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Economy

The Future of Commerce

We asked Michael Kopp, technology strategist and evangelist at Compuware APM Center of Excellence, to tell us what he sees as five top mobile-commerce trends to watch for in 2014. Here’s what he told us:

1. Mobile is mainstream now and will grow to dominate client computing for e-commerce. When designing a site for speed and good looks, the trend has been and will continue to be to start with mobile and evolve the design up to larger screens using responsive design techniques.

2. Native mobile apps will continue to preferred by consumers over web based applications because they are more responsive. While apps may be preferred, it is a mistake for companies to ignore mobile sites however, as mobile visitors tend to be situational — when an app is available on their devices, they will use it, but they will use the mobile web when an app is not available. read more »

 

Business Examiner

At the Labor Market and Economic Analysis event on Nov. 22, the state Employment Security Department had much good news to report.

First, several major industries have continued to stay strong and generate new jobs throughout the state, particularly manufacturing and health care, which “are pretty much recession-proof,” said Cynthia Forland, director of the state LMEA department.

In fact, the state has recovered about 81 percent of 205,000 jobs lost in recession, and divergent growth trends are appearing in various industries throughout each major region. read more »

 

Major retailers are bracing for a tough holiday season, reflected again this week in the gloomy third-quarter earnings issued on Thursday by Target and Sears. Target’s earnings dropped 46 percent from a year ago, dragged down by a costly expansion in Canada and a bleak outlook for consumer spending in the United States. The company also lowered its forecast for the year.

“GDP continues to grow at a painfully slow pace, while household income and consumer spending remains constrained,” said Gregg Steinhafel, chief executive of Target. “In particular, lower — and middle-income households are shopping cautiously, as they work to stay within tight, very tight, household budgets, which have seen additional pressure from this year’s payroll tax increase.” read more »

 

Retail sales in the U.S. rose more than forecast in October, a sign that consumer spending was resilient even during the government shutdown.

The 0.4 percent increase was the most in three months and followed no change in September, Commerce Department figures showed in Washington. The median forecast of 86 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 0.1 percent October advance. Sales excluding gasoline climbed 0.5 percent.

Fuel costs near their lowest levels in more than two years and household wealth boosted by rising stock and home prices may keep underpinning consumers’ ability to buy. The pickup boosts the outlook for retailers such as Macy’s Inc. heading into the holiday shopping season. read more »

 

OLYMPIA — The state’s WorkSource system is a good taxpayer investment, according to a new study released today by the Employment Security Department.

The “Assessment of the effect of WorkSource job-search services” found that, even during the Great Recession, unemployed workers tended to find work faster after using WorkSource job-search services.

Further, during the 21 months covered by the study, WorkSource clients earned an average of $1,980 more than job-seekers who didn’t get job-search assistance. During the final 12 months of the study, the average difference in earnings was $2,085 a year. read more »

 

OLYMPIA — After 22 straight months of job growth, the number of seasonally adjusted jobs in Washington fell by an estimated 1,400 in September and 8,100 in October, according to the latest report from the state Employment Security Department.

Washington’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained largely the same the past two months. From the 7 percent rate in August, it dipped slightly to 6.9 percent in September and returned to an estimated 7 percent in October.

Due to the Oct. 1-16 federal government shutdown, the September employment report was not issued in October. The data for both months were combined into a single report issued Nov. 20 by the Employment Security Department. read more »

 

WASHINGTON — Haven’t we seen this movie before? On Capitol Hill for the second year in a row, key federal tax assistance for homeowners is heading for expiration within weeks. And there’s no sign that Congress plans — or has the minimal political will — to do anything about it.

In fact, the prospects for extension of popular mortgage-forgiveness debt relief and deductions for mortgage insurance payments and home energy-efficiency improvements appear to be more dire than they were last year at this time, when at least there was a bill pending to extend them.

This year there is none, at the moment. The House and Senate are spending their time trying to figure out a budget, but are also considering overhauling the entire tax system, which could mean that a long list of special-interest tax preferences — including for housing — might be sucked into the tax-reform vortex and never revived if they expire as scheduled Dec. 31. read more »

 

WASHINGTON — We’ll put the jobs-day caveats first because they’re bigger than usual this time: One month’s survey doesn’t tell us a whole lot about how the economy is doing, offers only a partial picture subject to major revisions, and so on and so forth.

That’s even more true than usual this month because the report was influenced by the government shutdown, both in predictable ways (federal employees who were furloughed were to count as unemployed, on a temporary layoff) and unpredictable (the survey was taken a week late).

That said, this is a good report. It eases fears that the jobs recovery had petered out or at least downshifted significantly.

On the morning of Nov. 8, the best guess of analysts was that the economy had added 138,000 jobs a month from July through October. But the October job-growth number smashed their expectations, coming in at 204,000 net new jobs (versus the 120,000 forecast). The report also revised August and September numbers up by a combined 60,000. Presto chango, the economy has added 174,000 jobs a month over that period. read more »

 

NEW YORK — Americans are paying the least to fill their cars in almost two years as refiners process the most crude in a decade, offering some relief to nervous consumers.

The national average retail price sank 1.1 cents to $3.21 a gallon, the lowest since Dec. 20, 2011, AAA, the nation’s largest motoring club, said on its website Nov. 8.

In AAA’s survey for the Seattle area, regular is selling for an average $3.40 a gallon, down from $3.67 a month ago.

Pump prices are approaching the lowest level since February 2011, just before unrest in the Middle East pushed U.S. crude oil above $100 a barrel and gasoline near $4 a gallon. read more »

 
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