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Wednesday
Nov172010

Unemployment Down, Underemployment Reaches Lowest Level of 2010

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(PRINCETON, NJ) – Unemployment has reached one of the lowest levels of the year, according to a new Gallup Poll, indicating that the job market has continued to improve.

The poll found that unemployment dropped to 9.2 percent during the first half of November. That figure is down from 10 percent in mid-October and 9.4 percent during the last half of October.

Underemployment has also dropped to reach its lowest point this year. The drop in unemployment combined with a decrease in the number of part-time workers seeking full-time employment has brought the underemployment rate to 17.7 percent.
 
The new figures, however, do not account for improvement that may have been caused due to holiday hiring, as Gallup's U.S. unemployment rate and underemployment measure are not seasonally adjusted.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov172010

Four Loko Manufacturer to Remove Caffeine from Products

Photo Courtesy - ABC News/WABC-TV New York(CHICAGO) -- Phusion Projects, the manufacturer of the caffeinated alcoholic drink Four Loko, announced Tuesday that it will reformulate its products, removing caffeine from its drinks.  The company's announcement comes just as the Food and Drug Administration is set to ban Four Loko.

Along with the removal of caffeine, Phusion Projects will also extract guarana and taurine from its products nationwide.

In a statement, the company's three co-founders said, "We are taking this step after trying – unsuccessfully – to navigate a difficult and politically-charged regulatory environment at both the state and federal levels."

The FDA's position on caffeinated alcoholic drinks could come as early as Wednesday.  Four states -- Washington, Michigan, Utah and Oklahoma -- have already banned Four Loko in response to several recent incidents in which college students were hospitalized after consuming the drink.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov172010

Google Unveils New Fashion E-Commerce Site

Photo Courtesy - Boutiques [dot] com/ Google(MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.) -- As many in the fashion world expected, Google took the wraps off of a new fashion e-commerce site, Boutiques.com, on Wednesday.

Launched with technology made possible by Google's summer acquisition of Like.com, a shopping site with a sophisticated visual search program, the new site lets visitors not only browse colorful virtual boutiques set up by celebrities and designers but create -- and share -- their own personalized online shops.

Visitors to Boutiques.com don't actually complete purchases on the site, but it makes it easy and intuitive for shoppers to identify and search for their favorite styles and items.  It also lets them follow the styles of designer, celebrity and fashion blogger "tastemakers."

Boutiques.com makes money when shoppers click through to other e-retailers or brands' online stores.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov172010

Senate to Vote on Bill to Reduce Wage Disparities Among Sexes

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate is set to take up a controversial bill designed to ensure equal pay for equal work and reduce pay disparities between men and women.

On Wednesday, senators will convene on Capitol Hill to vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act, which has already passed the House.  President Obama calls it a "common sense bill" that would make it easier for women to file class action lawsuits against employers accused of sex based pay discrimination.  It will also require companies to be more aware of pay practices.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis this legislation is long overdue.  "The last time we actually made any changes in this law was back in 1966, almost 50 years ago, through the Equal Pay Act," she says.  "That was supposed to help end sex based wage discrimination and yet we find that we have not made enough of an impact, therefore we need this, and it helps to close those loopholes."

But some say the new act will burden businesses with extra paperwork.

"You're basically putting this huge paperwork burden on a company to report to the federal government -- to report to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission," says Brian Darling, Director of Senate Relations at The Heritage Foundation.  "And in the end, it's not going to do anything to help women make more money.  It's just going to enrich trial lawyers."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov162010

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Pledges $500 Million to Bring Financial Services to World's Poorest

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SEATTLE) -- Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, urged nearly 200 influential world leaders to work together to build a financial structure that will "bring savings to the poor." 

To that end, Gates, whose husband Bill Gates is chairman of Microsoft Corporation, also pledged $500 million over the next five years from the charitable foundation the couple founded.

On Tuesday, world leaders gathered in Seattle at the Global Savings Forum, billed as "the first global gathering focused on the role of savings in the developing world," where Gates spoke about bringing financial services, specifically savings accounts, to the millions of people worldwide that are living on less than $2 per day.

"This is an amazing moment.  The stage is set for incredible breakthroughs," Gates told forum attendees.

Gates added that statements last week on savings by the G20 "proves financial inclusion is on the global agenda at the highest level."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 

Tuesday
Nov162010

Chevy Volt is ‘Game-Changer,' Car of the Year 

Photo Courtesy of Chevrolet dot com(DETROIT) -- The Chevrolet Volt has been named the 2011 Motor Trend Car of the Year, as announced in the magazine’s January issue.

The magazine hailed the Volt as a “car of the future,” which somehow emerged from the rough emotional and political GM rollercoaster.

Chris Theodore, a Car of the Year judge and industry expert, told Motor Trend he was blown away by the car’s technology.

"This is a fully developed vehicle with seamlessly integrated systems and software, a real car that provides a unique driving experience,” Theodore said.

Motor Trend called the Volt one of the most hyped yet controversial choices in the 61-year history of the award -- a car that emerged from the much-scrutinized transition from Old GM to New GM as a game-changer.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov162010

Pre-Black Friday Bargains: Why It Pays to Wait

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Black Friday is a cultural phenomenon in which consumers take part in the thrill of the deal. This year, the mania is more intense than ever. Black Friday deals have been leaked two weeks early –- many posted on Facebook -– all to get you in the mood to buy.

So where are the deals, and is it worth it to wait? Many retailers have to guess almost a year early how many big-ticket items, like televisions, to order. If they overbuy, you get the deals.

At Walmart, for example, an Emerson 32-inch LCD HD TV that typically goes for $328 has been slashed to $198. Target and others have similar deals. But the deepest discounts this year will be on some of the biggest sets. Best Buy is offering a 50-inch Panasonic plasma set -– regular price $999 –- for $699 after Thanksgiving. At Sears, there’s a 55-inch Samsung LCD for almost $1,000 off.

It's not just the big-ticket items like TVs where deals can be found. Retailers are spending loads of money to get you into their stores, so they're going to do everything they can to make sure you leave with a shopping bag or two.

Other hot deals include a five-piece luggage set for $38.88 at JCPenney and KitchenAid Cutlery, on sale for $80. Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-book reader is $99.99 after having been reduced from $149.99.

And, of course, there are the toys. Zhuzhu pets, one of last year’s must-have holiday items, are $4 at Walmart, 50 percent off the regular $8 sale price. At Toys R Us, Buzz Lightyear and Lincoln Logs are each 50 percent off.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov162010

Watchdog Warns of 'Potential Crisis' from Foreclosure Fraud

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Foreclosure fraud problems could cause the U.S. housing market to collapse, push the "precarious" financial system into disarray and shatter the economy's fragile recovery, a government watchdog warned in a new report due out Tuesday.

"Even as the government's response to the financial crisis is drawing to a close, severe threats remain that have the potential to damage financial stability," the Congressional Oversight Panel concluded in the first federal report on the foreclosure fraud problems.

"If documentation problems prove to be pervasive and, more importantly, throw into doubt the ownership of not only foreclosed properties but also pooled mortgages, the consequences could be severe.  Clear and uncontested property rights are the foundation of the housing market.  If these rights fall into question, that foundation could collapse."

While the Treasury Department has said that evidence to date shows that mortgage-related problems pose no threat to the financial system, the watchdog cautions that such a view is "premature."

While under a best-case scenario, the problems could prove "overblown" -- the work of only "a handful of employees" at mortgage servicers who failed to follow proper procedure.

Under a worst-case scenario, the servicers will not be able to prove that they own the mortgage loans they claim to own.  Under such a scenario, the banks, the government and homeowners would all end up hurting.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov152010

Facebook Updates Messaging Service, Not 'E-Mail Killer'

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Facebook users, a new e-mail address is heading your way. As expected, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled a new messaging system at a San Francisco event Monday, but be careful before calling it "e-mail."

"We don't think a modern messaging system is going to be e-mail," Zuckerberg said.

As part of the new service, which will initially be invitation-only, Facebook users will receive an @Facebook.com e-mail address. But Zuckerberg emphasized that the new application is much more than e-mail.

"This is not an e-mail killer, this is a messaging system that includes e-mail as one part of it," Zuckerberg said.

Users will be able to receive e-mail messages through their Facebook accounts if they want to and will be able to limit messages to only their friends or friends of friends.

Considering that Facebook has 500 million members worldwide, an e-mail program would instantaneously become a major force on the Web. Hotmail leads the Web in e-mail services with about 346 million users, Yahoo e-mail is a close second with 303 million users and Gmail has about 186 million worldwide users, according to ComScore data from July.

Facebook's announcement means further competition in an already crowded arena. AOL launched a new Web-based e-mail service, called Project Phoenix, Sunday. The new program is available only to a limited number of users now, but will open up next year to those who sign up to use a beta site.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov152010

October Retail Sales Rise More Than Forecast

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Shoppers opened their purses more than expected in October, as retail sales climbed 1.2 percent, the most in seven months. The rise in consumer purchasing was the biggest gain since March, the U.S. Commerce Department said Monday. The October number was strong compared with the 0.7 percent jump most economists were expecting.

Americans are shopping again, which means the sputtering economic recovery is getting a much-needed jolt. Companies are capitalizing on the shopping spirit, offering incentives to get customers to spend. Just this week, Wal-Mart announced it will offer free shipping on some 60,000 items over the holidays.

The retail industry is on the path to hiring the most seasonal workers since 2006. In October alone, stores hired 150,900 workers, according to global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. That's three times more jobs than last year at this time, when just 47,600 holiday jobs were added.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio