Business & Economy

Business news

Amazon "Tax" Begins Saturday

Sep 13, 2012

If you need to make a purchase on Amazon, now would be a good time to do it. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, starting Saturday, Californians will have to pay sales taxes on purchases.

AAA: Labor Day Holiday Travel Up

Sep 1, 2012
Michael R Perry / Licensed via Creative Commons via Flickr:

The latest AAA forecast says a higher number of Californians will be traveling over this Labor Day holiday weekend.

According to the auto club, 3.7 million Californians will travel 50 miles or more.

“This is a modest increase of 3.4 percent over last year," said Cynthia Harris, who is with AAA Northern California. She says “modest” increases in travel numbers have been the norm over the past four years.

Foreclosures Drop, But Still Remain High

Aug 30, 2012
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Foreclosure-related home sales fell 10 percent in California during the second-quarter compared to last year. But repossessions still accounted for a big percentage of homes sold. Listing service RealtyTrac says four out of every 10 California homes sold between April and June were foreclosures.

Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac’s Vice-President said that number, "is extremely high. We’d expect to see less than 5 percent of all sales be foreclosure-related in a normal, healthy market."

A new UC Berkeley study says temporary workers in California are more likely to live in poverty than their co-workers.

Miranda Dietz is with the university’s Center for Labor Research and Education. She says “temps” hired through staffing agencies to work in data entry, nursing, accounting and other jobs, earn an average of 18 percent less per hour than their co-workers.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Three bills that would regulate California’s “Buy Here, Pay Here” used car industry are moving through the State Capitol despite some growing opposition. The critics include several used car dealers associations and some local chambers of commerce.

Former Republican Assemblyman Roger Niello is with the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce. He’s also the owner of several auto dealers. He says efforts to crack down on what the bills’ authors call “predatory lending” would backfire on the very people the legislation is intended to help.

Congressmen Call For Hanford Slaughterhouse to Re-Open

Aug 23, 2012

Three Central Valley Congressmen have called on Agriculture Secretary Tom Vislack to allow the Hanford slaughterhouse at the center of an animal cruelty controversy to re-open. In a letter released today, Republican House members Kevin McCarthy, Devin Nunes and Jeff Denham called the shutdown of the Central Valley Meat Company unnecessary, and said the closure is causing economic hardship in the area. They said that the investigation into the plant's practices can continue should the plant re-open.

Federal regulators and fast-food companies reacted with unprecedented speed this week to the release of an undercover video that animal-rights activists shot inside a California slaughterhouse. The video — which, we'll warn you, is pretty graphic — shows employees of Central Valley Meat Co. using electric prods repeatedly on cattle that appeared unable to get to their feet.

An economic forecast out today says California’s unemployment rate will drop to single digits this time next year – sooner than originally predicted. Right now, California’s jobless rate is 10.7%. It peaked at 12.5% in 2010. The rate’s been inching down ever since.

Economist Jeff Michael is with the Business Forecasting Center at University of the Pacific in Stockton. “We see [the] unemployment rate going into single digits in mid-2013 and in the past we’ve been saying the end of 2013.”

California Lumber Sales Creep Up In Recent Years

Aug 15, 2012
Licensed using Creative Commons from Flickr user CHRISTOPHER MACSURAK /

Lumber sales are up slightly in California, after hitting a record low in 2009. The 2008 collapse of the housing market devastated California's already faltering lumber industry. The housing market has been slow to recover, but new home construction has risen in the last year.

David Bischel of the California Forestry Association says that's translated into a slight uptick in lumber production. "There's been an increase in sales because there's been a small increase in housing production, our markets are very closely tied to housing markets."

Kern County Leads Nation in Employment Gains

Aug 7, 2012
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Employment in California’s largest counties rose between December of 2010 and December of 2011, but paychecks got smaller in most large counties. 24 of the 26 large counties in California saw employment increase. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics defines large counties as those with employment of 75,000 or more.

Kern County posted a 5.3 percent increase, followed by San Francisco County at 3.3 percent. Kern County’s increase was not only the largest increase in the state but in the country as well. Los Angeles County has the highest number of employed at more than 3.9 million.