Prevailing-Wage Laws Boost Construction Costs
A working paper published in September by the University of California, Berkeley’s Program on Housing and Urban Policy contains statistics indicating the cost of building subsidized housing increased substantially after California expanded its prevailing-wage laws to include these projects. The data show that prevailing wages increased the costs of these projects by “at least 9 percent and perhaps as much as 32 percent. The most credible estimates suggest cost increases of 10 percent to 20 percent.” In addition, since costs have been increased, about 2,600 fewer units will be built each year. The paper concludes, “There can be little doubt that prevailing-wage requirements in California substantially increase the cost and decrease the supply of dwellings available to low- and moderate-income households.” A complete copy of the paper can be found on the Web at http://urbanpolicy.berkeley.edu/pdf/dqr0903.pdf.
Top 10 Spam List of 2003
Dubious education offers, pharmaceuticals, body-enhancing hormones and shady finance-related offers were ranked as the most widely recognized junk email subject lines of 2003 by AOL “spamwatchers.” The AOL Postmaster Team calculated the Top 10 most widely sent spam email subject lines on the AOL service in 2003 after reviewing data forwarded by members during the year. At the same time, AOL announced it had blocked a total of almost 500 billion spam emails from getting to the inboxes of its members during 2003. Using its spam-blocking filters, AOL estimates it detected and deleted an average of 15,000 spam emails from getting into the inboxes of each AOL member last year. The company also reached a new high when it blocked 2.4 billion spam emails in a single day using its spam filters. AOL said it routinely blocks 75 percent to 80 percent of all Internet inbound email because it is identified as spam.
1. Viagra (and similar drugs) online
2. Online pharmacy
3. Get out of debt
4. Get bigger/satisfy your partner/improve your sex life
5. Online degree
6. Lowest mortgage rates/refinance
7. Lowest insurance rates
8. Work from home
9. Hot XXX action/porn
10. As seen on Oprah
Don’t Sideswipe That Truck!
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, in the past 10 years there has been a vast growth in the amount of hazardous materials (hazmats) transported in the United States. Hazmats can be corrosive, flammable, reactive (when mixed with water or exposed to heat), radioactive, toxic or infectious.
In 2000 there were a total of 17,514 hazmat incidents in the U.S., resulting in 13 fatalities and 246 injuries and causing almost $73 million in damages.
- More than 800,000 hazmat shipments are transported daily.
- About 3.1 billion tons of hazmats are transported annually.
- Ninety-four percent of individual shipments are carried by truck.
For more information and hazmat fact sheets, contact the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) at asse.org.
Baby Boomers Growing Up at Last?
In the past 10 years, as affluent baby boomers have come closer to retirement age, they have begun to think more about their financial futures, according to a national study commissioned by AXA Financial, Inc. In 2003, 43 percent of boomers cited having adequate resources in retirement as their greatest economic concern, up from 26 percent in 1993. When asked about their greatest concerns, here are their responses:
Compared to 10 years ago, affluent baby boomers today expect to assign a higher priority to providing a financial base for retirement (55 percent, up from 43 percent), maintaining or upgrading their home (26 percent, up from 14 percent) and providing for parents or in-laws (19 percent, up from 9 percent).
Baby boomers who are saving money are setting aside a higher percentage of their salary (12 percent, up from 10 percent) or a larger dollar amount ($10,000, up from $7,843) than they did 10 years ago. Further, baby boomers show signs of becoming more financially sophisticated. They now place more importance on IRAs and less importance on CDs and money market accounts than they did 10 years ago. Use of IRAs has increased dramatically, with four in 10 baby boomers calling it a primary investment.
Country Going to the Dogs
According to The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA), Americans own more pets than ever before. In fact, there are now more pets than people in the U.S. APPMA’s 2003/2004 National Pet Owners Survey shows 62 percent of all households in the U.S. now own a pet. This love affair with pets has fueled one of the country’s healthiest industries, with sales of pet products now at $31 billion, outpacing the human toy industry ($20.3 billion in annual sales) and the candy industry ($24 billion). It has also spurred the creation of toys, clothing, bedding, furniture and treats that rival those of humans.
Here are some of the trends emerging from our love affair with pets:
Pet-friendly destinations: Many hotels across the country are adopting pet-friendly policies.
Non-traditional companies offering pet products: Companies like Paul Mitchell, Omaha Steaks, Harley Davidson and Old Navy now offer lines of pet products.
Human look-alikes: You can now find diapers for puppies, edible greeting cards and bacon-flavor popcorn.
Pampering products and services: Products on the market include faux mink coats, designer birdcages and rhinestone tiaras. Some professionals are now offering massages, chiropractic and even liposuction services for pets.
Total U.S Pet Industry Expenditures