Formula 1
2:15 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

Can You Break a Euro? Group Urges Local Businesses to Accept Foreign Currency During F1

The Better Business Bureau notes foreign tourists may not have converted their currency to greenbacks.
Flickr user Images of Money,

Tens of thousands of Formula 1 fans are making their way to Austin for this weekend’s Grand Prix. Many are from foreign countries.

The Austin Better Business Bureau says business owners should be prepared to accept foreign currency or else they may lose out on some customers.

The BBB says business owners should be aware of ever-changing exchange rates and should talk to their banks about whether they’ll charge extra for depositing foreign currency.

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8:33 am
Thu October 25, 2012

Austin Playing Catch Up in International Air Travel

A plane waits for passengers to load at ABIA.
Ihwa Cheng for KUT News

As metropolitan economies, like Austin, expand their global reach, international aviation plays a pivotal role—moving passengers from there to here.

But, for the most part, international travel coming into the United States, takes place in many of the same metropolitan gateways. Despite Austin's growing role in technology and other business industries, the city isn't playing a big role in international travel. One major challenge may be the competition provided by bigger Texas cities.

According to a report by The Brookings Institution, 17 areas account for almost three-quarters of all international travel either starting or ending in the U.S. Atop the list of gateway cities is Atlanta, which accounted for more than 6 million international travelers last year.

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7:08 am
Thu October 25, 2012

Midsize Companies Power Texas Job Creation

Midsized Texas companies are adding jobs.
Teresa Vieira for KUT News

Midsize companies — firms with annual revenues of $10 million to $1 billion dollars — are now adding jobs at almost double the national average.

Middle market companies account for just 0.5% of all Texas businesses. But they employ 30% of the state’s workforce. Anil Makhija teaches finance at Ohio State University. He says midsized businesses are more reliable job creators than small ones.

“If you think about small firms, they do deserve our attention, because they are frequently the centers of innovation. But they have a very high failure rate.”

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1:46 pm
Tue October 23, 2012

Apple Announces Smaller, Cheaper Version of iPad

Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide product marketing Phil Schiller announces the new iPad Mini during an Apple special event at the historic California Theater on Tuesday.
Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 23, 2012 1:35 pm

Update at 1:52 p.m. ET. Introducing iPad Mini:

Philip W. Schiller, the senior vice president of worldwide marketing at Apple, announced a new, smaller and cheaper version of its popular tablet, just minutes ago in San Jose, Calif.

"So, what can you do with an iPad mini that can't do with an iPad?" Schiller asked. "You can hold it in one hand."

The iPad mini is as thin as a pencil, weighs 0.68 pounds and has a 7.9 inch screen, Schiller said. The iPad has a 9.7 inch screen.

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2:22 pm
Fri October 19, 2012

Texas Drops to 6.8 Percent Unemployment; Austin at 5.3 Percent

Unemployment rates in Austin and Texas alike continue to fall.

The unemployment rate in Texas saw its biggest one-month drop in nearly two decades in September.

Statewide, the jobless rate fell from 7.1 percent in August to 6.8 percent in September. That was the result of an additional 21,000 jobs.

Here in Austin, the unemployment rate fell from 5.9 percent to 5.3 percent. That rate doesn’t account for seasonal changes in employment. Still, Texas Workforce Commission spokesperson Lisa Givens says the Austin area added 3,000 jobs last month, largely in fields including education, health services and government jobs.

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4:29 pm
Thu October 18, 2012

AMD Confirms Plans to Lay Off 15 Percent of Workforce

The southwest Austin campus of AMD. The chipmaker said today they plan to lay off 15 percent of its workforce worldwide.

Computer chipmaker AMD announced this afternoon that it’s laying off 15 percent of its workforce. 

AMD is based in Silicon Valley, but employs about 25,000 people at its southwest Austin campus. The company says poor earnings and falling sales have forced cost-cutting measures.  

Analysts say AMD has suffered from an overall slowdown in computer sales as consumers have switched to tablets and smartphones—the same trend that has hurt Austin-based Dell.  Hans Mosesmann is an investment analyst specializing in semiconductors. He says that while AMD is slimming down today to be smaller and more flexible, the company may soon be hiring again.

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8:48 am
Thu October 18, 2012

'Newsweek' Kills Its Print Edition

Say goodbye.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 18, 2012 7:40 am

Saying that "we have reached a tipping point at which we can most efficiently and effectively reach our readers in all-digital format," editor Tina Brown announced this morning that Newsweek's Dec. 31 issue will be its last print edition.

Going forward, she said:

"Newsweek will expand its rapidly growing tablet and online presence, as well as its successful global partnerships and events business.

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9:47 am
Tue October 9, 2012

Risks Of Global Economic Slowdown Are 'Alarmingly High,' IMF Warns

In China's Anhui province, a worker unloads steel bars at a factory. A slowdown in China and other major nations threatens to pull the global economy into recession, the International Monetary Fund warns.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 9, 2012 8:10 am

Saying that the global economic recovery "has suffered new setbacks, and uncertainty weighs heavily on the outlook," the International Monetary Fund today warned that the probability of "recession in advanced economies and a serious slowdown in emerging market and developing economies" next year have gone up.

The fund said its research indicates the risk of those things occurring in 2013 "has risen to about 17 percent, up from about 4 percent in April 2012."

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8:21 am
Tue October 9, 2012

What's in a Name? How Money Could Change Austin Park Names

Could the names of city parks be for sale? Pease Park was named for the family that donated the land.
KUT News

The Austin City Council is considering changing a city code that relates to the naming or renaming of parks and park facilities this week.

Right now, the code states that parks can only be named after a person or a group that has made 'exceptional contributions' to the park system. In fact, the process is pretty simple: a person submits an application asking for a park facility to named or renamed and, after 90 days, the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Board and the city council review all of the suggested names.

The proposed amendment would make it more difficult to change a park name based on community significance. It would require signatures from up to 75 percent of residents in the area of a park or park facility.

The amendment would also add a 'financial contribution component' to the process. No signatures would be required, but name changes could be awarded based on money or land donated to the city.

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10:08 am
Fri October 5, 2012

Labor Secretary Says Talk Of Fudged Jobless Numbers Is Insulting

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.
Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

Originally published on Fri October 5, 2012 9:19 am

The news that the nation's jobless rate fell to 7.8 percent in September from 8.1 percent in August immediately led some of President Obama's critics to charge the the books had been cooked to help his reelection campaign.

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8:24 am
Fri October 5, 2012

National Unemployment Rate Drops, Austin's Employed May Be Seeing Raises

Austin may be getting some raises soon.

The national unemployment rate decreased to 7.8 percent in September. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. added 114,00 jobs last month. This means the number of unemployed in the U.S. is now 12.1 million. It's the first time this year that unemployment has fallen below 8 percent.

So what does this mean for Austin? As KUT News reported last month, Austin added 5,900 jobs in August, and local unemployment dropped to 5.9 percent, well below the national average.

But what about the already employed in Austin? According to staffing agency Robert Half International, technology professionals are expected to salary increases of about 5.3 percent. Administrative staff may see salaries rise by 3.5 percent. And accounting and finance salaries could jump 3.3 percent.

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3:42 pm
Thu October 4, 2012

Friday's Jobs Report Is Campaign's Next Key Moment, Here's What To Expect

The welcome sign at a job fair earlier this year in Washington, D.C.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 4, 2012 1:16 pm

With the first presidential debate now behind us, what's the next big item on the campaign calendar?

It's Friday's 8:30 a.m. ET release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics about the September unemployment rate and how many jobs were added to payrolls last month.

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8:52 am
Thu October 4, 2012

Gaming Studio Bethesda Issues an Austin Battlecry

“Dishonored,” pictured above, is one of Bethesda’s newest titles.
Bethesda Softworks

Bethesda Softworks has announced plans to open a second gaming development studio in Austin – Battlecry Studios.

Battlecry will be headed up by long-time producer Rich Vogel, who best known for his work with gaming developer BioWare. Vogel left Bioware in July during BioWare’s second round of layoffs at the company.

During Vogel’s tenure at BioWare he worked on hits like “Star Wars: The Old Republic,” “Ultima Online”and “Star Wars Galaxies,” but it is unclear what he will be working on first with Battlecry.

President of Bethesda  Softworks Vlatko Andonov said in a statement that he is looking “forward to working with [Vogel] on a new exciting project.”

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8:28 am
Tue October 2, 2012

Women Erased From IKEA's Saudi Catalog; Company Apologizes

She's gone: One example of how women disappeared from IKEA's catalog. In the U.S. version, she's standing at a sink. In the Saudi version, she's missing.

Originally published on Tue October 2, 2012 7:54 am

Click through Swedish furniture giant IKEA's U.S. (online here) and Saudi (online here) catalogs.

You'll find all the same stuff.

But you won't find women in the Saudi catalog.

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1:05 pm
Sat September 29, 2012

What's Behind Dell's Shopping Spree

Dell is primarily known for manufacturing desktop and laptop computers, but recent acquisitions are diversifying its services.

In an widely-circulated blog post titled "Hardware is Dead," investment banker Jay Goldberg shocked the tech world by describing what he discovered in a tiny stall inside a Chinese electronics market. In a room full of vendors hawking computers and parts, Goldberg found an Android tablet computer – essentially a non-Apple iPad – for only $45.

Speaking with KUT News, Goldberg says he was surprised by the device's high quality and low price. "I would consider it a device that anyone in the U.S. would be comfortable using," he says. "It was a seven-inch device. It ran the latest version of Android. It was WiFi only, it had a nice screen, and a very snappy processor, so it responded to your commands, quickly."

That’s what Dell is up against, trying to make money, in a ruthlessly competitive global market, by manufacturing desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and servers. Dell's stock price shows its struggle, dropping from more than $40 per share in 2005 to around $10.

At Dell headquarters, spokesman Jess Blackburn says the nature of Dell’s business has changed, and the company is undergoing a transformation.  "Our strategy, which we have been particularly focused on, is taking Dell from more of a hardware company to a full service, comprehensive solutions provider."

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11:06 am
Fri September 28, 2012

Apple Is 'Extremely Sorry' For Its Much-Maligned Maps, CEO Tim Cook Says

Will it take you where you want to go? A new iPhone 5 and Apple's new mapping software.
Beck Diefenbach Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 9:46 am

How much of a "public relations disaster" has Apple's new mapping software been?

Big enough that the famously proud company has apologized — and suggested that users can turn to arch rival Google Maps instead.

In a message "to our customers" posted this morning, CEO Tim Cook says:

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8:21 am
Tue September 25, 2012

Study: Women Workers Are Still Shortchanged

Women workers in Austin earn a some $7,500 less annually than their male counterparts, according to a new study.
Flickr user Victor1558,

An examination of the latest Census data shows a gender-based wage gap is affecting a majority of women around the United States.

The analysis conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families is the first ever analysis of data separated by U.S. congressional districts.

The study shows that in 97 percent of the nation’s congressional districts, the median pay for women is less than the median pay for men by 23 cents. Women of color seem to experience an even greater disparity: African American women are paid 64 cents and Latinas are paid 55 cents for every dollar paid to white, Non-Hispanic men.

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1:19 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

More Than 5 Million New iPhones Sold in Debut Weekend

Hazem Sayed exits the Apple store on Fifth Avenue after purchasing his new iPhone 5.
Don Emmert AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 25, 2012 2:50 pm

Apple sold more than 5 million iPhones this weekend, the company said in a press release. That surpasses the initial sales of the previous version.

As Bloomberg news reports, demand for the new phone quickly exceeded the initial supply, but some analysts expected bigger sales.

They report:

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5:38 pm
Fri September 21, 2012

Coke Workers in Fort Worth Can Union Bid

Had a unionization vote passed in Fort Worth, it would have been the Coca-Cola's company's first union shop in the South.

Yesterday, Coca-Cola workers in Fort Worth rejected an offer to unionize at their bottling plant.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that the vote, which failed 215 to 191, would have made the bottling plant the first corporately-owned Coke plant in the south to unionize.

In that respect, the fact that the vote failed may be less surprising than the fact it made it that far in the first place. (The Star-Telegram notes that the vote represented the second attempt to join the Teamsters in as many years.)

As a “right to work” state, Texas has a low amount of union activity. And like most states around the country, the strongest unionization occurs in the public sector – making the scene in Fort Worth all the more surprising.

“I always tell people we don’t have unions in the Unites States,” says Dan Hamermesh, professor of economics at the University of Texas at Austin. “And in the private sector nationwide, we don’t. Eight percent are unionized nationwide. In Texas it’s way below that … but my guess is four percent in the private sector here in Texas. So it’s a very non-union state.”

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4:52 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Are American Airlines Pilots Staging a 'Sickout?'

American jets at Chicago O'Hare International Airport. The Dallas=based company has canceled hundreds of flights this week.

American Airlines has one canceled arrival at Austin Bergstrom International Airport this evening. While that may not sound like much – at least not to anyone booked on that flight – it may be symptomatic of a broader problem for Dallas-based American Airlines.

Against the backdrop of a labor struggle, American has seen some 300 flights canceled this week, as according to reports, pilots are calling in sick.

According to CBS News,

American has seen an increase in flight cancelations since early this month, when a federal bankruptcy judge allowed the company to impose new pay and work rules on pilots. The pilots had rejected the company's last contract offer in August.

Those new work rules increase the amount of flying hours on pilots, and allow American to operate more flights through partner airlines instead of American flight crews, according to CNNMoney.

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