KentWeakley/Thinkstock(CAMBRIDGE, Mass.) -- Those who can, own homes. Those who can't, rent.It's the American way of life but one that's changing and not for the better, according to a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.The Great Recession of 2007-2009 not only waylaid the housing industry but also affected the availability of apartments, researchers say.What's happened is that people who can't afford to buy homes are also finding it difficult to rent apartments within their price range.A century ago, one in four renters were cost-burdened -- that is, they paid more than 30 percent of their income for housing. Today, half of renters are in that position and among that group, 28 percent or 11.3 million people are severely cost-burdened, meaning at least 50 percent of their income goes towards housing.The Americans socked the hardest are people earning $15,000 or less, who wind up spending half their salaries for a place to live.There will be more bad news, the study says, if Congress eliminates the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, which provides incentives to build low-income housing.Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Levi's Stadium(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Though it is scheduled to open a year ahead of schedule, the San Francisco 49ers' new $1.2 billion stadium is still working out how it will find enough parking for fans in the heart of Silicon Valley and its tech businesses.One solution the stadium is considering is asking neighboring businesses whether they can shift employee hours for the occasional Monday and Thursday night NFL football games.Santa Clara City Councilwoman Lisa Gillmor said the 49ers have been approaching local businesses to work out possible arrangements, such as parking and other ways to diminish traffic congestion, as first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle."There are not that many Monday night games in a year -- only a handful if that, so they are working with our businesses ahead of time," she told ABC News.Not only are there so few weeknight games per team in the NFL, Gillmor said the workers in the area may already be amenable to changing hours."Many people are flexible in Silicon Valley, or they can work from home. It's a fluid society around here. And again, we are talking a few days a year -- a handful of days a year -- we're not talking on a regular basis," she said.Some of the major businesses in the area include Yahoo, Cisco and Mission College.The first stadium event will take place on Aug. 2, 2014, for a game between the Major League Soccer teams, San Jose Earthquakes and Seattle Sounders. Then, NFL pre-season games will take place shortly after that.During the first year the San Francisco 49ers will play in the new Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., about an hour south of San Francisco, there will be no Monday or Thursday night games while the 49ers and stadium authority study traffic patterns in the area. That was a decision that was made in early 2010.Bob Lange, a spokesman for the 49ers, said Monday and Thursday night games in the second year of the stadium would start at 5:30 or 5:40 p.m., the same time workers are typically leaving their offices.How the 49ers will help minimize congestion and determine their place in the area are still being finalized."These plans are still being developed as we speak. They're not finalized yet," he said.Lange said he did not have details about whether the 49ers were asking businesses to change their workers' hours.Ed Maduli, vice chancellor of the West Valley-Mission Community College District, which is within walking distance of the new stadium, said the team has not asked the school to change hours for its students and their classes."We have not had discussions about class schedules. Our students come first," he said.Mission College has about 7,200 full-time equivalent students, or about 10,000 in total.Maduli said the details about the school's agreement with the 49ers will become public during a school board meeting on Jan. 21.The school may provide about 2,200 or more parking space to the 49ers for about 12 Sunday games during the first year or so.Maduli said it would be "very difficult to give parking spaces to 49ers on Mondays and Thursdays."
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Svetlana Kuznetsova/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Three weeks is all you have left to make your financial resolutions for 2014. Get started.Not as easy as it sounds, huh? Actually, GoBankingRates.com has already surveyed more than 1,700 people about their financial goals for next year. Just under four in 10 participants said saving money was their top resolution.Coming in second place was paying down debt at 29 percent, followed by investing at 12 percent while 11 percent say their number one financial goal in 2014 is asking for a raise.When GoBankingRates.com broke down resolutions by men and women, there was a clear gender divide. Forty-three percent of women put saving money at the top of their list compared to 35 percent of men.Meanwhile, more men than women chose investing and getting a raise as their number one goal.However, the gender gap was almost negligible when it came to the last choice “build an emergency fund.”Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images (WASHINGTON) -- The Senate confirmed Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., as the next director of Federal Housing Finance Agency Tuesday night. The Senate voted 57-41 to confirm Watt, who president Obama nominated in May. Watt’s confirmation was previously blocked by a Republican filibuster, but became the second nominee to be confirmed under a new rule which allows for cloture to be invoked on most of the president’s nominees with only 51 votes.Watt is the second of Obama’s nominees to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency (which supervises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) after North Carolina banking regulator Joseph Smith withdrew from consideration. Watt is the only sitting member of Congress to have been filibustered since Reconstruction. Many think that was because Watt would arguably make it easier for homeowners to refinance their home loans, which acting agency head Ed DeMarco has been more reluctant to do. The Senate now heads into a series of procedural votes on the nomination of Nina Pillard to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the D.C. Circuit Court of appeals. Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Stocks moved lower after a day of record highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 52 points to 15,973.13 on Tuesday. The Nasdaq Composite gave up 8 points to close at 4,060.49. The S&P 500 closed down 6 points at 1,802.62.Materials stocks climbed higher, while the utilities sector produced the weakest performances Tuesday. For the first time in history, a woman will run one of the big three major U.S. automakers. General Motors' new CEO Mary Barra has been with the company for more than 30 years, most recently as an executive vice president in marketing and product development. She's behind the rollouts of some of the most successful vehicles in recent years. Meanwhile, there's more encouraging news for job hunters. The Labor Departments says employers advertised the most job openings in more than five years in October. The number of people quitting their jobs reached a five-year high -- considered a sign that people may be feeling more confident about the job market. Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Amazon/Samsung(NEW YORK) -- Amazon reviewers were having a field day writing comments about a $40,000 Samsung Ultra HD LED television, with satirical reviews focused on the item's price.After Business Insider pointed out the best of the comments, the reactions continued to pile on -- with 629 customer reviews as of Tuesday morning.Whether sarcastic or not, the reviewers seem to like the television. There are only three left in stock as of Tuesday morning and the product has an average rating of four stars, according to the Amazon product page.The 85-inch television is officially $39,997.88 on Amazon, allowing buyers to save 11 percent or $5,002. While the Smart LED television has the latest features, such as voice control, Smart Touch Remote Control, built-in Wi-Fi and subwoofer, it's quite a jump in price compared to televisions that Amazon says are "similar" to it, such as the $16,999 LG Electronics LED-LCD HDTV and $12,999 Toshiba 84-inch LED HDTV.In addition to the Amazon reviews are some chuckle-worthy commentary in the Q&A section, with Amazon users posting and answering each other, such as:
Q: Will the Amazon drone deliver this?A: Actually, I believe that Optimus Prime will deliver it for you and have Bumblebee set it up for you...andQ: I want put two of these into the ceiling over my bed and play Shark Week so I can trick my wife into thinking our house sunk into the ocean. Possible?A: You prankster, you. Yes, it's possible and a great idea. She is lucky to have you in her life.
Samsung did not immediately respond to a request for comment.Possibly even more enlightening is not just the number of reviews but that Amazon users are tagging them as "helpful."Click here to see some of the best reviews.Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Apple, Inc.(NEW YORK) -- No, sadly Apple isn't giving away any free iPad Airs, iPhones or Macbooks this holiday season, but the company will soon be offering some free apps and other media that you can use on your new devices.From Dec. 26 to Jan. 6, Apple will offer a free gift every day from the App Store or iTunes. That means free books, movies, apps, songs right after you've opened that brand new iPad or iPhone. Each deal is only available for 24 hours.But in order to find out about those giveaways you'll need to download Apple's "12 Days of Gifts" app, which is available now in the App Store.According to 9to5Mac, this is the first year Apple has offered the "12 Days of Gifts" promotion in the U.S. In the past it was available in other countries. Apple offered a similar promotion earlier this year when it celebrated the fifth anniversary of its App Store. The company offered many paid apps for free, including one that was originally priced at $19.99.Of course, finding deals for free Apple hardware is harder this holiday season. Apple offered some discounts on Black Friday, and Walmart, Target and other retailers have offered slight price cuts. Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
© General Motors(DETROIT) -- General Motors CEO Dan Akerson will be stepping down from his position next month, the company announced on Tuesday.Replacing him will be Mary Barra, GM's executive vice president of global product development, purchasing and supply chain. She will be the first female CEO of a major automotive firm. “With an amazing portfolio of cars and trucks and the strongest financial performance in our recent history, this is an exciting time at today’s GM,” Barra said in a statement. “I’m honored to lead the best team in the business and to keep our momentum at full speed.”The 51-year-old, who has worked at GM for 33 years, was elected as the next CEO by the company's board of directors.Akerson, 65, made the decision to leave his post on Jan. 15, 2014, after his wife was diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer, GM said.In a message to employees, Akerson said: “I will leave with great satisfaction in what we have accomplished, great optimism over what is ahead and great pride that we are restoring General Motors as America’s standard bearer in the global auto industry.”
FIle photo. Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Gruesome undercover video shot by the animal rights group Mercy for Animals shows what appears to be brutal treatment of cows at a dairy farm in Wisconsin that is in the supply chain for DiGiorno's Pizza.The video, which Mercy for Animals says was shot in October, shows workers beating and prodding the cows and using heavy farm equipment to drag cows by the neck that the group says are too sick to walk. The video shows cows with open wounds and housed in apparently filthy conditions. Several times workers are heard cursing at the cows as they beat them."There's a culture of cruelty that was allowed to fester at this factory farm facility, and we think this is directly tied to DiGiorno's complete lack of meaningful animal welfare standards and oversight," Matt Rice, director of investigations at Mercy for Animals, told ABC News. "No socially responsible corporation should support dairy operations that beat, kick, mutilate and drag animals."The Wiese Brothers Farm, lying a couple dozen miles south of Green Bay, supplies milk to the farming collective Foremost Farms, which in turn supplies cheese to DiGiorno for its popular frozen pizzas.A spokesperson for Nestle, which owns DiGiorno, told ABC News the company contacted Foremost Farms after learning of the allegations and said it would not use any cheese made from the milk from the Wiese Brothers Farm."Nestle is outraged and deeply saddened by the mistreatment of animals shown in this video," a company statement said. "We expect all of our suppliers and their suppliers to meet our stringent guidelines...Nestle is committed to proper animal handling...We will not knowingly work with companies that violate our Responsible Sourcing Guidelines."A spokesperson for Foremost Farms said that it too was "extremely disappointed by the animal treatment depicted in the video" and said the company is "no longer receiving milk from this farm.""We have never condoned this behavior, and we work hard to educate all our members and their employees about the importance of animal care and well-being," Foremost said in a statement. "Animal welfare is critically important to all of us in the dairy food chain, from the farmer to the cooperative, to our customers and consumers."In an email, Wiese Brothers Farm said the company was unaware of the abuse taking place in its facility and was "shocked and saddened to see a few of our employees not following our farm's policies for proper animal care.""We have zero tolerance for animal abuse," the company said. "We are committed to providing optimal care and ask all our employees to demonstrate ongoing respect for every animal at all times."Wiese Brothers Farm said two employees have been terminated and a third has been removed from handling the animals. The company also said that employees will be shadowed by their supervisor periodically, without notice, to ensure protocols are followed."Each of these actions, along with any others we add as appropriate, will help us ensure the behaviors seen in this video are never repeated on our farm," the company said.Mercy for Animals' Rice said the Wiese Brothers Farm investigation is the latest of two dozen undercover investigations into food suppliers around the country, and that each one found appalling conditions."They [undercover investigators] emerge with images that shock and horrify most Americans," Rice said. "We feel that people have a right to know where their food comes from and how animals are abused on these factory farms so they can make informed choices."DiGiorno last made headlines last week for much more lighthearted fare, when its ad agency spontaneously live tweeted The Sound of Music, replacing famous lines with references to its pizza.In light of the animal abuse reports, the company may have blundered on social media Tuesday as it is currently promoting the hash tag #DiGiorNOYOUDIDNT.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If you're set on taking a trip in 2014 but undecided on where to go, the folks at Lonely Planet have a few recommendations. For starters, don't go too far.A leading travel media company, Lonely Planet announced its list on Tuesday of the top 10 U.S. destinations for 2014, a curated list of places all across the country that will be offering up a little something extra in the year to come."Each year we draw upon the knowledge of our U.S.-based staff for their top picks and we do quite a bit of digging," Lonely Planet's editor-at-large, Emily Wolman, told ABC News. "There is a fair amount of arguing involved. But in the end we've selected the places that travelers should definitely add to their list in 2014." Eschewing already popular sites, such as New York or Los Angeles, Wolman said this year's picks are "more about places that are quietly emerging or celebrating something special.""For instance, with Boston we wanted to focus on the Boston Marathon this year because of the attack the year before," said Wolman. "This is going to be the second-largest Boston Marathon in history and the city is celebrating the support and recognition from international sports community."Meanwhile, Yosemite National Park will be reveling in the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite grant and Kansas City is planning to unveil its World War I memorial."So every destination has something," she said, "and it reminds people to open their mind to opportunities in their region or not too far from home. Some of the most incredible travel experiences they can have can be in their backyard. "Lonely Planet's Top 10 U.S. Destinations for 2014 are:
Prism Skylabs(NEW YORK) -- Only Santa, maybe, knows if you've been naughty or nice. But management at some 1,000 retailers this holiday season knows where you've been standing, how long you've had to wait in the checkout line, and which sweater or necktie you admired most while shopping.New technologies for tracking shoppers in-store, in real time, make this possible. Some rely on signals emitted by customers' smartphones. Another uses images from store security cameras.
Prism Skylabs' technology analyzes security camera images to give retailers "heat maps," on which hot colors such as red or orange denote the items customers are finding most desirable. he colors are determined, say, by how long a customer has stood in front of an item or how many times the item has been handled.Jules Polonetsky, executive director of the Future of Privacy Forum, a think tank in Washington, D.C., tells ABC News that the past few years have seen more retailers adopt customer-tracking technology. Everyone from malls to big-box vendors to small coffee shops is testing some sort of system, he says. He thinks the situation has reached a turning point this shopping season with Apple's introduction of customer location-sensing iBeacon technology, which can send a variety of information -- including details on products, special offers and events -- to shoppers standing near new iBeacon transmitters.Whether a tracking technology qualifies as "creepy" (Polonetsky's word) depends in large part, he says, on whether data is being collected on specific individuals, rather than on unidentified customers en masse. Prism's heat maps fall into the second category.Steve Russell, Prisms' founder and CEO, says tracking systems that use cellphones to match data to individuals are invasive.
"We're an alternative to that," he says.
Once the security camera pictures have been analyzed to produce heat maps, he says, all visual trace of consumers is expunged. All that's left is an abstraction of how customers as a group have spent their time shopping."Before, a merchant could only look at the register to see what was selling," says Russell. "Now, you can see what products shoppers are spending time with. If somebody is picking something up and playing with it but not buying it, that tells the retailer the item may be overpriced. In the past, merchandising decisions typically have been made based on a merchant's gut feeling. Here's a way to make them based on data."Shoppers often have no inkling they're being tracked by Prism. Nordstrom says it tested a technology called Euclid between September 2012 and May 2013. The system tracked customers using the Wi-Fi signals of customers' smartphones.
"Using this type of technology," said Nordstrom in a statement at the end of the test, "is one way we can learn about our customers' foot traffic and find additional opportunities to improve the service we offer them. Through the Euclid test we got some great feedback from our customers."That feedback, says Polonetsky, was not all positive: "Even though Nordstrom had put signs up saying there was a test being conducted, some consumers said, 'Huh?'" They did not take kindly to being monitored and used social media to complain, says Polonetsky.
Others complained directly to the store itself. Nordstrom, asked by ABC News about negative feedback, had no comment.This fall, the Future of Privacy Forum joined forces with Sen. Charles Schumer and a group of suppliers of tracking technology to try to hammer out a code-of-conduct agreement that would protect shoppers from the involuntary invasion of their privacy, while, at the same time, allowing merchants to collect data supplied voluntarily.The code requires merchants using such technology to display clear, in-store signage that tracking technology is being used. It further requires them to tell customers how they can opt-out of tracking altogether.Depending on what the customer wants, says Polonetsky, and on what up-front disclosures are made by merchants, these technologies have the potential either to leave the shopper feeling flattered or feeling as if they've entered some negative, Matrix-like environment.
Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images (NEW YORK) -- Taco Bell's $1,000 donation to the late visionary behind the popular Doritos Locos Tacos is being criticized as miserly in an online petition asking the company to donate a larger portion of the millions of dollars the company earned from his idea.Todd Mills, an Air Force veteran and long-time Taco Bell customer, underwent surgery for brain cancer in August and died on Nov. 28 at age 41.Last week, Taco Bell made a statement about the famous Taco Bell customer, saying that the company donated $1,000 toward his medical expenses."We know this is a tragic time for Todd's family," Taco Bell said in a statement on Wednesday. "He was a huge Taco Bell fan. He was passionate about the Doritos Locos Taco, and although he did not invent it, he founded a Facebook page to drum up support. In light of his passion, we invited him to be one of the first to try it. He became a true friend of the brand, so when we learned of his ill health, we made a $1,000 donation towards his medical expenses. We will miss Todd very much and our hearts are with his family and friends in this difficult time."Mill's Facebook page launched in Aug. 2009, the site says, with a mission to "convince FritoLay snack company to develop a taco shell made from Doritos."The donation amount riled Ashley Tyrner, from New York City, who started a Change.org petition on Wednesday asking Taco Bell to start college funds for Mills' two daughters and his widow, who lost Mills on Thanksgiving Day.A 30-year-old mother, who started an organic produce delivery business, said she started the petition to "try and just help.""I figured I had to do something when I read how awful Taco Bell dropped the ball on this," she said. "Everyone who knows Todd seems to truly believe he is what helped Taco Bell get this idea out there for the rest of the world to enjoy."Taco Bell, a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, launched Doritos Locos Tacos in 2012, and a Cool Ranch version earlier this year. The company said it sold about one million Doritos Locos Tacos a day at the menu item's height.A Taco Bell spokesman referred ABC News this week to the company statement it made last week and declined to comment further.Tyrner said she has communicated with the Mills family and his sister.
"They seem to be very nice people with a very large support system," she said.The Mills family could not be reached for comment. The amount of Mills' medical bills is not known.Earlier this year, friends of the family launched an online fundraising campaign that closes in 23 days to raise money for his medical bills. The campaign website indicates it has raised $15,586 thus far.
Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Holiday hiring by retailers, which got off to its best start since 1999, has now tapered off.That was the bad news delivered Monday by John Challenger, president of the outplacement consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.Although retailers made 159,500 hires in October, representing a 6.7 percent boost from the same period in 2012, Challenger says that hiring in November was under levels from the same time last year.Overall, malls, shops and other retailers brought on 629,000 seasonal employees in October and November, representing 2.3 percent less than 2012.Challenger believes after the initial exuberance, stores might have come to the realization that their expectations for the 2013 shopping season might have been a bit too heady.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The net worth of U.S. households rose 2.6 percent in the third quarter of 2013. Americans’ collective worth is now $77.3 trillion, according to data released Monday by the Federal Reserve. This rise in household wealth masks the fact that a lot of wealth is unevenly distributed in the country. Well off Americans who own stocks are seeing a more robust recovery than those who rely on a regular job and salary for income. For example, the median annual household income in October 2013 ($52,299) was about the same as it was a year ago ($52,082), according to data released last week by Sentier Research. There may, however, be one particularly good sign in Monday's Federal Reserve report, Americans increased the amount of mortgage debt they took on by 0.9 per cent. This was the first increase since early 2008, and could be a sign that the painful process of dealing with crippling debts after the financial crisis is coming to an end. Consumer finances may now be healthy enough to resume a more normal process of spending and debt.Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- U.S. stock averages finished Monday with modest gains, following their first weekly loss in two months. The averages were lifted by reports that lawmakers in Washington are moving closer to a budget deal, as well as reports about a big acquisition in the food industry. Shares of food distributor Sysco rose after it announced an agreement to buy U.S. Foods for $8.2 billion. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 5 points to close at 16,026. The Nasdaq Composite finished up 6 points at 4,069 -- a 13-year high. The S&P 500 closed up 3 points at 1,808 for a record high.
Shares of Twitter traded Monday above the IPO price of $45.10, with the stock up almost 11 percent for the day. The microblogging site's stock closed at $49.14 a share. Over the last five days Twitter is up almost 22 percent.
Some investors are growing more optimistic about the company’s new tools for advertising and advertisers.
American Airlines shares rose after the company completed its deal with US Airways to create the world's biggest airline. That leaves four airlines controlling more than 80 percent of the U.S. air-travel market and with more power than ever to limit seats and boost profits. Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
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