Archive for October, 2012

Investors bid up Home Depot, Lowe’s on post-Sandy effort

(Associated Press)

(Associated Press)

(Updated 4:40 p.m.)

Shares of Atlanta-based Home Depot and its North Carlina-based biggest competitor, Lowe’s, were on the move Wednesday as investors anticipated both home improvement retail giants would reap big sales from supplying the many homes and businesses heavily damaged by Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast.

Both companies were up more than 2 percent in trading on the New York Stock Exchange, which itself got back to business after two days of being idled by the ferocious storm.

“We’re pulling product from Atlanta, Florida, Texas, all across the U.S.” Aaron Flowe, president of Home Depot’s Northern Division, told WSB Radio. “We’ve got 1,500 trucks heading into the region.”

Flowe said the first 750 trucks were carrying generators, tarps, flashlights, batteries, plywood and similar supplies. Additional shipments will include chain saws, heaters and cleaning supplies, such as wet-dry vacs, trash bags and bleach.

Home Depot has about 400 stores …

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Georgians plan a frugal holiday shopping season

Forget about those holiday shopping spending sprees. Georgians are planning for a not-so-merry Christmas.

A new poll from the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates found that just 3.3 percent of Georgians plan to spend more on gifts during this season’s holidays than they did a year ago, with the rest expecting to spend the same amount or less.

Grace Lollar, president and CEO of Richmond Community Federal Credit Union in Gracewood, explained, “Wages have not risen for most of our membership, but the cost of living has gone up. Most of our members rely heavily on holiday loans to pay for their purchases.”

Here are some of the survey’s findings:

– 70.1 percent of respondents plan to use cash this holiday season.

– 12.4 percent plan to pay for most of their purchases with a credit card (down from 15.9 percent last year).

– 57.5 percent say they will spend $500 or less during the holidays.

– 48.2 percent plan to spend about what they did last year.

– 48.5 percent plan to spend …

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Georgia 33rd in residents’ state, local tax burden

A new report from The Tax Foundation shows that Georgia residents paid 9.0 percent of their income to state and local taxes in the 2010 fiscal year.

That’s below the U.S. average of 9.9 percent, and far below the highest-tax burden states including New York (at 12.8 percent), New Jersey (at 12.4 percent), Connecticut (at 12.3 percent) and California (at 11.2 percent).

Georgia ranks 33rd overall.

Georgia residents’ tax burden is considerably higher than that of residents in the lowest-ranked states including Alaska (at 7.0 percent), South Dakota (at 7.6 percent), Tennessee (at 7.7 percent) and Louisiana and Wyoming (at 7.8 percent).

The tax burden in Georgia fell from 9.3 percent in 2009 and from 9.4 percent in 2008.

The Tax Foundation estimates the combined state and local tax burden for residents in each of the 50 states by totaling the state and local taxes paid by residents to their own and other governments, then dividing the total by each state’s total income.

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U.S. markets close as storm bears down on Wall St.

No need to check up on how your stocks are faring today, maybe even tomorrow. There are larger concerns at play, now that the coming big blow may strike a blow along Wall Street.

U.S. stock and options markets will be closed today, and possibly Tuesday, Reuters reports, “as regulators, exchanges and brokers worry about the integrity of markets and the safety of employees in the face of Hurricane Sandy. Market participants and regulators decided late on Sunday to shut the market, reversing a plan to keep electronic trading going on Monday. Bond markets will remain open, but will close at noon, a trade group said.”

The report continued: “The decision to close stock and options markets came after regulators, exchanges, and dealers discussed the unknowns that would have been tested if the markets opened on Monday …

“The decision to shut down the stock markets came after Wall Street had prepared to open for business on Monday with limited staffing after a mass transit shut-down in …

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Atlanta Public Schools chief: ‘The meek are not going to inherit the earth’

The cheating scandal. Firing administrators and teachers. Disappointing student achievement. Redistricting. Financial issues.

Erroll Davis has been in the thick of controversy since being lured out of retirement and tapped as superintendent 15 months ago to turn around Atlanta Public Schools. But at 68 and with a number of leadership positions under his belt, he’s no stranger to tough jobs. He’s led the University System of Georgia and two large utility firms, and sits on the boards of General Motors and Union Pacific.

Erroll Davis

Erroll Davis

Still, Davis finds himself under the microscope now, waiting to hear whether his contract to lead APS will be extended beyond June. The decision by the APS board became more complicated after Davis created an uproar when he surprisingly removed six administrators at North Atlanta High School to the dismay of many students, parents and teachers. Davis talks about how his breadth of experiences have shaped his decisions.

Q: What did you learn about …

Continue reading Atlanta Public Schools chief: ‘The meek are not going to inherit the earth’ »

Next for Apple? Streaming radio

How about a little radio music with that Apple device?

Word on the street is that the maker of the iPod, iPhone, iPad and now iPad Mini is setting sights and ears on launching a new online radio service by 2013.

It must be a shocker to investors in the company behind the Pandora online radio service. Shares of Pandora Media Inc. plunged in Friday trading.

Apple reportedly is intensifying talks with major music labels to start a streaming-radio service that would rival Pandora. According to a Bloomberg News report, Apple is close to a deal and the new service could start in the first three months of the new year.

According to Bloomberg:

Apple, the world’s biggest music retailer with more than 400 million iTunes accounts, wants listeners to be able to buy tracks as music streams or revisit what they’ve heard in auto-generated playlists.

When it went public last summer, Pandora had 80 million users, 800,000 tracks from 80,000 artists in is library. Pandora has two …

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Illegal immigration up, called a sign economy’s better

A new report shows illegal immigration to the U.S. from Mexico is rising, a sign, some observers say, that the economy is making a comeback.

The report from the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute at the University of Southern California says illegal migration from Mexico to the U.S. is once again increasing following a big dip during the recession that started in 2008.

The report factored in flows across the southwest border, repatriations, demography, remittances, employment levels of illegal aliens, and enforcement actions.

“Illegal immigration is a market indicator,” Roy Beck, CEO of NumbersUSA, a think tank that advocates less legal and illegal immigration, told USA Today. He said, “… this is basically another sign that the economy is picking up.”

Not only is illegal immigration on the rise, the report said, but the number of illegal aliens leaving the U.S. is decreasing.

The size of the Mexican-born population in the U.S. “has fully recovered from losses experienced during …

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Metro Atlanta’s jobless rate drops to 8.4 percent in September

Metro Atlanta’s unemployment rate fell substantially in September, to 8.4 percent from a revised 8.8 percent in August, as fewer workers were laid off and more were hired, the state labor department said Thursday.

There were 4,446 fewer layoffs in manufacturing, construction, trade, administrative and support services, and accommodations and food services, the labor department said. Also, 31,606 more people were employed.

The jobless rate has declined significantly from a year ago when it was 9.7 percent.

In the core metro counties, Clayton had the highest unemployment rate — 10.5 percent. Fulton was next with 9.2 percent, followed by DeKalb (8.9 percent), Cobb (7.7 percent) and Gwinnett (7.4 percent).

Statewide, metro Athens continued to have the lowest area jobless rate at 6.4 percent, while metro Dalton had the highest at 11.2 percent.

Last week, the labor department said Georgia’s unemployment rate declined to 9 percent in September from 9.2 percent in August. The …

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Will service suffer with cutbacks at Delta, rivals?

(Associated Press)

(Associated Press)

(Updated 2:23 p.m.)

Delta Air Lines is doing what a lot of its competitors are doing to remain competitive: Cutting costs.

The main areas targeted are fuel, unneeded planes and staffing, with the last area most on the minds of airline employees in Atlanta and elsewhere.

Delta, the largest carrier serving Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and one of the metro area’s largest employers, reported that it took a $66 million charge for severance and other costs in the third quarter to cut staff through the early retirement of 2,000 workers earlier this year.  The announcement was part of its third-quarter earnings report.

According to Delta spokesman Trebor Banstetter, CEO Richard Anderson stated during an earnings call  “that we do not anticipate furloughs.” Delta’s count of full-time equivalent employees – one FTE is equivalent to one employee working full-time – dropped to 76,626 from 79,709 in the third quarter.

Just last week, Southwest …

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Women college grads still earn less than men

Women are paid “significantly less than men”  in nearly every occupation, a new report from the American Association of University Women states.

And progress in closing the gap between pay for women and pay for men has slowed in recent years.

The study looks at the pay gap between male and female college graduates working full time one year after graduation.

“You might expect the pay gap between men and women in this group of workers of similar age, education, and family responsibilities to be small or non-existent,” the authors write.

“But in 2009—the most recent year for which data are available—women one year out of college who were working full time earned, on average, just 82 percent of what their male peers earned.”

When they worked in the same occupation, men still made 7 percent more than comparable women.

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