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Monday
Dec272010

Poll: 42 Percent of Americans Feel Less Secure Financially Than One Year Ago

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Recent results from a Harris Poll say that 30 percent of Americans give President Obama a positive rating on the progress he is making on the economy, while 70 percent give the president a negative rating.

The poll, which surveyed 2,331 adults online in early to mid-December, found that 42 percent feel less secure financially than last year, while 36 percent feel just as secure and 19 percent feel more secure.  While 2010 has been a troubling year economically, the poll reveals an improvement in the perceived financial security of Americans.  At the conclusion of last year, over half of Americans admitted they felt less secure about their financial status than compared to the previous year.

Looking to the future, the poll found that some Americans (29 percent) believe the economy will improve while one-quarter think it will not.

But the numbers are much higher for Americans planning to cut back in 2011.  Forty-nine percent say they will cut back on household spending in the next year, 40 percent want to save more and 41 percent plan to pay down their debt.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec272010

Is Economy Poised for a Major Rebound?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Lately, there have been signs that the U.S. economy could be gearing up for a major comeback in 2011.

The most obvious indicator is that the 2010 holiday shopping season was particularly robust after two down years.

Economists are also encouraged by the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts, despite long-term effects on the deficit, and that many large corporations enjoyed substantial profits over the past 12 months even though hiring remained weak.

Activity on Wall Street also picked up to levels not seen since the financial meltdown of September 2008.

What could finally turn the tide is the Federal Reserve's decision last month to buy an additional $600 billion of U.S. Treasury securities through mid-2011. The goal is to pump cash into the economy, thus encouraging banks to lend to businesses, large and small.

The downside to this plan, critics say, is that it will further weaken the dollar abroad and renew inflation that has leveled off since the recession began in November 2007. By printing money willy-nilly, opponents argue it will slow the economy’s rate of recovery.

Ultimately, the key to sustained economic growth is with employers, who must decide whether more consumer buying justifies hiring more staff.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec272010

Charles Schwab 'Recuperating' After Heart Surgery

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Charles Schwab, the 76-year-old chairman of the financial services corporation that bears his name, is recovering from heart valve replacement surgery, which he underwent Friday.

"He is resting comfortably and recuperating well from the surgery and expects to return home in the next few days," the Charles Schwab Corp. said in a statement Monday.

In 1973, Schwab founded what developed into the Charles Schwab Corp. He has served as the company's chairman since 1986.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec272010

Study: Baby Boomers to Inherit Trillions

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BOSTON) -- Substantial inheritance. It's a sensation most baby boomers -- adults aged 46 to 64 -- can expect to enjoy, according to a new study.

Inheritance and Wealth Transfer to Baby Boomers, commissioned by MetLife from Boston College's Center for Retirement Research, says that two-out-of-three boomers should get something, with $64,000 being the median amount. The study anticipates an inter-generational transfer of wealth totaling $11.6 trillion, including some $2.4 trillion that has already been gifted.

Who'll get what? The study predicts distribution will be "highly unequal." The wealthiest boomer households will get by far the biggest inheritances, with $1.5 million as the average. The average for the poorest will be $27,000. Median amounts for top and bottom will be $335,000 and $8,000, respectively, according to the study.

Though the study was prepared before the economic crisis hit, John Migliaccio, MetLife's director of research, has since examined the impact of the recession on the dollar value of the wealth transfer. The recession has cost would-be inheritors $800 billion, or about 13 percent of their patrimony. "Not earth-shattering," he calls the decrease, noting that potential inheritances will recover as the economy at large recovers.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec272010

The Season Was Very Good for Online Sales

Photo Courtesy - ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- E-commerce enjoyed its best holiday season yet, as consumers spent an estimated $36.4 billion, according to a report from MasterCard research firm SpendingPulse. Overall, spending rose 15.4 percent during the shopping season that lasted from October 31-December 24, compared to the same period in 2009.

SpendingPulse Vice President Michael McNamara said “e-commerce accounts for a much larger share of overall retail sales compared to a few years ago. And during this holiday season, it registered double-digit growth for six out of seven weeks.”

There were six days over the past two months that spending exceeded $1 billion. Last year, the billion dollar threshold was only reached three times. Meanwhile, clothing was the biggest seller this year, accounting for 18.8 percent of all sales. Electronics also saw purchases up more than 12 percent from 2009 and there was an 11 percent increase in online department stores sales.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec272010

Where to Look for a Job in 2011

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The job market has been of the biggest stories of 2010. There are 15 million people unemployed, but when you add up people who are discouraged, have stopped looking or are underemployed, that number jumps to more than 26 million. It's safe to say that job seekers won't be sorry to see the ball drop on 2010.

Construction, financial services, local/state government, traditional publishing and printing, and even the US Postal Service took some of the hits this year. Yet, on the bright side, 1.2 million jobs were added in the private sector, but we're still down more than 6 million jobs since the recession began, so we have a ways to go.

As we look ahead to 2011, there are a few key areas to focus our attention: Temps: More than 300,000 temporary jobs were added this year. There was a time when being a temp meant you couldn't get a fulltime job; today there's no stigma attached to it. Some people even prefer it because of the flexibility that comes along with it. Experts predict that in a few years, more than 25% of all workers will be temps. And it's still one of the best ways to get your foot in the door for a permanent position.

Health care: No matter what becomes of President Obama's health care law, health care is one of the very few industries where there are more jobs than prior to the recession. In 2010, more than 400,000 jobs were added in health care.

The opportunities are diverse: from trainers to therapists to nurses, all of which require specialized training.

Retail: Retail has been coming back. Even with seasonal workers ending their positions after the holidays, more than 55,000 jobs were added this year. Demand is up a bit for sales and customer service after severely slashing those positions when people and companies weren't spending. That need is expected to grow as long as consumer confidence grows too. Hospitality and restaurants: The leisure and hospitality industry added 150,000 workers as tried and true establishments that offer good value saw a healthy gain in business.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Dec262010

Chaos at the Mall as Post-Holiday Shopping Season Begins

Image Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Even before Christmas Day was over, the post-holiday push was under way. Retailers spent Christmas blitzing shoppers with email, desperate to keep a good thing going.

If sales continue to be strong over the next week, this holiday shopping season could be the best ever, despite the bad economy. Americans in 2007 spent a record $453 billion on holiday shopping. After a two-year dip, the numbers this year are creeping back.

The National Retail Federation predicts seasonal sales will top $451 billion dollars – a jump of more than 3 percent over last year.

So what’s the best strategy for post-Christmas shopping? Experts say consumers should check the web before checking the stores. Shoppers have spent more than $36 billion buying online this season, driven by discounts and free shipping – offers that continue this week, meaning you may not even have to brave the stores to get the best deal.

Getting people into the stores over the next few days is a big concern for retailers. Analysts are worried that bad weather across the country could keep people away and seriously impact stores’ bottom lines as retailers close out their holiday shopping seasons.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Dec252010

After Christmas Sales Could Lure Shoppers Back

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) --  With Christmas Day having finally arrived, the time will soon come for those who received to hit the stores to spend those gift cards and deftly return those unwanted items.

One of the major advantages of the season is the deals, discounts and bargains that stores offer to shoppers who flood in after the biggest gift-giving day of the year.

Some of the country's biggest retailers are prepared for the onslaught of customers. Best Buy and Sears have both announced sales that will begin on Dec. 26, while many stores are lengthening their operating hours to accommodate as many customers as possible.

After two down years, this year's Christmas season will go down as the holiday Americans decided to shop again. A strong Christmas Eve helped bolster spectacular sales for retailers, and the National Retail Federation predicts spending this holiday season will reach $451.5 billion, which is 3.3 percent up from last year.

This holiday season marks the biggest bump since 2006, and the largest total since a record $452 billion was spent in 2007. The holiday season runs from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31, so a strong week after Christmas could still make this the biggest of all time.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Dec252010

Record Season for Holiday Shopping?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Believe it or not, this holiday shopping season could be one for the record books.

"We're seeing that the consumer really has a bit of strength left,” said Kamalesh Rao, director of economic research for MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse. “People are still going still out and spending on discretionary things.  On things they don't necessarily need.”

Struggling since the record 2007 shopping season, holiday sales shot back this year.  Americans spent more than $451 billion this year, a number that continued to grow late Friday night.

The biggest boost to sales totals this year came from online shopping. Consumers spent $36 billion online this year, as more shoppers stayed at home to buy.

The National Retail Federation upped its holiday forecast from a 2.3 percent rise in spending to 3.3 percent earlier this month, citing a strong start to the season.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Dec252010

Christmas Getaway: $3 Gas, More Travelers

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- National prices at the gas pump are now averaging $3 a gallon for the first time since October 2008, according to a survey commissioned by AAA. That's nearly 40 cents a gallon higher than last year at this time, or around $3 extra for a 100-mile trip each way to visit grandma.

No matter how you are traveling -- car, train, bus, plane or ferry -- expect more company on your trip. AAA projects 92.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the year-end holidays, an increase of 3.1 percent from last year. As on every major holiday, the vast majority of travelers -- 93 percent -- will be drivers.

Winter weather is not going to cooperate for all travelers. Flights in and out of Europe have been delayed or canceled all week by bad weather. Those who did make it didn't always make it with their bags. In the U.S., meanwhile, a separate storm front is threatening to cause delays in the Southeast and the East Coast over the weekend.

Delta Air Lines is allowing travelers to and from Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Newark, New York and Washington to make changes to flights at no cost.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio