Thursday AM April 3rd, 2008

The high-tech sector continues to create jobs, according to the Cyberstates 2008 study conducted for the American Electronics Association. Texas maintains its number two nationwide ranking in technology jobs, just behind California. Texas added 13,700 high-tech jobs for a total of 459,600 in 2006. The industry paid some $37.5 billion in wages in Texas that year.

The consumer technology sector contributed an estimated $2.6 trillion to the U.S. economy, responsible for 15.4 million jobs in 2007, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. That's about nine percent of the total U.S. work force is employed indirectly or directly by the consumer technology sector, according to the group's Shawn DuBravac.

"There might be less manufacturing jobs in the U.S. with respect to the consumer electronics industry, (but) other jobs within the consumer electronics industry have grown significantly. Those jobs tend to be the higher-value add jobs, so the jobs that are being paid well above average."

DuBravac says even in tougher economic times, consumers are still interested in gadgets.

"Whether we're moving into a recession or moving away from a recession, consumers are still very interested in consumer electronics products, and they're spending accordingly. So while they're cutting back on other categories--they're not updating their homes as much, they're not buying new things for their home—they are still buying consumer electronics products."

Of the estimated 4.4 million Americans directly employed in the U.S. consumer technology sector, about 18 percent of those jobs--an estimated 805,000--exist because of trade.


Filling up in the nation's energy capital--Houston--is as painful as anywhere these days. Twenty bucks barely makes a dent on the gauge when gasoline prices are $3.25 a gallon and edging higher. But the Associated Press reports that in Houston--you're not likely to drive far before seeing an active construction site. The nation's fourth-largest city is bustling. Government figure show that--at 3.4 percent--February's job growth in Houston led the nation among the 12 largest metro areas in the past year. The Census Bureau last week said metropolitan Houston, already home to about 5.5 million people, ranked as one of the country's biggest population gainers in the past year. Barton Smith with the Institute for Regional Forecasting at the University of Houston says energy economy is booming. Rooms to Go, which sells affordable furniture at 130 stores primarily in the southeast U.S., opened its first Houston location last weekend. The company plans to open three more before Memorial Day. Also on tap is a one million-square-foot distribution center in the area.


The state land commissioner blocking a proposal to transfer the Christmas Mountains to the National Park Service appears ready to let the transaction proceed. State Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson has opposed the deal because he wants hunting to be permitted on the land. Guns are generally not permitted on park service property. But in a letter addressed to the superintendent of Big Bend National Park, Patterson wrote that he has instructed his staff to work with the agency...to work through these issues and secure the necessary funding for the transfer of the Christmas Mountains to the National Park Service.'' The letter was obtained for a story to be published today in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Patterson, chairman of the School Land Board, has so far declined to bring up for board consideration a Park Service proposal to add the property to Big Bend National Park. Patterson has previously indicated willingness to selling the land to a private bidder. The property in question is about 9,200 acres of rugged wilderness, with a mile-long border with Big Bend. It was donated to Texas by the Virginia-based Conservation Fund in 1991. The land was given to Texas with the understanding that the National Park Service of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department would take over if the state lost interest in the property.


Writers Guild of America's east coast branch is accusing a television network and a production company of violating the agreement that ended the Hollywood writers' three-month strike. The union says replacement writers hired during the strike were allowed to keep working at the ABC soap opera "All My Children'' and Corday Productions' "Days of Our Lives.'' ABC didn't immediately respond to a message seeking comment Tuesday evening. Corday Productions representatives couldn't immediately be reached. The union says that under the February 11th agreement, no replacement writer hired during the strike can stay if a striking writer chooses to return to work.


San Antonio-based AT&T will sell Dish Network's satellite television service in nine southeastern states. The service will be offered through AT&T Advanced TV, expanding content and high-definition channel options. AT&T previously resold both Dish Network and DirecTV satellite TV services -- but now has an exclusive partnership with Dish Network. AT&T also delivers television programming over phone lines through its U-Verse service, which it expects will have more than a million customers by the end of 2008. Colorado-based Dish Network--with nearly 14 million customers--is the nation's second-largest satellite TV provider, behind DirecTV.


The New Mexico Game and Fish Department and other conservationists are protesting the Bureau of Land Management's upcoming oil and gas lease sale. They say the federal agency should reconsider nearly half of the parcels up for bid because of potential impacts on wildlife and their habitats. The BLM is offering dozens of parcels covering thousands of acres in New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma as part of the agency's quarterly sale on April 16th. Protests over the planned sale were due Tuesday afternoon. The Game and Fish Department is particularly concerned about 49 parcels in southeastern New Mexico, the Caballo Mountains of Sierra County, New Mexico, and an area along the New Mexico-Arizona border.


Fort Worth-based Mrs Baird's Bakeries has voluntarily recalled some packages of its four-inch buns. That's after an employee noticed that the package label did not list milk as one of the ingredients. Mrs. Baird's says no illnesses or allergic reactions have been reported. The recall focuses on two-count packages containing 24 buns sold at two Costco Clubs in Arlington and Fort Worth and to restaurant and institutional customers in Texas and Oklahoma in 12-bun packs.


An Austin hotel and Houston-based Continental Airlines were selected by a magazine as being especially pet-friendly companies. Animal Fair, a lifestyle magazine for pet owners, recognized the Driskill Hotel in Austin as one of the seven winners of this year's Cesar Five Dog Bone Awards. The magazine says the hotel offers comfy pet beds, gourmet pet treats and chew toys. Continental was cited for its Petsafe program. It allows animals too large for the passenger cabin to travel as cargo instead of baggage, ensuring their comfort and safety. New York City was selected as the pet-friendliest destination of 2008. Animal Fair Editorial Director Wendy Diamond created the awards after traveling across the United States and to Russia, Greece and Mexico with her maltese named lucky.


Best Buy, the nation's largest consumer electronics retailer, says its fourth-quarter earnings slipped three percent as customer traffic slowed after the holidays, but beat Wall Street expectations. Its outlook for this year also beat expectations although its guidance depends on a strong second half of the year. The Minnesota-based company says its profit fell to $737 million.


J.C. Penney Chief Executive Myron Ullman III received compensation the company valued at $10.1 million in 2007. That's eight percent less than 2006 because the Plano-based department store operator did not meet its performance targets. Details are in a proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Ullman received $1.5 million in base salary but, along with all other senior executives in the proxy, received no bonus. Besides his salary, Ullman also received $601,986 in other compensation, including $416,750 for personal use of the company plane. Most of Ullman's compensation came in the form of stock and stock options. The Associated Press calculations of total pay include an executive's salary, bonus, incentives, perks, above-market returns on deferred compensation and the estimated value of stock options and awards granted during the year. The calculations don't include changes in the present value of pension benefits, and they sometimes differ from the totals companies list in the summary compensation table of proxy statements filed with the SEC.


In a March 31st story about movies on cellphones, the Associated Press, relying on information from Sony Pictures Television, mischaracterized a new consumer service being offered by the company. Sony Pictures will offer the first preprogrammed movie channel in May through AT&T, not the first movies via cellphone. Four studios, including Sony, offered full, on-demand movies in 2006 over the Sprint Network.

 

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