Economics, employment, jobs, real estate, taxes, economic development and incentives, workforce development, IPOs, investment and anything related to business in Austin and the Central Texas counties of Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop and Williamson

A U.S. bankruptcy judge on Thursday indicated that he's leaning in favor of a allowing American Airlines to emerge from bankruptcy, clearing a major obstacle to the carrier's planned merger with US Airways.

Judge Sean H. Lane said he is "finding the arguments in favor of confirmation fairly persuasive" to allow American, which filed for Chapter 11 in November 2011, to emerge from bankruptcy.

Jose Avila thought he could save money to pay off college loans by moving into his mother’s one-bedroom Houston apartment and working at a Subway restaurant. But he says he’s barely making ends meet on his $7.75-an-hour wage, and he considers taking the bus to work such an extravagance that he walks an hour and a half each way, unless it’s raining.

Avila, 22, says he plans to join fast-food workers in dozens of cities across the country on Thursday in a pre-Labor Day strike to call for $15-an-hour wages. Workers in Houston, Dallas and Austin plan to participate, organizers say.

Dell Computers

One of the largest employers in the Austin area is shedding a "limited" number of jobs.

According to company spokesperson David Frink, the layoffs affected people in Central Texas and around the world. Dell employs about 14,000 people in the region, mostly at its corporate headquarters in Round Rock.

Austin is now in the top 20 of the country’s most popular convention destinations. That’s according to event management company Cvent. It its 2013 rankings of the top U.S. cities for meeting and events, Austin ranks 20th out of the 50 top ranked U.S. cities.

Austin’s current position is four spots up from the company's 2012 rankings. And in its current location, Austin ranks right under major convention cities like Houston (19th) and Boston (18th).

After fewer than 21 months on the job, NPR CEO Gary Knell announced at mid-day Monday that he's leaving the organization to become president and CEO at the National Geographic Society.

The price Americans pay for beef hit a record high last month, according to a federal report quietly released Thursday morning. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's monthly "beef values and price spreads" report shows a pound of beef at the grocery store averaged $5.36 across the country. That's an increase of more than a dollar over the past five years. 

So it's all because of the drought making feed ridiculously expensive, right? Well, that's part of it. But there's more to it, according to David Anderson, an agricultural economist at Texas A&M University. 

A merger of American Airlines and US Airways would violate U.S. antitrust law, the Justice Department, six state attorneys general and the District of Columbia allege in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

Bloomberg reports that Justice alleges the merger would lead to "less competition in the industry and higher prices for consumers." The wire service explains:

A group is calling on back-to-school shoppers to boycott Macy's and Kroger stores in Texas this weekend, in retaliation for the national retailers' efforts to quash a bill that would have strengthened the state's wage discrimination law.


A Dell Special Committee has reached a deal with founder Michael Dell. It raises his bid to buy the company by 10 cents per share but also changes some of the voting rules.

Instead of counting votes not cast as “no” votes, only votes that are submitted will be counted. This gives Michael Dell a better chance of getting his deal passed.

ADAPT of Texas and the Texas Civil Rights Project held a press conference today announcing the filing of 29 lawsuits against establishments across Texas, including Austin mainstays like the Alamo Drafthouse and Threadgill's. The complaint ? Not complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The ADA, signed into law by Pres. George H.W. Bush in 1990, promises protection against discrimination based on disability. According to ADAPT, the defendant establishments are in violation of the act due to their inaccessible locations.

Apartment prices are at a record high in the Austin-area, averaging $1.15 per square foot, according to a report by Austin Investor Interests.

More people are moving to Austin and there hasn’t been a lot of new apartments constructed, although that is changing. But many of the new apartments being constructed are centrally located and aren't cheap.

“A lot of these units average a much higher price, $1.39 a square foot, with at least a third of these units being in the 78704 zip code or in the Central Business District, which averages $1.70 up to $2.50 a square foot," said Robin Davis with Austin Investor Interest. "These new units will raise average rents fairly significantly, but rents are also rising on average 5 percent anyway without these units."

Home sales in the Austin area fell from May to June. The drop was unexpected because of the strength of the housing market in Central Texas and because June is a prime time to buy homes.

The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University analyzed MLS listings and found there were 3,085 sales of single-family homes, townhomes and condos in June. That's down from 3,157 sales in May.

Update: Dell is delaying a vote on founder Michael Dell’s offer to buy the company and make it private. The vote was scheduled to happen this morning – but is being pushed back – likely because major shareholders don’t support the deal.

Reports say the vote has been rescheduled for later this month.

Original Story (6:14 a.m.): It is decision day for Dell shareholders.

They are scheduled to meet this morning and vote on whether to accept a buyout offer from company founder Michael Dell and the private equity firm Silver Lake Management that values the computer maker at $24.4 billion.

If you ever wanted to ride an Formula 1 track in your own car, the Circuit of the Americas is now selling the opportunity. A full-day private track rental goes for $55,000. Group rates are available at $2,500 per person.

"Response has been strong with more than 250 people expressing interest within the first few days of offering the experience online," Circuit Executive Vice President Bruce Knox said in a press release. 

For a sport that caters to people who commute by helicopter and drop $10,000 on bottle service, it's probably not shocking to see a $55,000 price tag attached to a single day of entertainment. But how does it stack up against the competition? We poked around and found out. 


Exporting everything from semiconductors to barbecue sauce, the Austin metropolitan area set a new $9 billion record for exports in 2012.

The total was an increase of 4.1 percent, or $350 million, according to an announcement yesterday by the U.S. Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration (ITA). The announcement says the Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos area was the 35th largest U.S. export for 2012. 

This summer, NPR's Cities Project has been looking at how cities around the world are solving problems using new technologies. And though there's great promise in many of these "smart" city programs, New York University's Anthony Townsend remains skeptical.

Townsend, whose book Smart Cities is due out in October, tells NPR's David Greene about the causes, benefits and potential dangers of the smart city boom.

Interview Highlights

On what caused the smart city boom

Credit unions around the country want their members to memorize one phrase right now: Don’t tax my credit union.

The credit unions have enjoyed tax-exempt status since the 1930s, but lawmakers could push them to pay with new federal regulations.

U.S. Navy/LaTunya Howard

This year the Texas Legislature passed HB 3068, banning the surcharge placed on debit cards. The bill was championed by The Independent Bankers Association of Texas (IBAT), an organization that provides resources to the state’s smaller, community banks.

IBAT Executive Vice President Stephen Scurrlock says the law will have a positive impact on Texas’ small businesses – and that by scuttling the additional cost of using a card not affiliated with a giant bank, payment by debit card will no longer discriminate against community banks.

More homes sold in the Austin-area last month than in any May on record, according to a report by the Austin Board of Realtors. Their analysis of MLS Listings shows 2,991 homes were sold in May, an increase of 29 percent over the same month last year.

The increased demand sent the median home price up by eight percent to $231,500. The average home is sitting on the market for just 44 days, which is 19 days less than May last year, according to the report.

The idea is great: Walk into your local coffee shop, order your usual, and pay with the tap of a finger. No credit cards, no cash, no wallet.

That’s the concept behind mobile payment apps like Isis and Square. Customers download an app to their phones, program their credit card, and pay by giving the cashier their name. Their card is charged instantly.