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HEAR THIS HOUR'S UPDATE

Thursday
Jul312014

Weekly Jobless Claims Jump to 302,000

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- After falling in the previous week, claims for unemployment benefits jumped in the fourth week of July, according to the Labor Department's latest report released Thursday.

For the week ending July 26, the department said claims increased by 23,000 to 302,000.  The previous week, claims stood at 279,000, revised down by 5,000 from 284,000.

The four-week average was also adjusted, falling by 3,500 to 297,250 -- the lowest level for this average since April 2006 when it was 296,000.

The Labor Department said there were no "special factors" impacting this week's figures.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul312014

Restaurant Tries to Make Kids Feel Unwelcome

iStock/Thinkstock(MONTEREY, Calif.) -- Chris Shake is shaking things up on Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey, California.

Shake, owner of the Old Fisherman’s Grotto restaurant, is enforcing new rules that are definitely not kid-friendly.

Customers with small children won't like the fact that strollers, high chairs and booster seats are not permissible at the Old Fisherman’s Grotto but Shake says those are the rules and if people don’t like them, they can eat somewhere else.

For good measure, Shake won’t allow noisy youngsters or crybabies either.

And he isn’t worried that these tough restrictions will hurt his business because he hasn’t had a single down year in the last 20 years, or so he claims.

While kids appear to be an irritant to Shake and some of his diners, people with children have also expressed their annoyance with tough rules that preclude many families.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul312014

Humble Bosses Viewed as the Best

iStock/Thinkstock(TEMPE, Ariz.) -- Bosses that grumble or get ready for a rumble aren’t as effective as those who are humble.

So says a study from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University in conjunction with researchers from the U.S, China and Singapore.

To conduct the study, they interviewed more than 60 CEOs from private companies in China and 1,000 of their managers. The overwhelming response was that bosses who act with humility as well as appreciating and empowering their workers make the best bosses.

Angelo Kinicki at Arizona State University says that leaders who are controlling and driven by self-interest are typically perceived as the most effective bosses but the study finds otherwise.

Kinicki contends that the humble leaders have unique strengths that trickle down to others and they will freely acknowledge their weaknesses in order to become better bosses.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul302014

What Bugs Consumers the Most? Top 10 Complaints Ranked

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Complaints about pesky telemarketers continue to tick off consumers, making it the fastest-growing gripe of 2013, according to consumer protection offices around the country.

The “Top 10 Consumer Complaints” list, annually compiled by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators (NACPI), reveals consumers are fed up with everything from being sold a lemon of a used car to dealing with cable bills to out-and-out fraud.

“The stories from agencies’ files illustrate the wide range of problems that consumers encounter, from faulty appliances to false advertising, high-pressure door-to-door sales to sweetheart swindles,” said Amber Capoun, president of NACPI, who is also a legal assistant in the Office of the State Banking Commission in Kansas.

Consumer Federation is an association of nearly 300 non-profit consumer groups. NACPI is an association of federal, state and local government consumer protection investigators. The groups surveyed agencies to find out what issues consumers grapple with most, as well as what challenges consumer protection groups face today when trying to resolve them.

The top grievance belongs to complaints about cars, specifically misrepresentations dealing with buying a new or used one. Bad repairs and leasing and towing disputes are also included.

According to the survey, complaints about telemarketing abuses swelled in 2013, specifically regarding violations of the federal law known as the TCPA, or Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The law allows consumers to tell a telemarketer not to contact them. It also prohibits a company from “robo-dialing” a consumers’ cellphone without his consent -- a complaint highlighted this week on ABC's World News With Diane Sawyer and Nightline.

“Despite the national do-not-call registry, strict rules concerning robo-calls, and other protections, unwanted and fraudulent phone calls are still plaguing American consumers,” said Susan Grant, Director of Consumer Protection at CFA.

The groups say scams against the elderly continue to persist as well, earning top billing as “worst” complaint of the year, based on the number of victims and the dollar amount lost. Home improvement and construction complaints, businesses that go under, sweepstakes and lottery scams and landlord/tenant disputes round out what CFA and NACPI call the “worst complaints in 2013.”

The ABC News Fixer, Stephanie Zimmermann, says these types of complaints regularly show up in her online mailbag, where viewers send in their gripes about everything from mortgage rescue schemes to shoddy home repairs.

“Consumers get frustrated when they feel they’ve been treated unfairly,” says Zimmermann, who writes a consumer column and has recovered more than a quarter-million dollars for ABC News viewers for problems big and small. “We try to not only fix individual consumers’ problems but also give other viewers information so they can avoid falling into the same trap.”

Check out the full consumer complaint list below and if you have your own consumer problem, click here to mail it in to The ABC News Fixer. You may also get help by contacting one of these federal, state or local agencies.

Top 10 Complaints in 2013

  1. Auto: Misrepresentations in advertising or sales of new and used cars, lemons, faulty repairs, leasing and towing disputes
  2. Home Improvement/Construction: Shoddy work, failure to start or complete the job
  3. Credit/Debt: Billing and fee disputes, mortgage modifications and mortgage-related fraud, credit repair, debt relief services, predatory lending, illegal or abusive debt collection tactics
  4. Retail Sales: False advertising and other deceptive practices, defective merchandise, problems with rebates, coupons, gift cards and gift certificates, failure to deliver
  5. Services: Misrepresentations, shoddy work, failure to have required licenses, failure to perform
  6. Utilities: Service problems or billing disputes with phone, cable, satellite, Internet, electric and gas service
  7. Landlord/Tenant: Unhealthy or unsafe conditions, failure to make repairs or provide promised amenities, deposit and rent disputes, illegal eviction tactics
  8. (tie) Home Solicitations: Misrepresentations or failure to deliver in door-to-door, telemarketing or mail solicitations, do-not-call violations
    (tie) Internet Sales: misrepresentations or other deceptive practices, failure to deliver online purchases
  9. Health Products/Services: Misleading claims, unlicensed practitioners, failure to deliver
  10. Fraud: Bogus sweepstakes and lotteries, work-at-home schemes, grant offers, fake check scams, imposter scams and other common frauds

Top 5 Fastest-Growing Complaints in 2013

  1. Violations of do-not-call rights and other telemarketing abuses
  2. Home improvement and construction
  3. Used car sales
  4. Utility billing issues
  5. Internet sales

Top 5 Worst Complaints in 2013

  1. Scams of all kinds against the elderly
  2. Home improvement and construction
  3. Business closings that left consumers in the lurch
  4. Phony sweepstakes and lotteries
  5. Landlord/tenant disputes


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul302014

Wall Street: Stocks Finish Mixed

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Stocks finished mixed on Wednesday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 31.75 points, ending the day at 16,880.36. The Nasdaq rose 20.20 points to 4,462.90, and the S&P 500 finished up 0.12 at 1,970.07.

Payroll processor ADP says hiring slowed a little in July but is continuing at a health pace -- possibly enough to lower unemployment nationally. Numbers from the government will be released Friday.

Gross domestic product-- a snapshot of all goods and services produced in the United States-- rose at an annualized rate of 4% from April to June, the Commerce Department announced.

A study in the journal Administrative Science Quarterly says the best managers empower and encourage their teams and ask for feedback.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul302014

GDP Rebounds, Rises 4% in Second Quarter

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. economy has bounced back from the winter doldrums.

After contracting in the first quarter of 2014, gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 4 percent between April and June, according to the latest figures released on Wednesday by the Commerce Department.

"The big area that we saw an increase in GDP was after taking more than a percent off of GDP in the first quarter, we saw inventory bounce back and add almost 1.7 percent to that 4 percent growth figure," says Diane Swonk, chief economist for Mesirow Financial in Chicago.

The better than expected bump in the second quarter was fueled in part by more consumer spending and business investment.

"We saw consumers spend more, particularly on big ticket items, vehicle sales have been strong. We also saw gains in investment, which is much needed at this stage of the game," Swonk notes.

She adds, "I'm hoping to see at least a 3 percent handle on the rest of the summer. That would get us still to a year that's probably about 1.7, 1.8 percent overall."

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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul302014

What Sprint's New Wireless Plan Says About the Future of Mobile

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Sprint and Virgin Mobile USA announced phone plans Wednesday that will let you access only four of the most popular social media apps in the country.

Marketed with parental controls and targeted toward families, customers can pay $11.98 for the new Virgin Mobile Custom plan, a no-annual-contract program for unlimited access to one of four social media apps: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.

Each pre-paid $6.98 base plan includes 20 minutes of voice and 20 texts. Another $5 provides customers with unlimited access to one of those four apps. Or, you can choose to pay $15 for access to all four of those apps.

"Phones have migrated largely away from 'talking' at this point and are much more utilized for apps, searching and making purchases," said Ken Wisnefski, founder and CEO of online marketing agency WebiMax. "Talking is secondary. Who talks on a phone anymore?"

The announced plan is a big win for the social media companies. The four companies are not paying Sprint, the carrier said.

"One of the biggest scenarios that has benefited companies like Facebook is the fact that people are using their mobile devices for searching for everything from restaurants to purchasing large-scale items like TVs," Wisnefski said.

Last week, Facebook reported higher earnings as mobile advertising and its number of users grows. This week, Twitter reported its revenue more than doubled in its second quarter.

Retailers are investing heavily in mobile advertising as it sees increasing e-commerce web traffic from mobile devices.

"Over time, people have begun to abandon their laptop and now use their phone for everything," Wisnefski said, adding that companies are required these days to prepare websites for different screen size viewing.

"The mobile revolution has had a heavy impact on business in general," he said. "People will be walking or driving through an area and use their phones via Siri or other voice-activated searches to 'find the closest pizza place' or 'find the highest-rated Italian restaurant near me.'"

When asked why those four apps were selected for the new phone plan, and if there are any others in the pipeline, a spokeswoman for Sprint said those are the "four popular apps that our customers are currently using" and "as other apps rise in popularity they may be added."

The Virgin Mobile Custom plan is available on three Android devices that range from $79.88 to $129.88 and are available only at select Walmart stores.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul302014

Singapore, South Africa and the Philippines Get Instagram's New App

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Users in three countries -- South Africa, Singapore and the Philippines -- are the first to get their hands on Instagram's new ephemeral messaging app, "Bolt."

Instagram chose the three countries for their geographical diversity and engagement within their communities.

"We're going to other regions soon, but are starting with a handful of countries to make sure we can scale the experience," an Instagram spokesman told The Verge. "Instagram has 65 percent of its users overseas, so an international launch, while different, is actually not all that out of order with what we do."

While fans in the United States will have to wait for the new app, here's a sneak peek at how it works:

Users sign up with their phone number and can find friends through their contacts. There's also a favorites bar that holds up to four friends, but allows users to add up to 20.

Now it's time to take a photo or video. Simply hold down on a friend's photo. Once users lift their finger, the media is sent to a friend.

The concept is simple and fast, which can be a double-edged sword. Unlike Snapchat and other ephemeral messaging competitors, there is an option to undo an accidental "Bolt" by shaking your phone after it is sent.

Bolts are sent one on one, keeping the exchanges personal. Once the recipient swipes the photo away, it is supposed to disappear forever.

In June, Facebook, which owns Instagram, introduced its own ephemeral messaging app, Slingshot.

The app takes a "pay to play approach." Before you can open that selfie from a friend, you're going to have to send something in return.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul302014

McDonald’s Ruling Pleases Labor Rights Crowd

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Labor rights proponents are delighted with a legal ruling by the National Labor Relations Board.

The decision said McDonald’s can be treated as a joint employer with its franchise-owned restaurants, potentially exposing the fast food giant to hundreds of lawsuits over how companies deal with their workers.

"HUGE victory for labor & fast food workers!" the Service Employees International Union tweeted after the ruling Tuesday.

McDonald’s said it will fight the decision, which could set a precedent for the industry.

Most of the company's restaurants are owned and operated by franchisees. This also holds true for its competitors, such as Yum Brands, which owns KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut.

Unions and fast food workers have been protesting in cities around the U.S. in a push for higher wages and the right to unionize.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul302014

ADP Report: 218,000 Jobs Added in July

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Private employers in the U.S. added more than 200,000 new jobs in July, the latest survey from ADP shows. This marks the fourth straight month of jobs added.

According to the payroll processor, 218,000 jobs were added last month -- a slight decrease from June.

"As long as we're clearing the 200,000 mark, we are back into an area where it looks like we're finally adding some more jobs and it's consistent with some of the consumer confidence numbers we've seen also that have been a little bit more bullish," says Diane Swonk, chief economist for Mesirow Financial in Chicago.

On Friday, the Labor Department will release its monthly jobs report for July. Swonk says she thinks the government's numbers will be even better.

"I think we're actually going to see a lot more than 218,000 in the job numbers on Friday. We could see closer to 280,000," she says.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio