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OSU security breach could effect 21,000 students

July 31, 2012 --

By Oregon State University

Oregon State University is notifying approximately 21,000 current and former students and employees that some of their personal information was copied without permission by a contracted vendor who was upgrading software in the cashier’s office.  OSU officials say they don’t believe the information, which includes some Social Security numbers, was taken with malicious intent, but say the university is notifying students and employees, who may wish to monitor their credit reports.

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Paul Allen’s $13 Million island still for sale

July 30, 2012 --

Paul Allen’s $13 Million island still for sale
By Oregon Small Business Association

Millionaires buy beach homes; billionaires buy islands. But in recessions, billionaires end up selling those islands. Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder, is selling 292-acre Allan Island, just off the coast from Anacortes, Wash., for only $13.5 million.

The island has been on the market for two years, and there is no sign of a buyer yet. The price has already come down: when Allen listed the property in 2005, he wanted $25m for it.

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Facebook has become the new way to find new hires

July 29, 2012 --

Jennifer Scott, Workforce Engine
U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Networking has long been described as the number one way to get ahead; to increase sales, to find investors, and yes, even to find a job or new employees. We’ve all overheard people ask “How did you get that lead?” or “How did you hear about that opportunity?” And we’ve all heard people answer, “Oh, I knew someone…”

Networking—it’s all about who you know. Or is it?

I have connections on LinkedIn I’ve never met, followers on Twitter I had not previously heard of, and“friends” on Facebook that I’m not friends with. Crazy?

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Credit Cards now seen as drag for Small Biz

July 28, 2012 --

This CNN Video showcases the problem of credit cards costs hurting small businesses. The public seems unaware that 4% of transactions go to cover credit card use. The coffee shop owners in the video explain how much this hurts.

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Groundwork for Oregon education reform

July 27, 2012 --

Setting the stage for Oregon’s landmark education reforms
By Oregon Prosperity Project,

It’s easy to get lost in the political jargon of education reform or be dismissive of seemingly ubiquitous “reform” efforts that never seem to affect much. But we think something important is happening here in Oregon. This week we’re going to talk about some of Oregon’s key educational challenges, particularly in higher education…

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Is the Middle Class in Decline?

July 26, 2012 --

By Oregon Economics
CLU Center for Economic Research

A common refrain about economic policy and performance in the United States over the past thirty years is that inequality is rising and the middle class is disappearing. The implication of the latter claim is that people are falling out of the middle class into the lower income class. Of course, if you define “middle class” to be the middle part of the income distribution, centered at the median, then there always will be a middle class. So, in order to be meaningful, “decline of the middle class” is usually taken to mean flat or falling income for the median household. Combining this with strongly rising income for the top 10% or 1% of the income distribution leads to the conclusion that inequality is rising.

Economists Thomas Picketty and Emmanuel Saez (PS) are among the leading scholars in this field and have documented large increases in the share of income at the top of the income distribution. Using IRS data extending back to 1914, PS show that inequality as measured by the income share at the top of the distribution fell through the early 20th century, but then flattened out in the 1980s and has been rising sharply ever since. One reason for this result is rapid growth in incomes at the top of the income distribution. But this does not necessarily mean that the middle class is declining. To investigate this we need to look at how the middle of the income distribution is faring. On this point, PS estimate very modest income gains for the median household; in particular, their methodology shows a real income gain of 3% for the median household over the past thirty years (1979-2008). This compares to an income gain of 50% for the top decile household for the same period and strongly supports the notion of rising inequality.

As noted in a prior note (May 22, 2012), it is interesting and important to examine reasons for these income dynamics. Partly, these dynamics are due to a heightened return to education and a growing college wage premium. Another part of the explanation is poor education opportunity for young people in many parts of the country. Surely it is a worrisome trend if the financial position of the average American is flat or declining.

Yet, it may be that the PS conclusions about the median household are not correct. There is no doubt that PS are highly respected researchers who have been meticulous in their scrutiny of the data. However, assessing trends in the income distribution is very complex. Economist Richard Burkhauser (RB) has spent the last 15 years studying similar data. His source is Census data (based on the annual Current Population Survey) and he is able to replicate certain features of the PS data, in particular the 3% real income gain for the median “tax unit” (this is the observation unit utilized by PS) over the past 30 years.

However, RB argues that the PS analysis overlooks or ignores several critical issues including changes in the number of the people in the average household (this has been falling for several decades) and the effects of progressive taxes and transfer payments (the PS analysis looks at pre-tax income before transfer payments). After making suitable adjustments (which he is able to do with the Census data), RB finds that the median worker net income (including transfer payments) has increased by 32% in real terms between 1979 and 2008. This is close to the long-term increase in the economy-wide per capita standard of living, and therefore does not support the notion of a declining middle class. This conclusion is supported by studies that examine consumption patterns. The consumption “basket” of the poverty line family in 2010 appears to be greater than the consumption basket of the median family in 1970.

It is disconcerting when equally competent researchers come up with dramatically different answers to what appears to be a straightforward question – what is happening over time to income for the median household? Actually, the question is not all that simple. In fact, I don’t think either PS or RB really address the issue. That is because they don’t look at the same households over time. If you really want to see what is happening to people over time, you have to follow the same individuals! This requires the use of so-called panel data, where the same “panel” of individuals is followed over time. The longest running and most comprehensive such data set is the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). Using this data, a recent study by the Brookings Institute shows that the median income household in 1970 has enjoyed a real income increase of 29% in one generation (that is, the children of the median household in 1970 earned 29% more in real terms than their parents).

While not the identical question addressed by PS or RB, the Brookings finding does suggest that the middle class has been doing reasonably well over the past thirty years or so.

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Microsoft announces rare layoffs

July 25, 2012 --

By Oregon Small Business Association

Microsoft is laying off employees in its marketing division. About 25,000 of the company’s 90,000 full-time employees work in sales and marketing, and CEO Steve Ballmer apparently doesn’t think that the software giant’s sales justify the nearly $14 billion it spent on sales and marketing in fiscal 2011. Indeed, over the last nine months, the Online Services division of Microsoft (the division in which sales and marketing takes place) lost $1.45 billion and earned $2.1 billion. However, details of just how many jobs were cut remain sketchy. Some workers were moved from the more technical side of marketing back into engineering, and overlapping positions were eliminated. The latest reports indicate that around 200 people were let go.

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AOI petitions Oregon Supreme Ct. over LLCs

July 24, 2012 --

AOI Will Petition Oregon Supreme Court to Defend LLC Owners & Members
by J.L. Wilson
Associated Oregon industries

As AOI informed its members in March, a recent decision by the Oregon Court of Appeals will have huge liability ramifications for owners and members of limited liability companies (LLC’s) in Oregon.

In this case – Antonio Cortez v. Nacco Materials Handling Group, Inc. – the Appeals Court ruled that the exclusive remedy provision of Oregon’s workers’ compensation law, ORS 656.018, does not protect the members of an LLC from tort liability.

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300 person flash mob strikes Walmart

July 23, 2012 --

It is estimated that 300 teenagers stormed a Florida Walmart. The video shows teens tossing merchandise around and causing a havoc. It is suspected that the teens came from a party that was broken up. See video below.

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Death Tax increase submiited, then pulled from Senate bill

July 22, 2012 --

By U.S. Chamber of Commerce

UPDATE: Politico reports that Sen. Reid removed the death tax portion from his bill: “Senate Democratic leaders are eliminating a provision to tax wealthy estates in order to shore up support within their ranks for President Barack Obama’s election-year tax plan, senators and aides said Thursday.Since there was no consensus in the Senate Democratic Caucus over the levels to tax estates transferred after a person’s death, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told senators Thursday he’d drop that provision.

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