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|"Government service has always attracted those for whom the demands of the private sector are too stringent, those for whom responsibility is too heavy a burden, & those who are devoid both of imagination & ambition." --- Herbert Burkholz 1994 _The FDA Follies_ pg 3|
Dice Report: 55,681 job ads
Jeffrey Sparshott _Washington Times_
US, Brazilian governments eye Free Trade of the Americas Agreement (FTAA)
"U.S. and Brazilian trade negotiators plan to meet later this month, hoping to revive moribund talks to create a hemispherewide economic zone. The New Year was supposed to ring in a new Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and a deeper World Trade Organization agreement, but both failed to make end-of-year dead-lines... The Bush administration is hoping for an FTAA thaw, and progress toward a sweeping, hemispherewide pact that would cover 34 nations with 800M people and $13T in economic output... The Bush administration insists that agricultural subsidies should be handled at the broadest level so that U.S. farmers reduce subsidies at the same pace as farmers in the European Union, Japan and elsewhere..."
British Medical Journal reveals Lilly knew Prozac link to suicide & violence
"A British medical journal said Friday it has given U.S. regulators confidential drug company documents suggesting a link between the popular antidepressant Prozac and a heightened risk of suicide attempts and violence. The British Medical Journal reported in its January 1 issue that documents it received from an anonymous source indicated that Prozac's manufacturer, Eli Lilly and Co., was aware in the 1980s that the drug could have potentially troubling side effects. The journal said the documents, reportedly missing for a decade, had formed part of a 1994 lawsuit against Eli Lilly on behalf of victims of a work-place shooting in Louisville, KY. Joseph Wesbecker, the gunman who killed 8 people and himself in 1989, had been prescribed Prozac a month before the shootings."
Kamil Z. Skawinski _CC News_
Rural Sourcing: What is to become of the American IT worker?
"industry representatives, economists, and business analysts had remained amazingly steadfast and sure in their conviction that the transfer of certain IT-related positions from the United States to countries such as India would continue unabated... Tax experts in the U.S. and over-seas also had long concluded that even should plans to eliminate current tax breaks available to American companies that send jobs over-seas materialize and become enacted into law within the United States, those measures likely would not be enough to reverse the ongoing process of globalization... Industry critics, union leaders, and various organizations representing displaced American IT workers continue to press for legislative and tax-code changes that could potentially stem or reverse U.S. reliance upon off-shore out-sourcing... solutions which would provide a wide range of tax or financial incentives to American companies in exchange for keeping workers gainfully employed within our nation's borders or within the facilities located in a particular state, region, or city. Carrot-and-stick approaches can make a difference and they can, indeed, save the jobs of American workers. But legislative solutions to the challenges of off-shore out-sourcing should neither be looked upon as some sort of 'anti-out-sourcing magic bullet' nor be over-used to implement restrictive or punitive laws and regulations that, in the end, might only serve to hurt the interests of America's businesses and industries, the health of which ultimately impacts upon the wellbeing of everyone in the United States... As more and more work and business process goes off-shore, concerns engaging in off-shore out-sourcing are increasingly coming to recognize that it is not all that it at first appears."
2005-01-01 (20:14PST) (22:14CST) (23:14EST) (2005-01-02 04:14GMT)
I-35 bridge disaster death toll tops 123K
Nancy Cleeland & Alexander Renderos _Los Angeles Times_
Slaying Shines Light on Labor Battle Abroad
"Now his story is likely to be the centerpiece of organized labor's pitch for stronger worker protections in the 5 countries covered by the Central American Free Trade Agreement. The pact is up for ratification by Congress."
Jim Wasserman _AP_/_Cincinnati Enquirer_
Businesses resist reforms demanded by pension funds
"After 3 years of harsh criticism from public pension funds, corporate America is fighting back. Since late 2001 and the collapse of energy giant Enron and other high-profile businesses, corporate interests have been on the defensive as the public and politicians clamored for reform. Now, big business is saying 'enough', lobbying against the pension funds and opposing a big item on the funds' agenda -- their attempts to nominate directors to corporate boards. Companies and business organizations are making their case in editorials in major business publications, in reports critical of pension fund policies and in proposed legislation that would dramatically change the nature of some funds, such as California's $182.8G California Public Employees Retirement System. Business interests scored a major victory December 1, when an obscure California agency removed CalPERS president Sean Harrigan, a leader in share-holder activism, as its representative on the CalPERS board."
Adam Geller _AP_/_Cincinnati Enquirer_
Violating employees' privacy from afar
2005-01-02 14:26PST (17:26EST) (22:26GMT)
_World Net Daily_
Mexican government published illustrated guide to illegal border crossing
"The government of Mexico is raising eyebrows with a new comic book offering advice on how to cross the border into the U.S. illegally. Called _The Guide for the Mexican Migrant_, the 32-page book published by Mexico's Foreign Ministry uses simple language to offer information on safety, legal rights and living unobtrusively in America... Illustrations depict illegals wading into a river, trying to evade U.S. Border Patrol and crouching near a hole in a border fence. Immigrants are also shown hiking through the desert with rock formations similar to those in Arizona and being caught by an American agent."
Arthur Kane _Denver Post_
Facial scanning aims to eliminate liberty and privacy
Privacy Rights Clearing-House
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
Electronic Privacy Information Center
Spy Chips (RFID)
2004-01-03 07:57PST (10:57EST) (15:57GMT)
Gregory Robb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
ISM index rose from 57.8% in November to 58.6% in December: Employment index fell from 57.6 to 52.7, lowest since 2003 November
Matthew Taylor _Guardian_
Over a third third of graduating students fail to land jobs and the ones they do get don't use their educations
"More than a third of students who start work when they finish their degree end up in non-graduate jobs, from stacking shelves to answering phones in call centres, according to figures obtained by the Guardian. Earlier this month, the higher education minister, Kim Howells, declared it was a 'good time to be a graduate' after the government published research showing that 93% of students went into full-time employment or education. But research compiled for the Guardian by the Higher Education Statistics Agency reveals that 38% of those who entered work in 2003 were in 'non-graduate' employment 6 months after finishing their course... The HESA research shows that, after 6 months, only 12% of graduates had gone into 'traditional' graduate occupations, including medicine, higher education and science; 13% had gone into 'modern' graduate jobs such as management and information technology and 16% had 'new' graduate jobs, including marketing and sales management. A further 21% had found work in the 'niche graduate' sector which includes leisure and sports management... 'This is further evidence of just how wrong Ruth Kelly and her predecessors have been to try to push 50% of young people into higher education.', [Chris Grayling] said..."
2005-01-03 14:00PST (17:00EST) (22:00GMT)
_World Net Daily_
Illegal aliens in USA estimated at 18M to 20M: Feds' extortion efforts are thwarted
2005-01-03 14:08PST (17:08EST) (22:08GMT)
Mark Cotton _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Stocks greet new year with red ink
"On the first day of trading in 2005, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 53.58 points at 10,729.43, after climbing as high as 10,867.39 in early trading... The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 23.29 points, at 2,152.15, well off an early high of 2,191.60. A decline in semiconductor stocks was weighing heavily on the tech-rich index. The S&P 500 index was down 9.84 points, at 1,202.08. On Friday, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 closed out 2004 at levels not seen since 2001. The Dow posted a more modest 3.3% gain."
2005-01-04 09:05PST (12:05EST) (17:05GMT)
Corbett B. Daly _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US factory orders for October revised up to 0.9% gain, November gain is 1.2%
census bureau report
"New orders for U.S.-made manufactured goods rose a greater-than-forecast 1.2% in November after October's gains were revised higher, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. The November rise was the fastest increase since July. New orders rose a revised 0.9% in October, nearly doubling the initial estimate of a 0.5% increase. Shipments rose 0.4% in November to a record $379G, the sixth increase in the past seven months, led by increases in shipments of non-durable goods such as basic chemicals. Shipments rose a revised 1.6% in October."
2005-01-04 10:16PST (13:16EST) (18:16GMT) [created 2004-03-10 23:22:07PST (2004-03-11 02:22:07EST) (07:22:07GMT)]
SEI CMM measure over-hyped
"CMM is NOT a measure of technical quality. It is merely a measure of PROCESS, i.e. a measure of how a software project is managed, e.g. how often is work peer-reviewed. As even an official at SEI, CMM's originator and main locus, says, 'You can be a Level 5 organization that produces software that might be garbage.'. In fact, a study found that Level 5 firms actually had MORE code defects than the other firms."
2005-01-04 13:47PST (16:47EST) (21:47GMT)
Gregory Robb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Federal reserve members were split on inflation at December 14 meeting
"U.S. financial markets sold off late Tuesday after the Federal Open Market Committee revealed it is seriously divided over the prospects for inflation... Although the faction that insists that inflation is under control won out at the December meeting, the minutes showed a number of the U.S. central bankers on the committee were growing worried that the weaker dollar, higher energy prices and a slowdown in productivity growth could lead to higher prices. They saw signs that the prolonged period of low interest rates was leading to bubble-style behavior and 'excessive risk-taking', such as 'quite narrow credit spreads, a pick-up in initial public offerings, an up-turn in mergers & acquisition activity and anecdotal reports that speculative demands were becoming apparent in the markets for single-family homes and condominiums.'... But others on the FOMC argued that wages remained under control and that the risk to prices from a weak dollar might be over-stated." 2005-01-04
_Federal Reserve Board Open Market Committee_
"Some participants believed that the prolonged period of policy accommodation had generated a significant degree of liquidity that might be contributing to signs of potentially excessive risk-taking in financial markets evidenced by quite narrow credit spreads, a pickup in initial public offerings, an upturn in mergers and acquisition activity, and anecdotal reports that speculative demands were becoming apparent in the markets for single-family homes and condominiums. Although the November employment report had been disappointing and recent readings on initial claims for unemployment insurance had risen, participants viewed labor market conditions still as improving gradually. Averaging over recent months, or even the entire year, employment growth had been fast enough to absorb un-utilized labor resources over time. Anecdotal information suggested a significant tightening in the market for skilled workers in some industries and regions, although demand for less skilled workers still appeared soft. Recent surveys of hiring plans by businesses were read as signaling future gains in employment. Despite the further improvement in labor markets, a number of participants noted that wage and compensation increases had not picked up materially and generally remained moderate."
2005-01-04 14:40PST (17:40EST) (22:40GMT)
Mark Cotton _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Stocks down: Nasdaq at 5-week low
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 98.65 points, or 0.9%, at 10,630.78, but off an intraday low of 10,605.15... The Nasdaq Composite Index posted its biggest daily loss in 5 months, sliding 44.29 points, or 2.1%, at 2,107.86. In the first 2 sessions of the year, the tech-rich index has shed 3.1%. The S&P 500 index slumped 14.04 points, or 1.2%, to 1,188.04."
_Westchester County Business Journal_
Affect of omnibus appropriations bill on education
"Congress has passed the fiscal-year 2005 Omnibus Appropriations bill... Other than the $250M for the new Community College Initiative and the continuation of programs funded by H-1B visa fees, the legislation is a disappointment for community colleges, according to the Association of Community Colleges... Community College Initiative (Community-based job training grants). This program has been fully funded at $250M ($248M), easily making this the high point of the bill for community colleges. The news is slightly tempered by the fact that half of that money comes from the dislocated worker national reserve, an account authorized by the Workforce Investment Act. Programs funded by H-1B visa fee: The legislation includes provisions that indefinitely extend and increase the fees paid by employers for H-1B visas for [not very] skilled workers. In turn, these fees will continue to fund a revised job training program at the Department of Labor and the computer science, engineering and mathematics scholarships program at the National Science Foundation."
On-Shore Out-Sourcer Flinchbaugh Engineering Battles Off-Shore Sourcing with Lean Manufacturing
_PrimeZone_/_Lean Learning Center_
"With reliance upon lean manufacturing, Flinchbaugh Engineering, a supplier of quality machined and assembled components such as pivot shafts, has found a successful new alternative to battle increasing competition from low-cost foreign manufacturers -- line transfer -- whereby a company transfers individual or multiple-part machining lines. Benefits of this approach include lower part prices, elimination of high labor costs, improved machine up-time and extended equipment life... According to Flinchbaugh's President, Mike Lehman, going over-seas has become the thing to do these days: 'Companies hear about 40%-50% savings and they are convinced off-shore out-sourcing is some kind of panacea. So, they write down their capital equipment and send production over-seas -- only to find out that the savings is more like 15%-20%. With our lean manufacturing concept, however, we can take that equipment in-house, maintain it and keep it humming for years -- in the states.' It was the company's success with lean that taught them that there is, as Lehman says, 'a better way'. Though lean implementation at Flinchbaugh Engineering started in the 90s with Empowerment, Total Productive Maintenance (TPM), 5S, and Kaizen, the cultural change within the organization didn't truly begin to happen until Flinchbaugh employees attended the Lean Experience class held at the Lean Learning Center (Novi, MI) in 2002 March. It was this experience that really accelerated the company's lean plan... In one channel area, set-ups have been reduced by 35%."
Alan Tonelson _American Economic Alert_
Forbes Says Let's Kill All the Jobs
"Nearly a year ago, the GLOBALIZATION FOLLIES crew posed the question, 'Why Not a Jobless Economy?' (2004-02-04). We were responding -- sarcastically of course -- to a _Washington Post_ editorial that wondered boldly, 'whether jobless recoveries are a bad thing'. But globalization cheer-leading has become so bizarre that a major business magazine has recently proclaimed just such a jobless economy to be a critical goal of U.S. economic policy. In the words of _Forbes_ Editor William Baldwin, 'It is a universal belief among politicians that the economic virtue of any company or policy is determined by how many jobs it creates.' Yet Baldwin argues, 'The politicians have this wrong... the truth is that jobs are a cost, not a benefit.' Baldwin views even high tech jobs as 'a negative'... No sensible person believes that job creation is the be all and end all of economic activity. Just as obvious, Baldwin's 'praise of job killers' does have merit on any level below the national, since it's only a reminder of the importance of seeking greater efficiency. But as the predominant objective for a national or global economy? Get a clue... After all, if no one had jobs, how could anyone afford to buy anything unless they inherited income and invested well, or unless they had stolen or fortuitously found wealth? And why would anyone provide any goods or services to the rest of the population unless these producers were hobbyists or alms-givers? Maybe Baldwin believes that most individual consumers could be ignored, and that the wealth and service-providers could count on government customers."
Randolph Heaster _Kansas City Star_
"The out-sourcing of low-skilled production jobs is being joined by the exporting of skilled white-collar jobs in the United States. A study by a [leftist] lobbying group found that Missouri lost more than 31K jobs in the past 10 years because of trade policies enacted over that period... those lost manufacturing jobs are not being replaced by work with equal pay and benefits, leading to lower standards of living. In recent years, high-skilled jobs, such as engineering and computer programming, have been out-sourced to emerging countries such as India, [Red China] and Pakistan."
_Bangor Daily News_
the myth of jobs Americans won't do
"The Bush administration is now proposing a massive new guest-worker plan to legitimize 10M to 15M illegal workers already here and to allow employers to hire an unlimited number of new workers... There are two sides in this debate: politicians and the employer lobbies who support them (in other words, those who gain from cheap labor) vs. economists and those experts from blue ribbon commissions who advise Congress on labor policy (those without an economic stake in the matter). Not surprisingly, the cheap labor lobbies and the politicians they support continually work together to increase the number of guest workers, and they are now clamoring for more. So what do the economists and the experts say? Surprisingly, we find much agreement among this group too. At least four panels of experts have extensively studied guest worker programs, and all came to the same conclusion: no more guest workers. That's right. Four out of four blue ribbon commissions, made up of experts who don't have an economic stake in the decision, concluded that expanding guest worker programs was a bad idea for the country. The most recent, President Clinton's U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform (1997), concluded: 'The Commission believes... that guest worker programs are not in the national interest and unanimously and strongly agrees that such programs would be a grievous mistake.'... It is very difficult to set limits or turn off a program once started. Enforcement is a nightmare, and fraud is rampant. There is no mechanism to adequately screen workers and to ensure that they leave when required. These programs introduce new immigrant networks, leading to increased illegal migration, and they force vulnerable groups, such as ethnic minorities and the working poor, to compete against each other. Such programs distort the labor market and drive down the wages of entry-level workers... IOW, a 'labor shortage' simply means that the employer cannot find Americans to work at the wage he wants to pay... According to the Maine Center for Economic Policy, almost 11% of Mainers with a high school education cannot find full-time employment. And unemployment exceeds 21% for those without a diploma. Yet senator Olympia Snowe's office lists more than 170 Maine tourism employers who claim they cannot find workers... According to the MCEP, it's the pay. Fewer than 40% of tourism jobs pay a livable wage, and the average pay for certified nursing assistants and home health workers is low enough to make them eligible for food stamps. Their conclusion: 'many employers are in denial about the need for attractive wages to lure attractive workers'."
2005-01-05 07:50PST (10:50EST) (15:50GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US lay-off announcements rose 4.3% in December: Up 25% in 4th quarter
"It's the highest total since 2004 January and the first time in nearly 3 years that planned lay-offs have exceeded 100K for 4 straight months. For all of 2004, 1.04M jobs were planned to be eliminated by major corporations, down 16% from 2003's 1.24M. In the fourth quarter, lay-offs increased 25% over third-quarter levels to 315,415... According to [seasonally adjusted?] government data, there were 1.51M lay-offs and involuntary discharges during October, the most recent data available. Other government statistics show that 7.31M jobs were lost in the first quarter of the year, while 7.75M jobs were created."
Frank Schnause _Washington Times_/_UPI_
Service industry expands, job cuts rise
"The ISM said its non-manufacturing index for the final month of 2004 moved up to 63.1, from 61.3 in November, and 59.8 in October... The group said its service-sector employment index came in at 54.9 in December, from 55 in November, marking its fifth straight month of gains... And, Challenger, Gray & Christmas said the number of companies telling staffers to empty their desks and clean out their lockers rose 4.3% in December to 109,045. December marked the fourth straight month of lay-offs exceeding 100K, the firm noted in a statement. The total number for the year was 1,039,735 job cuts, down from the 1,236,426 in the 2003. 2004 was the fourth time in 4 years that annual job cuts exceeded 1M... From May through December, employers announced plans to add 320,262 workers, including 21,262 last month... In 2004, the telecommunications sector posted the highest number of job cut announcements, with 98,734, followed by the financial sector, with 97,945, and the government/nonprofit sector, with 92,094."
Mark Cotton _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Stocks on a losing streak
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 32.95 points, to 10,597.83... The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 16.62 points at 2,091.24 after staging a brief foray into positive territory. In the first 3 sessions of 2005, the tech-heavy index has shed nearly 4%. The S&P 500 Index fell 4.31 points to 1,183.74... 'good old-fashioned profit-taking'..."
Miguel Helft _San Jose Mercury News_
Doing nothing on out-sourcing will be costly
"the migration of software development and other white-collar jobs to cheap labor markets was the source of some hand-wringing in Silicon Valley and the source of real pain for some of its workers. But it wasn't until last  January that bill-boards sprang up... Yet precious little has happened, and that's both good and bad. It's good because the few policy initiatives proposed by legislators for dealing with job losses to other countries were terrible ideas. It seems that all our representatives in Sacramento and Washington could come up with were bills that would restrict some government jobs from being sent over-seas. Since the overwhelming majority of out-sourced jobs are in the private sector, these measures would have had little or no benefits for American workers. Worse, they could have cost taxpayers and would have exposed the United States to retaliation by its trading partners... not a single, significant and sensible measure was enacted in response. And it wasn't for a lack of good ideas from outside Congress and the legislatures."
Subri Raman & Tony Sznoluch _DoL ETA_
unemployment insurance weekly claims report
"The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 551,274 in the week ending January 1, an increase of 103,931 from the previous week. There were 552,815 initial claims in the comparable week in 2004. The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.4% during the week ending December 25, an increase of 0.2%age point from the prior week. The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 3,019,208, an increase of 273,614 from the preceding week. A year earlier, the rate was 3.0% and the volume was 3,730,751."
2005-01-06 05:49PST (08:49EST) (13:49GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Seasonally adjusted US unemployment insurance claims increase to 364K: 4-week average at 330K
2005-01-06 07:48PST (10:48EST) (15:48GMT)
Alexa Olesen _AP_/_Yahoo!_
Red China's Population Reaches 1.3G
2005-01-06 09:41PST (12:41EST) (17:41GMT)
Heather Wilson _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Bankers Association says credit kkkard delinquencies remained stable in 2004 Q3
"ending 5 consecutive quarters of declines as home equity and auto loans showed higher delinquency rates. The ABA said that consumer credit card delinquencies remained stable in the third quarter of 2004 and that 95% of credit card customers are paying on time."
2005-01-06 10:06PST (13:06EST) (18:06GMT)
Alistair Barr _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Marsh Executive, Robert Stearns, Pled Guilty to Fraud in Elliot Spitzer's Probe of Protection Rackets
2005-01-06 11:58PST (14:58EST) (19:58GMT)
Ed Frauenheim _CNET_
Off-shore out-sourcing spending expected to creep up in 2005
"Spending on information technology projects farmed out to low-cost places like India should grow by 1% this year, according to a report Thursday from investment firm Merrill Lynch. The report, based on a December survey of 50 United States-based chief information officers, also found that spending on off-shore IT services represents a small but growing chunk of budgets allocated to IT services. In 2004, off-shore IT services accounted for 1% of the budgets, but CIOs indicated that that figure will increase to 1.4% in coming years... [Off-shoring] eliminates well-paying jobs and threatens the nation's long-term technological leadership... Asked about their near-term IT staff-hiring picture, 14% of respondents indicated that they are actively hiring, 34% answered they are selectively hiring, and 46% do not see a change in their internal staff. 6% indicated that they are selectively cutting back positions."
2005-01-06 14:02PST (17:02EST) (22:02GMT)
Mark Cotton _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Blue chip stocks posted first gains of 2005: Nasdaq lower
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 25.05 points, at 10,622.88... The Nasdaq Composite Index dipped 1.24 points, to 2,090. In the first 4 sessions of 2005, the tech-rich index has shed nearly 4%. The S&P 500 Index was also up 4.15 points, standing at 1,187.89."
Malcolm Wheatley _Supply Management_
A Glimpse of the Future: Rise of Red China, Demise of "Just-in-Time"
"it was exactly 5 years ago that the dotcom frenzy was nearing its peak. While America's Nasdaq index soared to dizzy heights, technology-heavy British stocks followed in its wake. Baltimore Technologies was riding high in the FTSE 100, with a valuation that would reach £5.5G on 2000-03-10. Five years on, it's worth £9M -- 0.16% off its peak value -- and is about to be delisted. The share prices of other then FTSE 100 giants, such as Vodafone, Marconi, Energis, Spirent and Colt Telecom have all fallen spectacularly as well... Today, the dollar is down against virtually every currency (except those to which it is fixed), not just sterling. Over the past 3 years, for example, the dollar is down by 35% against the euro and by 24% against the yen... As US Federal Reserve Bank chairman Alan Greenspan has observed bluntly, the national current account deficit is rapidly becoming huge by any measure: a whopping $665G imbalance in trade and investment flows. Indeed, recent Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development estimates predict that this will climb even further, to $825G, by the end of 2006. In percentage terms, as a proportion of gross domestic product, that's very different from the 1980s -- twice as bad, according to Stephen Roach, chief economist at Morgan Stanley. That such imbalances can exist is down to the fact that other countries in effect bail out the US by either lending it money by buying American securities, or owning dollars. Russia has some $110G in dollar reserves, for example, while [Red China] has $523G in reserves -- not sitting as piles of bank-notes, but in dollar-denominated assets on which the US must pay interest... Step back and look at the overall trends, though, and there's a thrust that runs directly counter to all of the cosy notions of empowered, well-trained, well-rewarded and generally cosseted employees that have characterised these various approaches. Nine-to-five, for a start, is a joke. Many employees work far longer, unpaid... Factor in the longer hours that people work and average real pay rates are either static or falling. And huge numbers of employees have seen their pension benefits cut or even, in high-profile cases such as Allied Steel & Wire and Dexion, virtually vanish altogether. Jobs once thought safe forever are disappearing to India and other low-cost locations. It's a global trend. General Electric, one of the most admired companies in the world, has launched its 70-70-70 programme: out-sourcing 70% of its head-count; pushing 70% of that out-sourcing off-shore; and locating 70% of its workers in India. In Japan, once the home of life-time employment, part-time, seasonal and contract workers now make up 40% of the work-force. More than half of Japanese workers under 35 have never had a full-time job... They call it 'the [Red China] price'. It seems to be around 30% to 50% because that's the average amount that American manufacturers must drop their prices by, it turns out, to match the price offered by [Red Chinese] manufacturers. And in some cases, especially in labour-intensive industries, the differential is far greater... Road congestion in the UK is 14% higher than in 1995 and costs the country £3G a year. Fuel bills are going through the roof, yet still around 55% of truck journeys are 'empty running'."
Stacey L. Bradford _Smart Money_
2005 Job Out-Look
"Since July, employers have added [only] 750K new jobs, according to recruiting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. And unless the economy falters, the firm expects this trend to carry into 2005. The folks at Manpower, a Milwaukee-based [body shop] company, agree. Of the 16K U.S. employers that Manpower surveys, 21% (seasonally adjusted) anticipate an increase in hiring for the first quarter of 2005 -- a 7-percentage-point increase over the previous year. That might not sound so exciting, but this gain puts hiring expectations on par with the first quarter of 2001, which was quite rosy."
_Xinhua Net_/_Red China View_
US issued 25K visas to students from Red China in 2004
"The United States issued 25,647 student visas to Chinese nationals in fiscal 2004, a rise of about 15% over the previous year, a senior US official said Thursday. The number in 2004 represented an increase of nearly 4K visas over fiscal 2003, when the United States issued 21,786 student visas to Chinese nationals, said Janice Jacobs, deputy assistant secretary for consular affairs at the State Department, at a news briefing. Worldwide, the United States issued 478,219 student visas in fiscal year 2004, compared with 473,715 student visas a year earlier, she said... About 97% of the applicants can get the visas within one day or two after the visa is approved, while about 2.2% of all types of visa applications -- totaling about 7M last year -- require additional scrutiny in Washington, she said."
Sam Francis _V Dare_
Globalization Now Eats the Hands That Fed It
"The tsunami Americans need to fear is the man-made wave of globalization that has helped gut the American work force by exporting its jobs over-seas in part through the cute little trick known as off-shoring. We know the threat is big because last month even Business Week started paying attention to it... Paul Samuelson... recently raised his own questions about the benefits of free trade in the _Journal of Economic Perspectives_... But what's news is that there's a debate at all."
2005-01-06 18:01PST (21:01EST) (2005-01-07 02:01GMT)
Eva Rosenberg _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Struggle against federal extortionists
"In 1971, it cost the Internal Revenue Service [only] 51 cents to collect each $100 in tax receipts. The agency collected an average of $925 per person that year. In 2003, IRS spent only 48 cents per $100 -- to collect an average of more than $6,600 per person. And the IRS is working to bring that cost down further -- by adding efficiencies to the system. And one place the IRS expects to build those efficiencies is through a revamped offer-in-compromise program. The program allows [tax-victims against whom federal extortionists are making particularly onerous demands] to seek a reduction in taxes owed. Still, what's efficient for the IRS may not work out that way for [tax-victims]. The revised IRS Form 656, Offer in Compromise, has grown into a 64-page work-book."
2005-01-07 14:10PST (17:10EST) (22:10GMT)
Mark Cotton _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Stocks ended lower Friday
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 18.92 points, at 10,603.96, notching up a weekly decline of 1.6%... The Nasdaq Composite Index drifted lower into the close, to end down 1.39 points, at 2,088.61. The tech-rich index tumbled nearly 4% on the week. Strength in semiconductor and Internet stocks helped put a floor underneath the Nasdaq. The S&P 500 Index dipped 1.70 points, to 1,186.19. The broad gauge fell 2.1% on the week... Of the 20 down First Five Days since 1950, 10 were followed by full-year gains and 10 by full-year losses, according to the Stock Trader's Almanac. And in six of the last 13 post-election years, full-year losses averaged 11.1%."
Man guilty of selling false college credit to immigrants
"A Colorado man pleaded guilty Thursday to helping foreign students remain in the country illegally by selling them false grades in a correspondence course he managed for Mountain State University. Gaylon Dahn, 77, admitted to allowing two students to buy unearned college credits. His scheme involved at least 25 illegal immigrants, according to court records. Dahn, of Greenwood Village, pleaded to two counts of inducing illegal entry, a felony, as part of an agreement with prosecutors. He was indicted on 12 counts... Dahn and unidentified associates sold the students the credits and grades they needed to keep their non-immigrant, or F-1, student visas even though they did little or no course work, prosecutors said."
Joe Guzzardi _V Dare_
Attacks on Critics of Mexican Immigration
"Graham found herself in the wrong place at the wrong time on 2004-07-33 when she attended a public forum sponsored by the First Data/Western Union titled, 'Immigration: What Reform Will Bring to Our Nation'. First Data, through its various subsidiaries and foundations, has provided substantial funding for organizations that encourage massive illegal immigration. Shortly after arriving at the meeting, Graham began to openly tape the 6 panelists -- all proponents of illegal immigration -- on the stage at Denver's North High School. (The school gained national infamy last year for hanging a Mexican flag inside the class-rooms.) When Graham exercised her First Amendment rights by objecting that the panel failed to include speakers with opposing views, 31-year-old Julissa Molina-Soto -- then director of multi-cultural out-reach for the Hep C Connection -- assaulted her."
2005-01-07 16:00PST (19:00EST) (2005-01-08 00:00GMT)
J. Bonasia _Investor's Business Daily_/_Yahoo!_
Boosters for Off-Shoring
"As head of consulting firm OffshoreView.com, Jonathan Guerster has a unique background that shapes his views on the off-shore out-sourcing... Guerster is a trained computer scientist and former manager at software maker Open Market. So he clearly sympathizes with the plight of programmers who have lost their jobs to lower paid workers in India, [Red China] and elsewhere. Yet as a former venture capitalist with Charles River Ventures, Guerster [supports off-shoring of marginal functions] thereby focus on their bread-and-butter business issues... Over time, he expects more companies to send core tasks, such as research and development, to off-shore sites."
_Los Angeles Times_
US & Red China to Ease Visa Restrictions
"Under the policy, to take effect January 15, both sides will offer 12-month multiple-entry business and tourist visas. U.S. embassies and consulates 'will begin issuing to otherwise qualified [Red Chinese] citizens, who wish to visit the United States temporarily for business or pleasure, visas that are valid for 12 months and multiple entries', the U.S. Embassy in Beijing said. Americans would enjoy the same privileges on visits to [Red China], it added."
2005-01-10 07:25PST (10:25EST) (15:25GMT)
Rick Godt _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Movie Gallery to buy Hollywood Entertainment for $1.2G
"Movie Gallery Inc. said Monday it would buy Hollywood Entertainment for $1.2G in cash and debt, topping an earlier bid from Blockbuster Inc. At $13.25 a share, the offer represents a 1.5% premium over Hollywood's Friday closing price of $13.05. Hollywood shares climbed 70 cents, or 5.6%, to $13.73 in early trading, while Movie Gallery shares were higher by $1, or 5.1%, to $20. Shares of Blockbuster, meanwhile, lost 39 cents, or 4.2%, to $8.90... Movie Gallery's offer includes $850M in cash while it takes on $350M of Hollywood's debt. Movie Gallery said the combined company, with annual revenue of $2.5G, would form the second largest video-rental company in North America, behind Blockbuster."
2005-01-10 12:50PST (15:50EST) (20:50GMT)
Ed Frauenheim _CNET_
Decision Design sweet on off-shoring deals gone sour
"A small U.S. software development company is growing fast in part by mopping up off-shoring messes. Chicago area-based Decision Design doubled its revenue last year to $5M, with a chunk of the business stemming from clients unhappy with projects they sent over-seas. Through a strategy that includes locating U.S. facilities outside of high-rent areas, Decision Design says that it is cost-competitive with off-shore companies, offering workers familiar with U.S. business practices and culture. The 20-person company on Monday announced new offices in Pleasanton, CA, that should hold another 10 or more employees."
2005-01-10 13:57PST (16:57EST) (21:57GMT)
Susan Lerner _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Stock gains faded
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which had moved as high as 10,663 intraday, closed up 17.07 points, or 0.2%, at 10,621. The Nasdaq Composite Index finished up 8.43 points, or 0.4%, at 2,097.04 -- well off its 2,111 intraday high -- and the S&P 500 rose 4.06 points, or 0.3%, to 1,190.25."
Ron Scherer _Christian Science Monitor_
Hot hires: white-collar workers: Finally, the US job market expands for professionals in fields like accounting
"Companies are hiring engineers, lawyers, accountants, and computer whizzes... 'It's a sign that companies... are not as worried that their fortunes will disappear at any moment.', says John Challenger, an employment expert at the Chicago-based out-placement firm of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. 'It means they are confident enough to take on more risks, more hiring of skilled people to grow their business.'"
Rob Sanchez _Job Destruction News-Letter_
Baltimore schools bring in "exchange teachers"
"Baltimore Schools have found a way to circumvent the fact that the H-1B cap has reached its limit. They do this by bringing in foreign teachers on J-1 visas instead of using H-1Bs. Most of Baltimore's new Filipino teachers will enter the country on cultural-exchange visas, which are good for 3 years, because the U.S. government has placed a limit on work visas, known as H1b visas, until October, she said. This is clearly a dubious and possibly illegal means to import foreign teachers because J-1 visas are for students. While they could argue that these teachers are merely 'student teachers' who will eventually get an H-1B visa, that argument quickly breaks down when they admit the experience level of the foreign teachers. These don't sound like student teachers, now do they? The men and women have an average of 10 years' teaching experience, and nearly all have at least a master's degree... many foreign teachers are willing to pay large sums to recruiting agencies that connect them to U.S. school districts. The 45 teachers hired by Baltimore will each pay $5K to $8K to a California firm working with city school officials... The Baltimore schools are importing these teachers for one obvious reason -- CHEAP LABOR. They are hiring teachers with 10 years experience but paying them entry level salaries."
see also Dan Noyes, KGO-TV
Bill Pascrell LTE to _Passaic county NJ Herald News_
Highly capable Americans are being displaced
"Corporations have fired thousands of highly qualified American technology workers in order to replace them with lower-paid foreign workers, while the U.S. government turns a blind eye... Congress must stop aiding and abetting the flagrant exploitation of American and foreign workers. When Congress reconvenes, I plan to re-introduce the 'Defend the American Dream Act', which will significantly strengthen labor protections for U.S. and foreign workers by requiring that all H-1B employers pay their workers the prevailing wage. First, however, those employers must conduct a search for qualified American workers. A center-piece of the bill would give real teeth to the labor protections by establishing the right of employees to challenge their own mistreatment in court. We in Congress have a moral obligation to prevent our skilled work-force from being dangerously eroded."
John Ribeiro _IT World_
US may increase H-1B visas available to Indians
"The U.S. government is considering a substantial increase in the number of H-1B visas available to Indian professionals, Robert Blake, deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Delhi reportedly told a meeting hosted by the Delhi-based Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM)."
Matthew Benson _Coloradoan_
Bacon to focus on re-defining blight and fighting off-shoring
Ruben Navarrette _Tucson Citizen_/Dallas Morning News_
Source of illegal immigration is in Rubin Navarrette's mirror
"In 2001, Mexico hatched a plan to distribute little survival kits to people crossing the border. Containing everything from salt tablets to bandages to snacks, the kits were soon nicknamed by the Mexican press as cajitas feliz ('Happy Meals') and eventually laughed out of existence... Mexico takes in about $15G a year in remittances from Mexicans living in the United States. The money that Mexicans send home is now the country's second-largest source of foreign income behind oil exports (about $16G annually). Tourism produces about $10G a year. So it is in Mexico's interest to maintain the status quo. Our State Department likes to say Mexico and the United States are working together to stem the tide of illegal immigration. Anyone who believes that is loco... What I'm waiting for is the study that calculates the amount of money that American employers and companies save each year by paying lower wages to illegal immigrants to do - as President Bush often puts it -- 'jobs that Americans won't do'. Or the study that examines which U.S. businesses -- such as restaurants, grocery stores, and bars -- take in the billions of dollars that Mexican immigrants don't send home but spend here... Just follow the money, which means tracking political contributions. Any power that the advocacy groups have is minuscule compared to the influence wielded by business interests -- big business, small business, every-size-in-between business."
Pay-roll growth topped 2M in 2004, while population grew by about 1.8M
"From 2003 December to 2004 December, total non-farm pay-roll employment grew by 2.2M. Professional and business services [bodyshopping] experienced an over-the-year gain of 546K. Within this sector, job growth in the temporary help industry totaled 206K in 2004."
2005-01-11 11:21PST (14:21EST) (19:21GMT)
Robert Schroeder _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Freddie Mac sees 7% rise in home prices in 2005
"30-year mortgage rates, meanwhile, will average around 6% in 2005 and tick up to 6.3% in 2006, the economists said. Rates averaged 5.84% in 2004."
2005-01-11 13:06PST (16:06EST) (21:06GMT)
Herb Greenberg _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Taser's cozy customer relationships
"Taser's stock has been stunned in recent days by news the SEC was probing the safety of its products and a recent order from a distributor. In a letter to shareholders Tuesday morning, the company said the inquiry 'may not be resolved quickly'... In late December, Minneapolis television station WCCO reported the Minneapolis police launched an internal investigation of its stun gun point man who was also paid by Taser to train users outside of the department. The report included an on-camera interview with Deputy Chief Tom Dolan, who said the officer, Ron Bellendier, didn't have permission to work for Taser. He said Bellendier was the department's chief Taser trainer and was responsible for monitoring Taser use within the department. He was also believed to have influence over recommending how many guns should be purchased by the department. In response to my questions, a police department spokeswoman sent a copy of Bellendier's employment history, which shows he resigned on Christmas Day, three days after the report aired. One week later, the 16-year Minneapolis police veteran was hired by Taser as a regional manager in charge of the Midwest... In its last annual 10-K filed with the SEC, Taser said that it had certified more than 11,500 'law enforcement training officers' as Taser instructors. Of those, 263 are certified by Taser as 'master instructors' who train 'other law enforcement and corrections agency trainers, not just end-users within these organizations'. The company says master instructors are paid for each session they conduct. 'These training sessions have led directly to the sale of Tasers to a number of police departments.', according to the 10-K."
Nick Huber _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Off-Shore IT deals fuel skills pay hike in the UK
"Employer concerns about losing key IT staff and problems with off-shore out-sourcing deals are pushing up salaries for a handful of skills, a major survey has revealed. The survey of 45K IT staff and 1,860 employers in North America and Europe found that salaries for certain skills rose during 2004 after sharp declines the previous year. Pay for networking skills rose by 6% and messaging/ groupware rose by 4.5%, compared to a 6% to 12% decline for both skills during 2003, management consultancy Foote Partners found. Hiring by IT [bodyshops] also accelerated during 2004... employers had found off-shore out-sourcing deals riskier than anticipated which has made them rely more on key staff in their IT department... The up-beat findings echo the latest Computer Weekly/SSL Survey of Appointments Data and Trends, published last November. It found that the number of IT job vacancies in the UK has surged in the past 3 months, signalling the end of a 4-year down-turn. The number of permanent jobs advertised rose by 33% from 73,160 to 97,531 during the past quarter - an 83% increase in demand compared to a year ago. Demand for contractors has increased by 50% over the past 3 months and by 81% since the start of 2004. The up-turn is pushing up salaries, which have risen by an average of 4.3% for permanent staff -- the highest increase since the Y2K boom."
Mark Jewell _AP_/_Boston Globe_
Jobs study finds sharp drop in teen employment in Massachusetts
"A study found a sharp drop in the proportion of Massachusetts teens aged 16 through 19 who were employed during a 4-year boom-to-bust stretch. In 2000, nearly 48% of those teens had jobs. By 2003, after a brief recession and slow turnaround, just 39% were employed, according to the study published Monday by Commonwealth Corp., a quasi-public organization that receives financial support from Massachusetts' Department of Workforce Development. The 9 percentage-point decline came as Massachusetts residents aged 55 and older, especially women, saw their job prospects improve, with their employment rate increasing 3 percentage points. Among workers of all ages, the employment rate decline was 1.8% during the 4-year period, which saw Massachusetts' average annual unemployment rate increase from 2.6% in 2000 to 5.8% in 2003. The findings, based on U.S. census data, were compiled for Commonwealth Corp. by Northeastern University's Center for Labor Market Studies... The report attributes the youth job market erosion to greater numbers of college graduates unable to find work in their chosen fields and resorting to lower-wage positions. National evidence indicates one-third to 40% of grads face such circumstances after college, Sum said."
2005-01-11 07:12PST (10:12EST) (15:12GMT)
Jan Herron _Magic City Morning Star_
The Job the President and Congress Won't Do
"Currently, we have more than 20M illegal alien 'squatters' in the United States, challenging both US sovereignty and the constitutional rights of Americans. President Bush's desire to grant amnesty to these illegal aliens is unthinkable, whether by his "guest worker plan" or any other political pseudonym for illegal alien amnesty. US law currently requires that employees be paid without distinction to citizenship. But the Bush 'guest worker plan' would give jobs to the lowest bidder, with the inevitable 'winner' being foreigners whose 'guest' status exempts them from the financial burden of US taxes. That current Americans as well as our children and grand-children will be losers is undeniable as illegal aliens win jobs from Americans... If illegal alien house servants are needed by highly paid government employees and corporate leaders, let them pay the full cost rather than 'passing the buck' to taxpaying citizens. Calling 'lazy' the very [tax-victims] who subsidize their elitist lives is a supreme insult... "
2005-01-12 00:09PST (03:09EST) (08:09GMT)
US commerce secretary Donald Evans continuing to harp on dollar-yuan lock: Drops the ball on human rights
"U.S. Commerce Secretary Donald Evans kept the heat on [Red China] in an address to the American Chamber of Commerce Wednesday in Beijing, continuing to call for that country to allow its currency to trade more flexibly against the dollar, according to published reports... Evans said the [Red Chinese] government should implement a range of economic reforms, saying it needs to do more to improve protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) and create a more flexible exchange rate system."
2005-01-12 07:39PST (10:39EST) (15:39GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Trade deficit soared to record $60.3G in November
"U.S. exports sank 2.3% in November, driving the nation's trade deficit to all-time high of $60.3G, the Commerce Department estimated Wednesday. While exports fell to a 5-month low of $95.6G, imports rose 1.3% to a record $155.8G as the bill for imported oil rose by 17.7% -- more than $2G -- to a record $14.2G. The November figures are adjusted for seasonal factors, but not for price changes. The trade gap on goods and services thus increased by 7.7% from October's revised $56G and by 50.8% from 2003 November's $40G."
Mary Ann R. Mandap _Philippine News_
Tom Lantos files bill to drive down compensation of US nurses
"Rabat had left behind a family and a fairly comfortable life in the Philippines, pinning her hopes for a better one in the U.S. and going around immigration rules to legitimize her stay in this country. Now she finds herself hemmed in by stiffer immigration requirements. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (Uscis) of the Department of Homeland Security, the federal agency responsible for processing immigration applications, has put on hold employment-based visas for workers from the Philippines, [Red China] and India in order to clear its back-log... Rep. Tom Lantos (D, San Mateo, San Francisco) has filed a bill that would allow the Uscis to reassign to qualified nurses from the Philippines, India and [Red China] unused visas allotted to other countries... The Health Improvement and Professionals Act of 2005 (Hipa Act), which Lantos introduced on the first day of the new session of Congress, lets Uscis reassign other countries' unused work-based immigration visas to the Philippines, [Red China] and India so that qualified nurses from there can work in the U.S. The Hipa Act is modeled on the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act, signed into law nearly five years ago in response to the [alleged] shortage of highly-skilled computer programmers and information technology workers needed to fuel the Internet boom of the late 1990s."
2005-01-12 13:32PST (16:32EST) (21:32GMT)
William L. Watts _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Wall Street supports move to private accounts in move away from the Socialist Insecurity Abomination
2005-01-12 14:22PST (17:22EST) (22:22GMT)
Laura Gilcrest _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
McKesson settled class suit for $960M
"McKesson said late Wednesday it has agreed to pay $960M to settle a securities class action law-suit against the San Francisco, CA-based drug distributor and its subsidiary, the former HBO & Company. The law-suit centered on a 1999 financial restatement that was linked to accounting improprieties at HBO, McKesson said."
2005-01-12 15:24PST (18:24EST) (23:24GMT)
Rex Crum _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Apple stock price surged after report that Q1 profit had soared
"Apple Computer Inc. said fiscal first-quarter profit soared more than fourfold and sales rose 74%, far surpassing Wall Street estimates, on rabid consumer demand for its iPod digital music players.The company also boosted its fiscal second-quarter forecast, sending its shares up more than 10% in after-hours trading. Apple said net income for the period ended December 25 climbed to $295M, or 70 cents a share, from $63M, or 17 cents, a year earlier. Sales rose to $3.49G from $2G... The company sold more than 4.5M iPods... Apple said it sold 1.05M Macintosh computers in the quarter, up 26% from 829K a year ago. That's twice the rate of growth of the overall PC market, and double what most analysts expected... Apple's iMac line... reported shipments of 456K units, more than double the 227K units it posted a year ago... iBook note-book computer sales rose to 271K units from 201K a year ago... PowerBook sales slipped to 152K from 195K units, and PowerMac sales came in at 167K units, down from 206K a year ago."
2005-01-12 13:38PST (16:38EST) (21:38GMT)
Alorie Gilbert _CNET_
Tech industry shed fewer jobs in 2004 than in 2003
"Technology companies let up on the lay-offs in the United States last year, sending out 23% fewer pink slips than in 2003 and 62% fewer than in 2002, according to a new report. Yet employment in the high-tech industry, which encompasses computer, electronics, telecommunications and e-commerce companies, is still in flux, according to employment services firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Job losses in the industry totaled 176,113 and accounted for 17% of all job cuts in 2004, the company reported on Wednesday... More than 1.5M jobs have been lost in the industry since 2001, the report noted."
Rob Hof _Business Week_
The Tech Job Paradox
"On the surface, this new report from the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas looks pretty positive: High-tech job cuts fell 23% last year. But dig a little deeper, and the future still looks grim for the poor tech worker. Nestled at the bottom of Challenger Gray's press release is this damning observation by CEO John Challenger: 'The future for this sector could be characterized by a seemingly contradictory co-existence of heavy job cutting along with [allegations of] severe labor shortages.'"
Ron Paul _Lew Rockwell_/_US House International Relations Committee_
Government IDs and Identity Theft
Astrid Poei _Yahoo!_/_Reuters_
Canadian Researcher Invents Better Solar Cell
"Researchers at the University of Toronto have invented a flexible plastic solar cell that is said to be 5 times more efficient than current methods in converting energy from the sun into electrical energy. Team leader Ted Sargent, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the university, said the cell harnesses infrared light from the sun and can form a flexible film on the surface of cloth, paper or other materials. And the film can turn 30% of the sun's power into usable electrical energy -- a far better performance than the 6% gleaned from the best plastic solar cells now in use... Research about the new cell was published in the Sunday on-line edition of the scientific journal _Nature Materials_, and Sargent said he was now looking for investors who could turn the invention into a commercially viable product... Sargent said the technology could be available to the average consumer within 5 to 10 years. But it already has Wall Street venture capitalists interested."
Subri Raman & Tony Sznoluch _DoL ETA_
unemployment insurance weekly claims report
"The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 694,292 in the week ending January 8, an increase of 153,690 from the previous week. There were 677,897 initial claims in the comparable week in 2004. The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.7% during the week ending January 1, an increase of 0.3%age point from the prior week. The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 3,380,253, an increase of 350,605 from the preceding week. A year earlier, the rate was 3.3% and the volume was 4,150,431."
Corbett B. Daly _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Seasonally adjusted initial unemployment insurance claims rose to 367K
"The [seasonally adjusted] number of people filing for unemployment insurance for the first time rose by 10K to 367K last week, the highest since September, the Labor Department said Thursday. The less volatile... 4-week moving average of new claims [seasonally adjusted] rose 12,750 to 344K, the department said... The [seasonally adjusted] number of former workers collecting unemployment checks plunged 219K to 2.63M in the week ended January 1, the lowest level since 2001 April. It's the sharpest drop since 1992 August. The [seasonally adjusted] 4-week average of continuing claims fell by 26,250 to 2.75M, the lowest since the week ended December 11. The [seasonally adjusted] insured unemployment rate -- the percentage of all covered workers who are receiving benefits -- fell by 0.2 percentage points to 2.1%."
2005-01-13 06:58PST (09:58EST) (14:58GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US retail sales increased 1.2% in December
census bureau release
"Led by a big jump in autos, U.S. retail sales increased a seasonally adjusted 1.2% in December, the Commerce Department estimated Thursday. But excluding the 4.3% rise in auto sales, retail sales closed out 2004 with a monthly gain of 0.3%... It was the biggest growth in U.S. retail sales since September's 1.6%. On a year-over-year basis, sales were up 8.7% from 2003 December. Sales in 2004 thus grew 8% from 2003, marking the biggest annual increase since 1999... U.S. retail sales in the fourth quarter were up 8.2% from the same quarter a year ago."
2005-01-13 07:10PST (10:10EST) (15:10GMT)
_Editor & Publisher_/_AP_
Resisting Reform WM Launched a New Offensive in Its Propaganda Campaign
San Francisco Chronicle
San Jose Mercury News
"WM has decided that the best defense is a good offense. The world's biggest retailer says it's fed up with attacks on its labor practices and its effect on competitors. So, it's placing ads in major newspapers to respond to the critics. WM chief executive Lee Scott told USA Today that it's time to draw a line in the sand."
2005-01-13 15:02PST (18:02EST) (23:02GMT)
Susan Lerner _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Dow at 5-week low, Nasdaq at 8-week low, but Apple shines
"A late-day sell-off left the Dow Jones Industrial Average at its lowest close since December 8, marking its biggest point loss since November 19. The blue chip barometer finished the day down 111.95 points, or 1.1%, at 10,505.83. The Nasdaq Composite Index, meanwhile, tumbled 21.97 points, or 1.1%, to 2,070.56 -- its lowest close since November 19. The S&P 500 skidded 10.25 points, or 0.9%, to 1,177.45. Decliners led advancers 18 to 15 on the New York Stock Exchange and 20 to 11 on the Nasdaq. Big Board volume topped 1.5G shares, while more than 2.1G shares traded on the Nasdaq."
Jeff Adams _The Reality Check_
"For all those who voted for G.W. Bush thinking he was interested in the security of the U.S., it should be painfully clear now that Bush is more interested in pacifying the craving of his big business buddies for cheap labor than in securing our borders to protect us from terrorist attacks. Bush is even less interested in maintaining the rights of U.S. citizens and allowing us to have a say in who comes here, or how they get here, legally or illegally (and heaven forbid we look at the negative impact the masses of foreigners have on us financially and socially). President Bush has made it clear that he is bound and determined to obliterate our southern border, and the opinions or desires of American citizens, and Congress for that matter, be damned... that's code for 'not enough uneducated, unskilled laborers are getting through that are willing to work for dirt'. In typical 'politicaleze', Bush claims we are less secure due to the current immigration policies (he's talking about the policies his administration refuses to enforce, thus allowing 10M to 15M illegals to enter the country and remain here untouched). Bush seems to think we'd be more secure if we'd just let a whole bunch more illegals from south of the border come flooding in here with a token acceptance he calls 'temporary worker status'. I think that's code for 'we aren't bothering to stop the invasion, so ! let's act like we actually want them to come pouring over the border so we don't look so pathetically incompetent'."
Frosty Wooldridge _News With Views_
The Minute Man Project to Guard America's Borders
Minute Man Project
"The Minute Man Project launched last Fall and grows by the day. Already volunteers have signed up from 30 states -- many U.S. military veterans volunteered for this new mission to protect America from a Congress that does not and will not represent American citizens. The project expects over 1000 volunteers from every walk of life to serve 1 to 30 days (perhaps in shifts) spotting illegal aliens as they storm our nation's borders -- numbering 10K daily and 3M annually. Yes, that number is verified by _Time Magazine_... 'Our government is mandated by the Constitution, Article IV, Section 4, to protect all states from invasion. We've already been invaded by 15M people who have broken our laws by coming here illegally. Another 3M annually is unacceptable.'"
2005-01-14 07:26PST (10:26EST) (15:26GMT)
Gregory Robb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
PPI fell 0.7% in December, up 4.1% in 2004, biggest increase since 1990
"Over the past year, the PPI has risen at a clip of 4.1%, up slightly from a 4.0% gain in 2003... crude goods prices rose 18.0% in 2004, off from a 19.5% gain in 2003."
2005-01-14 08:12PST (11:12EST) (16:12GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US industrial output was up 0.8% in December: Capacity utilization at 4-year high
Federal Reserve Board report
"The capacity utilization rate rose to 79.2% in December, the highest in four years, but still 1.9 percentage points below its long-term average... Output in December was 4.4% higher than in 2003 December. The capacity utilization rate increased by 2.4%age points. Total output increased 4.1% in 2004, the best growth since 2000. Capacity of the nation's industries increased a modest 0.7% for the year, reflecting slow investment"
2005-01-14 08:40PST (11:40EST) (16:40GMT)
W.J. Golz _National Academy of Engineering_
Red Chinese Protectionism Costs 1.5M US jobs
"It is important to recognize that [Red China's] exchange-rate policy has been tolerated by our US government for a decade, and that multinational corporations have just rationally adapted to that policy by accelerating the movement of their operations to [Red China]. It is well know that multinational corporations have continually lobbied in favor of lifting H1-B and other visa caps by promoting the myth of a shortage of American engineers and scientists. What is not widely known is that these same multinational corporations have lobbied for increased immigration through the back door of our public universities, which are free of H1-B caps. In concert with the corporate efforts, our National Science Foundation and universities have embellished the shortage myth to lobby for large budget increases to meet the fictitious demand for an ever-larger number of foreign-born scientists and engineers. One does not need to look very far, to hear a chief university administrator likening themselves to the CEO of a multi-national corporation while enjoying CEO like benefits, including free housing and many other perks on top of salaries which approach $500K per year. As a result of this successful corporate-university lobbying partnership, our public universities now support science and engineering graduate programs comprised of over 50% international students, most of whom are from India and China, the 2 countries to which America is losing the greatest numbers of high-wage jobs. Furthermore, almost all foreign graduate students are supported by research stipends which can go well over $1K/month, and since most also receive free tuition along with their stipends, their training is 100% funded by American tax-payers. Thus, Americans pay to train foreign nationals to take American jobs both here and abroad, so that multi-national corporations and universities can enjoy lower labor costs and correspondingly higher salaries for their top-level executives."
2005-01-14 12:44PST (15:44EST) (20:44GMT)
Ed Frauenheim _CNET_
visa programs aid foreign companies and off-shoring
"Indian IT companies with operations in the USA actually are some of the biggest [numbers of] applicants for H-1B visas and are heavy [abusers] of L-1 visas, according to a study by Rochester Institute of Technology public policy professor Ron Hira and statistics culled from SEC filings. India-based Wipro, for example had 850 workers in the USA on H-1B visas and 1,401 employees on L-1 visas as of 2003-09-30, according to a filng with the SEC. Those visa holders made up 'the majority of our personnel in the US', the company said. Wipro applied for 3,120 H-1B visas for the year ended 2001-09-30, Hira found, while by comparison US-based IT services giant EDS asked for 452 of the visas... the issue is boiling over once again because of 2 factors: a dramatic rise in over-seas out-sourcing, which is costing thousands of US workers their jobs... [H-1B and L-1 visa] use by foreign-based companies has accelerated the shift of tech work abroad... Hira's paper, which is slated to be published this year in the journal Technological Forecasting and Social Change, cites government figures to show that India-based companies Wipro, Tata Consultancy Services [TCS] and Infosys Technologies were among the top 15 H-1B petitioners between 1999 October & 2000 February... US Citizenship & Immigration Services [USCS]... that helps run the H-1B program, does not have a list of companies that were H-1B dependent. It also does not tally the number of companies that fit that category, bureau spokesman Chris Bentley said... Hira, though, presents evidence that Indian 'IT' companies seeking H-1B visas may have paid lower wages than USA counterparts. For example, for the year ending 2001-09-30 Wipro requested a total of 4,120 H-1Bs, and pledged to pay a total of $158M in wages, for an average annual wage of $50,648, Hira found. EDS requested a total of 452 H-1Bs and pledged to pay $32M in wages, for an average annual wage of $71,251, according to the study... Hira also believes the India-based companies' use of [these] visas has helped promote the shift of IT work off-shore... Visa holders in the US forge a link back to colleagues in India, he suggested. What's more, the [guest-workers take] technology knowledge with them when they return to India, he said... IT companies that carry out much of their work in India are heavy users of the visa programs, Hira noted. Among the legislation proposed to reform the H-1B and L-1 visa programs, senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and rep. Nancy Johnson (D-CT) have proposed a bill that would do such things as end the practice of allowing L-1 visas holders to be sub-contracted by one employer to another, require that L-1 workers be paid the prevailing wage and require all companies that hire H-1B employees comply with lay-off protections and [recruiting] requirements that had been reserved for H-1B dependent firms. The measure would also give the Department of Labor the authority to begin investigations for potential violations of the law, if there is reasonable cause to believe that an employer is not in compliance."
2005-01-14 14:18PST (17:18EST) (22:18GMT)
Susan Lerner & Mark Cotton _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Stocks ended a lack-luster week
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 52.17 points at 10,558 on the fifth anniversary of its all-time high of 11,750. On the week, the bench-mark index slipped 0.4%. The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 17.35 points, or 0.8%, to 2,087.91. The S&P 500 added 7.07 points, to 1,184.52. The broad gauge dipped 0.1% on the week."
Europe worst in world for off-shoring, says analyst
"Europe has over-taken the US as the top market for new out-sourcing contracts. In 2004 Europe represented 49% of the value of major out-sourcing contracts awarded worldwide, with the US standing at 44% and Asia Pacific at 7%. Sourcing advisory firm TPI says that the €28G of contracts awarded by European companies last year is more than double the value in 2002."
National Consumer Boycott Against Illegal Immigration
Joe Guzzardi _V Dare_
Mickey Mouse (and guest-workers) vs. the American Middle Class
"The Walt Disney Company is a microcosm of today's corporate America: millions paid in salary and bonus for the big boys while the company down-sizes by 'laying-off' staff. The remaining employees are squeezed as hard as possible. Finally, foreign workers are hired on H-1B non-immigrant visas thus shutting out qualified Americans from mid-level management positions. For the lucky ones at Disney, January started out with a financial bang. On January 6, Disney announced that Chief Executive Michael Eisner received a $7.35M cash bonus in 2004. With his base salary of $1M and other compensation, Eisner's total pay package was $8.3M. Disney President and Chief Operating Officer Robert Iger also got a healthy $6.5M cash bonus. Added to his annual salary of $1.5M and other payouts, Iger's aggregate 2004 compensation was $12M. According to the Disney compensation committee, Eisner and Iger's bonuses were a reward for the company's 72% earnings increase during 2004... Last month the Orlando Sentinel reported in its story titled For Many Disney Jobs, the Future is Part Time (by Sean Mussenden), that Walt Disney World is determined to continue expanding its part-time labor force at the expense of full-time employees... the number of part-time employees at the Disney hotels and theme parks has grown 10 times as fast as full-time employees. Since 1994, Disney has added 9,400 part-time employees—and increase of 140%. Full-time staff over the last decade increased by only 5K employees or 15%."
Chantelle Janelle _WIS TV_
South Carolina employment down in December
"Officials say employment was at 1.85M, down 1,900 jobs from November. It's up nearly 28K jobs from the same time in 2003 December."
UK employment growth reports challenged
"Labour's job creation claims have been questioned by new figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). According to the Telegraph, the ONS attributed the increase in the employment rate over the last 4 years to population growth... around 88K jobs were created in the year to last September, with many of these in education, health and public administration."
_Financial Express_ Job guarantee Act can cost Rs 20,210 cr per year: NCAER
"Implementation of the Rural Employment Guarantee Act can cost as much as Rs 20,210 crore per annum, as per an analysis by the National... "
Norm Heikens _Indianapolis Star_
Industrial jobs gain in Indiana: Total state employment up 0.5% in 2004; city's off 0.1%
"The Indiana Department of Workforce Development said the state gained 15,100 jobs in 2004. Total employment in Indiana was 2,913,200, up 0.5% from 2003 December but still well below the 3M peak for the month set in 1999... Statewide manufacturing employment rose for the first time in five years. Indiana added 1,300 of the workers, a 0.2% increase. But the Indianapolis area lost 900 jobs in the year, declining 0.1%. The last time fewer people were employed in December in the nine-county Indianapolis metropolitan area (Marion County and surrounding counties, along with Madison County) was 1998."
2005-01-14 16:39PST (19:39EST) (2005-01-15 00:39GMT)
Michael Paige _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Oracle plans to fire 5K in absorption of fellow privacy violation facilitator PeopleSoft
"Oracle Corp. late Friday said it would cut 5,000 jobs, or roughly 9% of its total work-force including former PeopleSoft Inc. workers, following its recent $10.5G acquisition of its smaller rival."
2005-01-15 02:15PST (05:15EST) (19:15GMT)
Dale Kasler _Sacramento Bee_
California lost 25K jobs in December
"UCLA economist Chris Thornberg said he's worried, in part because many Southern California economies -- generating most of the state's job growth lately -- have seen very little job growth in recent months... Sacramento-area unemployment dropped two-tenths of a percentage point, to 4.6%. The region comprising Sacramento, El Dorado and Placer counties picked up 1,300 jobs in December, although the hiring was almost all seasonal: retailing, the Sierra ski resorts and so on... The state's worst unemployment rate last month was in Colusa County, at 26.3%. The lowest unemployment rate was in Marin, 2.4%."
2005-01-15 14:56PST (17:56EST) (22:56GMT)
William Spain _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Massive snow-fall has increased business at ski resorts
Dean Calbreath _San Diego Union-Tribune_
California employment fell by a seasonally adjusted 25K in December
"California's unemployment rate was 5.8%, unchanged from November. But that's partly because some of the [unemployed] are no longer looking for work... officials at the EDD, the state agency that tracks job data, defended the figures, blaming the poor showing on volatility in the entertainment industry and below-average hiring by retailers... Half of the job loss was also attributed to a 10,300 drop in motion-picture jobs, reversing a 7K boost in jobs in the industry a month before... Despite the down-turn in December, 2004 was a positive year for employment in California. The unemployment rate dropped more than a percentage point from 2003 December, when the [unemployment]rate stood at 6.5%. And California companies added 152,300 workers to their pay-rolls during the year -- although that failed to keep pace with population growth. [Body shopping showed the most growth.]"
Sue McGuire _KCBS_
Unemployment rate dropped in Silicon Valley tech sector
"it was down to 4.5% last month which is the lowest it's been in years... 'Our labor force declined by 77-hundred people. Our civilian employed population is down 35-hundred; civilian unemployment down 42-hundred and our jobs down six hundred.', [EDD analyst Janice Schreiber] detailed "
Nicole C. Wong _San Jose Mercury News_
Continuing job losses raise worries in Silicon Valley
"Santa Clara county... lost 600 jobs in December... In December, there were 842,400 jobs in Santa Clara County, down from 843K the month before. The unemployment rate shrank to 4.7%, down from a revised 5.1% in November. Preliminary data shows the local workforce shrank by 21K people during 2004. That, experts said, is part of the reason the unemployment rate tumbled... Stephen Levy, director of the Palo Alto-based Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, said the unemployment rate 'doesn't portray the true sluggishness of the Valley economy'... Professional and business services lost 800 jobs, mostly among temporary agencies. But manufacturing added 500 jobs and information 200. Compared with a year ago, Santa Clara County pay-rolls decreased by 9,800 jobs by the end of 2004. On the upside, Silicon Valley's computer and electronics-product manufacturing ended the year with more jobs, rather than less jobs, for the first time since 2001 May."
Carolyn Said _San Francisco Chronicle_
Rick White, president and CEO of notorious industry lobby TechNet to return to Washington: May run for US Senate
"White was a Republican congressman from Washington state from 1995-1998 and founded the Congressional Internet Caucus. He joined TechNet in 2001 January just [a year after] the tech boom [had turned] to a bust... TechNet still has about the same numbers of members -- 200 technology CEOs - - as when White started... The organization has also grown beyond its Silicon Valley roots, with [corrupt] members from Texas, New England, Southern California and the Pacific Northwest... White will serve on a search committee to select his successor and said he will stay for several months to ease the transition. TechNet founders John Doerr and Jim Barksdale issued statements praising White's tenure at the [notorious] group."
Greg Wilcox _Los Angeles Daily News_
House construction in state needs some resuscitation
"Builders pulled permits for 210K homes and apartments in 2004, the most since 1989, and are likely to match that number this year, according to a forecast by Alan Nevin, chief economist at the Sacramento-based California Building Industry Association. Sounds like a lot, but it's not. Nevin notes that the market was still about 40K units short of meeting continued strong demand. And it's been that way for years... The industry says the magic number is about 250K new units a year. The bench-mark for this analysis is the late 1980s, when an average of 255K units was permitted annually."
2005-01-16 13:22PST (16:22EST) (21:22GMT)
Sandy Huffaker & Del Jones _USA Today_
CxOs love their take from off-shoring
"Many CEOs believe philosophically [and in their own wallets] in off-shoring -- the practice of out-sourcing jobs to foriegn countries where labor costs are cheaper -- but few have been brave enough to publicly say it. Being in favor of exporting jobs is radioactive."
2005-01-17 06:56PST (09:56EST) (14:56GMT) (15:56London)
Geoff Meade _Scotsman_
Europeans Prefer Employment to Going It Alone
"Europe's would-be Richard Bransons are increasingly put off starting their own businesses by a fear of failure, a new survey shows today. Only 45% want to be their own boss -- 41% in the UK – compared with 61% in the US... the fear of too much red tape as a self-employed entrepreneur is cited by 69%... In Europe 45% fear the stigma of bankruptcy, compared with 35% of Americans. Job stability concerns 24% in the EU (29% in the UK) compared with only 10% in the US. For 57% of Europeans self-employment would never be a consideration, with 51% -- 43% in the UK -- saying no-one should start a business if there was any risk of failure. In the US only one-third would be put off by that risk... The EOS Gallup survey for the Commission involved more than 21K telephone interviews last April, including more than 1K Americans. Lack of available financial backing to start a business was cited by 74% in the EU (57% in the UK) and 69% of Americans. Too much complex red tape was cited by 70% in the EU (61% in the UK) and 56% of Americans. The figures show the Irish demonstrating above-average entrepreneurial aspirations, with 58% saying they would choose to be self-employed if they could, and only 29% worried about fear of failure. Percentage in each country which would prefer to be self-employed: Portugal - 62%; USA - 61%; Ireland - 58%; Spain - 56%; Italy - 55%"
2005-01-17 07:15:15PST (10:15:15EST) (15:15:15GMT)
Adam Kolawa _ComputerWorld_
Off-Shore Out-Sourcing Is a Real Danger To You
"There's no doubt that more IT professionals will lose their jobs to out-sourcing... the decision to out-source is sometimes made completely behind the scenes and without warning -- often as a knee-jerk response to demands to cut costs... The IT professionals that should be least concerned about out-sourcing threats are those with skills that their employers cannot easily replace. Contrary to popular belief, being the most experienced or flexible person in your IT team will not make your job immune to out-sourcing. Rather, the IT professionals who are safest from out-sourcing are those who are highly specialized. They know the business well, have helped invent and/or implement technologies that give the company its competitive advantage, and have an advanced knowledge of the technologies that are most important for the company's current success and future prospects. Being extremely productive, innovative and capable of solving the most challenging problems doesn't hurt either."
2005-01-17 09:33PST (12:33EST) (17:33GMT)
Robert Schroeder _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Executives and accounting regulators head-to-head: Execs threaten to off-shore even more if they're held responsible for their companies' accounting
"In the words of its chief financial officer, National Instruments Corp. has never 'done anything wrong' in its financial accounting throughout its 27 years in business. Yet the Austin, TX-based software and plug-in card maker will pay fivefold more in audit fees for 2004 as a cost of doing business -- a $3M expense CFO Alex Davern says will be made up by out-sourcing jobs to India and [Red China]. The added cost owes to the sweeping corporate-governance laws imposed by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002... The target -- Section 404 of the act, which requires companies to include in annual reports letters from top management and outside auditors verifying their internal-control systems, and to identify financial problems. Congress intended the act to combat the type of fraud brought to light by Enron and Worldcom's collapse..."
2005-01-17 13:09PST (16:09EST) (21:09GMT)
Jennifer Waters _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Consumers may be tapped out
"At its annual convention here, the National Retail Federation finally agreed with what many retailers have been saying for months: The consumer is being squeezed by higher prices at the pump, the rising costs of heating their homes and the notable absence of stimuli, such as tax cuts and historically low interest rates, present a year ago. The trade association said Monday that it is expecting consumer spending to rise 3.7% in the first quarter..."
Lauren Spiers _Lawn & Landscape_
First Order of Corrupt Business: Planet & ANLA Take on H-2B
"The Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) isn't easing into its first year as a new green industry association. Members from the new organization, formed by an ALCA/PLCAA merger made official this month, met last week with representatives from the American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA) and other industries to tackle the issue of H-2B. Together, the group discussed problems stemming from the H-2B visa cap, potential solutions to those problems and opportunities to collectively bring about changes to the program in the near future... the H-2B program has become problematic for many industries since early 2004..."
Stephen Franklin _Sun-Sentinel_
The myth of "jobs that Americans won't do"
"People like Dominguez are the ones President Bush was talking about recently when he spoke of reforming the nation's immigration policy to allow 'good-hearted people who are coming here to work' while stopping 'crooks and thieves and drug-runners'. Bush is calling for a system in which foreign guest workers would have temporary legal status to work in this country. Under the plan, employers would have to prove that no U.S. citizens would take the available openings before they could hire guest workers to perform what Bush calls 'jobs that Americans won't do'... 'It's not jobs Americans don't want to do. These are wages and working conditions Americans don't want to accept.', says Ira Melman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, an opponent of lowering the barriers for undocumented workers... they often risk their lives on dangerous jobs for little pay, or no pay at all from a handful of bosses who might cheat them or desert them if they get injured."
2005-01-17 22:00PST (2005-01-18 01:00EST) (06:00GMT)
Joseph Farah _World Net Daily_
Danger at the door
"President Bush is once again making ugly noises about his guest-worker initiative -- the program he dare not call an 'amnesty plan'... It is beyond silly for a nation at war with an enemy whose greatest goal would be to sneak a nuclear weapon inside the U.S. to leave its porous borders insecure. It's beyond ludicrous to offer additional incentives for millions more aliens to enter our country illegally before the problem is fixed. It is reckless. It is irresponsible. It is dangerous. It is treacherous... We need to ask ourselves how many innocent lives we are willing to sacrifice for cheap labor."
2005-01-18 08:13PST (11:13EST) (16:13GMT)
Thomas Kostigen _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Measuring the value of corporate behavior
"More companies are choosing to hold out their records on everything from labor issues to their use of environmentally correct products. This may have an affect on their bottom lines, but it's also begging a new financial reporting standard that allows investors to determine if the 'good' a company does add more to shareholder value than meets the eye under the current reporting system... investors are looking for more of this soft information, as the $2T in 'socially screened' investment dollars is testament... Data doesn't show socially responsible companies generating better or worse returns than their counterparts. However, companies do stand to lose face and value if they are deemed socially irresponsible. Last month, for example, Calvert, the biggest socially responsible mutual fund group in this country, dropped from its social index American International Group and Merck because they no longer met Calvert's criteria. Shares of these companies, which were already on the downslide, fell further. So, not only did these companies lose a large institutional investor, they lost more value in the public market-place."
2005-01-18 13:48PST (16:48EST) (21:48GMT)
Mark Cotton _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
First 2 consecutive stock trading days of gains in 2005
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended at its high for the session, up 70.79 points, or 0.7%, at 10,628.79, recovering from an intra-day low of 10,500.58 on a morning spike in oil prices... Over the last 2 sessions, the Dow industrials have gained 122 points, or 1.2%...The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 18.13 points, or 0.9% to 2,106.04. The tech-rich index has added nearly 1.7% over the last 2 sessions. The S&P 500 Index climbed 11.46 points, at 1,195.98. The broad gauge has risen 1.6% in back-to-back gains."
Juan Mann _VDare_
Bush Now Positively Glorifying Illegal Aliens
"But whether Bush calls it the 'legalizing work' initiative, 'the good-hearted people who are coming here to do jobs that Americans won't do' Appreciation Act, or The Mexican Middle Class Creation (and Relocation) Act of 2005—it's still just another illegal alien amnesty."
2005-01-18 14:58PST (17:58EST) (22:58GMT)
Michael Paige _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
EDS & Towers Perrin plan to hatch another body shop: EDS to pay $420M
Indrajit Basu _World Peace Herald_
India aviation flies high in the USA under new pact
"Aviation industries of both countries agree that it represents a landmark agreement because it would permit unrestricted air service by the airlines of both countries between and beyond the other's territory, eliminating restrictions on how often the carriers can fly, the kind of aircraft they use and prices they charge. It replaces a 50-year old agreement... 'It includes the right to operate between any point in the U.S. and any point in the corresponding country without restriction, including service to intermediate and beyond points, and the right to transfer passengers to an unlimited number of smaller aircraft at the international gateway.', said a spokes-person of the Indian Civil Aviation ministry. 'It also allows cargo carriers to operate in either country without directly connecting to their homeland.' Another important component of the new agreement is the flexibility to set fares and the right of carriers to convert earnings into hard currency, and then return those earnings to their home-lands promptly and without restriction... India has signed similar bilateral open skies pact with 97 countries. However, 51 of those agreements are still lying unused, and, while India carriers like Air-India and Indian Airlines -- both state-owned -- use just 20 of the remaining pacts, foreign carriers use 44."
2005-01-18 21:01PST (2005-01-19 00:01EST) (05:01GMT)
Chuck Jaffe _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
"My wife says I frequently spend too much time in the grocery store, and she's right. Usually it's horning in on the conversations of others, sometimes it's doing interesting consumer math, and often I come home stewing about things I have seen, learned or heard... If you buy 3.3 pounds of meat at $4.79 per pound, you're paying $15.80. This compares to a 2-pound single steak at $4.99 per pound for $9.98. But if you only eat 2.5 pounds of meat, you paid $6.32 per pound for the meat actually used... Bargain sizes aren't such a great deal if too much of the extra product winds up going to waste... "
2005-01-19 07:41PST (10:41EST) (15:41GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
CPI fell 0.1% in December: Rose 3.3% in 2004
Roberta L. Wilson _Techs Unite_
JobLoss Recovery Cited at US Hearings on Trade with Red China
"A commissioner reflected that economists often disagree about the benefits and costs of economic globalization, or free trade, and that educational institutions are known to over compensate for a lack of skilled or professional labor by graduating too many in a field. Dr. Hira clarified that what all economists agree upon is that with free trade, there will be job displacement, a change in the mix of occupations and downward wage pressure. Whether the new mix of jobs is better for the U.S.A. as a whole is debatable, but the negative effect on workers' incomes (and presumably their families and communities) can be indicated if not precisely measured. As an example, Hira said that since the economic recovery, 1 in 3 of the IEEE's members remain unemployed after several years, and 3 in 5 who found jobs took a pay cut... Jesse Feder, representing the Washington D.C.-based Business Software Alliance, called for enforcement of the agreements that already exist to protect intellectual property used in [Red China]. When asked by a commissioner why his clients do not pursue hiring out-of-work U.S. software programmers, he cited MSFT's plan with the City of Redmond to hire 10K workers within the next 10 years. Hira countered that an off-shore out-sourcing company, for example, is hiring 5K software employees per quarter. Clearly, the greater trend is away from U.S. employment, he implied. Meanwhile, the [Red Chinese] government is taking to 'market economics' cautiously and is building support for its own interests. For example, while [Red China] implemented an agreement to only buy legal copies of U.S.-made software for their government offices, they are also implementing a sector-by-sector requirement to use only [Red Chinese]-developed products, such as software, in the long run, reported Feder."
Subri Raman & Tony Sznoluch _DoL ETA_
unemployment insurance weekly claims report
"The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 468,337 in the week ending January 15, a decrease of 226,937 from the previous week. There were 490,763 initial claims in the comparable week in 2004. The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.6% during the week ending January 8, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the prior week. The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 3,337,710, a decrease of 63,382 from the preceding week. A year earlier, the rate was 3.1% and the volume was 3,851,301."
more economic data
Federal Reserve Board Beige Book
"Respondents tend to agree that cost increases from 2004 are likely to result in further attempts to raise prices in 2005, but they have differing views on customer receptivity and they are giving considerable thought to appropriate strategies. For example, one manufacturer met unexpected resistance to its attempt to raise selling prices on one category of products in late 2004 but is nonetheless considering raising prices for another category in 2005. Another is intent on trying to pass through cost increases 'before the window closes'. However, a couple of other firms have decided to hold off on increasing prices until their newer technology products gain a foothold in the marketplace. Prices for innovative drugs are on the rise, reflecting producer market power. Most manufacturers are making only minor adjustments in their U.S. head-counts. Their continued drive for cost containment is putting downward pressure on employment, but some need new employees to generate added sales. Pay increases for 2005 are expected to be in the range of 2.5% to 4%, but firms are more likely to express concern about escalation in non-wage costs such as medical insurance and workers' compensation insurance. Most respondents intend to keep capital spending roughly unchanged from the amounts spent in 2004...
2005-01-19 11:28PST (14:28EST) (19:28GMT)
Gregory Robb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Fed says economy has shown steady growth
2005-01-20 04:23PST (07:23EST) (12:23GMT)
_News 14 Carolina_/_AP_
Wachovia earnings up 32%, will lay off 4% of work-force
"At the same time that it announced a 32% gain in 4th quarter earnings, Wachovia Corp. confirmed its plan to eliminate up to 4K jobs -- about 4% of its work-force -- by 2007."
2005-01-20 08:04PST (11:04EST) (16:04GMT)
Rex Crum _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Rambus stock leaps after winning patent dispute
"the U.S. District Court of Northern California found that rival Hynix Semiconductor infringed on 29 Rambus patents and delivered seven summary judgments in the case. The ruling stems from Rambus' efforts to collect royalties from makers of dynamic random access memory chips. Rambus has been embroiled in the matter since being sued by Hynix, which sought in 2000 August to have 11 Rambus patents declared invalid."
2005-01-20 10:00PST (13:00EST) (18:00GMT)
Ed Frauenheim _ZD Net_
Another H-1B Battle Is Coming
"another battle is already brewing about how many new foreign skilled workers, including compute professionals, should be allowed to work in the United States on [H-1B] visas -- and under what terms. Critics of the H-1B program oppose raising the annual cap... The new exemption comes on top of existing exemptions for institutions of higher education, non-profit research organizations & governmental research organizations. For fiscal years 2000 to 2003, the number of new visas exempt from the annual cap averaged nearly 28K... Cap examptions could translate into more than 40K additional foreign workers this year, said Vin O'Neil, legislative representative for the US wing of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers professional group... 39% of visa petitions approved in 2003 were for workers in computer-related occupations, with nearly 37% of all approvals that year for workers born in India... Critics have blasted the H-1B program as under-mining US workers, being ripe for abuse and fueling the shift of skilled work over-seas... IEEE... argues that reaching the cap on October 1 is a sign that employers have come to treat the visas as a standard business practice [to drive down compensation] rather than a last resort. 'Too many companies are going to H-1Bs first.', said Russell Harrison... 'If they can't get ahold of an H-1B, then they'll go to an American worker.'... The average number of unemployed workers in 9 high-tech categories -- including computer programmers, data-base administrators & computer hardware engineers -- fell from 210K in 2003 to 146K in 2004, according to Labor Department data... ITAA's Miller said his group would 'strongly oppose' requirements that non-H-1B-dependent employers have to [merely] attest that they will not displace a US worker or that they have first sought to hire an American worker."
2005-01-20 10:29PST (13:29EST) (18:29GMT)
George W. Bush _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
"On this day, prescribed by law and marked by ceremony, we celebrate the durable wisdom of our Constitution, and recall the deep commitments that unite our country. I am grateful for the honor of this hour, mindful of the consequential times in which we live, and determined to fulfill the oath that I have sworn and you have witnessed...
We have seen our vulnerability -- and we have seen its deepest source. For as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny, prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder, violence will gather, and multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders, and raise a mortal threat. There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom... The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world. America's vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one.
From the day of our founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this Earth has rights and dignity and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of heaven and Earth. Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave... So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.
This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary. Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen, and defended by citizens, and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities. And when the soul of a nation finally speaks, the institutions that arise may reflect customs and traditions very different from our own. America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom, and make their own way. The great objective of ending tyranny is the concentrated work of generations. The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it...
My most solemn duty is to protect this nation and its people from further attacks and emerging threats...
We will encourage reform in other governments by making clear that success in our relations will require the decent treatment of their own people... Yet rights must be more than the grudging concessions of dictators; they are secured by free dissent and the participation of the governed. In the long run, there is no justice without freedom, and there can be no human rights without human liberty...
We do not accept the existence of permanent tyranny because we do not accept the possibility of permanent slavery. Liberty will come to those who love it...
All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: The United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you... The leaders of governments with long habits of control need to know: To serve your people you must learn to trust them. Start on this journey of progress and justice, and America will walk at your side...
Our country has accepted obligations that are difficult to fulfill, and would be dishonorable to abandon. Yet, because we have acted in the great liberating tradition of this nation, tens of millions have achieved their freedom. And as hope kindles hope, millions more will find it. By our efforts, we have lit a fire, as well -- a fire in the minds of men. It warms those who feel its power; it burns those who fight its progress; and one day this untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world... America has need of idealism and courage, because we have essential work at home -- the unfinished work of American freedom... By making every citizen an agent of his or her own destiny, we will give our fellow Americans greater freedom from want and fear, and make our society more prosperous and just and equal. In America's ideal of freedom, the public interest depends on private character -- on integrity, and tolerance toward others, and the rule of conscience in our own lives.
Self-government relies, in the end, on the governing of the self. That edifice of character is built in families, supported by communities with standards, and sustained in our national life by the truths of Sinai, the Sermon on the Mount, the words of the Koran, and the varied faiths of our people. Americans move forward in every generation by reaffirming all that is good and true that came before -- ideals of justice and conduct that are the same yesterday, today, and forever...
Americans of every party and background, Americans by choice and by birth, are bound to one another in the cause of freedom... we can feel that same unity and pride whenever America acts for good, and the victims of disaster are given hope, and the unjust encounter justice, and the captives are set free. We go forward with complete confidence in the eventual triumph of freedom... it is human choices that move events. Not because we consider ourselves a chosen nation; God moves and chooses as He wills. We have confidence because freedom is the permanent hope of mankind, the hunger in dark places, the longing of the soul. When our Founders declared a new order of the ages; when soldiers died in wave upon wave for a union based on liberty; when citizens marched in peaceful outrage under the banner 'Freedom Now' -- they were acting on an ancient hope that is meant to be fulfilled. History has an ebb and flow of justice, but history also has a visible direction, set by liberty and the Author of Liberty."
_NY Independent Press_
Baltimore school admins turn their noses up at US teachers and travel to Philippines to recruit
2005-01-20 11:52PST (14:52EST) (19:52GMT)
Ed Frauenheim _CNET_
Off-shoring stats look grim for IT workers
"The report, from UK-based Bullhound, focuses attention on IT services companies and is bullish overall about the off-shore trend... That model is heavily stacked with workers on the lower-wage shore... 'A 70/30 off-shore/on-site staffing mix is increasingly being considered optimal by the industry'... US technology workers may face a bleak future. OTOH, there are signs that tech operations in the US can thrive amid off-shoring, which isn't always ideal."
2005-01-21 09:08PST (12:08EST) (17:08GMT)
Greg Robb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
UMich consumer sentiment index fell from 97.1 in December to 95.8 in January
Federal Reserve Board St. Louis
Federal Reserve Board St. Louis
Siddharth Srivastava _Siliconeer_/_Pacific_
Could Rising Wages Slow Off-Shore Out-Sourcing to India?
"According to the report, India showed the highest average salary increase in Asia followed by [Red China], Philippines and Korea. While India reported an 11.6% overall pay hike, in [Red China] salaries grew by 6.4%-8.4%, 7.4%-7.7% in Philippines and 6.4%-6.8% in Korea for the year 2004, the survey said. The hike during Phase I of the survey in India was marginally higher than 11.45% in 2003, Hewitt's Asia Pacific Business head for talent and organisation, Nishchae Suri said, adding that Phase II for the Indian market would be completed by 2005 February... Though the exchange rate between the dollar and rupee stands at over Rs 45 to a dollar, $1 is considered to be equivalent to Rs. 9 in terms of its purchasing parity. That is, a similar bundle of goods and services can be purchased for $1 in U.S. and Rs 9 in India. This is the equation that is also generally worked out by software companies when they pay equivalent salaries to engineers who seek work in India back from the U.S... India's software exports have surged by 30% this year. Revenue from India's IT exports was $12.5G in the year 2003-4 (March ended), which in turn has resulted in a 10%-15% annual rise in wages in India's software and back-office services industry. According to research firm Gartner Group, the global IT services market is worth $580G, of which only $19G is out-sourced, but India has 80% of this off-shore market."
2005-01-21 14:36PST (17:36EST) (22:36GMT)
Mark Cotton _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Stocks fell for 3rd straight week
"U.S. stocks ended lower Friday, opening the year with a third straight week of losses for the first time since 1982... The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 78.48 points at 10,392.99. The bench-mark index fell 1.6% on the week. Over the last three weeks, the Dow has fallen 3.6%. The last time the index ushered in the year with three weeks of losses in 1982, the Dow fell 3.4% but ended up 20% on the year. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 11.61 points, to 2,034.27, capping a loss of 2.6% for the week. The tech-rich index is now down 6.5% since the start of the year. The S&P 500 Index fell 7.54 points, to 1,167.87. The broad gauge ended 1.4% on the week, and has shed around 2.3% since the beginning of the year. "
Profits fell through 2000 & 2001, have generally been climbing since, but are the good times for execs and share-owners about to end (graph)
"Most American companies have enjoyed several years of bumper profits. But, as the results season gets under way, some big firms are reporting that times are getting tougher. Are many more set to follow? The country's economy is growing at a healthy pace -- around 4% a year -- and consumer spending is holding up. Although the Federal Reserve has pushed up interest rates and is set to increase them further, borrowing is still cheap. And a weak dollar makes America's exports all the more alluring to buyers abroad, who currently account for almost a quarter of American firms' profits. No wonder, then, that American companies' profits as a share of GDP are close to an all-time record, or that the Dow Jones Industrial Average hovers around 10,500, over 40% higher than where it stood in late 2002... the days of vast and ever-growing profits may be coming to an end for the time being. In fact, according to figures from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, overall profits for all businesses decreased by $55.9G in the third quarter, a 4.8% drop compared with the previous quarter. For non-financial firms things look better: profits have soared since 2001 and are still growing. But that growth began to slow in the second half of last year... Between 1995 and 2000 output per man hour grew by around 2.5% a year; between 2001 and 2003 it jumped to 4.2%... As the recession hit, firms shed labour. As the economy recovered, slimmed-down companies squeezed more out of workers who responded favourably while labour markets remained slack, boosting productivity. As a result, hiring stagnated, unit labour costs fell and profits rose, resulting in America's much-discussed 'jobless recovery'. The bumper growth in productivity was fuelled by another, related factor. As Alan Greenspan, the Fed chairman, remarked last year, the boom in technology spending during the bubble created a 'back-log of unexploited capabilities'... productivity growth of 4% is unsustainable. The measure slumped to 1.8% at an annualised rate in the third quarter of 2004 and could continue in the doldrums for a time to come."
Karl Schoenberger _San Jose Mercury News_
Auditor endorses off-shoring disclosure
"The California State Auditor's office recommended Thursday that the Legislature consider granting the state General Services Agency authority to require contractors to disclose details on sub-contracting work done outside the United States if it wants information on the scope of off-shoring by state agencies. Off-shoring of white-collar service jobs has emerged as a hot issue in California in recent years, particularly in the software sector where there is a relatively high level of unemployment among engineers... One of the bills, sponsored by Assemblywoman Carol Liu, D-Pasadena, would have banned state agencies from using contractors to do service work outside the United States. Supporters argued that California tax dollars should be spent creating jobs within the state. Several anti-off-shoring bills passed in the last session were vetoed by governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on grounds they were unfriendly to business... The 39 state entities that responded to the auditor's survey reported 185 contracts totaling $638.9M in which at least some portion of the work was possibly performed over-seas. Most of that work was in the area of computer services."
|"[We would not be a good citizens] if, with any effectual means of prevention in our hands, we were to submit to taxes to which we did not consent." --- Edmund Burke (quoted in John Phillip Reid 1986 _The Constitutional History of the American Revolution: The Authority to Tax_ quoted in Charles Adams 1993 _For Good & Evil_)|
David Kelly _Los Angeles Times_
Borders & Priorities Blur Along the 'Wild Frontier': Illegal immigrants and drug traffickers stream to New Mexico to avoid patrols elsewhere
"Frustrated by security crackdowns in Arizona, thousands of illegal immigrants and drug traffickers are flooding once-quiet New Mexico, making it the newest frontier in America's struggle to control its southern border... Palomas, Mexico... is a hub for smuggling cartels... The cartels' clout was evident last year when Palomas authorities tried to arrest a drug king-pin. Gun-men shot up the police station, torched the cars and sent 8 officers & their families fleeing to Columbus [3 miles N of Palomas] in search of political asylum... In 2003, NM arrested 48,633 illegal immigrants; in 2004 the number rsoe to 61,374... Others say such efforts are futile until there are better jobs in Mexico & stiffer penalties for those hiring illegal immigrants [in the USA]... Border agents say they have run into heavily armed Mexican soldiers inside the US... Some officials here think elements of the Mexican military are involved in... smuggling... "
2005-01-23 04:00PST (07:00EST) (12:00GMT)
Bob Mook _Denver Business Journal_/_NBC_
Executives have second thoughts about off-shoring
"Faced with broad communication gaps, higher shipping costs, slower delivery, bloated travel budgets and numerous intellectual property issues, some local CEOs are thinking twice about sending their work over-seas... off-shoring seems to be losing its luster, say some Denver-area business leaders... Mac Slingerlend, president and CEO of Ciber Inc., a Greenwood Village-based IT [body shop] that employs about 6,500 people in the United States and 1,500 worldwide. Last week, Ciber opened an application-development center in Oklahoma City, OK, part of an initiative to create 1K new American jobs in the next 18 months... Workers in the Oklahoma City facility will be paid between $35K and $40K a year, compared with the average annual salary of $61K for a computer programmer in the United States... Slingerlend said Ciber is looking into opening a Ciber site in Florida, where the company might want to recruit retirees from Northern states who are familiar with older systems and want to keep their minds busy."
Ken Belson _Rocky Mountain News_
More call centers are choosing to tape all phone conversations: Privacy & customers held in low esteem
State College Centre Daily
"Most callers do not realize that they may be taped even while they are on hold... Most times, the only way a customer can avoid being recorded is to hang up... Overall, about 2% of the hundreds of millions of calls made to call centers are monitored by a company's own managers or, increasingly, by 3rd party monitoring companies, which have come on the scene in the past couple of years... competent & professional customer service agents are more & more the difference between a sale & a lot opportunity, a burnished brand & a tarnished one... State wire-tapping laws generally do not provide protection against recording of call center conversations... most financial institutions are now taping all their calls... flirtation... Plenty of other calls also raise red flags, including customers & operators who shout, swear, talk politics or threaten bodily harm. Anyone hanging up -- either an operator or an angry customer -- sends out warnings, too."
2005-01-24 07:38PST (10:38EST) (15:38GMT)
Dan Gallagher _MarketWatch_
Venture funding increased in 2004
"After a 3-year decline, venture capitalists made a small pick-up in investments during 2004, spending a total of $20.9G during the year compared with $18.9G the previous year. For the fourth quarter, venture spending totaled $5.3G, an improvement from $4.6G in the third quarter, but below $5.4G in last year's fourth quarter. A large chunk of the gain for 2004 came through an increase in later-stage investments, according to the quarterly MoneyTree survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers, the National Venture Capital Association and the Venture Economics unit of Thomson Financial. Later-stage investments totaled $7.2G in 2004 - an increase of 47% from the previous year. That marked the highest level for this segment since 2001, when later-stage investments totaled $7.9G."
2005-01-24 13:41PST (16:41EST) (21:41GMT)
Susan Lerner _MarketWatch_
Stocks closed lower for 4th day
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 24.38 points, or 0.2%, to 10,368.61, and the S&P 500 slipped 4.12 points, or 0.4%, to 1,163.75. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index, however, skidded 25.57 points, or 1.3%, to 2,008.70... Decliners led advancers 20 to 13 on the New York Stock Exchange and 22 to 9 on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Big Board volume was about 1.49G shares, while some 2.12G shares were traded on the Nasdaq. Wall Street also kept a close eye on crude prices, which closed near a 2-month high. March futures rose 28 cents to close at $48.81 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after trading as high as $49.24 over-night."
Andy McCue _Silicon.com_
UK government promotes off-shoring: Tout re-skilling, to what they will not say
"Speaking at the 'Beyond BPO' event in London, Malcolm McKinnon, head of trade in services and off-shoring policy co-ordinator at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)... 'we should not stop off-shoring happening. Off-shore out-sourcing need not be seen as a threat. It can be a threat to individuals but at a macro level it is not.', he said. Instead the focus shouldb eon re-skilling & re-training those affected by off-shoring so that UK firms can move up the value chain and offer higher value services... Jerry Rao, chairman of Indian IT [industry lobbying group] NASSCOM... Analysts have coined the phrase 'knowledge process out-sourcing (KPO)' for the next wave of services that will be off-shored from Western countries..."
Bill Cotterell _Tallahassee Demagogue_
State government becoming more wary of out-sourcing: Accountability sought
"'Three or 4 years ago, it wasn't a matter of determining whether companies were going to provide better service, all they (Bush and Republican legislators) wanted was cheaper.', said [state] senator Al Lawson, D-Tallahassee, who was in the House in Bush's first term. 'Especially in the House, they were just rubber-stamping everything they wanted to [contract out].' Critical reports by Auditor General Bill Monroe and the Legislature's Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability helped change the climate, Lawson said. But he said it took something like the current People First controversy -- the online personnel contract with Convergys that has been plagued with errors -- to make law-makers take notice. Department of Management Services Deputy Secretary Robert Hosay, who runs the Center for Efficient Government, said Bush's $1M recommendation for an office of procurement will 'provide for training for professional negotiators and project managers'. He said the center already has a 'gate' system that requires 'a business case to be made up front', with re-evaluation of privatization projects at each stage of negotiation, procurement and post-contract management."
WikiPedia: Convergys is a privacy-violation firm derived from the Cincinnati Bell local government-enforced monopoly and its privacy-violation arm, Cincinnati Bell Information Systems, together with MATRIXX/AT&T Solutions Customer Care/AT&T Transtech, DigitalThink, Intervoice, Datacom call center operations, Stream Global Services; with subsidiary operations including Infinys Rating and Billing (IRB), Dynamic Decisioning Solution (DDS), ICOMS, Customer Management Solutions
Scott Thurm _Wall Street Journal_
Big Sili Valley Firms Thrive, but Jobs Are Few
2005-01-24 21:54PST (2005-01-25 00:54EST) (05:54GMT)
Red Chinese GDP grew 9.5% in 2004 Q4
"[Red China's] Shanghai Composite index was down 0.7%. For all of 2004, gross domestic product rose 9.5%, the fastest pace in 8 years, to 13.65T yuan ($1.6T) after climbing 9.3% in 2003, the National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement released in Beijing... In October, [Red China] raised its bench-mark 1-year lending rate for the first time since 1995 by 0.27 of a percentage point to 5.58%. It raised the rate on one-year bank deposits by the same amount, to 2.25%... Industrial production rose 12% to 6.3T yuan and inflation averaged 3.9%, up from 1.2% in 2003, according to AFX."
2005-01-25 07:59PST (10:59EST) (15:59GMT)
Rex Nutting _MarketWatch_
Conference Board consumer confidence index up a little
see jgo's collection of econ data
2005-01-25 10:06PST (13:06EST) (18:06GMT)
Corbett B. Daly _MarketWatch_
Existing home sales fell in December, but still end the year at record high
National Association of Realtors report
"National Association of Realtors said Tuesday... Existing home sales in the United States fell 3.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.69M units in December, from a revised 6.92M in November... For 2004, sales rose 9.4% to a record 6.675M, the fourth consecutive annual record."
2005-01-25 11:45PST (14:45EST) (19:45GMT)
Christopher Noble _MarketWatch_
Some CEOs are finding that it pays to be good
"Company executives around the world, after long playing down the importance of governance as they pursued a fatter bottom line, are embracing corporate responsibility in increasing numbers as a way to improve profits. A majority of chief executives now view corporate responsibility -- broadly defined as governance, risk management and compliance -- as an important set of concepts and practices that can boost shareholder value and public perception of their firms, according to a global survey of more than 1,300 CEOs by PriceWaterhouseCoopers... 'Few observers trust the global economy to make steady gains... But the surveyed CEOs are by and large confident that their companies will do well.', said the report... companies are expected to act responsibly whether in their home countries or in developing nations such as India, Sri Lanka or [Red China]... only 25% of CEOs feel they are doing an effective job of corporate governance... Over-regulation was the biggest worry for CEOs, followed by increased competition, loss of key workers, risk to reputation and terrorism. Other worries included oil prices, market volatility, the rising cost of social welfare and changes in political direction. Despite their worries, the survey found a majority of CEOs had increased capital investment, boosted research and development, accelerated expansion plans and recruited staff. Half of them said they had opened new plants or offices. On the controversial issue of out-sourcing, the survey showed 53% of the CEOs surveyed said out-sourcing to foreign countries is not applicable to their companies. But another 39% of CEOs said they are either out-sourcing to foreign countries or planning to do so. Of the 28% now out-sourcing, 40% are doing so within their own companies and 29% use third parties."
2005-01-25 13:39PST (16:39EST) (21:39GMT)
Susan Lerner _MarketWatch_
DOW posted its biggest advance of the year
"After holding on to triple-digit gains for most of the session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 92.95 points, or 0.9%, to 10,461.56. The gains were the best for the blue-chip gauge since December 21. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 11.25 points, or 0.6%, to 2,019.95. The S&P 500 gained 5 points, or 0.4%, to 1,168... Advancers just squeaked by decliners on the New York Stock Exchange, and winners out-numbered losers 17 to 14 on the Nasdaq. Big Board volume was just over 1.6G shares, while nearly 1.9G shares traded on the Nasdaq."
2005-01-25 14:34PST (17:34EST) (22:34GMT)
Mike Sunnucks _Phoenix Business Journal_
Arizona bill proposed to prohibit off-shoring of state contract work
"The legislation is sponsored by 3 conservative Republicans and 18 Democrats. It prohibits the state from entering into contracts or taking other actions that results in state government jobs, contract positions or other work being shipped outside the United States... Last year, governor Janet Napolitano issued a directive banning foreign out-sourcing in state contracts after it was learned some welfare-related customer service work was being done off-shore by private subcontractors."
Ray Carney _North San Diego County Times_
Mexico does not offer driver licenses to its illegal immigrants
"a group based in Vista called Hispanos Unidos in U.S.A. is demanding that California grant driver's licenses to illegal aliens... Driver's licenses in Mexico are issued by the 31 states and the Federal District, with laws regulating identity requirements for those applying in each state being strict. Typical are the regulations of Baja California, the contiguous state with California. In order to obtain a regular Baja California driver's license, the applicant must know how to read and write, be over the age of 18 ('student licenses' are available for those over 16), and they must show an official photo and signed ID. Those forms of identification accepted include a Mexican passport, a federal or state voter's ID or military identification. Furthermore, applicants must demonstrate proof of residency through electricity, water, telephone and property tax bills that are less than 1 month old. They must also have a health certificate no less than 1 month old. And of course they must pass the requisite written and driving tests. Foreign nationals applying for a Baja California driver's license must comply with the applicable points mentioned above, plus, as with most states in Mexico, they must 'duly prove their legal presence in the country'. In the Federal District, which often serves as a prototype for regulations elsewhere in Mexico, the driver's license code section concludes: 'With respect to foreigners, they will also have to verify their legal presence in the country by showing the immigration document issued by the authorized authority.'"
Off-Shore Out-Sourcing, the Asian Boom 5 Years Ago
"2000-01-25... [the depression is just beginning in the USA] increasing numbers of software companies [go outside] of the US and Europe in search of staff... According to Tony Sumpster, business development director of [body shop] HPS, India isn't just about code crunching and maintenance anymore. 'it's moving into high-value work where it's really able to tackle mission-critical, high-value projects.', he said... 2005-01-25... it is clear that now, as 5 years ago, lowering costs is a factor in many decisions to off-shore..."
Hans Johnson _In These Times_
Movement to oppose WM is building
"Until last year, WM, the global retail chain known for under-cutting local competitors by curbing wages and benefits, enjoyed so much clout that it placed its sprawling ware-house stores practically at will. But grass-roots challenges to the health-care practices of America's largest employer have stalled its expansion bids, exposing a bullying streak beneath its homey veneer of red, white and blue. The skirmishes feature charges that WM racks up huge profits while covering health care for just 45% of its workers and free-loading on tax-payers, who are stuck with the tab for the uninsured and their family members. The conflict pits a wide alliance of interfaith, labor and community groups against a retail chain whose profits topped $9G in 2003, with 3,200 outlets and 1.2M employees in the United States alone... 'The platform that WM keeps advocating is bringing in jobs to low-income communities.', says reverend Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina's Catholic Church in Chicago. 'But low-wage jobs, often without health care, keep families in poverty and keep people in shackles.'... At WM, full-time workers have to endure 6 months—and part-timers, 2 years—before applying for health coverage through the company. WM told the New York Times in November that about 77% of its employees are eligible for health coverage through the company plan. But since WM saddles its staff with 33% premiums, the coverage often costs more than $200 a month per worker to maintain -- a steep price for workers making between $8 and $10 per hour. As a result, just 58% of those eligible, less than half of all workers, or about 537K people, actually have the insurance... Costco, a competitor in the large-scale retail business, provides insurance to more than 19 out of every 20 of its workers and pays more than 90% of the premium... More than 10K Georgia children whose parents work at WM are on a state health program, thus neatly passing on the $10M yearly expense to state residents. And in California, tax-payers are footing the bill for about $32M in health-care costs from WM workers that the employer would typically cover."
2005-01-26 06:03PST (09:03EST) (14:03GMT)
Steve Goldstein _MarketWatch_
Britain's GDP rose 0.7% in 2004 Q4
"The statistics office's preliminary estimate showed that the U.K. economy in 2004 rose 3.1% from 2003 -- meeting Chancellor Gordon Brown's forecast for the year. Service industry output, which rose 1% during the quarter, boosted the U.K. economy, while the volume of output in the production industries eased 0.5% during the quarter, particularly in mining and quarrying, where output dropped 3.3%. Manufacturing output [fell] 0.2%... Business services and finances output rose 1.5% on the quarter. London is the financial center of Europe, with both U.S. and European investment banks based in the City."
2005-01-26 09:21PST (12:21EST) (17:21GMT)
Greg Robb _MarketWatch_
Bush prods Red Chinese to stop rigging the yuan's exchange rate
"President Bush renewed Wednesday his effort to convince [Red China] to end its decade-old practice of tying its currency to the U.S. dollar... [Red China] has fixed its currency, the yuan, at 8.28 to the dollar since 1994."
David Thibault _CrossWalk_
Immigration Fraud Convict Fled Sentencing
"One of America's most aggressive advocates for illegal immigrants is now an international fugitive after failing to appear for his January 21 sentencing in connection with 7 counts of visa/immigration fraud for which he was convicted. Jose Mendez was convicted on the charges last November. But according to a press release issued Friday by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Mendez again broke the law on December 22 when he 'hopped an American Airlines flight here to Mexico City and then took a connecting flight to Venezuela'. Although Mendez was not present for Friday's sentencing, he was nevertheless handed a 57-month prison sentence in absentia. He was also fined $25K. 'By fleeing, the 49-year-old Venezuelan -- who was released on pre-trial conditions by the court May 21 -- is now an international fugitive wanted on an Obstruction of Justice warrant.', according to ICE... Mendez' involvement in the filing of fraudulent I-360 religious worker petitions on behalf of illegal immigrants, some of whom were living in Mendez' Virginia home. 'Once he gained a victim's confidence, he charged them $2,110 to complete' the phony petitions, according to Allan Doody, who leads ICE investigations in the nation's capital. 'It costs $110 to file for the petition, so he'd have them submit that amount separately with the application and then he pocketed the remaining $2K.', Doody explained."
neoIT WhiteWash Paper Out-Lines a Process to Measure Off-Shore Out-Sourcing
"'Many off-shore out-sourcing programs fail to achieve expectations.', stated neoIT CEO Atul Vashistha. 'In fact, neoIT estimates that in 2005 as many as 40% of global sourcing projects may fail to achieve desired results. By establishing a framework for monitoring and evaluating off-shore out-sourcing engagements, companies can set realistic expectations and track performance over time [and fend off others' measurements that make you look bad]."
Jeff Nachtigal _Techs Unite_
TI employee fired for simple enquiry about positions given to guest-workers
"When Texas Instruments employee Joseph Valley walked into the company's law offices and asked for the job descriptions for new H-1B visa positions, they told him he was the first employee to request to see them. Not long after, he was fired... Valley, who worked for Texas Instruments for 10 years, believes that with the company's increased [abuse] of foreign immigrant workers at its Dallas headquarters is making it hard for American workers to find work. He points to periods over the last four years when the company offered early retirement plans or announced reduction-in-force measures, and then filed applications to hire hundreds of foreign H-1B visa workers, as evidence that Texas Instruments has made little effort to recruit American workers. The job descriptions that Valley wanted to see, known as Labor Condition Applications in Department of Labor parlance, are required to be made publicly available when a company submits a request for additional H-1B work visas. The requirement is in place to give American workers fair opportunity to compete for the jobs. Texas Instruments filed an LCA to hire a Test Engineer the day he was terminated, according to Valley. In 2004 September, Valley filed a complaint with the Department of Labor concerning Texas Instruments' practice of beginning the permanent residency application process for H-1B visa employees within 3 months of their arriving in the U.S. He has also filed a wrongful termination suit against the company citing national origin discrimination."
2005-01-26 13:16PST (16:16EST) (21:16GMT)
Neil Adler _Washington DC Business Journal_
CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield to cut 134 jobs, more may follow as they out-source
"CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield will begin out-sourcing its data-entry work for claims, a move that will leave 134 employees of the Owings Mills-based firm without jobs and put about $7.6M in annual savings into the health care insurer's pocket... Many of the 134 affected by the lay-offs will be offered permanent or short-term positions with Dallas-based Affiliated Computer Services, which will assume the out-sourcing job for CareFirst on April 1. Of the job cuts, 96 will be at the corporate headquarters in Owings Mills, with the balance affecting CareFirst's office in the District, says company spokesman Jeff Valentine... CareFirst, the Washington region's largest insurer with about 3.2M members, employs more than 6K people. It processed 27M claims in 2004, though only 25% of them were on paper. That compares to about 50% of claims on paper a few years ago. The Washington area's largest health care insurer unveiled a new $92M initiative last week to focus on its nonprofit mission. CareFirst will forgo $60M in profits to offset premium increases for its members, and the insurer plans to spend nearly $9M annually to improve health care access in the communities that it serves."
2005-01-26 13:46PST (16:46EST) (21:46GMT)
Susan Lerner _MarketWatch_
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 37.03 points, or 0.4%, at 10,498 but was well off its intra-day high of 10,531. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 26.14 points, or 1.3%, at 2,046.09 and the S&P 500 added 5.66 points, or 0.5%, to 1,174.07... Advancers led decliners 23 to 9 on the New York Stock Exchange and 21 to 10 on the Nasdaq. Big Board volume was about 1.63G shares, while 2.09G shares changed hands on the Nasdaq."
Corie Lok _Technology Review_
Two Sides of Out-Sourcing
"With so many start-up founders, CTOs, high-level engineers, and venture capitalists in Silicon Valley tracing their roots to India, why doesn't India itself boast a booming high-tech innovation sector? One reason, of course, is that many of the best-trained Indian engineers still find it more exciting to work in the United States and other Western nations. But another, more controversial reason could be the type of business that is booming in India: information technology out-sourcing. Some analysts worry that information technology professionals in India are too busy serving their well-paying foreign clients to risk time or capital on developing their own products for the Indian or U.S. markets... Out-sourcing, many Indians argue, is training India's next generation of tech entrepreneurs... But after the Indian government loosened economic controls in 1991, the software services industry took off... the company's revenues have climbed by 30% to 40% since 2001. But now, most of the intellectual property it generates goes back to its clients... Ittiam Systems... secured $11.5M in venture capital financing and by 2004 was earning profits of $1M annually... people who've worked for Indian out-sourcing firms serving multi-national clients gain critical experience managing global operations... entrepreneurs were once seen as loners who couldn't hold down regular jobs, and business failure was traditionally equated with personal failure."
_The South Carolina State_/_AP_
North Charleston tool company announces lay-offs
"A company that makes hand tools says it will lay off 70 workers by the end of 2006 and move what's left of the business, officials said. L.S. Starrett Hardware president Jack Evans said Tuesday the company needed to find lower labor costs and lower overhead to compete with products coming from [Red China]... The lay-offs will reduce the company's local pay-roll by nearly half... The company will likely move the work to the Dominican Republic, where parent company, Athol, MA-based tool maker L.S. Starrett company has already transferred other operations to cut costs."
2005-01-26 16:48PST (19:48EST) (2005-01-27 00:48GMT)
Ed Frauenheim _CNET_
WashTech says tech companies are tops at courting foreign workers
"Technology companies were among the US businesses that most aggressively sought to make foreign workers permanent US residents last year, WashTech charged Wednesday. The Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, citing government data, said software giant MSFT pursued a key approval in the immigration process for 1,203 foreign workers, more than twice the number of any other U.S. company. Oracle, Intel and IBM also were among the top 10 employers seeking the approvals, according to the alliance... Those attempts amount to a slap in the face of the American worker, given the relatively high unemployment rate among techies and continued job losses in the field, said Marcus Courtney, WashTech's president."
Subri Raman & Tony Sznoluch _DoL ETA_
unemployment insurance weekly claims report
"The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 361,480 in the week ending January 22, a decrease of 106,351 from the previous week. There were 382,262 initial claims in the comparable week in 2004. The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.6% during the week ending January 15, unchanged from the prior week. The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 3,345,939, an increase of 3,594 from the preceding week. A year earlier, the rate was 3.0% and the volume was 3,798,519."
Judith R. Tackett _Nashville City Paper_
Metro Social Services begins out-sourcing
"Metro Social Services' Board of Commissioners approved a new business model Wednesday, which will transfer and out-source most direct services to either other Metro agencies or nonprofit organizations in the community. Under the new business model, which was recommended in a performance audit released by Reston, VA-based Maximus Inc. in 2004 May, Social Services will provide planning and coordination of programs... Mark Naccarato with SEIU Local 205 was critical of the Social Services Board. 'The board hasn't really shown us how much this all is going to cost, and they haven't explained what is going to happen to all the Social Services workers who are going to be displaced by the transition.', he said."
Matt Pacenza _Albany Times Union_
Albany Medical Center plans to off-shore transcriptions to India
"Albany Medical Center, which for years relied on local companies, is joining a growing number of hospitals that are choosing to out-source medical transcription work to companies in India. The change will save Albany Med about $100K [per] year and will move the center toward electronic medical records, officials said. HyperType, the Lake George-based company that lost the contract to transcribe doctors' notes for Albany Med's clinics, said it must now cut staff. 'It'll have a severe impact., said Cyndy Ryther, owner of the 35-year-old company that employs about 200 medical transcriptionists throughout NY state... US spending on medical transcription out-sourcing services totaled approximately $2.3G in 2004, according to IDC, a global market firm [with a vested interest in off-shore out-sourcing] that analyzes trends in technology. IDC forecasts the market will increase to $4.2G in 2008... Officials wouldn't specify the amount of the new out-patient contract, saying only that it was for approximately 5M lines of text each year. Industry rates range from about 9 to 16 cents per line, making the total contract worth anywhere from $450K to $800K [per] year."
2005-01-27 06:40PST (09:40EST) (14:40GMT)
Rex Nutting _MarketWatch_
US durable goods orders were up 0.6% in December
"Orders for U.S.-made durable goods increased 0.6% in December, despite large declines in civilian aircraft and defense goods, the Commerce Department said Thursday... Orders for U.S.-made durable goods increased 0.6% in December, despite large declines in civilian aircraft and defense goods, the Commerce Department said Thursday... Core capital goods orders increased 11.5% in 2004, the best gain since 1997... Meanwhile, shipments increased 2.1% in December, led by transportation equipment. For all of 2004, shipments increased 10.3%... "
2005-01-27 13:50PST (16:50EST) (21:50GMT)
Susan Lerner _MarketWatch_
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 31.19 points, or 0.3%, at 10,467.40 but the Nasdaq Composite Index edged up 1.06 points to 2,047.15 and the S&P 500 eked out a gain of 0.48 points to finish at 1,174.55. Advancers led decliners by 9 to 7 on the New York Stock Exchange but losers outnumbered winners 16 to 15 on the Nasdaq. Big Board volume was just under 1.6G shares, with nearly 2.1G shares traded on the Nasdaq."
Shenzhen, Red China government officials contract with Indian bodyshopper for IT, communications & etiquette training
"The trainees will learn etiquette, communication and negotiation skills as well as international standards for the software out-sourcing industry for 3 months, Zeng Guozhong, director of the administration office of Shenzhen Software Park, told [Red China] Daily. They will go to work for Zensar in dealing with US and European clients for their remaining time in India before their 6-month training period ends, said the paper... The government will subsidize 1K such trainees over three years with $1,812 each, or about one third of the total training fee. The rest will be paid by the companies and individuals, said the paper. The scheme may be applied nationwide in 3 years, according to Zeng."
John Underwood _Orange County Weekly_
Now with less Chaudhuri
Barlett & Steele excerpt in Medscape Today
David Moberg _In These Times_
Corporations continue ramping up off-shoring of IT service jobs
"His last project was training his replacements, software engineers from India. They were working in Seattle on temporary visas before returning home to do Gentry's job at Infosys, one of India's leading [bodyshops]... Over the past few years, corporations have shifted roughly a half million business service and IT jobs, many highly skilled, to developing countries. This has kept high-tech unemployment up, driven down wages, sparked widespread job anxieties, depressed support for free trade and generated a political back-lash. Elite apologists for globalization had long assured workers that they had a secure future with a college degree and a service job, especially anything computer-related. Now fewer Americans share the blind faith that the market will supply new and better jobs, as corporations cut costs by sending work -- ranging from customer services to reading X-rays -- to countries like India, where wages are often one-tenth the level in the United States... IDC, a private IT research firm, predicts that IT off-shoring will increase by more than 500% by 2007... 'If you work behind a computer screen, your job is up for grabs.', says Sanjay Kumar, former CEO of Computer Associates, [another body shop]... Early capitalists sub-divided and routinized tasks so they could be performed by less-skilled -- and lower-paid -- workers... Consultants -- many with a financial stake in out-sourcing services -- promoted off-shoring as the wave of the future... An Institute for Policy Studies/United for a Fair Economy study found that executive pay for the 50 largest out-sourcers of service jobs increased dramatically in 2003 to 28% above the average for large-company CEOs... Marcus Courtney, president of WashTech, an IT local of the Communications Workers, asks, 'Everybody assumes they'll re-invest here, but why wouldn't they re-invest where it's cheaper?' Indeed, Philip Mattera of the Corporate Research Project reports that venture capitalists now ask IT start-up companies to present their off-shoring strategy... Most new U.S. jobs, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), are not steps up: They pay 21% less on average than job-losing industries. 6 of the 10 occupations that the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts will provide the largest number of new jobs through 2012 require no college education and typically pay low wages. Foreign investment -- contrary to hype about 'in-sourcing' of jobs to the United States -- is no solution. Foreign investors have mainly acquired existing U.S. companies, according to EPI, resulting in a net loss of jobs and a rising trade deficit, while generating a measly 25K jobs a year from new enterprises [while working-age population has been growing at a rate between 1.8M and 2.4M per year]. And stirring up a hornet's nest among economists, Nobel Prize winner Paul Samuelson last summer pointed out that the U.S. economy could end up losing, not winning, from expanded free trade if low-wage foreign competitors drive down the price of products where the United States theoretically has a comparative advantage."
2005-01-27 21:03PST (2005-01-28 00:03EST) (05:03GMT)
Kristen Gerencher _MarketWatch_
Teens brains are developing
"Teens who routinely get side-tracked and forget to take out the trash or who show other lapses in judgment that lead to household mayhem may be doing more than just tweaking an adult authority figure. Far from being hard-wired at puberty, teen brains are still growing, affecting everything from risk perception to their ability to plan and control impulses, health experts say... Changes in the brain's frontal lobes, largely responsible for controlling impulses and measuring risk and reward, are among the most dramatic, according to brain scans performed on teens at the National Institutes of Health... The research may have implications for a wide range of social and health-related concerns, including why teens can't seem to get enough sleep and how parents can help them make decisions that protect their safety... Early adolescents tend to deal with situations on instinct and hang out with same-sex friends, she said. They may be monosyllabic and giggle a lot, especially when under stress. Teens in the earliest phase may perceive the social risk of not going along on a joy-ride or joining a gang as higher than the physical risk, making them particularly vulnerable to peer pressure, Staggers said... Teens in the middle stage are trying to separate from adults, and can present the biggest challenges by pushing their buttons with all manner of rebelliousness, Staggers said... 'They can give you the beginning of a plan and the end of a plan but the middle makes no sense... What you have to do is present options and opportunities and help them through the decision-making process.', Staggers said. 'Getting them to make good decisions is critical.'... Safety is a natural concern as kids test the waters of adulthood. Accidents and unintentional injuries were the leading causes of death for kids age 15 to 19 in 2001, followed by suicide and homicide, according to the most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The risk for car crashes is higher among those 16 to 19 than any other age group, and auto wrecks account for two out of five deaths among U.S. teens, the CDC says. More than 4,700 kids ages 16 to 19 died of car-crash injuries in 2001... A study from Tufts University published in the February edition of the Journal of Early Adolescence suggests a model for positive youth development that highlights 'the 5 Cs': Competence, confidence, connection, character, caring and compassion. The report says adults need to develop a vocabulary to discuss positive youth development as more than the absence of problem behaviors... 1. Love your kid... 2. Don't try to be friends... 3. Set boundaries... 4. Model... behavior..."
2005-01-28 06:31PST (09:31EST) (14:31GMT)
Carolyn Pritchard & Dan Burrows _MarketWatch_
Leading RFID Abusers to Merge: P&G and Gillette in $57G deal
"Cincinnati-based P&G will pay 0.975 P&G shares for each share of Boston-based Gillette, valuing the stock at $53.94 -- a premium of about 18%. Gillette shares surged $4.52, or 9.9%, to $50.20 in early trading, while P&G fell $2.82, or 5.1% to $51.50."
[Note that in an effort to throw people off the trail, RFID vendors and deployers have turned loose new names for RFID, e.g. CIC, Digital Angel.]
2005-01-28 06:49PST (09:49EST) (14:49GMT)
Greg Robb _MarketWatch_
Compensation increased more slowly in 2004 Q4
"The fourth-quarter employment [compensation] index, which measures wages and salaries paid to the work force plus the cost of benefits, increased 0.7% in the fourth quarter after registering a 0.9% gain in the previous quarter, the Labor Department reported Friday. The 0.7% marked the smallest quarterly increase in employment [compensation] since the first quarter of 1999 and was below forecasts."
2005-01-28 07:36PST (10:36EST) (15:36GMT)
Rex Nutting _MarketWatch_
US GDP still growing but at a slower 3.1% rate: Inflation remains under wraps
"Growth in the U.S. economy slowed in the fourth quarter to a 3.1% annualized rate, the weakest growth seen in seven quarters, the Commerce Department said Friday. For all of 2004, the economy grew 4.4%, marking the fastest real growth since 1999's 4.5%. In 2004, the nation's gross domestic product totaled $11.7T in current dollars. From the fourth quarter of 2003 to the fourth quarter of 2004, the economy grew by 3.7%."
Andrea Hopkins _Reuters_
US Execs Want Cheap Foriegn Workers, but Unemployed Americans Object
"'We have members that are selling cars, doing home repairs, working at Home Depot, because they can't find high-tech jobs.', said John Bauman, who founded The Organization for the Rights of American Workers, or TORAW, in 2002 after he lost his job in information technology... Corporate leaders say the visa supply is nowhere near enough to meet demand [while others point out that the caps are orders of magnitude beyond what would be needed to supply the pre-eminent super-stars the executives originally alleged were the purpose of the visas]... 'I think a very important part of the productivity gains in the past decade were associated with our open immigration policy.', Federal Reserve Governor Ben Bernanke said recently [and unemployed tech workers agreed, noting that massive lay-offs have artificially biased the calculations used to determine 'productivity']... But TORAW's Bauman said the H-1B is used by some employers as the first step to out-sourcing by allowing them to bring a foreign worker to the United States for training and then sending the worker back to set up a cheaper work-shop over-seas. 'We have members who have had to train their own foreign replacement.', said Bauman, who estimates there are 306K unemployed engineers and hundreds of thousands of programmers who are looking for better work. But Theresa Brown, immigration policy director at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce... dismisses the suggestion that unemployed American high-tech workers should be considered before a foreign worker is hired."
Roger M. Kubarych _CFR_
Measuring US Labor Market Flexibility (graphs)
"Openings were 3.2M in 2004 November, or 2.4% of total employment. That compares with the cyclical low of 2.7M in 2003 August. Openings are highest, as a ratio of total industry employment, in professional and business services [bodyshopping] (a rate of 3.4%)... the majority of separations times are voluntary 'quits', even in recessions. In 2004 November, total separations came to 4.1M, and quits were 2.4M... That has recently been echoed by the Conference Board's January consumer confidence survey. The percentage of consumers who saw jobs as hard to get decreased to 24.7%, the lowest since 2002 August, down from 26.4%. The percentage who saw jobs as plentiful rose to 20.7%, the highest since 2002 May, compared with 19.4% in December."
2005-01-28 11:46PST (14:46EST) (19:46GMT)
Marcos Daniel Jiménez _Dept. of "Justice"_/_LawFuel_
Former US State Department consular associate sentenced for visa fraud
"Julieta Quiroz, a former employee of the United States Department of State, who worked at the United States Embassy in Mexico City, was sentenced on January 26, 2005, by United States District Court Judge Marcia G. Cooke to a term of one (1) year and one (1) day in prison, two (2) years' supervised release, two hundred (200) hours of community service, and a special assessment of $300, for her involvement in a visa fraud conspiracy. On 2004 October 14, Quiroz pleaded guilty to a three (3) count Indictment that charged her with conspiracy to defraud the United States, false making of visas, permits, and other entry documents, and bribery of public officials, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 371, 1546, and 201, respectively. Quiroz was a consular associate with the United States Embassy in Mexico City. From 2000 July until 2002 July, Quiroz, Olga Ramirez, and Juan Carlos Ramirez committed violations related to the issuance of visas at the United States Embassy in Mexico City. Approximately 180 visas were improperly issued by Quiroz to Colombian nationals, who were not authorized to receive visas to enter the United States and used those visas to enter the country."
2005-01-28 14:27PST (17:27EST) (22:27GMT)
Mark Cotton _MarketWatch_
Stocks snapped losing streak
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 40.20 points at 10,427.20, putting in a modest 0.3% gain for the week. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 11.32 points, to 2,035.83, ending the week with just under a 0.1% gain. The S&P 500 fell 3.19 points, to1,171.36, with the broad gauge seeing a 0.3% rise on the week... "
"www.eliyon.com This is the HR web-site many US companies use to verify employment of job seeks. Eliyon Technologies is a search engine that lists company affiliations. But it goes deeper! It also lists if the individual is a member of the Pro-Labor Movement. It is, IOW, a BLACK-LIST. I was listed as an AT&T employee as a Communications Technician and as a Broadband Technician. I was also listed as an officer of CWA Labor Union, Chapter Head of RescueAmericanJobs, and there was several references to links of news articles I was quoted in. All were concerning the guest worker program and my stance in the policies. IOW, Eliyon's gathered info was Caution to Employers that I was NOT a Good Candidate for them. Needless to say, I have had very few offers. Many of the companies that use this service are ones I have applied to and was PERFECT for the positions. I now know why I never even got a reject letter!... Since I have removed my info from Eliyon, I have had 3 calls from potential employers."
Walter E. Williams _Capitalism Magazine_
Should we save jobs?
"Let's look at a bit of job-loss history. Anthony B. Bradley, a research fellow at the Grand Rapids, MI-based Acton Institute, has written an article on the subject, 'Productivity and the Ice Man: Understanding Out-Sourcing'. Citing the work of Forrester Research Inc., a technology research firm, Bradley says, 'Of the 2.7M jobs lost over the past 3 years, only 300K have resulted from out-sourcing.' Job losses and job gains have always been a part of our history... Daniel W. Drezner, assistant professor of political science at the University of Chicago, discusses out-sourcing in 'The Out-Sourcing Bogeyman' (Foreign Affairs, 2004 May/June). Professor Drezner reports that for every dollar spent on out-sourcing to India, the United States reaps between $1.12 and $1.14 in benefits. Why? U.S. firms save money and become more profitable, benefiting [SOME] share-holders and increasing [THEIR] returns on investment... Drezner also points out that large software companies such as MSFT and Oracle have increased out-sourcing and used the savings for investment and larger domestic pay-rolls. Nationally, 70K computer programmers lost their jobs between 1999 and 2003, but more than 115K computer software engineers found higher-paying jobs during that same period. BTW, when out-sourcing doesn't work, companies back-track [sometiems, partially], as have Dell and Lehman Brothers, which have moved some of their call centers back to the United States from India because of customer complaints... During the 7 years from 1995 through 2002, Drezner notes, U.S. manufacturing employment fell by 11%. Globally, manufacturing jobs fell by 11%. [Red China] lost 15% of its manufacturing jobs, and Brazil lost 20%. But guess what. Globally, manufacturing output rose by 30% during the same period."
|"[T]ax adjudications were as short on due process in ancient Egypt as they are in the modern age." --- Charles Adams 1993 _For Good & Evil_ pg 7|
2005-01-31 06:16PST (09:16EST) (14:16GMT)
Rex Nutting _MarketWatch_
US personal income was up 3.7% in December: Led by MSFT execs who gave themselves a huge dividend while laying off, increased bodyshopping and cutting compensation to production workers
"Excluding the dividend [to corrupt MSFT executives and investors], incomes rose 0.6%, the government said. Meanwhile, consumer spending increased 0.8% in December, as spending on durable goods jumped 4.3%. Spending on nondurable goods increased 0.6%, and spending on services increased 0.4%. Auto sales spiked during the month, driven by renewed sales incentives from auto-makers... The personal consumption expenditure price index dropped 0.1%, while the core PCE index, which excludes food and energy prices, was flat... MSFT founder Bill Gates owned about 1.1G shares of MSFT stock when the dividend was paid. Gates' share of the dividend boosted U.S. incomes by 0.4%. Excluding Gates, personal incomes increased 3.3%."
2005-01-31 07:01PST (10:01EST) (15:01GMT)
Rex Nutting _MarketWatch_
New home sales were flat in December: Inventory at an all-time high
"New home sales increased 0.1% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.098M units in December from a downwardly revised 1.097M in November, originally reported as 1.126M. Sales had peaked at 1.263M in October. The inventory of unsold homes on the market increased by 2.6% to 432K, the highest level in 31 years. The inventory represents a 4.8-month supply at current sales rates, the highest since 2000 July."
2005-01-31 08:00PST (11:00EST) (16:00GMT)
Joseph Farah _World Net Daily_
Limbaugh warns Bush on illegal immigration: Spurred by Mexico attack on Arizona law
"calling on President Bush to heed popular opinion on issues of tightening border security and enforcing immigration laws... 'We cannot maintain our sovereignty without securing and protecting our borders in an era when terrorists around the world seek entry to this country.', he said Friday in a private gathering in Florida... Limbaugh said he was particularly disturbed by statements Friday by Mexico's Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez threatening to appeal to international courts a new Arizona law barring illegal aliens from collecting some public benefits. Proposition 200, approved overwhelmingly by voters in that state November 2, has already survived critical legal tests in state and U.S. courts. Bush already is facing mounting opposition to his guest worker plan in the House Republican caucus."
Tom Hickey _ComputerWorld_
Off-Shore Out-Sourcing Decisions Are Strategic
"As out-sourcing decisions become increasingly regarded as 'business as usual', senior business management becomes increasingly less involved in the detailed decision-making process. The result: Many sourcing decisions made today are based largely on economics and not treated as strategic by executives, even though the long-term business implications can be monumental. In today's global economy, the growing presence of offshore service providers requires decision-makers to consider several strategically important factors: long-term productivity and cost projections, physical and data security, long-term business and employment stability, political agenda and cultural differences, and business continuity capability."
Mark Larson _Sacrament Business Journal_
Even stucco laborers claim to qualify
"Temporary H-1B visas for foreign workers are in hot demand by technology companies, universities and staffing agencies... A review of federal H-1B applications filed by local companies with the U.S. Department of Labor over the past three years turned up plenty of engineers, researchers and nurses, but also some nontraditional applicants. Take JTS Communities, the high-end Sacramento-based home-builder. In 2002, records show, the company submitted 56 H-1B applications for jobs in stucco, lath work, construction labor, framing, carpentry, and cement or concrete work. In seeking visas for foreign workers to fill these jobs, companies assert that no Americans are available to take them. The Department of Labor, however, disagreed -- at least on most of the JTS applications. Out of JTS's 56 applications, 44 were denied and 12 were certified for further scrutiny by immigration officials. The 12 approved were for a construction laborer, 4 lathing workers, a stucco person of unidentified rank, somebody skilled in both stucco and lath work, a stucco 'lead-man', 2 stucco laborers and 2 stucco helpers. Rejection hit more stucco workers, lathers, construction laborers, framers, roofers, carpenters and cement/concrete workers. Then there were the 2003 visa applications by Kabob n Curry in Folsom seeking to hire two people -- an Indian cook and a spice blender. The feds certified them and sent the applications on to immigration for consideration."
Norm Matloff _UC Davis_/_H-1B/L-1/Off-Shoring e-NewsLetter_
Earning a PhD results in a net life-time loss of earnings
"What is really going on here is that the post-docs come from PhD programs, and about half of the PhDs in tech areas granted by U.S. universities go to foreign students. This is because going for a PhD causes a net loss in life-time earnings for American students, whereas foreign students have a non-monetary incentive in the form of a potential green card. The National Science Foundation [NSF] actually consciously planned it that way, amazingly enough. See [my article on the H-1B cap exemption for those with PhDs]... Intel has repeatedly claimed that most of its H-1Bs have a Master's or PhD. Well, if they do, Intel sure is under-paying them. The median salary Intel claims to be paying its H-1Bs (in the same forms the reporter cites) is about $65K. Yet the median salary nationwide for Master's level engineers is $82,333, and it's $105,500 for a doctorate, according to the National Society of Professional Engineers 2002 survey (see www.soe.stevens-tech.edu/seem/UG/SalaryArticle.pdf)... 'spokesman Dan Francisco. In 2003, Francisco said, 1,273 of the 2,027 engineers who were awarded doctorate degrees from U.S. universities were foreign nationals, and more than 9K of the 15K master's degrees in engineering went to foreign students.'... Note also that in 1999 a team of Intel engineers from that same Folsom campus visited my department at UC Davis, saying they were desperate to hire. I mentioned that I had a couple of PhDs in electrical engineering I could refer to them, one a new graduate and the other a 1992 graduate. One of the recruiters replied, 'No, Intel is not very interested in PhDs.'... 'Stewart supports the H-1B/green card system, and says federal officials make sure prevailing wages are paid to foreign workers by employers sponsoring them. He's convinced U.S. workers are protected by the regulations on the visas, by the cap, and by prevailing-wage requirements.' Compare this to the comments made by Stewart to a group of lawyers, in which he could let his guard down and be brutally candid: 'In the process called Application for Alien Labor Certification, the most critical moment occurs when the Employer is confronted with U.S. workers, whose letters and/or resumes are forwarded by the Department of Labor, as possible referrals for the job opportunity. If the Employer succeeds in [rejecting all American applicants]... When employers feel the need to legalize aliens, it may be due to a shortage of suitable U.S. workers, but even in a depressed economy, employers who favor aliens have an arsenal of legal means to reject all U.S. workers who apply.' (Joel Stewart Legal Rejection of U.S. Workers Immigration Daily 2000 April 24) So, Stewart on the one hand told the Sacramento Business Journal that U.S. workers are protected by the regulations on the visas, while OTOH he told a group of immigration lawyers that there are tons of loop-holes they can use to totally evade those regulations!... 'Matloff doesn't necessarily dispute Stewart's contention that foreign workers on H-1B visas get the same pay Americans would for the same job. ''They set the salaries so low, they're more attractive to foreign nationals than they are to Americans.'', he said.' I'm really glad that the reporter here included this point which I made to him. I said that I was sure that 2 of his examples, UCD's post docs and the Sacramento Unified School District's teachers, probably pay their H-1Bs the same as they do U.S. citizens and permanent residents, but that the pay is so low that most Americans can't afford to take such jobs. [And, the guest-worker system and off-shoring increase the supply of workers and thus take off the economic pressure so that compensation can be lowered so much...jgo]"
Mark Larson _Sacramento Business Journal_ H-1Bs: Talent or low-cost labor
[The unattributed material quoted in the above e-news-letter are from this same _SBJ_ article.] "UC Davis computer sciences professor Norm Matloff couldn't disagree more. 'In almost all cases, H-1B is about cheap labor.', he said. The only exception he cites is visas given to the 'best and brightest' from other countries. 'For people who are of truly outstanding talent, I think we should roll out the red carpet for them.', said Matloff. 'I have a pretty high bar for that.'... Matloff also argues that there is no shortage of qualified candidates in America. 'In the computer science department, we get 50- to 100-to-one ratios of (professor) applications to openings.' He likens the technology industry's wage issues to those at hamburger chains. He's found that chains paying higher wages [e.g. In-N-Out] employ U.S. teen-agers and old folks, while those paying lower wages [e.g. McDonald's] employ foreign nationals."
2005-01-31 11:55PST (14:55EST) (19:55GMT)
Jeffry Bartash _MarketWatch_
Consolidation in telecomm continues as SBC plans to buy AT&T for $16G
"The crown jewel of the deal is AT&T's market-leading corporate services business. The deal could also put pressure on other large phone companies such as Verizon Communications and BellSouth Corp. to obtain their own long-distance networks, launching yet another round of big mergers that are radically reshaping the once-staid U.S. phone industry. Although the deal will face [weak] anti-trust scrutiny, analysts believe it would be approved after a lengthy review... 20 years ago, SBC was the smallest of the 7 local 'Baby Bell' phone [monopolies] created in 1984, when the U.S. government broke up the old AT&T [nationwide] monopoly. Yet through a series of acquisitions, SBC [SouthWestern Bell] has turned itself into a national giant, with leading positions in virtually every market sector. The one area where the company has struggled is in the corporate services market, long the domain of AT&T, MCI and to a lesser extent, Sprint. By acquiring AT&T, SBC would gain 3M business customers and leap into the #1 position in that business."
2005-01-31 13:54PST (16:54EST) (21:54GMT)
Mark Cotton _MarketWatch_
Rough month for stock owners
"U.S. stocks closed higher Monday as the markets wrapped up a disappointing January on a positive note after a flurry of merger deals, some solid data and relatively peaceful elections in Iraq. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which dropped about 2.7% this month, ended the session up 62.74 points, or 0.6%, at 10,489.94. The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index rose 26.58 points to 2,062.41, but it lost 5.2% in January. That performance came as telecom and technology stocks posted some of the steepest declines in January compared with other sectors. The S&P 500 climbed 9.91 points, to 1,181.27, with the broad gauge sliding 2.5% in the month... March crude closed at $48.20, up $1.02 for the day."
George F. McClure _IEEE USA_/_Today's Engineer_
General Agreement on Trade in Services: opening world service markets could replace H-1B & L-1 abuse
"Mode 4: Presence of natural persons, in which people temporarily travel to another country to provide service... WTO Members Interpret Mode 4 Differently... Self-employed or independent service suppliers paid directly by their customers fit into the category of natural persons who supply services to a member country. But another, fuzzier category includes natural persons of a member who are employed by a service supplier of a member. In addition, a number of GATS commitments refer to short-term or temporary employment. As a way to comply with domestic labor law, some WTO members consider almost all types of temporary workers to be employees."
"That's because of the threat of off-shore out-sourcing, which (to hear some tell it) threatens to drain off all of the programming jobs from the United States and send them to places like India, [Red China], and Elbonia..."
Martin Bean & Michelle Meyer _Certification_
Career Strategies for the Age of Global Out-Sourcing
"When the trend of global out-sourcing first emerged, much of the discussion in the IT world centered on the negative effects on the U.S. IT industry and what could be done to stop it. Since then, we have all come to realize that this trend has not only continued, it has grown [worse]... [Some] believe that global out-sourcing will create new opportunities for American IT workers..."
Francis Dietz _ASME News_
Catch-all spending bill has winners, losers
"A provision in the $388G catch-all spending bill passed in late November increases by 20K the limit on visas for foreign high-tech workers under the H-1B visa program. The previous limit of 65K was reached by U.S. industry the first day of fiscal 2005, which began October 1. Representative Lamar Smith, R-TX, and senator Saxby Chambliss, R-GA, led the effort on this issue, in response to pressure by a coalition of U.S. business giants, made up of Hewlett-Packard, MSFT, Motorola, Texas Instruments and others. The coalition, called Compete America, complained that its members were losing talented university graduates to competitors over-seas and thus were having difficulty hiring technically skilled workers."
Global Capitalism: The Solution to World Oppression and Poverty
S&P Retail Index
Note the signs of weakness shown in the dip from 1998 July through November, relatively flat 1999, and the drop all through 2000.
AAA southern California fuel prices
AAA national fuel prices
AAA state by state
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