- Created on 31 August 2012
JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. (AP) — Chairman Ben Bernanke says high U.S. unemployment is a "grave concern" and that the Federal Reserve will provide more help if the economy doesn't improve.
Bernanke stops short of committing the Fed to any specific move, such as another round of bond purchases to lower long-term interest rates. But in a speech in Jackson Hole, Wyo., Bernanke suggests the Fed will consider further steps to boost the economy, which he describes as "far from satisfactory."
He notes that further action carries risks but says the Fed can manage them. The Fed "should not rule out" new policies to improve the job market, Bernanke says.
Bernanke defends Fed actions so far to stimulate the economy. He cites studies showing the Fed's first two rounds of bond purchases created at least 2 million jobs.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
- Created on 23 August 2012
Chicago-Congressman Bobby Rush (Dem.IL-1st) will host a two-day summit for minorities interested in securing contracts in the construction trades or related professional services. The Contractors' Business Summit will take place at Chicago State University's Jones Convocation Center, 9501 South King Drive, on Friday August 24th from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Saturday August 25th from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
"Beginning in 2013 our city and state will spend $4-6 billion dollars a year on heavy construction," Rush said. "If members of our minority communities are going to get their fair share of the work, we must start preparing now."
The summit will teach participants how to actually win contracting and sub contracting opportunities. They will receive detailed instructions from the experts on becoming properly certified, on how to bid and how to obtain bonding and financing.
Friday evening's reception and plenary session will feature U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. Secretary LaHood will be joined by Metra Chairman Larry Huggins, CTA Chairman Terry Peterson, and RTA Board member Rev. Tyrone Crider.
"I am delighted that Secretary LaHood has taken the time to join these transportation sector leaders and experts in sharing their valuable knowledge and wisdom," Rush said.
Metra is a co-sponsor of the two-day summit. "We are proud to be a co-sponsor of this event and we are committed to working with the community to identify opportunities for small business participation," said Metra Chairman Larry Huggins. "It's essential that we help educate businesses about the resources available to help them identify and take advantage of new business opportunities. Expanding the pool of contractors will bring new ideas and innovation to the transportation industry, and open opportunities for the next generation of business leaders."
Metra Director of Business Diversity & Civil Rights, Ms. Janice R. Thomas, will be participating in the summit to discuss the DBE Certification Process and help business owners understand the steps involved in becoming a certified DBE. In addition, Ms. Thomas will make a presentation on the bidding process in which she will share her insight and experiences on how to successfully win contracting opportunities.
"This must be an effort that results not only in the rebuilding of roads and rails but also in the rebuilding of the economic infrastructure of our communities.
These bridges and highways must not be seen as mere concrete and steel but also as passages to progress for our people," said Rush.
- Created on 20 August 2012
The Executive Leadership Council (ELC) recently hosted more than 200 African-American women executives for the annual Women's Leadership Forum and Black Women On...Power series at Target Field in Minneapolis. The meeting focused on leadership development and increasing the representation of African-American women in senior leadership positions in corporate America.
This event spoke directly to ELC's mission and aspirational goals, a recently launched effort to promote corporate diversity. Over the next five years, the ELC will work with corporate America to add at least one African American at the CEO level or one to two levels below at each Fortune 500 company, for a total of 500, and to increase the number of African Americans on the boards of publicly traded companies by 200.
"The ELC is a national organization of current and former African‐American CEOs and senior executives at Fortune 500 and equivalent companies, and we develop the next generation of African-American business leaders from the classroom to the boardroom," said Ronald C. Parker, interim president and CEO.
"Our goal is to make sure that African Americans have a seat at the decision-making table in corporate America, and that includes African-American women. This group will play an important role in bringing diversity of thinking to the table which spurs innovation and leads to stronger, more profitable corporations and better communities."
The immediate past president was Arnold Donald, the St. Louis-based executive and philanthropist.
The ELC is taking the lead on elevating the issue of corporate diversity because recent statistics have raised concerns about minority representation, specifically for African Americans, at the senior levels in Fortune 500 companies.
Of the more than 35,000 senior executive positions at the CEO level or those one and two levels below CEO within most Fortune 500 companies, it is estimated that only 3.2 percent – or fewer than 800 – are African-American.
Furthermore, even within that group, African-American women are disproportionately underrepresented. According to the Alliance Board for Diversity, of which the ELC is a founding member, the number of Fortune 500 board seats held by women and minorities has remained flat compared to 2004, and they were already severely underrepresented.
Even worse, the number of Fortune 100 board seats held by African Americans has actually declined. In 2012, there are only six African-American CEOs, accounting for barely one percent of the chief executive officers of the 500 largest companies in the United States. Of the six, only one is an African-American woman, which is Ursula Burns who heads Xerox.
"The Women's Leadership Forum is a great way to help build our pipeline of corporate leaders," said Laysha Ward, president, community relations for Target, and board chair of The Executive Leadership Foundation.
"With a focus on 'Potential. Purpose. Power.', we will provide critical tools to help African-American women executives tap into their promise and power as they advance in corporate America."
The first ELC Women's Leadership Forum was held in October 2003 in Washington, D.C., for ELC members active on public policy issues. Since that time, the forum has grown, and previous host cities included New York and Chicago.
"During the forum we hosted a range of leadership development workshops and panels, and we brought together some of the most powerful women in business, politics and academia to share their professional playbooks for succeeding in corporate America," said Leilani Brown, vice president and chief marketing officer for Starr Companies, and Women's Leadership Forum co-chair.
"Today's forum helped us prepare talented and creative African-American women for leadership positions in corporate America and on boards, ensuring that we have a voice at the decision-making table."
Participants also heard from Judy Smith, founder and president of Smith & Company and inspiration for the hit ABC–TV show, Scandal; and "The Black Women On...Power" panel, which featured journalist, educator and blogger Yanick Rice Lamb; Chairman of Johnson Publishing Company Linda Johnson Rice; and Johnson Publishing CEO Desiree Rodgers.
Photo Caption: Johnson Publishing CEO Desiree Rogers, Linda Johnson Rice, chairperson of Johnson Publishing with Yanick Rice Lamb during the Executive Leadership Council Women's Leadership Forum in Minneapolis last month, which focused on leadership development and increasing the representation of African-American women in senior leadership positions in corporate America. (Courtesy of Stephen Allen)
- Created on 22 August 2012
(BET Networks recently partnered with several of the country's largest African-American media outlets to form a media and marketing consortium aimed at encouraging advertisers and marketers to invest more resources in the black consumer marketplace. The partners pooled their resources to fund an initial campaign with print ads in major newspapers and trade magazines and they are continuing to promote their message through social media and directly to marketers. The ongoing campaign, of which the National Newspaper Publishers Association is a part of, is called #InTheBlack. In this first-person article, BET Networks chairman and CEO Debra Lee talks about the campaign and tells marketers why it's an important initiative and how they can participate and learn more.)
Last month, we partnered with some of the country's leading African-American media outlets to launch the #INTHEBLACK campaign. We wanted to speak with one loud collective voice to educate advertisers and consumers about the power of the African-American consumer and the unique ability the African-American media has in reaching this base directly.
Through our market and audience research we know African-Americans represent over 42 million strong mega-consumers and brand influencers with a buying power of nearly one trillion dollars annually.
Is there enough investment in the strong Black audience from advertisers and key stakeholders?
This has been a conversation happening in the industry for a long time. At our upfront presentation this year, we tackled the issue head-on, but realized we needed to do more. We knew we needed to bring together the media entities that are closest to our audience and come up with a unified strategy to address this problem. I couldn't be more proud of all my peers who have joined this effort.
However, this is just the beginning of an effort with a very long tail. As a next step, we will educate and engage the media buying community. We are all deluged with so much information and are guilty of it not always being consistent or comprehensively touting the power of our audience.
This is our time to set the record straight.
If African-Americans were a country, they would represent the 16th largest economy in the world (slightly smaller than Canada but larger than Australia). If that's not an impressive number, then I don't know what is.
Even more important, we want to educate and inform our consumers of their buying strength. We want African-Americans to look at the products and services they use and ask themselves, "Are these companies in the black?"
In the future, we see great opportunity to truly celebrate those partners who consistently collaborate with the African-American community.
And finally, we want to reinforce the unique engagement that Black media has with its audience.
I grew up reading Jet and Ebony and am so proud to be able to see my daughter, Ava, flip through those same magazines today. It is important that we preserve our historically Black media publications and demand sufficient investments from advertisers as they are the pulse of what is relevant and topical in the African-American community.
As we continue down this road to truly vocalize the depth of African-American spending power, you can visit our website areyoutintheblack.org to keep track of our progress and find out how you can help make sure all our voices are heard.
- Created on 16 July 2012
CHICAGO (AP) — Long-term disability insurance is the forgotten insurance.
The importance of auto, health, homeowners and life insurance is well known. But disability coverage, which replaces lost earnings if you can't work, tends to be ignored — until you need it.
Government studies show that a 20-year-old worker has a 30 percent chance of becoming disabled before reaching full retirement age. Yet only about a third of employees in private industry have long-term disability insurance, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"It could be argued that the disability of a breadwinner is worse than the death of a breadwinner," says James Hunt, insurance actuary for the Consumer Federation of America, "because the disabled person is still soaking up money."
That's why it makes sense to purchase individual coverage if you're self-employed -- or not covered sufficiently or at all by your employer.
A look at what you need to know about disability insurance:
Q: How does disability insurance work?
A: Disability insurance protects from a loss of income resulting from an inability to work due to an accident or illness. You typically receive disability checks starting three to six months after you become unable to work.
There are three sources of this coverage: The Social Security Administration, employers and private insurers.
— Social Security Disability Insurance is the bedrock protection against disability. About 153 million workers are insured by the program through FICA taxes. But it has a very strict definition of disability and it can take two years or more to be approved for benefits.
— Many employers offer disability coverage through a group plan, which pays a specified portion of your salary.
— Private insurance coverage is most often sought out by high-income professionals such as doctors and lawyers who have made a huge investment in their earnings potential; self-employed workers, and executives looking for supplemental coverage.
Q: Do you need to buy coverage if you receive disability insurance through your employer?
A: It depends whether you could get by on the benefit checks. A typical group plan replaces just 40 percent to 60 percent of your salary, up to a maximum $5,000 a month or $60,000 a year. And if the employer pays your premiums, the checks will be taxable.
Benefits can last for either a set number of years or until retirement age. Check your plan's details closely. Company benefits have been steadily shrinking in recent years. Group policies often limit the duration of benefits to only two years if you can't perform your job duties.
If your policy looks insufficient, ask your employer whether you can pay for additional coverage. Otherwise, consider getting extra insurance from a private insurer to extend the duration or bring the coverage up to 70 percent or 80 percent of income.
Q: Why can't you count on Social Security Disability Insurance to cover your needs if you are disabled?
A: The average disability benefit is just $1,111 a month, based on payments by the Social Security Administration this month to 8.8 million beneficiaries. And you only qualify for it if you are unable to work in any capacity, not just at your chosen occupation. A list of conditions that are considered disabling is available by doing a search for "disability evaluation" at the agency's website, www.ssa.gov .
Q: What should you look for in a policy?
A: If you have a highly specialized job or can simply afford to pay the premiums, it's worth paying extra to have an "own occupation" policy. This coverage pays benefits if you are unable to perform the major duties of your own occupation. To trim some of the costs, it may be advisable to obtain "own occupation" coverage for one or two years and "any occupation" coverage after that.
The length of benefits is key, and will affect the cost of premiums significantly. Some policies pay benefits until age 65 or until your full retirement age for Social Security benefits, others for two or five years. Seek out a non-cancellable policy.
You probably also want a policy that will pay "residual" benefits, which will compensate for a decline in income if you are able to work at a new job that pays less.
Q: How much does disability insurance cost?
A: Prices vary based on age, gender, occupation, amount of coverage and health status. Check with a broker to get quotes from at least three different insurers.
For someone who does not have coverage at work, a plan with all the extras including inflation protection costs roughly 2 percent to 2.5 percent of annual salary for a man, and 3 percent to 4 percent for a woman. Women pay more because they file claims more frequently and for a longer duration than men.
If someone has coverage at work but wants earnings to boost benefits to 80 percent salary replacement, the annual cost is typically about 1 percent of the worker's salary.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.