On September 7, 2017 Equifax announced a cybersecurity incident potentially impacting 143 million U. S. consumers.  The information accessed primarily includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and in some cases driver’s license numbers.

The primary threat associated with this breach is identity left.

Last week you likely received and email with links that encouraged you to visit www.equifaxsecurity2017.com in order to see if your information has been compromised.  We also recommended that you:

  • Set alerts with the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) to receive notifications of fraud on your accounts
  • Reset your financial account login information
  • Review all account statements and credit reports diligently
  • Watch out for fake emails or websites asking for personal information (phishing scams)
  • Set up and manage spending alerts in Online Banking
  • Report any suspicious activity to us or your other financial institution(s) and IdentityTheft.gov
  • Monitor your personal information and credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com
  • Enroll in a credit monitoring service

While we can’t protect you from identity theft we can assure you that we have processes and procedures in place to protect you from threats relative to the accounts we manage for you.  You should feel confident that your accounts are not in jeopardy due to this breach.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call our office at 513-563-7526.

— Nikki Earley

Shrinking Paychecks for Men: A New Challenge for the Economy

Shrinking Paychecks for MenAmerican household income is rising, but it may not be time to celebrate just yet—especially if you are a male. Men are not just still earning less than they did before the recession started, but their incomes continue to shrink, according to the latest data from the Census Bureau. The trend is part of the reason the gender pay gap is narrowing: Women are earning more, but their male counterparts are losing ground.

Annual median income for men who work full time declined to $51,640 last year, or about 0.4% below their 2015 earnings. They represented the only major demographic group to lose income. The trend may help explain why the labor participation rate for men continues to decline despite a stronger economy. Some men may not be finding the type of remunerative jobs that were once plentiful, such as in manufacturing or middle-skilled work, and are opting to sit on the sidelines. “Men are doing worse than they were in 1973,” said Sheldon Danziger, president of the Russell Sage Foundation, which focuses on poverty research. “Women’s earnings are substantially higher, but men’s earnings have declined.” Danziger noted the trend is not affecting all men: Higher-skilled and educated male workers are earning more, while men without college degrees are losing out.

Men have not enjoyed income gains since the early 1970s, although women have made strides in the workforce, both through education and higher earnings. Women now earn 80.5 cents for every $1 men earn, the Census said on Tuesday. It marks the first decline in the wage gap since 2007. “This is a complicated subject, especially in light of the fact that, on average, a woman earns 80 cents for every dollar a man earns,” Mary Coleman, senior vice president and COO of Economic Mobility Pathways, said. “That said, for three decades now women have been entering and excelling in professions largely dominated by men. This is especially true in medicine and law.”

Men are facing a number of challenges, Coleman said, including the high cost of college, which places it out of reach for young low-income men who are fathers and breadwinners, as well as inadequate social networks. Since the recession started almost a decade ago, men’s income has slid 1.1%, while women are earning 2.3% more, according to data from the Economic Policy Institute. The workforce participation rate for men stood at 69% in August, a decline of 4 percentage points since the recession began. The rate also slid for women, but only by about 2 percentage points.

Households overall are earning more, but that is largely due to gains among women. Stark disparities in income are also apparent, with wealthy Americans reaching an all-time high in median annual income last year, leaving working class and poor workers behind. Men are suffering from job losses in the manufacturing, transportation, and utilities sectors, according to a recent report from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce and JPMorgan Chase. Demand has shifted to jobs in skilled services such as health care, finance, and education, which may favor women.

But it is not only older men who are dropping out of the workforce. Young men are also working less. That trend prompted economists to ask whether men are skipping out on work because the available work was not attractive. Rather than a generation of slacker men, the economists surmised that wage growth—or the lack of it—is probably the bigger issue, especially for men without college degrees.

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign successfully homed in on the problems of the male worker with a pledge to revive manufacturing. While factory jobs have increased slightly so far this year, there are still 1.3 million fewer of them than just a decade ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Despite recent economic growth, these data signal challenges ahead for the economy.

Citations

1. http://cbsn.ws/2fl2RSu – CBS News
2. http://bit.ly/2h05z3P – US Census Bureau

The Good News Is . . .

Good News• Declining interest rates helped boost mortgage activity, with purchase applications for home mortgages rising a seasonally adjusted 11% percent in the past week after adjustment for the Labor Day holiday, while applications for refinancing, which are not seasonally adjusted, rose 9%. The refinance share of mortgage activity increased by 0.1 percentage points to 51.0%, the highest level since January. The average interest rate on 30-year fixed-rate conforming mortgages ($424,100 or less) fell 3 basis points to 4.03%, the lowest rate since November 2016.

• Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc., an operator of home-style country food restaurants and stores, reported earnings of $2.23 per share, an increase of 11.32% over year-earlier earnings of $2.12 per share. The firm’s earnings topped the consensus estimate of analysts by $0.06. The company reported revenues of $743.2 million. Management attributed the results to increases in average check size, menu price increases and improved operating margins.

• Blue Bottle announced that it had sold a 68% stake in itself to the large food conglomerate Nestlé. It is a sign of how so-called third-wave specialty coffee—pour-over brews and perfectly steeped drinks—has become a hot business. The niche accounts for less than 10% of the overall coffee industry. But it is growing rapidly and, perhaps more important, it commands higher prices and bigger profit margins. Taking a majority stake in Blue Bottle will help Nestlé expand an existing foothold in the coffee sector built around the Nescafé and Nespresso line of products to a flourishing new industry with a highly dedicated consumer base of millennials. Having Nestlé as a majority owner will also help Blue Bottle buttress its expansion plans, which run from opening new outlets across North America and Asia to selling roasted beans and New Orleans-style cold brew drinks in stores.

Citations

1. https://bloom.bg/2eVhfSb – Bloomberg
2. http://cnb.cx/2lwnm3s – CNBC
3. http://bit.ly/2fm8m3I – Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc.
4. http://nyti.ms/2xo8MjS – NY Times Dealbook