Rural counties in America dying
Rural America now dying
The Associated Press reports that the Census Bureau indicates that a record 1 in 3 US counties are now dying. This is because younger adults are moving away from small towns to larger cities, especially to those cities in the West and the South. Census data shows that 1,135 of the 3,143 counties in the US are now showing “natural decrease” where deaths exceed births. This is up from 880 counties in 2009. The counties that are dying are primarily in the Northeast, the Rust Belt and through the Great Plains. Despite increasing deaths, the US population as a whole continues to increase, primarily due to immigration and higher birth rates among younger migrants, especially those from Mexico, Latin America and Asia. As a nation, the US population grew at just 0.75 percent, the lowest since 1937.
Retail sales rise
According to the Wall Street Journal, retail sales rose 1.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted $421.4 billion in February. The Commerce Department also revised January’s increase up to 0.2 percent from 0.1 percent. Consumers continued to spend despite rising gasoline prices and a 2 percentage point tax increase due to the reinstatement of the payroll tax. The spending was sustained by relying upon credit cards, causing debt to increase and savings to decrease. Personal savings rates fell to the lowest point since before 2008. Gas prices, however, were behind much of the 1.1 percent gain. Core sales, which exclude autos, gasoline and building materials, and are considered a better gauge of spending trends, only increased 0.4 percent. Restaurants, bars, department stores and sporting goods stores saw a decline in spending.
Working moms prefer full time
In a recently released Pew Research poll, researchers saw a big spike in the number of working mothers who say they would prefer to work full time. According to the Associated Press, 37 percent of working moms said they would prefer to work full time compared to 21 percent in 2007. The shift toward full time work coincides with the Recession and is believed to have less to do with career aspirations and more to do with financial realities. Among women who said their financial situations aren’t sufficient to meet basic expenses, about half said working full time was best for them. Of the women who say they live comfortably, only 31 percent said full time was their best situation. Among women with children under the age of 18, the proportion of those who say they would prefer to work full time has increased from 20 percent in 2007 to 32 percent last year. When all adults were asked about working moms, just 16 percent said the best situation for a young child is to have a mother working full time. Slightly over 40 percent said part time was ideal and one third believe staying home is best for kids.
CFTC probes gold pricing
US regulators are probing whether prices are being manipulated in the world’s largest gold market, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Commodity Future Trading Commission is examining the setting of prices in London, in which a handful of banks meet twice daily and set the spot price for a troy ounce of physical gold. The CFTC is examining whether the pricing is transparent. The investigation comes after the recent Libor scandal in which 3 large banks were fined $2.5 billion for penalties over alleged manipulation of interbank interest rates. The daily gold price set by a group of banks affects jewelry prices world-wide and determines how much mining companies earn. US commercial banks held $198 billion of precious metals contracts as of September 30, 2012.
Nearly two thirds of once depleted US fish stocks, including monkfish and sea scallops, are now thriving, according to USAToday. Of 44 fish stocks, 27 have been rebuilt or have met rebuilding targets because of a 1996 federal law that protected them from overfishing, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. The law is set for an update this year and lawmakers are looking at relaxing the requirements. The gross commercial revenue linked to the 27 rebuilt fish stocks is $585 million annually.
McDonald’s gives away a million McMuffins in China
CNBC is reporting that McDonald’s will give away more than a million breakfast McMuffins on Monday in China, a few days after Chinese state television airs its annual expose on corporate malpractice to mark World Consumer Rights Day. On Friday, “3.15”, one of the most widely watched news programs, will name and shame companies that it says violated the trust of consumers. Last year, McDonald’s found itself a victim of the show with criticism of its food safety practices. McDonald’s apologized and fixed the issues but its sales fell dramatically.
Catherine S. McBreen is President of Millionaire Corner. McBreen plans and develops content for Millionaire Corner. Catherine balances editorial content to meet the informational needs of both new and seasoned investors. She designs special monthly surveys on topical issues affecting the economic environment.
McBreen has a B.S. in speech communications from Northwestern University and a J.D. from DePail University College of Law. She is a member of the American Bar Association, the Illinois Bar Association, and the Chicago Bar Association.
Well-known for her expertise in the affluent and retirement arenas, McBreen is a frequent speaker at industry conferences. She has been quoted widely by the financial media, including The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Research, Private Asset Management, On Wall Street, Reuters, Bloomberg News, The Dow Jones Newswires and Worth. Cathy has appeared as a guest on CNBC Closing Bell, First Business Morning News, Neal Cavuto at Fox Business News, ABC and CBS radio.
McBreen is co-author with Spectrem President George H. Walper, Jr. of the book "Get Rich, Stay Rich, Pass It On: The Wealth-Accumulation Secrets of America's Richest Families" (Portfolio, January 2008)
Catherine is the mother of four and is involved in many school and community events.