Headlines – Week of July 18, 2010

July 23, 2010

CNBC study: Fla. has top state workforce

In my July 14th posting, I reported on the recent CNBC ranking of America’s Top States for Business.  Texas came out as the #1 state on 40 different measures of competitiveness.  One of these measures included the State’s workforce which ranked its ability to attract businesses.

Under this category Florida moved up from number three in 2009, reclaiming the number one rank the state held in 2008.

Overall, however, the survey ranked Florida No. 28 nationally for businesses, the same rank it held in 2008. While many of the 10 measured qualities changed marginally, the economy hit the state hard. In the 2009 survey, Florida ranked No. 23 for economy; in 2010, the state’s ranking for its economy dropped to No. 48.

The No. 1 workforce ranking in CNBC’s annual study was based on several indicators, including the education level of the workforce, the number of available workers, union membership, and the success of worker training programs.

Full Article

 Top 10 Best Small Cities for 2010

Money magazine has released its list of the best small cities in America. The list, which recognizes locales with great schools, safe neighborhoods, high employment rates, and low crime, is a coveted honor and one that can have a significant economic impact on a growing community.

This year’s top 10 winners are:

 1. Eden Prairie, Minn.

2. Columbia/Ellicott City, Md.

3. Newton, Mass.

4. Bellevue, Wash.

5. McKinney, Texas

6. Fort Collins, Colo.

7. Overland Park, Kan.

8. Fishers, Ind.

9. Ames, Iowa

10. Rogers, Ark.

Full Article

More Americans’ credit scores sink to new lows

According to the credit agency FICO, Inc., the credit scores of millions more Americans are sinking to new lows.

Figures provided by FICO Inc. show that 25.5%  of all American consumers (43.4 million) now have credit scores of 599 or below, marking them as poor risks for lenders. It is unlikely they will be able to get credit cards, auto loans or mortgages under the tighter lending standards banks now use.

Because consumers relied so heavily on debt to fuel their spending in recent years, their restricted access to credit is one reason for the slow economic recovery.

The findings in the report indicate an increase of about 2.4 million people in the lowest credit score categories in the past two years.  As recently as the mid-2000s, only about 15% of U.S. consumers had scores in the bad range.

Since it can take several months before payment missteps actually drive down a credit score, more are likely to join their ranks.  According to the Labor Department, about 26 million people are out of work or underemployed, and millions more face foreclosure, which alone can chop 150 points off an individual’s score.

On the positive side, the number of consumers who have a top score of 800 or above has increased in recent years. At least in part, this reflects that more individuals have cut spending and paid down debt in response to the recession. Their ranks now stand at 17.9%, which is notably above the historical average of 13%, although down from 18.7% in April 2008 before the market meltdown.

There also has been a notable shift in the important range of people with moderate credit, those with scores between 650 and 699. The new data show that this group comprises 11.9% of scores. This is down only marginally from 12% in 2008 but reflects a drop of roughly 5.3 million people from its historical average of 15%.

 Posted by Scott R. Lodde

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