Archive of: Work Force

Title Issue

CEOs are upbeat about their firms, worry about general economy

Senior executives and managers are not optimistic about the overall strength of the economy for 2009, but they have a positive personal outlook on the growth of their own businesses.

Almost half of the business leaders questioned for a national survey believe the overall economy will worsen during the coming year, according to a worldwide survey conducted by NFI Research. One in five said the economy will stay the same.

While many of the entrepreneurs were concerned about the strength of the overall economy, about half of them were optimistic about the increase or growth of their own business during 2009. 

January 2009

Construction materials prices drop

Construction materials prices dropped 2.5 percent in December compared to November's costs, according to the Producer Price Index report by the U.S. Labor Department. This drop represents the third straight month where construction materials prices have fallen bringing the fourth quarter price declines to 8.3 percent. However, despite the drop, construction input prices are 2.7 percent higher than the same time last year.

"Today's PPI report represents a mixture of good and bad news," said Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. "The good news is that key construction materials prices are now in sustained decline, and this increases the appetite for construction services, all things being equal. The bad news is that all things are not equal. These price drops are a function of declining worldwide demand for construction, even in the face of falling construction materials prices."

January 2009

Holiday sales decline 2.8 percent

A deep recession, severe winter weather and five fewer shopping days combined to create the most challenging sales environment in years for the nation's retailers. The National Retail Federation is reporting that retail sales for December declined 2.2 percent compared to last year and decreased 1.4 percent seasonally adjusted from November.

January 2009

Blog Watch: banks and buyers remorse

Lacey-based biz blogger Ken Balsley made note of the number of banks located in the county at a time when banks are reportedly struggling and a new one is entering the market. Welcome, Golf Bank. Balsley notes that the county has 76 bank or credit union branches, with 28 different names.

The AWB has an item on the planned repeal of the well-supported but not-funded paid family leave plan. The issue is being revisited as the state faces a slump and dollars aren't as available for government programs as they were just a few months ago.

January 2009

COFFEE BREAK: Legislative issues

With the state Legislature set to tackle some tough issues with a down economy and a record budget shortfall, the Business Examiner would like to know what business issue do you think law makers should focus on to right the economy.

To reply to the poll, send an e-mail to Poll results will be published in Friday's BE Daily. 

January 2009

Countrywide faces class action suit by state homeowners

A group of Washington homeowners filed a class action lawsuit this week against Countrywide, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of America and the nation's largest mortgage company, claiming the mortgage giant illegally rigged the appraisal process in a scheme to boost profits at the expense of homeowners and independent appraisers.

Filed under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Practices Act, the suit claims that Countrywide forces homeowners to use its subsidiary LandSafe, for appraisals. The company then would allegedly turn around and subcontract the work to independent appraisers while charging homeowners as much as 200 percent of the actual cost of the appraisal.

January 2009

Change in corporate law about to take effect

Under a state law taking effect this year, Washington corporations must decide by Jan. 15 whether to exempt corporate officers from unemployment insurance.

The old law meant corporate officers were exempt from unemployment insurance unless their employer elected to cover them and paid unemployment taxes for those individuals. But as of this year, corporate officers who provide services in Washington are automatically covered for unemployment insurance unless their employer specifically exempts them.

January 2009

KeyBank call center set to close

Some 200 workers at KeyBank's call center in Tacoma are set to lose their jobs after the bank announced plans to close the facility later this year.

The center is located in the city's Hilltop neighborhood. The consolidation will take place in stages this year and will be transparent to banking customers.

"Like every business in challenging economic times, we continually evaluate and adjust the way we work," said Tom Spilman, president of KeyBank's South Puget Sound District. "This was a difficult decision and one made carefully."

January 2009

BCRA lands federal projects

Local design, engineering and planning firm BCRA was recently notified of the award of two new Federal design-build projects totaling $20 million.
Out of its office in Virginia, the Tacoma-based firm will provide architecture, civil and structural engineering, interior design, LEED design and air barrier testing for a 46,992-square-foot addition that will house an Air Force and Navy Culinary School located at Fort Lee. Project cost is $14 million. 

January 2009

Retail sales continue decline

Taxable retail sales in the state declined 4.2 percent, to $29.8 billion, during the third quarter of 2008, the Washington State Department of Revenue reported today.

Retail trade was down 6.2 percent to $12.4 billion. Retail trade is a subset of all taxable retail sales that excludes construction, services and other non-retail businesses. Retail trade is a better measure of consumer purchases.

January 2009
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