Monday AM November 5th, 2007

Robert Half International expects higher salaries in 2008 for accounting, financing, administrative and IT professionals...Spectra Energy plans $3 billion pipeline connecting Rocky Mountain natural gas supplies with Western markets...North Harris Montgomery Community College District approves name change...

Robert Half International has released its 2008 salary guides for accounting, financing, administrative and IT professionals. Starting salaries are expected to be an average of 3.2 percent to 5.3 percent higher next year in the fields surveyed, according to Phil Willingham with Robert Half's Houston office.

"Accounting and finance, technology and office and administrative, in particular, we do expect a fairly healthy salary increase across the board. I think you mentioned, you know, the 4.3 in accounting and finance, 5.3 percent increase in information technology, and 3.2 percent in office and administrative, so for people in those professions, I think they have a real healthy outlook next year." Ed: "How do we compare to the rest of the country in some of these fields that are covered here?" "Well, actually we're in line—if not above—the salary growth expectation." Ed: "How can this material be used? Someone in college, I suppose, would be interested, because they can learn things like professional certification can add to the salary base." "Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you can take a look at the skill sets that are in most demand. If you're a college student, you can see that, you know, accounting and finance is probably one of the most in-demand professional skill sets in today's environment, and will be for potentially the next decade or two. When you think about corporate governance and regulatory pressures in that space, coupled with--just like in IT--the baby boomer challenges coming up—never mind a growing global economy—there's just a lot of pressure and demand for accounting and finance skills, so that would be a good major to explore."/P>

Houston should continue to shine when it comes to job growth.

"We're pretty excited about the job growth, especially in the professional services sector in southeast Texas--Houston in particular." Ed: "Is the increase just due to a healthier sort of regional economy, do you think?" "Well, there's a couple of factors, and yes, I would agree with the local economy, with, you know, our tie to energy and health care, that's a robust environment right now. The other thing is more macro-economics at play, if you will. Some of things we're attributing to the strong demand would just be when you think about the baby boomers and the, you know, the aging workforce, if you will, come January 1st if the first wave of those individuals. It's estimated there's roughly about 3.2 million people that will turn 62 on January, or throughout next year and 2008. And roughly half of them are expected to take early retirement. So we think, or we feel pretty confident that's going to open up a lot of opportunities--the trickle-down effect. And in areas like IT, for example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics would estimate that there's going to be an additional million IT jobs created by the year 2014. So that jumps to about 1.3 million when you factor in retirements, just as an example."/P>

Free copies of the salary guides can be obtained at Robert Half International's Web site.

Spectra Energy plans to build a $3 billion interstate pipeline system to connect Rocky Mountain natural gas supplies with Western markets, according to the Houston Business Journal. The Houston company says the Bronco pipeline will be more than 650 miles long. The project is planned to be operational in 2011 and completion is set for 2012.

Four prominent Texas business leaders are being inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame this evening at the Westin La Cantera Resort in San Antonio. Those being honored are car dealer Tom Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints; Dr. James Leininger, founder of Kinetic Concepts; Paul Sarvadi, co-founder of Administaff; and Clayton Williams, Jr., of Clayton Williams Energy. Fifteen Texas college and university MBA students will be awarded $10,000 scholarships. Past inductees include Ben Taub, Tilman Fertitta, Jerry Jones, Michael Dell, former President George Bush and Ken Lay.

The Women's Energy Network of Houston is staging its 4th annual Young Women Energized event today at the HESS Club near The Galleria. Chevron, Shell, BP and ConocoPhillips representatives will be on hand for the roundtables. Five $1,000 college scholarships are being given to students pursuing a degree in a field related to the oil and gas industry.

A prominent central Texas hospital is getting a $7.5 million state grant to expand cancer research and other health care work. Governor Rick Perry stopped in Temple to announce the funding for Scott & White Memorial Hospital. The grant from the Texas Enterprise Fund will also be used by the Scott, Sherwood & Brindley Foundation. Perry's office says the hospital complex is the largest private employer in Bell County. The expansion is expected to generate nearly 1,500 jobs over the next decade.

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill says American Airlines is extending recall rights for former TWA flight attendants for two months. That will allow more time for the Fort Worth-based carrier, the union and McCaskill to seek a deal that could give the workers a chance to get their jobs back. More than 1,400 of the TWA flight attendants are on furlough. The former St. Louis-based airline was acquired by American in 2001. Last week, the furloughed flight attendants received letters that their recall rights would expire November 1st. McCaskill won a two-month delay while she negotiates with American and the flight attendants union for a permanent solution. American has said it's open to discussing the matter with the union--the Association of Professional Flight Attendants. American in august recalled 460 ex-TAW flight attendants.

Alltel's soon-to-be new owners are keeping Scott Ford as president and chief executive officer. The Little Rock-based wireless phone company is being bought out for $24.7 billion by two private equity firms, including Fort Worth-based TPG Capital. Alltel says the deal is expected to close no later than Thanksgiving Day. In a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Alltel says ford and several other executives, including Chief Financial Officer Sharilyn Gassaway, will stay on under the new owners. Alltel Group President of Operations Kevin Beebe will move to a consulting role once the merger is final, with Group President of Shared Services Jeffrey Fox moving to Chief Operating Officer and taking duties now held by Beebe. Beebe is to serve as a consultant for two years.

The Corpus Christi Dog Track plans to close for at least a year because of financial losses. Track officials also cite state regulators' refusal to grant the track a shorter racing schedule. Scott Savin's the chief operating officer of the holding company that owns the track. He says the track notified employees that they will lose their jobs at the end of the year. The track, which opened in 1990, lost $25 for every visitor to the track in 2006. Financial statements filed with the Texas Racing Commission says the track has an annual loss totaling $3.5 million. The records show the track owes $35.5 million to investors. Savin says the track's owners held out hope for the possibility of expanded gambling at the track. But a proposal to allow video slot machines, known as video lottery terminals, at horse and dog race tracks died in the Texas Legislature earlier this year. The Racing Commission last month denied the track's request for a shortened racing season, part of a plan to try to stem losses.

The National Transportation Safety Board will begin investigating a fatal gas pipeline explosion in eastern Mississippi. Authorities confirm a woman and her granddaughter died in Thursday's explosion, and a third person may also have been killed. At least four others were injured, four houses were destroyed and 150 acres burned after a propane line exploded at a pipeline site in southeastern Clarke County, near the Mississippi-Alabama line. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency says the explosion occurred in a 12-inch pipe near the Carmichael community. The pipeline is owned by Houston-based Dixie Pipeline Company. Dixie Pipeline Senior Vice President Leonard Mallett says company gauges indicate the pipeline rupture was an immediate, catastrophic event. He says it's unlikely it resulted from a lingering leak that went unnoticed. He also says there was no evidence of tampering.

A Congressional investigation indicates that U.S. citizens may have been overcharged for their passports. Democratic Senators Charles Schumer and Byron Dorgan say the State Department and the Postal Service quietly gouged Americans over the government's $97 passport fee, even as a processing backlog ruined vacation, wedding and other travel plans. At issue is a $30 portion of the fee intended to cover the cost of clerks examining and accepting passport applications. Congressional investigators found that the fee was roughly double the actual cost when it was imposed in 2002. And calculations show that this year, the government collected at least $111 million more in fees than its stated costs. The Senators say passports shouldn't be used to make profits and they want to know where that money went.

A veteran Chrysler worker in Detroit says he thinks autoworkers have just been sold out by union leaders. He's upset over Chrysler's announcement that it's going to cut another 12,000 jobs through next year, or about 15 percent of its work force. That's on top of 13,000 layoffs announced in February. The new cuts come just days after rank-and-file autoworkers approved a new four-year contract. Chrysler cites overproduction and sluggish sales, matters which the United Auto Workers says it has little control over. Industry analysts say the Chrysler cuts are long overdue to avoid overproduction, which leads to high inventories and angry dealers. Most workers will be offered buyouts or early retirement packages. And some could get jobs at other plants.

A family is suing a south Florida cemetery after its owners acknowledged it was unable to find the family patriarch's remains. The family of Miguel Toledo filed suit in Miami against Houston-based Service Corporation International and SCI Funeral Services of Florida. The lawsuit seeks damages of more than $15,000. Cemetery workers at Dade South Memorial Park discovered they couldn't find Toledo's remains more than two weeks ago. That's when the family wanted to bury the retired mechanic's wife. Toledo had died in 1990. His wife, Ondina Toledo, died October 18th at the age of 83. The family says that she'd wanted to share a plot with her husband, but when the cemetery opened the plot they found no coffin or remains. Family members said they were angry they'd been visiting an empty plot for almost two decades. Cemetery officials released a statement saying they are working to find Toledo's body and resolve the lawsuit.

Electronic Data Systems says its third-quarter earnings surged 80 percent as demand from India and the U.S. government helped push revenue higher. The Plano-based technology services company says net income climbed to 225 million. Revenue rose just over six percent to 5.63 billion--just short of the $5.65 billion analyst's expected. Costs of revenue rose at a rate of four percent. EDS inked contracts worth $5.7 billion in the period, up from $3.5 billion a year ago. Contracts indicate future revenue. The company reiterated its 2007 financial targets.

The North Harris Montgomery Community College District's board of trustees has approved a name change to the Lone Star College System. The district has more than 49,000 students. The new name takes effect the week of January 14th.

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