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Loose change

By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 4, 2002

UNCERTAINTY: Amid falling stock prices and shrinking 401(k) accounts, a poll indicates that a third of Americans aren't sure they'll meet their retirement goals. The poll of nearly 1,000 people by Maritz Research also found 27 percent don't expect to be able to retire at the age they want to. But some are no worse off: the 26 percent who say they've saved nothing for retirement.

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CONFIDENCE: Worker trust and confidence in senior management have fallen over the past two years, according to a survey of nearly 13,000 workers conducted by Watson Wyatt Worldwide. It found that fewer than two in five workers, or 39 percent, trust senior leaders at U.S. companies.

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PREPARATION: A patented system gives customer service centers a heads up when a caller is irate. Mitel Knowledge Corp.'s voice-prompt system detects degrees of outrage or anger and directs the caller to operators trained to handle customers spoiling for a fight. A speech-recognition program scans voices for stress or annoyance, and a timer calculates mood by how people enter touch-tone digits, such as rapidly punching buttons or deliberately holding them down.

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AWARENESS: The month most noted for gift-giving also has been the biggest for pink slips being issued. Between 1995 and 2001, December job-cut announcements totaled 594,077, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. October ranked second with 536,902 announced cuts. The least likely month for job cuts: May.

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POPULARITY: State designs on quarters have made them popular with collectors. Nearly half of Americans say they are collecting the coins, according to a Coinstar poll, and 35 percent of those respondents have 15 or more states in their collection.

-- Compiled by Cathy Keim from Times wires.

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