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Thursday
Sep302010

Employer Background Checks: Often Exaggerated?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CLEVELAND) -- Many employers perform criminal background checks before or a short time after hiring a new employee, a new survey finds, but widely publicized reports on financial credit checks may be exaggerated.

"I do think there's a misconception out there that all employers are doing these types of background checks," said Elizabeth Owens Bille of the Society for Human Resource Management.

As for information posted on social networking websites such as Facebook, Bille says  employers have the right to investigate if they choose to do so.

"You might find information about [a candidate's] personal characteristics like their health, their religion." But she says that employers typically take great pains not to uncover such information.

The survey of more than 600 firms was conducted by EmployeeScreenIQ.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep302010

Facebook and Skype in Talks to Team Up

Photo Courtesy - FacebookFacebook and Skype are talking about joining forces.  Published reports say both companies are expected to combine services, allowing Facebook members to sign in to Skype using their Facebook Connect accounts.  Users could then send text messages, voice chat and video chat with their Facebook friends from within Skype.  A deal is expected to be announced within the next few weeks. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep302010

McDonald's Fights Back Against Report It Will Drop Health Care Plan

Photo Courtesy - PRNewsFoto(NEW YORK) -- McDonald's and the Obama administration are firing back at a Wall Street Journal report saying the fast food giant is considering dropping its "mini-med" health insurance for hourly workers because of the new health care reform law.

"Media reports stating that we plan to drop health care coverage for our employees are completely false," said Steve Russell, a senior vice president and head of human resources for McDonald's, in a written response to the article. "These reports are purely speculative and misleading."

That sentiment was echoed by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Thursday.  "The McDonald's story is flat out wrong, and I am sorry that they were not more accurate in their reporting," she said.

Nearly 30,000 McDonald's employees currently participate in the plan, which provides a maximum of $2,000 to $10,000 a year in basic medical coverage at a cost of $14 to $32 a week, according to the company. Home Depot, Disney, Blockbuster, Staples and other big retail chains with large populations of hourly employees offer similar plans.

The Wall Street Journal reviewed a memo by McDonald's, asking federal officials to determine if their most basic health insurance plans can be exempted from the medical loss ratio requirements of the new health care law. The law requires that 80-85 percent of the premiums received go directly to patient care, not to other expenses like overhead, executive salaries or dividends for shareholders.

The McDonald's plan, according to the report, has higher overhead costs because it provides insurance to a highly transient population of hourly workers in its restaurants and would not likely meet the minimum requirements of the new law.

An HHS spokeswoman called the story premature.

"The new law provides significant flexibility to maintain coverage for workers. Additionally, this story is premature as guidance on the new medical loss ratio rules has not even been issued," said Jessica Santillo. "The administration is working closely with businesses like McDonald's that are committed to providing health benefits to protect health coverage for their employees."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep302010

Top States or Territories for Women by Earnings

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Puerto Rico is the only state or territory in the United States where women earn more than men, raking in 103 percent of what men earn, according to data from the 2009 American Community Survey released by the United States Census earlier this week.  However, Puerto Rico is not a high-paying area for either sex, and the estimated median for women's earnings on the island was only $20,563 in 2009.

In fact, only women located in Washington, DC brought home more than the estimated $45,485 average median salary for men in all 50 states.  There, women earned an estimated median salary of more than $54,000 in 2009.  While female earners in the nation's capital trailed men in the same area by more than $7,000, D.C. is likely to pay women 88 percent of the earnings of men.

"What explains the unusually high earnings in the District of Columbia is those are largely government jobs and a more narrow base of employment than what you would get in other states," said Evelyn Murphy, president of grassroots organization The Wage Report.

Even D.C.'s high-paying jobs have failed to generate equality.  Across 10 locations, women employed by the state, local or federal levels of the government failed to take home more than their male counterparts in the same sectors.  At the government level, women may run into some "bias for promotions and some within the grade," Murphy said.

In the 10 states or territories that made the list for best areas for women earners, more women older than 25 held a bachelor's or master's degree than men, except in Rhode Island.  While only a small percentage of men or women hold advanced doctoral or professional degrees, more men hold such degrees in all 10 areas.

Top Ten Areas for Women by 2009 Median Earnings:

1 - District of Columbia - $54,698
2 - Massachusetts - $45,062
3 - Maryland - $44,937
4 - New Jersey - $44,166
5 - Connecticut - $43,900
6 - New York - $40,584
7 - California - $40,019
8 - Virginia - $39,354
9 - Rhode Island - $39,248
10 - Alaska - $39,017 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep302010

Toy Maker Fisher Price Recalls Over 10 Million Products

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(Bethesda, Md.) -- More than 10 million children's toys are being recalled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the toys' manufacturer Fisher Price, the CPSC announced Thursday.  The toy giant is recalling toys, from tricycles to playplaces, citing potential dangers from falling onto certain protruding parts and choking hazards from small parts.  "Consumer should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed," the CPSC said in a statement.

Here's the list of products being recalled in the U.S., according to the CPSC:

- About 7 million Fisher Price Trikes and Tough Trikes toddler tricycles

- About 950,000 Healthy Care, Easy Clean and Close to Me High Chairs About 100,000 Fisher-Price Little People Wheelies Stand 'n Play Rampway

- About 2.8 million Baby Playzone Crawl & Cruise Playground, Baby Playzone Crawl & Slide Arcade, Baby Gymtastics Play Wall, Ocean Wonders Kick & Crawl Aquarium (C3068 and H8094), 1-2-3 Tetherball, Bat & Score Goal

For the various play place products, including Playzone and Playground, the CPSC and Fisher Price reported they were aware of 46 instances when a small piece came free from the product. In 14 of those cases, the piece was found in the child's mouth. In three of those cases, the piece had caused the child to begin choking.

The products are also being recalled in Canada in smaller numbers.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep302010

Domino's Franchise Offers Breakfast Options

Photo Courtesy - Domino's Pizza(DAYTON, Ohio) -- In an attempt to boost business, a Domino's Pizza franchise in Dayton, Ohio is offering breakfast options to its customers.  Nation's Restaurant News reports the nation's only 24-hour Domino's restaurant serves breakfast pizza, topped with eggs and cheese and up to three toppings, for the price of $7.99.  The breakfast selection will be available to customers all day long, along with morning menu beverages like coffee and orange juice.  Speaking on the success of the breakfast venture, manager Carami Macken says, “It’s definitely picked up now that it’s gotten some media.  It’s not super-busy, but it’s definitely making a difference.”  A Domino's spokeswoman said, “We’ll be watching the store closely to see if it’s something we can expand to other stores.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep292010

Report Says Foreclosure Sales Account for 1 in 4 Residential Sales

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(IRVINE, Calif.) -- On Thursday, RealtyTrac, an online marketplace for foreclosure properties, released its Q2 2010 U.S. Foreclosure Sales Report.  RealtyTrac reports that "foreclosure homes accounted for 24 percent of all residential sales in the second quarter of 2010," and "the average sales price of properties that sold while in some stage of foreclosure was more than 26 percent below the average sales price of properties not in the foreclosure process -- down slightly from a 27 percent average discount in the first quarter."  James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac, noted however that "while foreclosure sales increased in the second quarter, non-foreclosure sales increased even more, spurred on by the homebuyer tax credit that expired during the quarter."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep292010

How Has the Recession Changed Your Life?

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Although by technical standards the "Great Recession" has ended, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that it still has a wrenching effect on the choices Americans make in their lives.  According to The New York Times, fewer young people are tying the knot, delaying marriage until their finances are on stronger footing.  In Louisville, KY, employees at the Brown Hotel told ABC News that they've begun to take on additional job responsibilities and cross-train in new positions so that they can keep working full-time.  According to ABC News, young Americans getting ready to enter the work force now believe they have to acquire several skills to move from industry to industry, pursuing multiple jobs. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Wednesday
Sep292010

Gold, Silver Surge to New Record Highs

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Gold and silver prices surged to new records Tuesday as the dollar weakened against major currencies, continuing a trend that has left Americans scrambling for alternatives to traditional investments such as stocks and money market accounts.

Silver touched $22 an ounce Tuesday, the highest since 1980. Silver has surged 36 percent this year from less than $9 when the financial crisis began in 2008. Gold, which has increased 19 percent in 2010, jumped to $1,313 an ounce, the highest ever recorded.

With stocks in the dumps and government deficits spiraling, Americans are increasingly turning their attention to silver and other precious metals. The high price of gold has prompted investors to load up on cheaper silver. Silver has gained 21 percent in price versus gold this year. Low interest rates are another factor in the rush to precious metals, experts say.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep282010

Best Bang for the Buck? CBO Outlines Economic Growth Options

Photo Courtesy -- The Republican Party(WASHINGTON) -- Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Elmendorf said Tuesday that extending former President George W. Bush's tax cuts would help spur the country’s sluggish economic recovery in the short term, but it could prove harmful in the long run.  A permanent extension of the tax cuts, Elmendorf told a Senate Budget Committee hearing, would provide “the largest boost in the short run, but the largest negative effect in the long run” since it would swell the country’s already-soaring deficits.  The best bang for the buck, the CBO found, would come from extending jobless benefits. “A temporary increase in aid to the unemployed would have the largest effect on the economy per dollar of budgetary cost,” he said.  The Senate has put off a debate about extending the Bush tax cuts until after the November elections.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio









ABC News Radio