Study: Jacksonville to Lose 22,300 Jobs

30 01 2009

Jacksonville’s job market will get slammed this year with an estimated 22,300 jobs expected to be lost by fourth quarter 2009, said a study released Jan. 19 by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Jacksonville’s unemployment rate is expected to reach 8.3 percent by fourth quarter 2009, a 1.6 point jump from 6.7 percent unemployment rate recorded in fourth quarter 2008.

The prospects for other areas of the state are even worse, with the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach area predicted to lose 84,800 jobs, Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, 42,900, and Orlando, 27,700.

The New York area is expected to realize the largest job loss at 180,800.

The report expects all but five of 363 metro areas — Anchorage, Alaska, St. George, Utah, McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas, Ithaca, N.Y. and Fairbanks, Alaska — to get hit by job losses.

Here’s some headlines in the news this month:

– Starbucks will close another 300 underperforming stores in 2009.
– Auto Trader cuts sales force following sliding print sales for two of its automotive magazine titles.
– Target announces layoffs.
– Home Depot to cut 7,000 jobs, close Expo.
– Clear Channel to lay off 1,850 jobs.
– Bank of America to cut 4,000 in capital markets.
– Circuit City to shutter remaining stores.
– Citigroup loses $8.3B, splits company in two.
– Cummer Museum cuts staff.
– Tarragon files for Chapter 11.
– Nuvell Credit to close; layoffs coming.

Source: Jacksonville Business Journal





Study: Jacksonville to Lose 22,300 Jobs

29 01 2009

Jacksonville’s job market will get slammed this year with an estimated 22,300 jobs expected to be lost by fourth quarter 2009, said a study released Jan. 19 by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Jacksonville’s unemployment rate is expected to reach 8.3 percent by fourth quarter 2009, a 1.6 point jump from 6.7 percent unemployment rate recorded in fourth quarter 2008.

The prospects for other areas of the state are even worse, with the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach area predicted to lose 84,800 jobs, Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, 42,900, and Orlando, 27,700.

The New York area is expected to realize the largest job loss at 180,800.

The report expects all but five of 363 metro areas — Anchorage, Alaska, St. George, Utah, McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas, Ithaca, N.Y. and Fairbanks, Alaska — to get hit by job losses.

Here’s some headlines in the news this month:

– Starbucks will close another 300 underperforming stores in 2009.
– Auto Trader cuts sales force following sliding print sales for two of its automotive magazine titles.
– Target announces layoffs.
– Home Depot to cut 7,000 jobs, close Expo.
– Clear Channel to lay off 1,850 jobs.
– Bank of America to cut 4,000 in capital markets.
– Circuit City to shutter remaining stores.
– Citigroup loses $8.3B, splits company in two.
– Cummer Museum cuts staff.
– Tarragon files for Chapter 11.
– Nuvell Credit to close; layoffs coming.

Source: Jacksonville Business Journal





House Passes Economic Stimulus Bill

29 01 2009


The House passed an $819 billion economic stimulus package on a 244-188 vote.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act includes $544 billion in spending and $275 billion in tax relief. The Senate is working on a similar package, with the goal of getting a final bill to President Barack Obama in February.

Obama met with Republicans this week to encourage them to vote for the legislation. The president met with 13 corporate executives Wednesday morning to talk about the need to stimulate the economy.

“The businesses that are shedding jobs to stay afloat — they cannot afford inaction or delay,” Obama said. “The workers who are returning home to tell their husbands and wives and children that they no longer have a job, and all those who live in fear that theirs will be the next job cut — they need help now.”

The House stimulus package includes aid to states and localities to help them avoid cuts in Medicaid coverage and school funding. The bill also would extend unemployment benefits and give unemployed workers subsidies for health care coverage. The legislation also would fund infrastructure improvements and investments in energy efficiency and alternative energy projects.

Most of the tax relief in the bill would go to individuals, including a $500 refundable tax credit for low- and middle-income workers.

Businesses would get $20 billion in tax cuts under the legislation. The bill would extend provisions enacted for 2008 that allow businesses of all sizes to depreciate 50 percent of investments in new equipment immediately. It also would allow small businesses to expense $250,000 of new capital expenditures instead of depreciating the cost over time, an increase in the Section 179 limit that previously was enacted for 2008.

The legislation also would allow businesses to carry back net operating losses for five years, instead of the current limit of two years. This provision would generate cash through tax refunds for companies that now are losing money but previously were profitable.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said more tax relief for businesses is needed in order to get the economy growing again.

“The good news is we expect a number of changes in the Senate version,” said Bruce Josten, the chamber’s executive vice president.

The chamber also expressed disappointment that only $30 billion of the bill’s $550 billion in spending would go toward road projects.

The National Federation of Independent Business fears the legislation would do little to help small businesses. Extending higher expensing limits for purchases of new equipment “is a good start, but in the current economic climate it is not enough,” said NFIB Executive Vice President Dan Danner.

NFIB thinks small businesses, not just workers, should get a temporary break from payroll taxes.

The National Association of Home Builders said the legislation wouldn’t do much to help the beleaguered housing industry. The bill would remove the repayment requirement on the $7,500 tax credit adopted last year for first-time homebuyers, but NAHB wants Congress to increase the size of the tax credit, make it available to all homebuyers, and enable buyers to make the credit available to buyers at closing, so it could be used for down payments.

Associated Builders and Contractors said construction companies would benefit from the bill’s infrastructure spending, which includes energy retrofits of federal buildings and schools, and other projects in addition to highway projects. ABC, however, said it is disappointed the bill requires the use of Davis-Bacon Act prevailing wage requirements on all projects funded by the bill.

Several provisions in the legislation benefit specific industries. An amendment adopted by voice vote, for example, would require the Department of Homeland Security to buy uniforms for its 100,000 employees from U.S. textile and apparel manufacturers.

The House rejected, by a 266-170 margin, a Republican amendment that would have removed the bill’s spending provisions and added more tax cuts. The Republican amendment would have allowed small businesses to exclude 20 percent of their income from taxes, whether they pay taxes at the individual or corporate level.

Small businesses don’t want more government programs — “they just need a break,” said House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va. “They need meaningful incentives, so they can get back off the sidelines, put capital to work and create jobs.”

Source: Kent Hoover, Washington Bureau Chief





House Passes Economic Stimulus Bill

28 01 2009


The House passed an $819 billion economic stimulus package on a 244-188 vote.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act includes $544 billion in spending and $275 billion in tax relief. The Senate is working on a similar package, with the goal of getting a final bill to President Barack Obama in February.

Obama met with Republicans this week to encourage them to vote for the legislation. The president met with 13 corporate executives Wednesday morning to talk about the need to stimulate the economy.

“The businesses that are shedding jobs to stay afloat — they cannot afford inaction or delay,” Obama said. “The workers who are returning home to tell their husbands and wives and children that they no longer have a job, and all those who live in fear that theirs will be the next job cut — they need help now.”

The House stimulus package includes aid to states and localities to help them avoid cuts in Medicaid coverage and school funding. The bill also would extend unemployment benefits and give unemployed workers subsidies for health care coverage. The legislation also would fund infrastructure improvements and investments in energy efficiency and alternative energy projects.

Most of the tax relief in the bill would go to individuals, including a $500 refundable tax credit for low- and middle-income workers.

Businesses would get $20 billion in tax cuts under the legislation. The bill would extend provisions enacted for 2008 that allow businesses of all sizes to depreciate 50 percent of investments in new equipment immediately. It also would allow small businesses to expense $250,000 of new capital expenditures instead of depreciating the cost over time, an increase in the Section 179 limit that previously was enacted for 2008.

The legislation also would allow businesses to carry back net operating losses for five years, instead of the current limit of two years. This provision would generate cash through tax refunds for companies that now are losing money but previously were profitable.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said more tax relief for businesses is needed in order to get the economy growing again.

“The good news is we expect a number of changes in the Senate version,” said Bruce Josten, the chamber’s executive vice president.

The chamber also expressed disappointment that only $30 billion of the bill’s $550 billion in spending would go toward road projects.

The National Federation of Independent Business fears the legislation would do little to help small businesses. Extending higher expensing limits for purchases of new equipment “is a good start, but in the current economic climate it is not enough,” said NFIB Executive Vice President Dan Danner.

NFIB thinks small businesses, not just workers, should get a temporary break from payroll taxes.

The National Association of Home Builders said the legislation wouldn’t do much to help the beleaguered housing industry. The bill would remove the repayment requirement on the $7,500 tax credit adopted last year for first-time homebuyers, but NAHB wants Congress to increase the size of the tax credit, make it available to all homebuyers, and enable buyers to make the credit available to buyers at closing, so it could be used for down payments.

Associated Builders and Contractors said construction companies would benefit from the bill’s infrastructure spending, which includes energy retrofits of federal buildings and schools, and other projects in addition to highway projects. ABC, however, said it is disappointed the bill requires the use of Davis-Bacon Act prevailing wage requirements on all projects funded by the bill.

Several provisions in the legislation benefit specific industries. An amendment adopted by voice vote, for example, would require the Department of Homeland Security to buy uniforms for its 100,000 employees from U.S. textile and apparel manufacturers.

The House rejected, by a 266-170 margin, a Republican amendment that would have removed the bill’s spending provisions and added more tax cuts. The Republican amendment would have allowed small businesses to exclude 20 percent of their income from taxes, whether they pay taxes at the individual or corporate level.

Small businesses don’t want more government programs — “they just need a break,” said House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va. “They need meaningful incentives, so they can get back off the sidelines, put capital to work and create jobs.”

Source: Kent Hoover, Washington Bureau Chief





2008 Home Sales Fell 20% in Jacksonville

28 01 2009

Sales of existing single-family homes fell 20 percent in the Jacksonville area last year, one of the steeper drops in the state. Of the 20 markets tracked by the Florida Association of Realtors, only five had a bigger drop than Jacksonville. Statewide, sales were down 4 percent.

The median sales price of homes sold in the Jacksonville market fell 8 percent $180,600. The median price statewide was down 20 percent to $187,800. The median price fell in all 20 markets.

The condominium market took an even bigger hit locally. Existing condo sales were down 40 percent in Jacksonville, while the median price fell 15 percent to $147,200. Statewide condo sales fell 10 percent, and the median price of $164,400 was down 20 percent.

Source: Florida Association of Realtors





State Farm to Cut Property Insurance in Florida

28 01 2009

State Farm Florida Insurance Co. announced today that the company wants to stop writing property insurance in the Sunshine State.

State Farm, Florida’s largest property insurer, will phase out property policies over the next two years but will continue to provide auto, life and health coverage.

Company officials said State Farm was unable to cover its costs under rates approved by state regulators. The company blames its decision on its inability to obtain state approval for rate increases.

State Farm’s plan to discontinue coverage is subject to regulatory review, but the company said the process would take two years to allow policyholders to find other insurers.

Officials said State Farm Florida, based in Winter Haven, absorbed billions of dollars in losses in the 2004 storms and was only able to continue operating by borrowing $750 million from State Farm Mutual. Last July, State Farm Florida requested a 47.1 percent rate increase but was turned down this month by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.

State Farm Florida saw its surplus reduced by $201 million in the first three quarters of 2008, officials said. The company has 1.2 million property insurance customers in Florida.

In July, State Farm Florida filed for an overall statewide homeowners insurance rate increase of 47.1 percent, which was rejected by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation on Jan. 12.

Below are listed the number of policies that will be impacted by State Farm Florida’s discontinuance of certain product lines:

• Apartment Policy, 2,631

• Boatowners Policy, 57,982

• Business Policy, 30,855

• Church Policy, 1,989

• Commercial Inland Marine, 2,661

• Commercial Liability Umbrella Policy, 3,749

Source: Jacksonville Business Journal





2008 Home Sales Fell 20% in Jacksonville

27 01 2009

Sales of existing single-family homes fell 20 percent in the Jacksonville area last year, one of the steeper drops in the state. Of the 20 markets tracked by the Florida Association of Realtors, only five had a bigger drop than Jacksonville. Statewide, sales were down 4 percent.

The median sales price of homes sold in the Jacksonville market fell 8 percent $180,600. The median price statewide was down 20 percent to $187,800. The median price fell in all 20 markets.

The condominium market took an even bigger hit locally. Existing condo sales were down 40 percent in Jacksonville, while the median price fell 15 percent to $147,200. Statewide condo sales fell 10 percent, and the median price of $164,400 was down 20 percent.

Source: Florida Association of Realtors








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