultant trained as an accountant, took over the Atlanta-based system in 2004, when revenue from providing home health care and hospice care was $26 million. This year, it’s expected to hit $62 million, with more growth ahead as baby boomers age, swelling demand.

Oshnock, 56, talks about his strategy for dealing with an unpredictable market, an innovative program of doctor home visits and promising job prospects “for the next 30 years.”

Q: How are you managing through all the uncertainty?

A: Health care is so government directed. We have this decision maker out there, totally devoid of market forces. It’s frustrating. The government is looking at revamping how they’re …

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AT&T customers’ Internet service disrupted

Around 7,500 AT&T customers in northern Atlanta were without Internet service for several hours Thursday after the company said it experienced a router problem.

Spokesman Lance Skelly said it would take a few days to complete an assessment of the problem, but it appeared it was caused by a defective card in a router. Skelly said only Internet service was affected and not mobile phone service.

“The situation was investigated and repaired as quickly as possible, and services have now been restored completely,” Skelly said Thursday afternoon.

The problem, however, caused headaches for many corporate customers who purchase Ethernet services wholesale or retail from AT&T to provide Internet, voice and video broadcast services to their own clients, according to Kraig Beahn, chief executive officer of L2Networks.

Beahn said L2Networks’ Ethernet service was disrupted from just after noon until around 3:40 p.m. “We had at least several hundred locations that we …

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Georgia’s jobless rate stays at 9.2 percent in August

After two months of increases, Georgia’s unemployment rate remained at 9.2 percent from July to August, the state labor department said Thursday.

While there was an increase of 25,100 jobs in August, two-thirds came from employees returning to local schools following summer layoffs.

Still, state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said “the August-to-August growth in the last year is the most we’ve had since 2007.” A total of 49,700 jobs have been created in the past year, which has pushed down the unemployment rate from 9.9 percent.

Besides the returning education workers, there were increases in the health care and social assistance sector, which grew by 4,400 jobs from July to August. Professional and business services increased by 2,400 jobs; manufacturing by 1,600; trade, transportation, and warehousing by 1,500; and construction by 1,000.

The pace of new layoffs continues to slow, the labor department said. The number of initial claims for unemployment benefits dropped by …

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Americans feeling less financially secure

Americans are feeling less financially secure now than at any other time this year.

A new survey done for Bankrate.com shows that people feel worse about their job security, savings, debt and overall financial situation, although they feel a little bit better about their net worth.

“The disappointing August jobs report took a toll on Americans’ feelings of financial security,” said Greg McBride, Bankrate.com senior financial analyst. “Those age 50-64 are still more likely than other age groups to say they feel less secure in their jobs now than one year ago and that their overall financial situation has deteriorated in the past 12 months.”

What Bankrate.com calls its Financial Security Index stands at its lowest point since December 2011.

Some of the details of the survey:

– 19 percent of respondents said they feel less secure today than they did one year ago about their jobs, while 17 percent said they felt more secure. Most of the rest said they felt the same.

– 38 percent …

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Kohl’s hiring 58,000 seasonal workers

(Alyssa Orr/The Palm Beach Post)

(Alyssa Orr/The Palm Beach Post)

Kohl’s Department Stores says it will hire 52,700 store associates for the upcoming holiday season, a 10 percent increase over last year’s in-store seasonal hiring.

An additional 5,700 seasonal workers will be hired at distribution centers and 30 additional staffers for the retailer’s credit operations.

The retailer is hiring, on average, 41 workers per store. There are more than two dozen Kohl’s locations in metro Atlanta. The retailer has 1,146 stores in 49 states.

The jobs are part time and range from positions on the loading dock and in freight processing to stocking shelves  and cashiers. The hours range from a few to more than 20 a week. The retailer hopes to finish hiring by mid-November.

More information about the retailer’s hiring needs can be found here.

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Atlanta’s economic recovery 46th best in U.S.

Metro Atlanta’s economy continued to rebound in the second quarter, but its rate of recovery, like that of the nation as a whole, slowed, a new study shows.

The area ranked 46th overall among 100 metro areas measured in the Brookings MetroMonitor index of economic recovery.

Brookings analyzed four areas: percent employment change; percentage point change in unemployment rate; percent change in gross metropolitan product; and percent change in house prices.

Metro Atlanta mostly went backwards in those measurements in the second quarter of 2012 compared to the first quarter.

— Employment grew 0.2 percent in the second quarter, down from 0.7 percent growth in the first quarter.

— Output grew 0.7 percent, the same as in the first quarter.

— The unemployment rate increased slightly after declining in the first three months.

— Housing prices continued to fall in the second quarter, but by 3.7 percent, compared to 4.1 percent in the first quarter.

Brookings analyst Alec …

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Workers less worried about losing jobs, still unhappy with pay

Fewer Americans are worried about being laid off or fired than a year ago, but low wages remain a top concern for workers, especially for women.

Only 4 percent of workers responding to a Harris Interactive poll listed getting axed as their main workplace fear, down from 9 percent a year ago, according to Fortune.

“We are not seeing the same level of job loss,” explained National Employment Law Project economist Christine Owen.

Pay is still a big issue, though. Among respondents to the survey, done for Everest College, 14 percent of women cited low wages as their biggest woe, compared to 8 percent of men. The study found that 11 percent of women listed working in a job outside their chosen career as a major source of stress, compared to 5 percent of men.

“Women may be working for the good of the household, and taking any job because that’s what they have to do,” said John Swartz, a spokesman for Everest College.

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Novelis CEO: ‘Are you open to change or are you a blocker?’

After more than two decades as an auto executive, Phil Martens learned what not to do when trying to manage change. Now, as CEO of the world’s largest producer of rolled aluminum, Atlanta-based Novelis, Martens is trying to avoid those mistakes as he reshapes the global manufacturer ($11 billion in sales and 11,000 employees).

Phil Martens

Phil Martens

Martens, 52, engineered a substantial structural change after he arrived three years ago, turning Novelis into a much more centralized operation run from its Buckhead headquarters. He’s also shedding a less profitable business to focus on more lucrative ones. He talks about what’s needed to develop a focused strategy, including how to get the right people in place to execute it.

Q: You spent 22 years in the auto industry, including as group vice president of worldwide product development for Ford. What did you learn?

A: Never think that the state of today is going to be that way in the future. Never lay out your strategic plans without …

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