Tag Archives: information

privacy

How Personal Employment Information Is Shared And Sold

In today’s competitive business world, employers constantly are seeking ways to increase efficiency and reduce cost.  One obvious option in this effort is outsourcing, and employers certainly should be free to delegate functions to third-party vendors when it makes sense to do so.  But what are the implications when outsourcing requires an employer to share with a vendor private information about the employer’s workforce?

For attorneys who counsel either businesses or individuals, it’s important to know what rules and limitations apply to the increasingly popular trend of outsourcing employee verification services.  The issues associated with this trend are far-reaching and beg the question:  How can we better regulate and improve this beneficial type of outsourcing, for employers and employees alike?

The key to answering these questions begins with an understanding of the dual role credit reporting agencies play as database sponsors in the employee verification industry.  For example, in addition to compiling consumer credit scores, credit reporting giant Equifax also is in the business of compiling other information that is equally personal; namely, confidential details about workers’ current and former employment.  In fact, Equifax might even be selling information as personal as your compensation level, the name of your healthcare provider, whether you’ve ever filed for unemployment benefits, and your paystub history.

What is “The Work Number”

The Work Number, a subsidiary of Equifax, provides various financial and employment verification services.  The Work Number uses its ever-expanding database to confirm employment and income information for commercial verifiers, social service verifiers, and potential future employers.  The Work Number’s database currently contains the employment and salary records of over one-third of U.S. adults, and it includes detailed employee information about weekly paystubs, healthcare providers, medical and dental insurance, and unemployment compensation claims.

The Work Number built its database with the cooperation of thousands of U.S. businesses.  The Work Number markets itself to these willing participants as a means for busy human resource departments to outsource the time consuming task of verifying a range of information on former and current employees.  This service is so attractive that participating businesses actually pay for the ability to send The Work Number all employee information typically needed in the verification process.  The Work Number fields verification inquiries on the employer’s behalf, freeing up employer staff time for other tasks.

While providing employers with a valuable service, The Work Number simultaneously funnels this information it receives from its clients to its parent company, Equifax.  In turn, Equifax sells the information to third parties such as debt collectors, student loan issuers, and financial institutions.

Although Equifax’s sharing of the personal information garnered by The Work Number under in its role as a verification service provider is indisputable, the extent of such sharing is in question.  In an interview with NBC News, Equifax spokesman Timothy Klein denied that salary information is sold to debt collectors.[i]  Klein’s statement is in conflict, however, with Equifax CEO Richard Smith’s 2009 NYSE Magazine interview, in which he stated “[W]e can provide information about a debtor’s location, income, and employment.  That can help prioritize which accounts to pursue first.”[ii]

Because employer use of The Work Number has become so prevalent, the District of Columbia has issued new guidelines for low-income housing compliance, which include a provision governing the treatment of applicants whose employment and earnings can be verified only via The Work Number.[iii]  Likewise, the current Code of Mississippi Rules actually includes The Work Number’s email address, phone number, and website address in a statutory provision that instructs applicants for State-funded childcare on how to provide income and employment verification.[iv]  Considering The Work Number’s fast-paced growth and the privacy concerns it poses for consumers, it makes sense to consider what safeguards, if any, are in place to protect us.

Fair Credit Reporting Act

The most obvious consumer protection tool implicated by Equifax’s practices is The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).  The FCRA regulates instances in which “consumer reports” or “investigative consumer reports” are requested from a “consumer reporting agency.”[v]  For purposes of the FCRA, a “consumer reporting agency” includes any entity that regularly assembles credit or other information about consumers and furnishes that information to third parties via any means of interstate commerce.[vi]  Thus, Equifax and The Work Number are considered consumer reporting agencies for purposes of the FCRA.  “Consumer reports” include any communication of a consumer’s personal characteristics which will serve as a factor establishing the consumer’s eligibility for credit or insurance or for employment purposes.[vii]  By contrast, “investigative consumer reports” include reports regarding the consumer’s personal characteristics gathered during personal interviews, but do not include specific factual information about the consumer’s credit record.[viii]  Due to the more personal nature of information contained in an investigative consumer report, stricter guidelines are in place regarding disclosure of investigative consumer reports compared to ordinary consumer reports.  To the extent Equifax and The Work Number provide third parties with consumers’ personal and financial information, Equifax and The Work Number furnish consumer reports.

There are three types of recipients of the information provided by Equifax and The Work Number: prospective employers, financial institutions and creditors, and third party purchasers.  The FCRA applies differently to each recipient type.

Prospective Employers

The Work Number markets itself as a means for prospective employers to verify employment information of job applicants.  Thus, as its core business, The Work Number provides sensitive information to prospective employers.  Because the FCRA applies whenever employers request consumer reports from a consumer reporting agency like The Work Number, the FCRA is implicated by The Work Number’s information transfers to prospective employers.

The FCRA addresses issues such as what types of employers can obtain consumer reports, how they must obtain the report, what they must do before taking adverse action in response to the report, and what they must do after taking adverse action.[ix]  The Work Number contends that FCRA guidelines are met when it provides prospective employers with employment information.  Such guidelines include providing job applicants with written notice that information obtained from a consumer report may be used when making decisions concerning their employment.[x]  This notice must appear in a document containing only this disclosure.[xi]  Additionally, the consumer must provide written authorization of the procurement of the report.[xii]  To the extent The Work Number provides employment verification to prospective employers and meets these guidelines, it is within its rights to do so.  What the FCRA fails to address, however, is how other information in The Work Number’s database, such as salary and insurance information, is used for non-employment purposes.

Financial Institutions and Creditors

In addition to providing potential employers with consumers’ employment information, The Work Number also concedes to providing creditors and financial institutions with employment information from its database.  In an interview with NBC News, Equifax spokesman Timothy Klein admitted that pay rate information is shared with third parties.[xiii]  These third parties typically include mortgage, auto, and financial services credit grantors.  Klein said The Work Number provides such information to financial institutions and credit grantors in compliance with the FCRA, but denied that salary information is sold to debt collectors.[xiv]  The Work Number asserts that consumers give such third parties the right to access this information at the time the consumer applies for credit.

Section 1681 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act states that generally, a consumer reporting agency, like Equifax or The Work Number, may only furnish a consumer report to such third parties when the consumer reporting agency has reason to believe the third party “intends to use the information in connection with a credit transaction involving the consumer … and involving the extension of credit to, or review or collection of an account of, the consumer.”[xv]  Even assuming Klein’s assertion is true that consumers grant these third parties access to such information, other provisions in the FCRA raise the question of whether this authorization is sufficient.  Subsection (c)(1)(A) of the FCRA requires that “the consumer authorize[e] the agency to provide such report to such person.”[xvi]  This language suggests that a much more personalized authorization transaction may be required than Klein alluded to in his statement.  Namely, it appears that the consumer must furnish the specific consumer reporting agency in question with authorization to provide the report to the specific financial institution or creditor requesting the report.  Interestingly, although in certain circumstances a consumer may authorize all reporting agencies to give all creditors this information by executing a general waiver at the time he or she applies for credit, another subsection of the FCRA indicates the consumer may have an additional line of defense.  Pursuant to subsection (c)(1)(B)(iii), a consumer may elect to have his name and address excluded from lists provided by consumer reporting agencies in connection with credit transactions not initiated by the consumer.[xvii]

Unfortunately, the rules delineating when reporting agencies like Equifax and The Work Number can give creditors and financial institutions other information from The Work Number’s database are unclear.  It is not clear when, how, and with regard to whom the consumer must provide authorization for a reporting agency to share this information.  However, given that consumers must be clearly notified in writing and provide authorization prior to issuance of a consumer report when such report will be used for employment purposes, a strong argument can be made that this same proactive and consumer oriented approach should apply to all sections of the FCRA.

Equifax Information Sold to Third Parties

In addition to providing information to prospective employers, financial institutions, and creditors, Equifax also sells some of this information to interested third parties.  For example, Equifax heavily markets The Work Number’s services to student loan issurers.  Thanks to The Work Number’s information, student loan issuers have seen a 5.5% increase in Right Party Contact and a 7.3% increase in Collections Resolution.[xviii]  Additionally, Equifax provides information from The Work Number to financial firms.  In these transactions, the information is packaged as a “portfolio monitoring” service which allows financial firms to market their products to a specially selected group of consumers.  The Work Number’s information is also marketed to these firms as “proactive managing of risk.”  In this context, the firms analyze information from The Work Number for early warning signs about when someone might soon run into financial trouble.  The marketing campaign for these services touts “Using The Work Number to stay abreast of employment changes can expand your ability to mitigate risk while maximizing product and service potential.”[xix]

Strangely, the FCRA seemingly fails to address this type of information transfer at all.  While the FCRA provides guidelines for when a consumer reporting agency may furnish a consumer report, how and when a consumer report may be furnished for employment purposes, how and when a consumer report may be furnished in connection with credit or insurance transactions, and what added protections are afforded medical information, there is a lack of guidance regarding the sale of such information.  Nowhere does the FCRA expressly prohibit the sale of consumer information to third parties with a business interest in the information.  This is further complicated by the fact that Equifax owns The Work Number.  As a credit bureau, Equifax proceeds under the comparatively lax rules governing credit reporting agencies, which are distinct from those governing data brokers.  Thus, by virtue of Equifax’s affiliation with The Work Number, it can behave as a credit bureau, selling credit information to lenders.  The problem, however, is Equifax has access to a much greater wealth of consumer information than a credit bureau otherwise would, thanks to its affiliation with The Work Number.

The good news, however, is that the FCRA actually may address the problematic affiliation between Equifax and The Work Number.  Section 1681s-3 of the FCRA relates to affiliate sharing.[xx]  This section prohibits an entity that receives information which would be a consumer report from another entity under common ownership from using that information to make a solicitation for marketing purposes, unless the consumer is provided an opportunity to prohibit such solicitations after a clear disclosure has been made to the consumer explaining that information may be communicated amongst such entities for purposes of solicitation.[xxi]  However, even this provision of the FCRA might not be as helpful as it seems.  Although it may prohibit Equifax from using information it obtains from The Work Number to solicit business, that is only half the battle.  Equifax still could continue to sell the information it gathers by its own efforts to third parties.  The information might simply be less comprehensive.

Possible Solutions

In light of these revelations, the first question on many consumers’ minds is how to address this sharing or sale of private information, which appears to be lawful under the guidelines currently in place.

From an individual’s perspective, preventing sensitive information from ending up in The Work Number database seems like a futile proposition.  A job applicant, for example, could attempt to condition a prospective employment relationship on the employer’s agreement not to share any of the applicant’s personal or employment information.  However, given the current job market, most employees would have very little negotiating power, and most employers are unlikely to oblige, especially given the economy gained by utilizing The Work Number.  If an individual is unsuccessful in this negotiation, he or she can always turn down a job offer.  While doing so will keep the employee’s personal information safe for now, the applicant has cut off his nose to spite his face and remains unemployed.  It seems then that the only plausible way to regulate these information transfers is to address them before the consumer even gets involved.

Congress Should Revisit the Fair Credit Reporting Act

The most effective means by which to provide much-needed regulatory reform is to take legislative action.  Specifically, Congress should revisit the FCRA, taking into consideration the flaws and gaps that Equifax is exploiting.  One approach could include amending the FCRA to require a consumer’s written authorization before such information is sold.  Specifically, implementing the same comprehensive authorization guidelines currently in place regarding consumer reports used for employment purposes could serve as a model.  Under this approach, the consumer reporting agency would need to provide consumers with clear, conspicuous written notice of the possible sale of their information prior to the information being sold.  Such notice would need to be in a stand-alone document, and the consumer’s response, either authorizing the sale or not authorizing the sale, would also need to be in writing.

Another possible approach includes implementing stricter rules governing the flow of consumer reports out of credit bureaus, perhaps mirroring the already stricter guidelines governing disclosure of investigative consumer reports.  Additionally, Congress could amend the FCRA to clearly delineate exactly what information can be included in consumer reports.  Part of the current problem appears to involve the crossover between the personal and employment related information contained in The Work Number’s database with the credit information expected to be in the hands of a credit bureau, like Equifax.

John Balitis is a director and attorney with the law firm of Fennemore Craig in Phoenix where he co-chairs the firm’s Labor Relations and Employment Practice Group.  He represents businesses in all aspects of employment law. Kristin Penunuri is a student at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.  She is a legal writing intern at Fennemore Craig in Phoenix.


[i] Bob Sullivan, Your Employer May Share Your Salary, and Equifax Might Sell That Data, The Red Tape Chronicles on NBC News.com (Jan. 30, 2013, 4:44 AM), available at http://redtape.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/30/16762661-exclusive-your-employer-may-share-your-salary-and-equifax-might-sell-that-data?lite.

[ii] Id.

[iii] D.C. Mun. Regs., Title 14 § 5402 (2012).

[iv] Miss. Admin. Code, Title 18, Subtitle 7, Rule 2 § 102 (2012).

[v] Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681 (2006).

[vi] Id. at § 1681a (2006).

[vii] Id.

[viii] Id.

[ix] Bob Sullivan, Your Employer May Share Your Salary, and Equifax Might Sell That Data, The Red Tape Chronicles on NBC News.com (Jan. 30, 2013, 4:44 AM), available at http://redtape.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/30/16762661-exclusive-your-employer-may-share-your-salary-and-equifax-might-sell-that-data?lite.

[x] 15 U.S.C. § 1681b (2006).

[xi] Id.

[xii] Id.

[xiii] Sullivan, supra note 9.

[xiv] Id.

[xv] 15 U.S.C. § 1681b (2006).

[xvi] Id.

[xvii] Id.

[xviii] Bob Sullivan, Your Employer May Share Your Salary, and Equifax Might Sell That Data, The Red Tape Chronicles on NBC News.com (Jan. 30, 2013, 4:44 AM), available at http://redtape.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/30/16762661-exclusive-your-employer-may-share-your-salary-and-equifax-might-sell-that-data?lite.

[xix] Id.

[xx] 15 U.S.C. § 1681s-3 (2006).

[xxi] Id.

 

 

How To Learn More About Your Work Number

Consumers who want to know what, if any, information about them resides with The Work Number may do so by visiting The Work Number website (www.theworknumber.com) and requesting an Employment Data Report (“EDR”).  Processing this request involves logging in and completing an EDR request form that is available in .pdf format.  Alternatively, interested consumers may contact The Work Number by telephone at (866) 604-6570.

If an EDR contains information that is inaccurate or objectionable to the consumer, he or she may submit online comments via The Work Number website.  The website suggests that The Work Number will embed the comments so that they are visible to subscribers that obtain the consumer’s other information from The Work Number.

 

social.media

Home builder uses social media to attract buyers

Lennar Arizona has just surpassed 250,000 “views” on YouTube, has nearly 5500 Facebook “likes”, and 4,000 Twitter followers.  In fact, social media has become such a critical component of the Valley home builder that it has created a new “I Team”, standing for Information, Integrity and Internet. The five member I-Team is a strategic addition to the marketing department and will dedicate themselves to the on-line dialogue with customers.

In any given day, you can watch 30videos of their YouTube that take the viewer through a visual tour of any number of Lennar model homes available in Arizona, provide insights into the company’s innovations such as the new NextGen Home Within a Home® series, or point you in the direction to clear up a troubled credit score.

Lennar has a number of communities in the greater Phoenix area including Montecito in El Mirage, San Tan Heights and Skyline Ranch in San Tan Valley, Lone Mountain in Cave Creek, Evans Ranch and Layton Lakes in Gilbert and Stetson Valley in Phoenix.

In the era of 24-7, second by second streaming information, the communication begins long before that prospective buyer walks into the sales office. For the uninitiated, social media is a group of Internet, web based and mobile applications that have redefined the way many people communicate.  The user-generated content has put the general public in the forefront of defining the conversation, compared to the traditional methods such as newspapers, magazines, broadcast and websites that were controlled by professional journalists and company marketers.

For buyers Linn and Kelly Shaw who purchased a Lennar home at the Layton Lakes community in Gilbert, the social media presence made their search process easy.  “The ability to look at financing options and view new model homes prompted me to look into Lennar as a builder.  I really enjoyed the YouTube videos of the models.  With my wife’s and my busy schedules, we didn’t have a lot of time to tour model homes or communities, so their social media content streamlined the process for us.  Access to the homes through the videos and online detail description of the homes was a huge benefit to us,” said Linn Shaw.

Mike Lyon of the real estate sales training company Do You Convert says that content is the key in the success of social media.  “If the information a company presents is entertaining or educational, it will spread.”  And that’s the key.  “Social spaces are not about selling; it’s about educating and spreading information naturally, and Lennar was one of the first home builders to really commit to creating and spreading content,” he noted.

A number of the big home builders have embraced social media, but Lennar has taken the communication to a higher level. The company has tremendous visibility online whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Flickr, Instagram, FourSquare, or LinkedIn, Lennar is all over it. The company also has four very active blogs.

“For several years now, Lennar has aggressively pursued the social media path.  “There is no question that our social media initiatives have created relationships that have led directly to home purchases,” said Mike Dowell, senior vice president of marketing for Lennar’s Arizona operations.

Buyers who have utilized the social media connections often pass along those tools to friends. “I watch real estate closely and haven’t seen another builder do what Lennar does on-line.  It was so easy to share the Lennar YouTube videos with our friends who were also looking for a home,” homebuyer Lin Shaw added.

The cultural shift is well underway. For many people of all ages, social media is becoming a preferred communication method. Social media is an effective way to communicate facts. “The customers seem to appreciate the ability to research the home opportunities on their own, and to review comments from current Lennar home owners via the company’s Facebook page, blog and other social media sites,” noted Dowell.

A home builder with nationwide presence, at the national level Lennar has more than 800,000 YouTube views, over 200,000 “likes” on Facebook and over 130,000 followers on Twitter. Additionally, each of Lennar’s Divisions across the nation has a strong and growing social media presence in their respective markets.

Lennar, founded in 1954, is one of the nation’s leading builders of quality homes for all generations. The company builds affordable, move-up, and retirement homes primarily under the Lennar brand name. The company has been building in Arizona for nearly 40 years and owns considerable land holdings in the state. For the latest Lennar information, visit any of the following: Lennar.com, Facebook.com/LennarPhoenix; Facebook.com/LennarTucson; YouTube.com/LennarPhoenix; YouTube.com/Lennar Tucson; Twitter.com/LennarPhoenix, Twitter.com/LennarTucson.

protecting information infrastructure

ASU Students Of Information Assurance Protect Nation’s Information Infrastructure

Arizona State University’s designation as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education has been renewed by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.

The redesignation for education programs in information assurance, which extends through 2017, enables the university to continue to support students through the National Science Foundation’s Scholarship for Service program and the Department of Defense Information Assurance Scholarship program.

The competitive scholarships go to students in computer science and computer systems engineering programs with an information assurance concentration – a focus on areas of study that address a growing need for federal information assurance professionals to protect the government’s critical information infrastructure.

The university also holds a designation as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Research, which was granted in 2009 and extends through 2014.

A number of the scholarships and grants for education and research have been awarded due to the work done through the Information Assurance Center in the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering, one of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering.

The Information Assurance Center (ia.asu.edu) directed by engineering professor Stephen Yau, concentrates on research addressing the challenges of ensuring the security and quality of information being stored, processed and transmitted by information systems and networks.

Twenty-seven ASU faculty members are now participating in the center’s work.  Twenty are from the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering – including its School of Electrical, Computing and Energy Engineering – with others from the W. P. Carey School of Business and the College of Technology and Innovation at ASU Polytechnic campus.

The center also is involved in technology transfer and continuing education for industry. It assists with information assurance education activities for other schools, especially those serving underrepresented minority groups.

For more information on research and educational activities of the center, visit ia.asu.edu

selfservicemakingyourbusinessbetter

Are Self-Service Technologies Making Your Business Better?

Self-service technologies, which automate routine interactions between companies and customers, are a source of convenience and efficiency to both parties — until something goes wrong and the customer cannot make the system work. Many companies should be focusing more closely on the overall customer experience, says Michael Goul, a professor of information systems and a researcher at the Center for Advancing Business Through Information Technology. Curiously, here’s a case where businesses could learn something from government! (12:32)

Facebook

What You Get With The New Facebook Profile

On December 5 Facebook introduced another change to their ever-rotating lineup of profile options. The latest update establishes a new layout for user profiles and more options for displaying work and education information. While the new profile is currently on an opt-in basis only, Facebook will be gradually rolling out the change and plans to have all Facebook users switched by early 2011.

What to Expect:

While current profiles push basic user information such as career, education and hometown off to the side, the new profiles will feature this information at the top of the page directly under the user’s name. This move bumps off the most recent status update that was usually displayed in this spot.

The new profiles also feature 5 recently tagged photos in addition to the main profile picture and users can choose to display featured friend groups (family, coworkers, etc.). Facebook users can expect more than just a new profile page though. The photo display page has undergone a transformation as well, featuring an “infinite scroll” rather than the page-by-page layout of before.

Along with the aesthetic changes come increased options for connecting with other users. The new Facebook profile offers the option of tagging your coworkers in career information and listing projects you have worked on with them. As for education, you can list classes you have taken and connect with old classmates.

How to Opt-In:

If you can’t wait for the new profile to be implemented for all of Facebook you can opt-in to the change by visiting www.facebook.com/about/profile and clicking the green “Get the New Profile” button.

New Facebook

Arizona's Unemployment Rate Drops in October 2010

Arizona’s Unemployment Rate Drops in October 2010

The state’s unemployment rate dropped two-tenths of a percent to 9.5 percent in October, as the economy added 27,400 jobs. This is the largest October job gain since 2004. The Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) reports today that the private sector generated 93 percent of those jobs, or 25,600.  Year-over-year, total non-farm employment was up 1.1 percent last month.


Oct. 2010Sept. 2010Oct. 2009
United States9.6%9.6%10.1%
Arizona9.5%9.7%9.3%

This is the third consecutive month of over-the-year gains in total nonfarm employment, and the rate of gains has been increasing each month. According to the ACA, Arizona now ranks 18th in the nation in over-the-year employment growth. The state was ranked 32nd in September. Significantly,  Arizona’s construction industry continued to show signs of improvement, and in October posted its first over-the-year increase since December 2006.

“Overall, Arizona’s employment situation is beginning to show indications of welcome improvements,” according to the ACA employment report.


Oct. 2010Sept. 2010Oct. 2009
Overall2,432.42,405.02,408.0
Monthly  Change1.1%0.7%0.7%
Annual  Change1.0%0.5%-7.2%

Over the month, 10 out of the state’s 11 major sectors saw job gains. The sector that had the most gains for the month was trade, transportation and utilities, with 7,100.

Gains were reported in: professional and business services (1,700); financial activities (600); educational and health services (6,400); natural resources and mining (100); construction (5,100); leisure and hospitality (3,300); government (1,800); other services (1,400); and manufacturing (200).

The only sector to lose jobs was information (-300).

The unemployment rates dropped in almost all of the state’s largest metro areas.


Oct. 2010Sept. 2010Oct.2009
Phoenix Metro8.5%8.7%8.8%
Tucson Metro8.3%8.6%8.6%
Yuma Metro25.8%23.9%21.9%
Flagstaff Metro7.9%8.1%8.4%
Prescott Metro9.7%10%9.9%
LHC-Kingman Metro10.9%10.8%10.8%
Cubicle

Jobs Grow Modestly; State’s Unemployment Rate Is Unchanged

The state added 16,000 jobs in September, mostly due to the start of the new school year. Despite the modest gains, the Arizona Department of Commerce reported today that the state’s unemployment rate remains at 9.7 percent


Sept. 2010Aug. 2010Sept. 2009
United States9.6%9.6%9.8%
Arizona9.7%9.7%9.4%

Year-over-year, total non-farm employment was up 0.5 percent last month. August’s year-over-year numbers were revised from a loss of 0.1 percent in total non-farm employment to a gain of 0.3 percent. The August gains broke a 30-month streak of over-the-year job losses for the state.

For the month, the state’s employment gain of 0.7 percent were below the 10-year average, but was better than the previous two years, when the economy generated job growth of 0.2 percent in September 2008 and 0.5 percent in September 2009. The private sector had an anemic net gain of 700 jobs last month. However, for the past three Septembers, the private sector has lost jobs.


Sept. 2010Aug. 2010Sept. 2009
Overall2,403.82,387.82,392.1
Monthly % Change0.7%1.6%0.5%
Annual % Change0.5%0.3%-8%



Over the month, six sectors gained jobs and five lost jobs. The sector that had the most gains for the month was government, with 15,300. But those jobs came primarily from local and state education, with losses in the federal government offsetting some of the gains.


Professional and business services added 2,900 jobs; financial activities gained 1,700; educational and health services rose by 1,200; natural resources and mining generated 200 jobs; and construction also saw job gains of 200 in September

The professional and business services sector boasts the highest over-the-year job gains with 13,800. Over the year, trade, transportation and utilities was up 10,100 jobs; educational and health services gained 8,800; leisure and hospitality had a 1,500-job gain; and natural resources and mining generated 1,200 positions.

Over-the year losses were recorded with government (-7,300); construction (-6,100); other services (-4,000); financial activities (-2,500); information (-2,000); and manufacturing (-1,800).

The unemployment rates in the state’s largest metro areas mostly held steady or dropped slightly in September.


Sept. 2010Aug. 2010Sept.2009
Phoenix Metro8.7%8.8%8.8%
Tucson Metro8.6%8.7%8.6%
Yuma Metro23.9%23.7%21%
Flagstaff Metro8%8%8.2%
Prescott Metro10.1%10.2%9.9%
LHC-Kingman Metro10.8%10.9%10.8%

Apple The iPad Dazzles - AZ Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

The iPad Dazzles, But Is It Worth $500?

It’s only been a few months since the iPad’s April debut, but Apple’s latest light-weight cordless gadget has — for most — lived up to its expectations. Sans keyboard and mouse, the iPad offers a versatile online experience through a 9.7-inch glossy touch screen. You can search the Web instantly, pull up maps that are clearer and crisper than a paper printout, listen to music, read endless amounts of books and magazines, and access many more apps with the touch of one button.

If you own an iPhone and love it, the iPad could be a new favorite, as it is much easier on the eyes and extremely simple to navigate. Even if you are not familiar with the iPhone, the iPad may have you saying “can’t leave home without it,” due to its relatively small size (weighing in at only a pound and a half), slim shape and useful applications.

And, several months later, the iPad continues surpassing demand expectations. With such a tough economy, it seems surprising that people are finding an extra $500 to splurge on a device that is not a necessity. But could it actually be the future of business communications or a corporate norm? We spoke with Pendleton C. Waugh, vice president and co-founder of Phoenix-based Smartcomm, a company dedicated to offering opportunities in the wireless industry, to find out his thoughts on this new device and the implications it has on business users.

How do you see the iPad helping with business uses?
Well, Apple sells all the applications you would normally use on a computer for work, like Word, Excel, even PowerPoint. You can just add those apps. And if you don’t like using the touch screen, you can hook an extra keyboard to your iPad and type away.

What application do you find the most helpful for work, currently?

I like the note taking application. It replaces paper. I can just type up my notes, and then e-mail them to myself or to anyone else — and there you go.

So no more paper and pens for your meetings?
No, I don’t need them. I take the iPad into all my meetings and type away. I did recently add an extended keyboard, but up to now I’ve just been using the touch screen. You just tap on the letters; it’s very easy and user friendly — much like the iPhone interface.

Do you see the iPad complementing or replacing a laptop or computer at work?
The iPad is going to be your computer at work. But it won’t replace your desktop or laptop. Your desk computer will remain at your desk while you’re in the office, but the idea of “desk jobs” is rapidly disappearing. Your iPad will be your PC, so you can work from it wherever you are, and then your desktop will be your server to access any information. We’re going wireless. According to SNL Kagan, a financial information firm that collects, standardizes and distributes corporate, financial, market and M&A data, about 80 percent of households will be wireless within 10 years. If you want to see the future of businesses and communications, walk into an Apple store. There’s the future.

What kind of industries would find the iPad useful?
The iPad provides a more effective way of storing, organizing, using and retrieving information. There are a lot of people who didn’t realize the iPad was going to be a big hit and still don’t think it is. But it is revolutionizing our communication standards, going from voice data to video. We are using smart devices that keep getting faster and more efficient, just like Gordon E. Moore (Intel co-founder) predicted in what we now know as Moore’s Law. So many capabilities of computers are linked back to this law, from processing speed, memory capacity, sensors, and even the number of pixels on a camera. The iPad can help industries communicate more efficiently.

The iPad is supposed to be great for streaming video, but video quality is low With the YouTube application.
It might have something to do with the network. For example, even though I have access to Wi-Fi, I’m using AT&T’s 3-G network. It’s possible that the network doesn’t have enough bandwidth to play the video clearly, but I’m not sure. When you use an iPad, it sucks up bandwidth like there’s no tomorrow.

What are some other observations?
The iPad has definitely been a positive experience for the principals in our company in changing how we approach work scenarios. It beats taking notes on paper or the occasional napkin, and allows the ability to instantly e-mail anything typed up on the electronic tablet. The iPad is travel-friendly and uncomplicated to use. The price is reasonable. It’s not cheap, but it won’t break the bank, and the general consensus, from other media reviews, is that it’s worth the money.

Arizona Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

Solar panels on a house roof

Solar And Sustainable Building Tour Hits Valley

Many homeowners are hesitant to install solar in their homes for various reasons, whether it’s cost or simply not knowing enough information about how it actually works. It’s one thing to read about solar but a whole other story to actually see it as a real application on a home or building.

This weekend, the Scottsdale Green Building Program, Arizona Solar Center and the Arizona Solar Energy Association are sponsoring the Solar and Sustainable Building Tour. Nine Northeast Valley homes and buildings and eight other solar buildings from across the Valley will be on display during this free tour. This event sounds like a great hands-on way to show attendees what they can potentially do at their own homes.

The tour is now in its 14th year with several other tours that took place in the month of October, in conjunction with National Energy Awareness Month.

Next weekend Oct. 31 to Nov.1 the Tucson tour will take place.

These homes are on the Solar and Sustainable Buildings Tour and will be open for viewing this weekend. In addition, several buildings will be on the tour as well. Free tours start hourly from 9-11 a.m. and 1-4 p.m.

Open Saturday and Sunday

  • Augspurger solar greenhouse, 11458 E. Christmas Cholla Drive.
  • Bauder-Strauss residence, 10875 E. Bahia Drive.
  • Edwards residence, 8151 E. Smokehouse Trail.
  • Mushorn residence, 25227 N. Roping Road.

Open Saturday only

  • Garrett residence, 8502 E. Cactus Wren.
  • Green remodel, “Bungalow,” 6613 E. Aster Drive.
  • Dalrymple residence, 4622 E. Palo Verde Drive.
  • Fuller Paper Palace One, 1 Continental Drive.

Open Sunday only

  • Green remodel, “Edible Landscape,” 8243 E. Monte Vista Road.

Find the complete list of homes and buildings here.

www.azsolarcenter.com
www.azcentral.com