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Text messaging use declines — personal & business

November 30, 2012 --

by Michael Hendrix
U.S. Chamber of Commerce

According to a new report by the consulting firm Chetan Sharma, text messaging is declining for the first time in America. Cell phone users sent an average of 678 texts a month in the third quarter of this year, which is a decline from the previous quarter’s high of 696 texts a month.

While nearly 700 texts a month may sound like a lot, users aged 18–24 sent roughly 3,200 texts a month according to a 2011 Pew report. Ninety-five percent of this cohort owned cell phones and 97% of these owners used the text messaging feature. These users are currently propping up overall text messaging levels. Nevertheless, they are rapidly switching over to smartphones with data plans. Overall, about 75% of new mobile phone purchases were of smartphones this past quarter and the market is still expending to the 70% of households without them.

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Oregon Dept. of Revenue name used in phone scam

November 29, 2012 --

Revenue Calls Attention to E-Mail and Telephone Scams
By Oregon Department of Revenue

The Oregon Department of Revenue is warning taxpayers to beware of e-mail and telephone scams that use the agency’s name as a lure to obtain personal and financial information.

Taxpayers have reported receiving phone calls from fraudsters posing as Department of Revenue tax collectors. The caller tells the person that they owe the state money, and asks them to wire a payment immediately to clear up their tax issue. Other taxpayers have reported receiving robocalls informing them they can claim a large tax rebate if they call back to a certain phone number.

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Palm scan technology used on ATMs

November 28, 2012 --

By Oregon Small Business Association,

Palm Scans Replacing ATM’s?

 Biometric scans may become more available as replacements for ATM’s, PIN’s and other personal ID while increasing security and speeding up check-ins and online transactions.

Biometric Technology

Biometric scanners use personal characteristics and traits to identify a person. Palm prints, used widely by Japanese ATM’s and Australian police, show a relief map of the palm. New palm print technology tracks veins and bone structure. Iris scans, although expensive, are considered among the most accurate and acceptable to customers. Facial recognition, which scans the iris and measures distance between the eyes and between the nose and mouth, is being used on some smartphones and laptops. Reuters reported Intel has developed a prototype tablet and software which recognizes the unique pattern of veins on a person’s palm. The tablet will then securely communicate the user’s identity to online accounts.

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WA Marijuana Legalization Law Need Not Affect Employer Drug Testing Policies

November 27, 2012 --

by Jim Shore
World of Work
Stoel Rives, Oregon law firm

There are many sound reasons why employers have zero tolerance policies and engage in drug testing of applicants and/or employees, including customer requirements, government contracting requirements (e.g.,the federal Drug Free Workplace Act), federal or state laws (including DOT requirements for transportation workers), workplace safety, productivity, health and absenteeism, and liability.

Some Washington state employers may be wondering whether any workplace implications have been created by the election day passage of voter Initiative 502, which made Washington the first state, with Colorado, to reject federal drug-control policy and legalize recreational marijuana use. The simple answer is it does not change a Washington employer’s rights.

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Survey: Portland downtown adding jobs, overcoming stereotypes

November 26, 2012 --

By Portland Business Alliance

Business owners and retailers feel downtown is very clean and safe
The Clean & Safe District’s 2011 Business Census and Survey results, which were released today, show a positive upward trend in downtown Portland’s employment numbers as well as a new statistic revealing the amount of wages and income generated by downtown employees. According to the census, 87,588 downtown employees earned more than $5.5 billion in wages in 2011. Results from the annual Downtown Business Census & Survey also show that for the eleventh year in a row, a large majority of downtown business owners feel that downtown is clean and safe.

“We are pleased to see another year-over-year increase in downtown employment numbers as we continue to climb out of recession,” said Dave Hamilton, vice president at Norris & Stevens, and chair of the Downtown Clean & Safe District. “The public and private investments in downtown over the years have made it a convenient as well as clean and safe place to do business.”

The Downtown Clean & Safe District, funded by downtown property owners and managers in the 213-block district, conducts the Business Census & Survey each year, surveying employers within the I-405/I-5 loop. The Clean & Safe District partners with the Portland Development Commission on the employment data piece.

The rest of the survey data was collected using mailed questionnaires, personal follow-up and block-by-block canvassing to obtain a statistically significant survey sample of 20 percent.

Other report findings include:

  • An upward trend in employment within construction and service industries;
  • A seven percent increase in respondents’ positive impression of downtown’s cleanliness;
  • Continuing strong positive sentiment about safety with 95 percent of downtown workers believing that downtown is safe;
  • The impact of panhandlers and public inebriates continues to be the top factor that needs improvement; and
  • The biggest jump in worker sentiment involved the holiday lighting program with 67 percent feeling that it is a much valued amenity, an increase of 29 percentage points from 2009.

In terms of how employees are getting to work downtown, the census shows a slight 4-percentage point up-tick in single car drivers, a decrease in public transportation of about 5 percentage points and other modes of commuting holding steady (bike, carpool, walk).

The survey data is gathered from October 2010 to October 2011. For more information and to view the entire Downtown Business Census & Survey results, click here.

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WA hit with business “Minutes” scheme

November 25, 2012 --

WA hit with business “Minutes” scheme
By Oregon Better Business Bureau

Businesses in Washington state are the target of confusing solicitations from Corporate Records Service of Tumwater, Wash., also known as Labor Law Poster Service. Official-looking notices request that companies pay $100 to $125 to file their “Annual Minutes.”

Better Business Bureau warns that these requests are not from Washington Secretary of State.

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Business leaders speak out on fiscal cliff

November 24, 2012 --

by Sheryll Poe, Free Enterprise
U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The fiscal cliff, the combination of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts set to take effect on January 1, 2013, is weighing heavily on the shoulders of business owners, including Rick McNeel and Theresa Kern.

McNeel is president and CEO of LORD Corporation, which makes critical parts for helicopters. About 15% of its business is tied to defense—the industry facing the deepest spending cuts. Kern is president and owner of MA Steel Erectors Inc., a subcontracting firm specializing in all facets of reinforcing steel placement for the commercial, industrial, heavy, and high-rise construction markets.

Kern and McNeel joined U.S. Chamber Chief Economist Marty Regalia and Free Enterprise staff writer Sheryll Poe for a discussion on the potential impact of the fiscal cliff on business and the economy.

Free Enterprise: Let’s start with an easy one: What parts of the fiscal cliff worry you most?

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Don’t buy the “Black Friday sale” hype

November 23, 2012 --

CNN takes on Black Friday sales pitches that have ramped up during our holiday season.

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20% share Thanksgiving with co-workers

November 22, 2012 --

By Career Builders,

CAs Americans prepare to give thanks, co-workers may play a role in many Thanksgiving celebrations. Nearly one-in-five (19 percent) workers say they plan to celebrate Thanksgiving with co-workers either in or out of the office. A new CareerBuilder Thanksgiving survey was conducted nationally online by Harris Interactive© from August 13, 2012 to September 6, 2012 and included more than 3900 workers.

Workers Who Celebrate Thanksgiving With Co-Workers By:

By Diverse Groups
· African American workers – 26 percent
· Hispanic workers – 25 percent
· Disabled workers – 22 percent
· Asian workers – 18 percent
· LGBT workers – 17 percent
(This compares to 16 percent of non-diverse workers).

By Age
· 18-24 – yes, 24 percent
· 25-34 – yes, 23 percent
· 35-44 – yes, 18 percent
· 45-54 – yes, 15 percent
· 55+ – yes, 18 percent

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Where Oregon is headed — Economic & revenue forecast

November 21, 2012 --

By Josh Lehner
Oregon Office of Economic Analysis Blog.

  • Recent tax collections have matched forecast relatively well, resulting in only a minor change in the forecast
  • The economic outlook has improved slightly over the medium term raising Personal Income Taxes along with it
  • On net General Fund and Lottery Fund available resources for 2011-13 BN are up $30.5 million relative to the September 2012 forecast (+0.20%)
  • On net General Fund and Lottery Fund available resources for 2013-15 BN are raised $54.9 million (+0.33%)

This morning our office is releasing the December 2012 Economic and Revenue forecast. All forecast materials, including slides and excel tables, may be found over on our main site. Since our last forecast back in August, revenues and the underlying economy have largely performed inline with expectations. Combined Personal Income Tax and Corporate Income Tax collections were +0.4% above forecast in the most recent quarter, or $5.7 million. Revisions to these main taxes were upward by $31.5 million (+0.25%) for the remainder of the biennium based on a slightly improved economic outlook.. The combination of forecast revisions for all other taxes and fees in addition to offsets and transfers were effectively unchanged, on net, for 2011-13. Lottery Revenues were increased $0.1 million, resulting in a combined available resource change of $30.5 million.

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