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Loose change

By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 7, 2002

WORKING WOMEN: In the past half-century, the average number of hours that married women spend at work has soared 171 percent, government figures show. In 1950, married women worked an average of five hours a week. Today, it's more than 20 hours and climbing. Economists note the swing is far larger than any linked to the economy's booms and busts. "It's much bigger than many of the changes that people worry about in the business sections of newspapers," University of Minnesota economist Larry Jones said.

SOMEBODY'S WATCHING: If you have a feeling you're being watched on a JetBlue flight, you just might be. The carrier is installing a surveillance camera system in its planes that lets the pilots keep an eye on passengers. It's the first U.S. airline to do so. A JetBlue spokeswoman says the surveillance provides an extra element of security.

STOLEN GOODS: Employee theft is widespread and rising. At retail stores nationwide, for example, employee theft rose to $14.9-billion in 2000 from $13.2-billion the previous year. Some experts blame the weak economy. Layoffs and cutbacks leave many workers feeling shortchanged, and some experts say that provokes theft in retaliation.

RECALL REDUCTION: Recalls of cars and trucks declined 40 percent in 2001, from a record high a year earlier when Firestone tires were replaced. The recall of 14.5-million vehicles was the lowest since 1994 when 6-million were recalled, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said. Safety experts say carmakers might be getting better at identifying defects on the assembly line.

28: The average American consumer eats that many pounds of french fries each year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects consumption to drop 1 percent this year.

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