Business

Business
5:29 am
Sun March 15, 2015

Smell Something Different At The Gym? It Might Not Be What You Think

The weight training center at Anytime Fitness in Michigan in December. The company started using scent marketing four years ago.
Danielle Duval MLive.com/Landov

Originally published on Mon March 16, 2015 1:06 pm

Eric Spangenberg knows he's too old for Abercrombie and Fitch. He knows as soon as he smells it.

The store's signature fragrance, Fierce, is a mixture of citrus and musk. It's a combination that Spangenberg, 55, says is clearly targeted toward a specific demographic: a young one.

It's called scent marketing — when a business chooses a specific scent to attract customers and boost sales, and it has become widely popular in the last several years, he says.

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Business
8:52 am
Fri March 6, 2015

Nearly 300K New Jobs In February; Unemployment Dips To 5.5 Percent

Job applicant Rafael Ferrer, 49, (left) greets a representative of the Hilton Bentley Miami Beach hotel during a job fair at the Hospitality Institute in January.
Lynne Sladky AP

Originally published on Fri March 6, 2015 9:41 am

The U.S. economy added 295,000 jobs last month, according to the Labor Department's monthly survey, and the unemployment rate dropped to 5.5 percent. The latest strong data beat expectations and follow a robust jump the previous month — a sign that the nation's economy is finally picking up steam.

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Business
1:16 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Wages And Prices: A Welcome Breakup

Bigger paychecks plus lower prices add up to more buying power for consumers.
DNY59 iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 1:49 pm

A new government report confirms: Wages and prices are going their separate ways.

This breakup is helping consumers on the rebound from recession.

Fresh evidence of the split came Monday in the Commerce Department's monthly report on personal spending, income and saving. It showed paychecks are fatter, prices are leaner and Americans are saving more.

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Business
3:58 am
Mon March 2, 2015

A Nearly Recession-Proof City Is Not Slowing Down

Lincoln has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in revitalizing its downtown, a historic area called Haymarket, to create a more culturally vibrant urban center that is helping the city keep and attract young adults.
David Schaper NPR

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 8:15 am

At 2.5 percent, Lincoln, Neb., has one of the lowest jobless figures in the country. But that's nothing new — the city has ranked at or near the top of the nation, with one of the lowest unemployment rates for years, even during the Great Recession.

But on a recent visit, it's clear that Lincoln is not resting on its laurels. It's working hard at keeping and drawing talent to this city of nearly 300,000.

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Business
11:53 am
Mon February 23, 2015

50 Years Of Shrinking Union Membership, In One Map

Quoctrung Bui/NPR

Fifty years ago, nearly a third of U.S. workers belonged to a union. Today, it's one in 10. But the decline has not been the same for every state. Here is a map showing how union membership has changed across the country.

A few notes on the map:

  • In 1964, the Midwest was full of manufacturing jobs and had the highest concentration of union workers in America. That has changed dramatically — both because the share of jobs in manufacturing has fallen, and because fewer of the manufacturing jobs that remain are held by union workers.
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Business
8:03 am
Sun February 22, 2015

Pot Policy Splits Native Americans Over Whether Business Is Worth It

David McNew Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 12:23 pm

When it comes to marijuana laws, the Justice Department is now treating American Indian tribes the way it treats states that have legalized pot.

The move, announced in December, has inadvertently sparked interest in the marijuana business. While many see dollar signs, others worry about contributing to the impact substance abuse has already had on Indian Country.

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Business
3:11 pm
Fri February 20, 2015

Have Big-Box Superstores Helped To Make Us Fat?

A woman pushes a cart at a Costco store in Hackensack, N.J., in 2013. Big-box stores are effective delivery devices for fattening foods, economists argue in a new study.
Ron Antonelli Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 2:21 pm

The humorist Bill Bryson once wrote that "the purpose of the modern American suburb is to make sure that no citizen is ever more than 500 yards from a food product featuring melted cheese."

That's an exaggeration, but health officials have long worried that our environment of plentiful, cheap and easily accessible calories is contributing to obesity.

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Business
12:19 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

As Commodity Prices Plunge, Groceries May Be Next

The prices of everything from corn to sugar have fallen, too. So some economists predict lower prices at the grocery store later this year.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 12, 2015 2:36 pm

Anyone who has pulled up to a gas station this winter knows oil prices have fallen — down roughly 50 percent since June.

But it's not just oil. Prices for many commodities — grains, metals and other bulk products — have been plunging too.

Here are a few of the changes since many prices peaked in recent years:

- Copper is $2.59 a pound, down from $4.50 in 2011.

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Business
8:37 am
Thu February 12, 2015

'Nut Rage' Punishment: 1 Year In Jail For Former Korean Air Executive

Cho Hyun-ah, former vice president of Korean Air, was sentenced to one year in prison for her behavior aboard an international flight. She's seen here in December.
Yonhap EPA /LANDOV

Originally published on Thu February 12, 2015 9:55 am

Citing violations of aviation safety rules, a court in South Korea has sentenced Cho Hyun-ah, former vice president of Korean Air, to one year in prison. Cho sparked an uproar after she demanded that the jet she was on return to an airport gate to leave behind a flight attendant.

The incident on the plane at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport immediately drew criticism from Koreans who saw the outburst by Cho, whose family controls Korean Air, as another sign of the entitlement enjoyed by the country's wealthy families.

It also inspired a nickname that stuck: "Nut Rage."

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Business
3:37 am
Tue February 10, 2015

The Great Solar Panel Debate: To Lease Or To Buy?

Elizabeth Ebinger in Maplewood, N.J., bought her solar panels, while neighbor Tim Roebuck signed a 20-year lease. Both are happy with the approach they took, and both are saving money on energy bills.
Jeff Brady NPR

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 12:12 pm

More than 600,000 homes in the U.S. have solar panels today — up dramatically from just a few years ago, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. Leasing programs that require little or no money up-front have played a key role in that growth.

But here's a question for homeowners: Is it better to lease or buy?

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Business
3:33 am
Tue February 10, 2015

Unions Have Pushed The $15 Minimum Wage, But Few Members Will Benefit

Fast-food workers in Los Angeles march in August 2013 to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Similar protests around the country have been organized by labor unions.
Nick Ut AP

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 4:33 pm

The Los Angeles City Council is currently considering whether to raise the minimum wage to $15.25 an hour by 2019. It would follow Seattle and San Francisco, two cities that approved $15 minimum wages in the past year.

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Business
1:46 pm
Mon February 9, 2015

Victims Of Social Security Number Theft Find It's Hard To Bounce Back

Stolen Social Security numbers can be used to create bogus documents like these, but also over the phone to open bank accounts or make purchases.
Charles Rex Arbogast AP

Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 5:26 pm

Tens of millions of people may have had information stolen, including their names, Social Security numbers and birth dates, when health insurer Anthem's database was hacked.

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Business
3:34 am
Mon February 9, 2015

Oil Price Dip, Global Slowdown Create Crosscurrents For U.S.

Oil pumpjacks are seen in McKenzie County in western North Dakota. Cuts in production and energy company payrolls will cost the U.S. economy up to $150 billion, economist David Kotok of Cumberland Advisors projects.
Matthew Brown AP

Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 8:48 am

Continued job growth has boosted prospects for the U.S. economy, but it continues to face some tricky crosswinds. The big drop in oil prices and a stronger dollar both help the economy and hurt it. Add to that the recent slowdown in global growth.

Lots of economists have suggested the big drop in oil prices is a gift to consumers that will propel the economy. David Kotok of Cumberland Advisors is one of them. He argues that cheaper oil will ultimately be a positive.

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Business
1:47 am
Mon February 9, 2015

Leaked HSBC Documents Shed Light On Swiss Banking Industry

Kirsty Wigglesworth AP

Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 4:59 pm

A huge trove of leaked documents is shedding new light on the secretive Swiss banking industry.

The documents were downloaded by a former computer security expert at the giant bank HSBC, and they were released over the weekend by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

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Business
5:55 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

Planning Through Oil Booms Helps Small Producers Weather The Busts

Tracy Perryman is production manager for his family's small oil company in Luling, Texas. B.J.P. Inc. owns 116 wells that, combined, produce about 100 barrels a day.
John Burnett NPR

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 10:55 am

Hard times have hit the oil fields. A barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude has dropped from a high of over $100 to less than $50. But Tracy Perryman, a small oilman in Luling, Texas, has learned how to survive the lean times.

Oil companies that take on a lot of debt sometimes don't survive the downturns. But veterans of oil busts have learned how to plan for the inevitable price plunges.

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Business
5:20 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

Map: The Most Common* Job In Every State

Quoctrung Bui/NPR

*We used data from the Census Bureau, which has two catch-all categories: "managers not elsewhere classified" and "salespersons not elsewhere classified." Because those categories are broad and vague to the point of meaninglessness, we excluded them from our map.

What's with all the truck drivers? Truck drivers dominate the map for a few reasons.

  • Driving a truck has been immune to two of the biggest trends affecting U.S. jobs: globalization and automation. A worker in China can't drive a truck in Ohio, and machines can't drive cars (yet).
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Business
6:28 pm
Tue February 3, 2015

Looking For Even Cheaper Gas? Go Generic At An Indie Station

Traffic moves along Route 21 in downtown Newark, N.J., where a gas station lists the price for regular unleaded gasoline at $1.72.
Julio Cortez AP

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 2:44 pm

By now, the surprise of cheap gas has probably worn off.

But drivers on the hunt for the very best prices have noticed a new trend: Small, independent gas stations are often the first to cut prices when the price of crude oil falls. This has a lot to do with how gas is bought, sold and moved from pipeline to pump.

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Business
4:14 am
Fri January 30, 2015

Russian Economic Woes Hit France's Ski Slopes

Russian tourists typically flock to the luxury ski resort of Megeve in the French Alps, but the weak ruble has kept them away this year.
Jean-Pierre Clatot AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 30, 2015 11:16 am

Russia's worsening economy is having an impact far beyond its borders — even affecting Alpine ski resorts where Russians once flocked.

For the past decade, they've come in large numbers to ski the fabled Alpine slopes around Mont Blanc. But the drop in the ruble is now keeping them away. And that's having an effect on the wintertime economy in the region.

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Business
4:14 am
Thu January 29, 2015

And So We Meet, Again: Why The Workday Is So Filled With Meetings

PW Illustration Ikon Images/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 29, 2015 8:46 am

The ouster of Bryan Stockton from his perch as CEO at Mattel this week came as the toymaker's best-known brands like Barbie stagnate and it loses business to Web-based games.

Stockton himself said last year that Mattel lacked an innovative culture and blamed it in part on something specific: bad meetings. That's a common and persistent corporate ailment.

Scott Ryan-Hart is a cartographer for the Ohio Department of Transportation, where a typical meeting can last more than two hours.

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Business
5:03 am
Wed January 21, 2015

To Drive Economy Toward Equality, Obama Requests More Spending

President Obama delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night.
Mandel Ngan AP

Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 12:05 pm

President Obama revved up quickly for his economic victory lap.

"After a breakthrough year for America, our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999," President Obama said less than a minute into his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

The lap was fueled by cheap gas: "We are as free from the grip of foreign oil as we've been in almost 30 years," he said.

Democrats roared.

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