Biz bits

By wire services
Published May 15, 2005

MANY AMERICANS fear the country's social safety net is fraying and are not buying into President Bush's "ownership society." They believe in more, not fewer, safeguards against downward mobility in a world that's already pulsing with economic uncertainty, BusinessWeek says in its cover story. This includes Republicans and independent swing voters.

U.S. COMPANIES that transplanted some operations to cut costs have since reduced outsourcing by a quarter because it didn't save enough money. Some 25 companies, with average revenue of $50-billion, shifted course because of "hidden costs," according to a report by the consulting unit of Deloitte & Touche LLP. "Organizations have now begun to realize the real costs and inherent risks of outsourcing," the study said. It found that 70 percent of the companies had a negative experience outsourcing projects and 44 percent didn't cut costs. More than half the companies said they paid costs not outlined in their contracts.

THE AMOUNT YOU OWE on your accounts, such as credit cards or installment loans, is an important factor in determining your credit score. But keep in mind that your credit report changes day to day as you make payments or increase balances, Yahoo Finance advises. If you pay off your credit cards in full every month but your credit score is compiled before your payments are reported to the credit bureau, your score will reflect those balances.

AN IMPROVING JOB MARKET is leading to improved employee confidence about job security. Fifty-two percent of respondents to a worker survey by Right Management Consultant said they don't think there's a chance they could lose their jobs in the coming year, and 27 percent said it's "not very possible" they'd be laid off. However, most people said it would be difficult to find another job earning the same income or more.

GRADUATION IS A TIME many parents buy a car for a teen who's finishing high school and heading to college or a first job. But which vehicle to buy? Safety typically is parents' biggest concern, but other factors include price, economy of operation and reliability. For kids, style usually matters most. Consumer Reports recommends some cars for teens in its Used Car Reviews 2005 book, including the Ford Focus, Honda Accord EX (four-cylinder), Honda Civic EX, Mazda3, Nissan Altima 2.5 S (four-cylinder), Toyota Camry XLE (V-6) and LE (four-cylinder), Toyota Corolla LE and Volkswagen Passat (four-cylinder).

Compiled from Times wires and Web sites.