FIRST EVER 'LIVING WAGE' LAW AT $12.25 AN HOUR
Santa Monica, CA, has adopted the nation's first municipal "living wage" law that applies to local private businesses. The new law sets the minimum at $12.25 an hour, or $10.50 with a certain level of health benefits. The state minimum wage is $6.25 an hour.
Similar laws have been enacted in 60 municipalities across the country, but apply only to the small percentage of locals who work for city contractors.
CELL PHONE WARS HEAT UP
Cell phone users are in for some tough times. First, there are the laws banning hand-held phones in New York with similar restrictions under consideration in 35 other states. Now there's the jamming defense against cell phone use.
Jamming cell phone calls is popular in some foreign countries. Once you walk into a jammed premise, the cell phones simply won't work. Jamming is still illegal in the United States, but U.S. sales of jammers are reportedly thriving despite the ban. Some Americans concerned about the danger from motorists using cell phones are even requesting jammers that work against cell phone users driving alongside them.
ONE-DOLLAR BILL LIVES ONLY 18 MONTHS
Unless you put it under the mattress, the average life of a one-dollar bill is just 18 months before it is taken out of circulation—presumably from deterioration from heavy use. Of course the new Sacagawea one-dollar metal coins could last forever.
The life spans of other denominations of paper currency are:
$5 bill two years
$10 bill three years
$20 bill four years
$50 or $100 bill nine years.
COST OF BUSINESS TO RISE MODERATELY
The cost of doing business will rise moderately next year, according to the Kiplinger Letter. Leading the way will be a 12 to 13 percent cost increase for health care premiums, which could hit almost 20 percent for small firms. The average cost per worker will top $5,000.
Also, the cost of borrowing will go up a tad in the second half of 2002 when the Fed changes course and starts raising interest rates.
WORKING FOR YOURSELF SINCE JULY
The average American worked 187 days this year to pay for government costs, including income taxes and Social Security charges. Only in July did individuals start working for themselves.
The conservative group Americans for Tax Reform Foundation says that the "working for the government" period increased three days this year.
NORTHEAST CUSTOMERS LEAST TOLERANT
Customer tolerance of bad service is lowest in the Northeast. There, a third of all customers who are badly served will simply walk out. Tolerance is higher in the South where only one of six disgruntled customers leaves.
Nationally, the two common reactions to bad service are 15 percent simply ignore it, and 39 percent complain to a manager, according to the survey by MOHR Learning, Ridgewood, NJ.
CONSUMER SENTIMENT, SPENDING STILL STRONG
Some say the economy has become a one-trick pony, relying almost entirely on the consumer. So far, it's a good trick, and consumer sentiment and spending remain vigorous. The University of Michigan reports consumer sentiment increased in July for the fourth consecutive month. A "spending spree" (reported in the July 3 edition of The Wall Street Journal) was led by purchases of durable goods, such big-ticket items as cars and appliances.
But consumers also are treading somewhat cautiously, increasing credit at only a 4.9 percent annual rate, the slowest since October 1999. The slowdown in borrowing reflects job insecurity and actual layoffs.