MODEST ECONOMIC GROWTH ONCE CONSIDERED
The nation’s economy grew at 3.1 percent in the third quarter of the year with consumer spending accounting for virtually all the growth during the summer, according to the U.S. Commerce Dept.
While modest, the 3.1 percent growth far outpaced the second quarter’s meager 1.3 percent rate. In fact, the rate of economic growth in the third quarter fell in a range that would have been considered quite healthy before the Internet boom of the late 1990s.
On the bright side, business investment in buildings, equipment and software increased 0.6 percent, reversing a steep downward trend that had run through seven consecutive quarters.
Government spending and spending on housing also rose slightly in the third quarter.
MORE BANG FOR THE BUCK
The amount of goods and services Americans produced in each hour they worked grew rapidly in the third quarter, the Labor Department reports. The gain was the fifth consecutive quarterly increase.
Economists believe the reason for the gain is a change in corporate philosophy. Company leaders once looked outward for advanced technologies to expand their businesses. They now are searching for internal efficiencies—how to be better, rather than bigger.
NEWEST BOOMING JOB MARKET: ETHICS COPS
More U.S. companies are hiring outside “compliance officers” to keep their employees on the straight and narrow path. The Ethics Officer Association, a group of ethics cops from major companies, says it has gained more than 100 members recently in light of the Enron and WorldCom scandals.
By emphasizing fair play and a respect for law, these officials aim to develop a corporate culture that rewards ethical behavior.
Experts say ethics failures are not the result of employees not knowing the law or regulations, but because they feel a variety of other pressures in their workplaces. Most companies, such as Enron and Arthur Andersen, had internal ethics and compliance programs, but those involved often lacked clout or had other duties to perform within the companies.