Workplace Salaries: At Last, Women on Top

The fact that the average American working woman earns only about 8o% of what the average American working man earns has been something of a festering sore for at least half the population for several decades. And despite many programs and analyses and hand wringing and badges and even some legislation, the figure hasn’t budged much in the last five years.

But now there’s evidence that the ship may finally be turning around: according to a new analysis of 2,000 communities by a market research company, in 147 out of 150 of the biggest cities in the U.S., young women’s median full-time salaries are 8% higher than those of the guys in their peer group. In two cities, Atlanta and Memphis, those women are making around 20% more. This squares with earlier research from Queens College, New York, that had suggested that this was happening in major metropoles. But the new study suggests that the gap is bigger than thought, with young women in New York City, Los Angles and San Diego making 17%, 12% and 15% more than their male peers respectively. And it also holds true even in reasonably small cities like Raleigh Durham, N.C., Charlotte, N.C., (both 14% more) and Jacksonville, Florida (6%). (See TIME’s special report on the state of the American woman.)


The fact that the average American working woman earns only about 8o% of what the average American working man earns has been something of a festering sore for at least half the population for several decades. And despite many programs and analyses and hand wringing and badges and even some legislation, the figure hasn’t budged much in the last five years.

But now there’s evidence that the ship may finally be turning around: according to a new analysis of 2,000 communities by a market research company, in 147 out of 150 of the biggest cities in the U.S., young women’s median full-time salaries are 8% higher than those of the guys in their peer group. In two cities, Atlanta and Memphis, those women are making around 20% more. This squares with earlier research from Queens College, New York, that had suggested that this was happening in major metropoles. But the new study suggests that the gap is bigger than thought, with young women in New York City, Los Angles and San Diego making 17%, 12% and 15% more than their male peers respectively. And it also holds true even in reasonably small cities like Raleigh Durham, N.C., Charlotte, N.C., (both 14% more) and Jacksonville, Florida (6%). (See TIME’s special report on the state of the American woman.) Leer más “Workplace Salaries: At Last, Women on Top”

In Recession, Drinking Moves from Bars to Home

Erin Ryan / Corbis

When the going gets tough, the tough, um, go drinking. That’s the word from a new Gallup poll showing that 67% of Americans are hitting the bottle, the most since 1985. Another sign of challenging economic times: more and more of those rounds are happening in the kitchen, not at the corner pub.

A new report by Mintel International, a market-research firm, shows that a growing number of Americans are guzzling down wine and spirits at home as opposed to in bars and restaurants, and many are trading down to cheaper brands as they seek fiscally conscious ways to party in a sluggish economy. (See pictures of booze under a microscope.)

“We used to say that [alcohol consumption] was recession-proof or at least recession-resilient, but the rules have changed in this recession,” says David Henkes, a vice president at Technomic, a research and consulting firm. [Más…]

Though the recession technically ended more than a year ago, high unemployment, stagnant wages, falling home prices and shrinking retirement savings have shattered consumer confidence and affected where and how much Americans imbibe, according to the Mintel report. Traffic to restaurants has plunged, with fine-dining establishments taking the biggest hit as businesses pull back on entertaining clients and consumers keep a tighter grip on their pocketbooks. (See a new generation of Mediterranean wine.)

Sales of alcoholic beverages at bars and restaurants fell 4.6% in 2009, while sales at liquor stores, supermarkets and other retailers for “at home” drinking rose 1.2%, the report said. Americans are gulping 10 drinks on average each month at home, compared with only 5.7 drinks in bars and restaurants, the report notes. (See the top 10 bad beverage ideas.)


Erin Ryan / Corbis

When the going gets tough, the tough, um, go drinking. That’s the word from a new Gallup poll showing that 67% of Americans are hitting the bottle, the most since 1985. Another sign of challenging economic times: more and more of those rounds are happening in the kitchen, not at the corner pub.

A new report by Mintel International, a market-research firm, shows that a growing number of Americans are guzzling down wine and spirits at home as opposed to in bars and restaurants, and many are trading down to cheaper brands as they seek fiscally conscious ways to party in a sluggish economy. (See pictures of booze under a microscope.)

“We used to say that [alcohol consumption] was recession-proof or at least recession-resilient, but the rules have changed in this recession,” says David Henkes, a vice president at Technomic, a research and consulting firm. Leer más “In Recession, Drinking Moves from Bars to Home”

Box Office: Inception Schmacks the Schmucks

Leonardo DiCaprio in Inception
Melissa Moseley / Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

The dream goes on. Inception won the weekend box office at North American theaters, according to early studio estimates. Christopher Nolan’s labyrinthine thriller, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the leader of a team that invades a man’s sleep patterns, earned $27.5 million in its third weekend. The film thus joins Avatar, Alice in Wonderland and Shrek Forever After — all movies whose protagonists fall or leap into alternative-reality dream worlds — in 2010’s three-time-winners’ club. Inception should cross the $200 domestic mark by Tuesday, and has already taken in $170 million abroad.


Leonardo DiCaprio in Inception

The dream goes on. Inception won the weekend box office at North American theaters, according to early studio estimates. Christopher Nolan‘s labyrinthine thriller, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the leader of a team that invades a man’s sleep patterns, earned $27.5 million in its third weekend. The film thus joins Avatar, Alice in Wonderland and Shrek Forever After — all movies whose protagonists fall or leap into alternative-reality dream worlds — in 2010’s three-time-winners’ club. Inception should cross the $200 domestic mark by Tuesday, and has already taken in $170 million abroad. Leer más “Box Office: Inception Schmacks the Schmucks”

A Double Dip Recession? Who Cares?

What should be most striking about these concerns, however, is how little they matter. A double dip is a period of economic contraction that follows a brief recovery after a recession. It’s a useful prop for framing economic and political debates but doesn’t describe what’s actually happening across the country. The reality is that if you are doing well in this economy, either as a company or an individual, you will continue to do well regardless of a statistical double dip. If you are doing badly, you will continue to struggle whether or not the economic data are improving. (See 10 big recession surprises.)

GDP has been expanding since the third quarter of last year, graced by government spending and a steady though diminished level of domestic consumption. But as we all know, that growth — 5.6% in the fourth quarter of last year and 2.7% in the first quarter of this year — has been accompanied by high unemployment and little job creation. In short, this has been an economic recovery that has felt like a continued recession.

That’s because for a significant portion of the population, it is a continued recession. Not only is the real unemployment rate (combining workers who have dropped out of the workforce and the headline numbers, together with workers classified as marginally attached to the workforce) in the midteens, but the amount of hours worked has declined, as have many incomes. If you combine that with the scarcity of consumer credit and the uncertainty about the social safety net, tens of millions of Americans are facing a grave economic future. Particularly for men who lack a college education and were or are in an industry that depends on manual labor (construction and manufacturing above all), this is a perilous time.


Though global equities have rallied modestly after a sharp plunge in May and June and companies have announced strong earnings, sentiment about the future remains gloomy. In response to intense concerns about a looming double-dip recession, business leaders have complained to White House officials that government policy is inhibiting job creation and that uncertainty about new regulations is discouraging them from investing their $1.8 trillion in accumulated corporate cash. On the flip side, Democrats in Congress effectively cornered the Republicans to extend unemployment benefits yet again, a direct response to the undeniable fact that the unemployed are facing a severe challenge to find work. Leer más “A Double Dip Recession? Who Cares?”

Is Vitaminwater Really a Healthy Drink?

Over the past few years, an increasing number of worn-out consumers have reached for a bottle of Vitaminwater after a workout. The sports drink has emerged as a serious competitor to Gatorade and other noncarbonated beverages, so much so that Coca-Coca forked over $4.2 billion in cash to buy the brand from Glaceau back in 2007. On its July 21 earnings call, Coke CEO Muhtar Kent was particularly bullish about Vitaminwater, which is now being sold in 15 markets worldwide, including France, China and South Africa.

But do some of these weekend warriors think they’re just getting a healthy mix of vitamins and water, as the name of the product implies, when they chug that sweet drink? Probably so. But they’re getting more: 33 grams of sugar and 125 calories, for every 20-ounce bottle. Hey, where’s the sugar in the name? (See the top 10 bad beverage ideas.) [Más…]

Such mixed-message marketing has caused one food-health advocacy group, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), to lead a class-action suit that claims that Coca-Cola is violating consumer-protection laws with its Vitaminwater brand. According to CSPI nutritionists, Vitaminwater’s sugar content more than offsets any advertised health benefits provided by the nutrients in the drink. “They added vitamins to crap,” says Stephen Gardner, chief litigator for CSPI. “And it’s still crap. Consumers shouldn’t have to assume that the front of a label is a lie. You cannot deceive in the big print and tell the truth later.”

The group achieved a victory last week, when a federal judge tossed out Coke’s motion to dismiss the case. In a strongly worded 55-page opinion, Judge John Gleeson of the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn said that the health claims on some Vitaminwater bottles may be in violation of FDA regulations since the drink “achieves its nutritional content solely through fortification that violates FDA policy.” The judge thinks Coke could be violating the so-called jellybean rule, which says that a food- or drinkmaker cannot load otherwise unhealthy products with vitamins or other nutrients in order to claim it is healthy. A sugar product is a sugar product: you can’t say a jellybean fights heart disease because it contains no cholesterol. (See 10 myths about dieting.)

Gleeson also ruled that the claim that the Vitaminwater name misleads consumers is potentially actionable, since that key third ingredient, sugar, is conveniently absent from the title. “The potential for confusion is heightened,” Gleeson wrote, “by the presence of other statements in Vitaminwater’s labeling, such as the description of the product as a ‘vitamin enhanced water beverage’ and the phrases ‘vitamins + water + all you need’ and ‘vitamins + water = what’s in your hand’ which have the potential to reinforce a consumer’s mistaken belief that the product is comprised of only vitamins and water.”


By Sean Gregory

Bottles of Vitaminwater at a New York City convenience store

Mark Lennihan / AP

Over the past few years, an increasing number of worn-out consumers have reached for a bottle of Vitaminwater after a workout. The sports drink has emerged as a serious competitor to Gatorade and other noncarbonated beverages, so much so that Coca-Coca forked over $4.2 billion in cash to buy the brand from Glaceau back in 2007. On its July 21 earnings call, Coke CEO Muhtar Kent was particularly bullish about Vitaminwater, which is now being sold in 15 markets worldwide, including France, China and South Africa.

But do some of these weekend warriors think they’re just getting a healthy mix of vitamins and water, as the name of the product implies, when they chug that sweet drink? Probably so. But they’re getting more: 33 grams of sugar and 125 calories, for every 20-ounce bottle. Hey, where’s the sugar in the name? (See the top 10 bad beverage ideas.) Leer más “Is Vitaminwater Really a Healthy Drink?”