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David J Feinberg

David J Feinberg
4789 Route 309  Center Valley  PA 18034
Phone:  610-509-4358
Office:  610-791-4400
Fax:  610-791-9575

My Blog

Travelers Willing to Pay More for Space, Peace and Quiet

August 6, 2012 2:48 am

With airlines continually seeking non-fare revenue sources, GO Airport Express asked its customers exactly what services or amenities they would be willing to pay for. At the top of the list was more leg room, at 48 percent, with WiFi coming in second, at 33 percent. Thirty percent said they would pay more to sit in a designated child-free area.

Some respondents noted they would be willing to pay for amenities that used to be free, such as in-flight meals (21 percent); movies (nine percent) and pillows and blankets (five percent). However, 17 percent of respondents said all the choices listed on the survey should be included in the air fare, with many expressing unhappiness over airlines charging for services that were once complimentary.

At 13 percent, aisle seats beat out window seats, which were selected by just under 6 percent of respondents.

Eleven percent said they'd like the option to submit seatmate preferences when traveling alone and 9 percent would pay for larger overhead bins. At the bottom of the list? Just 4 percent said they would pay extra to sit in a designated child-friendly area.

Source: GO Airport Express

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Americans' Focus on Saving Could Impact National Growth

August 6, 2012 2:48 am

While incomes in the U.S. rose slightly in June 2012, a new report shows that consumer spending stagnated, suggesting Americans are using their earnings to increase their savings and pay down household debt. This trend toward saving more and spending less could have a negative impact on the growth of the economy.

The report from BMO Financial and Harris Bank suggests that the trend toward saving and debt reduction will continue. This could put downward pressure on domestic growth for the remainder of 2012.

The report also reveals that:
  • Americans are now taking on less debt than they did a decade ago.
  • Consumption, which accounts for more than two-thirds of domestic economic activity, was unchanged in June, falling short of economists' predicted 0.1 percent increase.
  • Income rose 0.5 percent for the month, pushing the nation's savings rate to 4.4 percent - its highest level in a year.
  • The number of jobs created from April to June this year was about one-third of those created between January and March 2012.
Source: BMO Financial Group

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Housing Demand Spreads Cross Country for Boomers

August 6, 2012 2:48 am

Despite popular belief, a recent analysis of government data by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reveals that the geographic distribution of households headed by someone age 55 or older is fairly even across most of the country, with more than 30 percent of all households in every state meeting this description. The study sheds valuable light on a key statistic for housing demand among active adults, as NAHB's long-term forecast indicates that the share of 55+ households will grow every year through 2019, when the 55+ category will account for nearly 45 percent of all U.S. households.

“As more baby boomers approach retirement and the average age of the U.S. population increases, many businesses—including home builders—are showing increased interest in designing products that appeal to customers 55 and older,” explains Paul Emrath, NAHB’s vice president of survey and housing policy research. “This research shows that 55+ developments should be possible in every state where population density is sufficient to support new communities of a size that can provide a variety of attractive amenities.”

The data show 43.9 million households are headed by someone 55 years old or higher, accounting for nearly 38 percent of all U.S. households. Among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, the share of households ranges from 31 to 45 percent. West Virginia tops all states, with 45 percent of its households headed by someone 55 or older, followed by Florida at 44 percent, Hawaii and Maine (each at 43 percent) and Pennsylvania and Montana (at 42 percent). At the other end of the scale, Utah and Alaska are the only states where less than one-third of the households are 55+.

For 97 percent of all 3,143 counties, the share of households age 55 or older is more than 30 percent. At the high end, 44 counties have a 55+ household share of over 60 percent. Mineral County, Colo., and Sumter County, Fla., are the highest ranked counties in the U.S. with 77 percent of their households headed by someone 55 or older. Sierra County, N.M., follows closely behind at 74 percent, while both Esmeralda County, Nev., and Wheeler County, Ore., come in at 71 percent each.

“The demographic that 55+ builders and developers are focused on is the largest growing group of buyers that we have ever seen in this age group, and it continues to grow,” says NAHB 50+ Housing Council Chairman W. Don Whyte. “It is also a group that is radically different from what it was only a few years ago. The customers are fitter, more computer savvy and plan to live an entirely different lifestyle from what they might have thought previously, or what we would have aimed at providing for them.”

Source: NAHB

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Improving the Mental Health of City Dwellers

August 3, 2012 2:48 am

With more than half of the world's population living in cities, researchers are paying more attention to how social conditions, such as poverty, violence and isolation, in many urban areas can harm the mental health and well-being of underserved individuals and communities — and are working to identify what can be done about it.

This September, leading global experts on the social determinants of mental health will join the Adler School of Professional Psychology to discuss the many ways in which city living can affect the well-being of urban residents, particularly the most vulnerable. The conference is hosted by the Adler School of Professional Psychology's Institute on Social Exclusion (ISE), led by Lynn Todman, Ph.D., ISE executive director and a prominent U.S. expert on the link between public policies and the mental health of urban communities.

"The Social Determinants of Urban Mental Health: Paving the Way Forward" conference takes place Sept. 19 and 20 at the Chicago Marriott Downtown.

Leading speakers will share recent and emerging research on the social determinants of mental health, and how the findings inform and shape government agencies' and philanthropic organizations' programming and funding priorities.

This conference is jointly sponsored by University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Medicine, the UIC Jane Addams College of Social Work, and the Adler School of Professional Psychology.

Source: The Adler School of Professional Psychology

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U.S. Employee Confidence Index Heats Up

August 3, 2012 2:48 am

While U.S. second quarter growth and hiring outlooks remain sluggish, employees are surprisingly more upbeat about their personal employment situation. Randstad's Employee Confidence Index increased by 1.1 points to 52.2 in July after declining for three consecutive months. Compared to this time last year, the Index is measuring 4.4 points higher and still remains above the positive confidence threshold of 50.0.

The online survey was conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Randstad. It surveyed 1,248 employed U.S. adults, aged 18 and over between July 11-13, 2012.

"Similarly to the U.S. Consumer Confidence Index rising for the first time in months, our index also ticked up a bit," explains Joanie Ruge, SVP & chief employment analyst for Randstad U.S. "Our own report suggests that workers believe in their abilities to not only find a new job if they had to, but nearly 40 percent are likely to do so. While many employers remain cautious about making full-time hires, temporary or contract hiring, is continuing to be of interest. In fact, many employers who remain reluctant to add permanent staff are re-evaluating their workforce to determine the right mix of talent moving forward. Even though economists still expect U.S. growth to occur, many are pointing towards sustainability at this point. All eyes are certainly on tomorrow's jobs report."

With fewer than a quarter of employees indicating their optimism for an improving economy, others are split on whether the economy is staying the same (38 percent) or getting worse (39 percent). Women indicate more confidence in the future of their current employer at 63 percent versus men (55 percent). Seventy-four percent of both men and women say it is not likely they will lose their jobs, and men (42 percent) are more likely than women (34 percent) to look for a new job in the next 12 months.

In July, employees' confidence in the security of their current job continued to remain strong with an increase of three percentage points to 74 percent. Despite the gloomy attitude around the economy, 59 percent of employees are confident in the future of their employers.

Source: Randstad

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81 Percent of Refinancing Homeowners Maintain or Reduce Mortgage Debt in Second Quarter

August 3, 2012 2:48 am

Freddie Mac released the results of its second quarter refinance analysis showing homeowners who refinance continue to strengthen their fiscal house.

In the second quarter of 2012, 81 percent of homeowners who refinanced their first-lien home mortgage either maintained about the same loan amount or lowered their principal balance by paying-in additional money at the closing table. Of these borrowers, 59 percent maintained about the same loan amount, and 23 percent of refinancing homeowners reduced their principal balance; the share of borrowers that kept about the same loan amount was the highest in the 27-year history of the analysis.

According to Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, "The typical borrower who refinanced reduced their interest rate by about 1.5 percentage points. On a $200,000 loan, that translates into saving about $2,900 in interest during the next 12 months. Fixed-rate mortgage rates hit new lows during June, with 30-year product averaging 3.68 percent and 15-year averaging 2.95 percent that month, according to our Primary Mortgage Market Survey.”

The net dollars of home equity converted to cash as part of a refinance, adjusted for consumer-price inflation, was at the lowest level in 17 years (since the second quarter of 1995). In the second quarter, an estimated $5 billion in net home equity was cashed out during the refinance of conventional prime-credit home mortgages, substantially less than during the peak cash-out refinance volume of $84 billion during the second quarter of 2006.

The median interest rate reduction for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was about 1.5 percentage points, or a savings of about 28 percent in interest rate, the largest percent reduction recorded in the 27 years of analysis.

Among the refinanced loans in Freddie Mac's analysis, the median depreciation of the collateral property was 16 percent over the median prior-loan life of 5.1 years. The prior-loan age was the oldest in 13 years, surpassed only by the prior-loan age recorded in the third quarter of 1999.

Property-value change and loan age varied between Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) and other refinance loans. For loans refinanced during the second quarter through HARP, the median depreciation in property value was 34 percent and the prior loan had a median age of about 5.5 years (to be eligible for HARP, the prior loan had to be originated before June 1, 2009). Excluding HARP loans, other loans refinanced during the second quarter had a median property-value decline of 2 percent over a median prior-loan age of about 4 years.

Source: Freddie Mac

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5 Tips for a Great New School Year

August 2, 2012 2:48 am

Experts agree that it takes 21 days to form new habits, so if you want to start the school year off successfully, it's time to start preparing now. Here are five important tips for getting the new school year off to a great start:

1. Get on a “school schedule” at least three weeks before school starts: early bedtime, early wake-up, limited TV/video games/computer, healthy lunches and (yes) even a little homework.

2. Why is a good sleep schedule so important to your child’s success? Extensive research on sleep is well documented in the best-seller “Nurture Shock” by Po Bronson. Researchers found that even one less hour of sleep in children drastically affects their IQ, emotional well-being, ADHD and obesity.

3. Brush up on math, grammar, geography and foreign language before the school year starts. Why? In the mega best-selling book on success, “The Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell, academic success was measured between rich kids and poor kids and also between American kids and Asian kids. Gladwell says, “America doesn’t have a school problem. We have a summer vacation problem.” His extensive research finds that by the end of a school year in June, the poor kids are slightly ahead of the rich academically and the American kids are equal to the Asian kids. But when these same kids are re-tested in September after returning from summer vacation, the poor kids are far behind the rich kids and the Americans are overall far behind the Asian kids. Why? American kids have 180 school days versus the Japanese kids having 243, so the American kids fall into a greater “achievement gap.” So invest in workbooks and other curriculum to help keep your children’s brain cells moving over the summer. Early childhood specialist, Naomi Schafer says, “It doesn’t matter what you do—just do something. Talk about fractions as you make dinner—say, ‘do you think these apple pieces are a quarter or an eighth? How can you know?’ Vary it based on your child’s ability.”

4. Mentally prepare your child for new social or emotional challenges she might face in a new school year. A new year might bring a new bully to the classroom. It is much easier to overcome these challenges when you talk to your child before she is challenged with them – not after.

5. Work with you teacher. How easy is it to manage 25-30 unruly children in today’s classrooms? Not easy at all. Teachers have extremely stressful jobs. Any teacher will tell you that the No. 1 component of a successful year versus a stressful year is the amount of participation she receives from the parents. Be involved. Volunteer in the classroom. Always attend teacher meetings…and listen to her needs and requests. Talking consistently with your child’s teacher will help you to handle and deal with issues in advance that, if left unchecked, could become stumbling blocks.

Source: Southwestern Parents

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Job Openings Increase in Top 50 Major Metro Areas, According to New Report

August 2, 2012 2:48 am

A new report points to a 4.5 percent increase in nationwide job openings month-over-month and a 9.9 percent increase year-over-year. According to the August 2012 Employment Report from Simply Hired, nationwide job competition remained at a ratio of three unemployed persons for every one job opening. The August 2012 Employment Outlook highlights the job industry and employer trends in national and regional U.S. markets.

"With nationwide job openings increasing for the third month in a row, we see an improved outlook for those who are unemployed," said Gautam Godhwani, co-founder and CEO of Simply Hired. "While there is uncertainty with the nation's slow growing economy and whether the Federal Reserve may stimulate it in the coming months, it's clear that companies across the U.S. are looking to hire in the meantime."

For the second month in a row, job openings increased in all 50 of the major metros. Grand Rapids (9 percent) and Cleveland & Akron and Salt Lake City (both 8 percent, respectively) experienced the largest increases. Metro area job competition also improved slightly for job seekers in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, and Houston.

Job openings increased in 14 of 18 industries in July, with hospitality (11 percent) and non-profit (9 percent) showing the largest amount of growth. Industries that decreased in job openings include retail (-6 percent), construction, media and manufacturing (all -2 percent, respectively).

Occupations experiencing the largest growth in job openings were law enforcement, fire and safety (15.8 percent) and engineers (excluding computer) (14.1 percent). The only occupation experiencing a decline month-over-month was educators (-2 percent). In addition, the nation's top hiring companies continue to be healthcare-related, followed by technology and financial companies.

Source: Simply Hired

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Pending Home Sales Slip in June, Remain Above a Year Ago

August 2, 2012 2:48 am

Pending home sales declined in June but marked 14 consecutive months of year-over-year gains, according to the National Association of REALTORS.®

The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, slipped 1.4 percent to 99.3 in June from a downwardly revised 100.7 in May but is 9.5 percent higher than June 2011 when it was 90.7. The data reflect contracts but not closings.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says inventory shortages are a factor. “Buyer interest remains strong but fewer home listings mean fewer contract signing opportunities,” Yun explains. “We’ve been seeing a steady decline in the level of housing inventory, which is most pronounced in the lower price ranges popular with first-time buyers and investors.”

According to the REALTORS® Confidence Index, the buyer traffic index stood at 60 in June while the seller index was 41, which shows a large imbalance between buyer and seller interest. A value of 50 implies neutral market conditions; the disparity between buyers and sellers began to grow in early spring and has been in a particularly large imbalance for the past two months.

“Any bank-owned properties that have been held back in markets with inventory shortages should be released expeditiously to help meet market demand,” Yun says. “Housing starts will likely need to double over the next two years to satisfy the pent-up demand for both rentals and ownership.”

The PHSI in the Northeast fell 7.6 percent to 76.6 in June but is 12.2 percent higher than a year ago. In the Midwest the index slipped 0.4 percent to 94.4 in June but is 17.3 percent above June 2011. Pending home sales in the South declined 2.0 percent to an index of 106.2 in June but are 8.8 percent above a year earlier. In the West the index rose 2.6 percent in June to 111.5 and is 3.0 percent higher than June 2011.

Yun said there have also been delays in the closing process. “With record low mortgage interest rates, there has been a surge of refinancing on top of a higher level of home purchases, which has been creating delays recently in the closing process,” he explains.

“In addition, there have been some delays with recent foreclosure sales as banks take steps to ensure there are no paperwork problems. This is causing an uneven performance in sales closings, which is likely to continue, but we also see notably higher levels of sales activity compared with a relatively flat performance in the preceding four years,” Yun says.

Source: The National Association of REALTORS®

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Consumer Confidence Index Increases After Four Consecutive Declines

August 1, 2012 2:48 am

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index®, which had declined in June, improved slightly in July. The Index now stands at 65.9 (1985=100), up from 62.7 in June. The Expectations Index improved to 79.1 from 73.4. The Present Situation Index, however, decreased slightly to 46.2 from 46.6 a month ago.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey®, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was July 19.

Consumers' appraisal of current conditions eased in July. Those claiming business conditions are "good" declined to 13.8 percent from 14.2 percent, while those saying business conditions are "bad" decreased to 34.2 percent from 35.9 percent. Consumers' assessment of the labor market was also mixed. Those stating jobs are "hard to get" declined to 40.8 percent from 41.2 percent, while those claiming jobs are "plentiful" decreased to 7.8 percent from 8.3 percent.

On the other hand, consumers were generally more optimistic about the short-term outlook in July. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months rose to 18.9 percent from 16.0 percent, while those anticipating business conditions will worsen decreased to 14.6 percent from 15.8 percent. Consumers' outlook for the labor market was also more upbeat in July. Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead increased to 17.6 percent from 14.8 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs edged down to 20.3 percent from 20.8 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes, however, declined to 14.2 percent from 15.3 percent.

Source: The Conference Board

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