TIME Careers & Workplace

The 10 States With the Worst Quality of Life

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How’s life in your region?

This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247WallSt.com.

The United States is one of the world’s most prosperous economies, with a gross domestic product that exceeded that of any other country last year. However, a vibrant economy alone does not ensure all residents are well off. In a recent study from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), U.S. states underperformed their regional counterparts in other countries in a number of important metrics that gauge well-being.

The OECD’s newly released study, “How’s Life in Your Region?: Measuring Regional and Local Well-Being for Policy Making,” compares nine important factors that contribute to well-being. Applying an equal weight to each of these factors, 24/7 Wall St. rated Mississippi as the worst state for quality of life.

Click here to see the 10 states with the worst quality of life

Click here to see the 10 states with the best quality of life

Monica Brezzi, author of the report and head of regional statistics at the OECD, told 24/7 Wall St. considering different dimensions of well-being at the regional level provides a way to identify “where are the major needs where policies can intervene.” Brezzi said that, in some cases, correcting one truly deficient measure can, in turn, lead to better results in others.

In order to review well-being at the regional level, the OECD used only objective data in its report, rather than existing survey data. Brezzi noted that current international studies that ask people for their opinion on important measures of well-being often do not have enough data to be broken down by region.

For example, one of the nine measures, health, is based on the mortality rate and life expectancy in each region, rather than on asking people if they feel well. Similarly, another determinant of well-being, safety, is measured by the homicide rate rather than personal responses as to whether people feel safe where they live.

Based on her analysis, Brezzi identified one area where American states are exceptionally strong. “All the American states rank in the top 20% of OECD regions in income,” Brezzi said. Mississippi– 24/7 Wall St.’s lowest-rated states — had the second-lowest per capita disposable household income in the nation, at $23,957. However, this still placed the state in the top 17% of of regions in all OECD countries.

However, the 50 states are also deficient in a number of key metrics for well-being. “With the exception of Hawaii, none of the American states are in the top 20% for health or for safety across the OECD regions,” Brezzi said. Alabama , for instance, was rated as the second worst state for health, with a mortality rate of 10.6 deaths per 1,000 residents and a life expectancy of 75.4 years. This was not just among the worst in America, but also in the bottom 13% of all OECD regions. Similarly, Louisiana — which was rated as the least state state in the nation — was the bottom 10% of OECD regions for safety.

Across most metrics the 50 states have improved considerably over time. Only one of the nine determinants of well-being, jobs, had worsened in most states between 2000 and 2013. Brezzi added that not only was the national unemployment rate higher in 2013 than in 2000, but “this worsening of unemployment has also come together with an increase in the disparities across states.”

Based on the OECD’s study, “How’s Life in Your Region?: Measuring Regional and Local Well-being for Policy Making,” 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 states with the worst quality of life. We applied an equal weight to each of the nine determinants of well-being — education, jobs, income, safety, health, environment, civic engagement, accessibility to services and housing. Each determinant is constituted by one or more variables. Additional data on state GDP are from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), and are current as of 2013. Further figures on industry composition, poverty, income inequality and health insurance coverage are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey. Data on energy production come from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) and represent 2012 totals.

These are the 10 states with the worst quality of life.

10. Georgia
> Employment rate: 64.7% (10th lowest)
> Household disposable income per capita: $26,426 (13th lowest)
> Homicide rate: 5.7 per 100,000 (13th highest)
> Voter turnout: 61.9% (tied-22nd lowest)

Georgia residents have among the worst quality of life, based on the nine well-being factors measured. The state fared particularly poorly on the OECD’s jobs metric, as more than 9% of working-age adults were unemployed last year, among the highest rates nationwide. The high unemployment rate may be due, in part, to poor educational attainment rates — as was the case with a majority of the states with the worst quality of life. Less than 85% of Georgia’s workforce had at least a high school diploma in 2013, among the lowest rates in the country. Many Georgians also struggled with poverty, as 19% of the state’s population lived below the poverty line last year, versus 15.8% of all Americans.

ALSO READ: America’s Most (and Least) Educated States

9. New Mexico
> Employment rate: 63.8% (7th lowest)
> Household disposable income per capita: $25,183 (7th lowest)
> Homicide rate: 6.7 per 100,000 (4th highest)
> Voter turnout: 61.6% (19th lowest)

New Mexico is bigger than many European countries. Yet, its population hovers around just 2 million because it has large portions of virtually uninhabitable terrain. A low population density likely partly explains the state’s poor infrastructure. For example, only 54% of households had broadband Internet last year, less than in all but one other state. New Mexico residents were also not particularly wealthy, compared with other Americans. An average New Mexican had slightly more than $25,000 in disposable income in 2013, among the lowest in the country. And nearly 21% of the population lived in poverty that year, second only to Mississippi.

8. Louisiana
> Employment rate: 62.3% (3rd lowest)
> Household disposable income per capita: $28,418 (24th lowest)
> Homicide rate: 10.9 per 100,000 (the highest)
> Voter turnout: 66.3% (14th highest)

A typical Louisiana resident is expected to live less than 76 years, a lower life expectancy than in all but three other states. Many Louisiana communities are also quite dangerous. There were nearly 11 murders per 100,000 people in the state in 2013, the highest homicide rate nationwide and in the worst 10% of all OECD regions. Nearly 20% of the population lived in poverty in 2013, more than in all but two other states. Louisiana boasts a highly productive natural gas industry, with more than 3,000 trillion BTUs produced in 2012, more than any other state except for Texas. However, this also exposes the state’s economy to fluctuations in energy prices.

For the rest of the list, please go to 24/7WallStreet.com.

TIME Careers

America’s Fastest Growing Jobs

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This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247wallst.com.

By Robert Serenbetz

After the recession wiped out millions of jobs, the American labor market has at least partially recovered. So far this year, the United States has added roughly 1.6 million jobs. And in the 10 years through 2022, the BLS estimates that employment will grow by over 15 million jobs, or by 11%.

Some jobs are expected to better capitalize on economic, demographic, and workplace trends than others. For example, industrial-organizational psychologists are expected to grow 53.4%, the fastest in the nation, and occupations in the health sector are also anticipated to disproportionately grow. Based on estimated employment figures and projections for 2012 and 2022 published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for more than 1,000 occupations, 24/7 Wall St. identified the fastest growing jobs in America.

Click here to see the 10 fastest growing jobs.

The jobs with the largest expected growth are often those that benefit from America’s changing demographics. In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Martin Kohli, chief regional economist for the BLS, noted that the effects of an aging population, which has access to Medicare, “combined with innovations that provide new treatments” has led to increases in health care spending. In turn, more spending creates “a high demand for jobs to provide these services,” he added.

In fact, the average of all health support occupations is expected to grow 28% by 2022. Six jobs within the top 10 are in the health care sector.

Some of the fastest growing jobs are expected to receive a boost from economic trends. For example, the BLS expects that a continued economic rebound will lead to greater demand for construction and renovations. While construction laborers and helpers are expected to grow 25%, jobs such as masons’ helpers are expected to grow at a considerably higher rate of 45%.

Government and private sector initiatives are also expected to contribute to growth in specific occupations. New federal health care legislation is expected to increase access to health care and, in turn, to the scale of the health care industry. Meanwhile, mechanical insulators are expected to benefit from an increased focus on environmental sustainability.

Most of the occupations with the highest estimated growth rates are not especially large. Only two occupations, home health aides and personal care aides, are estimated to be among the larger jobs by number of people employed in 2022.

There does not appear to be wage or educational trends among the jobs with the largest growth rates. These occupations all have various levels of median wage as well as differing educational requirements.

To determine the jobs with the highest forecast rate of employment growth, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed BLS Employment Projections program data for 2012 and 2022. In order to qualify, occupations needed to reference a specific job rather than a broader classification. Figures from the BLS for 2012 represent estimates, while figures for 2022 represent forecasts and may be revised. Further information on each occupation came from the BLS’ Occupational Outlook Handbook.

These are the fastest growing jobs in America.

1. Industrial-Organizational Psychologists
> Pct. change in employment 2012 – 2022: 53.4%
> Number employed, 2012: 1,600
> Number employed, 2022: 2,500
> Median annual income: $83,580
> Educational qualification: Master’s degree

Industrial organizational psychologists are anticipated to be the fastest growing job in the U.S. in the 10 years through 2022. The BLS estimates that in the 10-year period through 2022, employment of industrial-organizational psychologists will rise more than 53%, dramatically higher than the growth rates for all jobs and for other psychologist professions. The use of psychology is expected to increase across the nation as individuals and institutions look for help in solving or managing problems. Industrial-organizational psychologists address issues relating to workplace productivity, organizational developments, and employee screening. Becoming an industrial-organizational psychologist typically requires a master’s degree, as well as an internship or residency. Despite the forecast growth rate, the actual number of jobs expected to be added is very small — just 900 by 2022.

2. Personal Care Aides
> Pct. change in employment 2012 – 2022: 48.8%
> Number employed, 2012: 1,190,600
> Number employed, 2022: 1,771,400
> Median annual income: $19,190
> Educational qualification: Less than high school

Similar to home health aides, personal care aides provide individualized home health services to elderly clients living at home. However, personal care aids are restricted to providing only basic medical services and will often work in conjunction with nurses or social workers. The BLS expects that over 580,000 jobs for personal care aides will be created in the decade through 2022, the most out of any of America’s fastest growing jobs. Yet, the median annual wage for personal care aids was just $19,910 as of 2012, well below the nationwide median of $34,750 for all occupations.

3. Home Health Aides
> Pct. change in employment 2012 – 2022: 48.5%
> Number employed, 2012: 875,100
> Number employed, 2022: 1,299,300
> Median annual income: $20,820
> Educational qualification: Less than high school

An aging population will likely result in a greater need for home health aides, who provide individualized daily client care. The number of such aides is expected to grow by over 48% in the 10 years from 2012 and become one of the most commonly-held jobs by 2022. Home health aides typically work for a medical institution and keep a record of services performed and the client’s conditions, in addition to providing home care and companionship. For elderly clients, home health care is increasingly popular because it offers a “less expensive alternative to nursing homes or hospitals,” the BLS notes.

MORE: The Best (and Worst) Countries to Find a Full-Time Job

4. Mechanical Insulation Workers
> Pct. change in employment 2012 – 2022: 46.7%
> Number employed, 2012: 28,900
> Number employed, 2022: 42,400
> Median annual income: $39,170
> Educational qualification: High school diploma

While the BLS forecasts above average growth in construction employment, the estimated growth rate of mechanical insulation workers is projected to be more-than twice that, at 47%. Unlike other types of insulators, mechanical insulation workers require greater specialty given the challenges of applying insulation to pipes and ducts in all types of buildings. Increased emphasis on energy efficiency will result in growing demand for mechanical insulation workers instead of non-mechanical insulation workers.

5. Interpreters and Translators
> Pct. change in employment 2012 – 2022: 46.1%
> Number employed, 2012: 63,600
> Number employed, 2022: 92,900
> Median annual income: $45,430
> Educational qualification: Bachelor’s degree

The BLS pointed to increased globalization and greater diversity within the United States as the primary driver of growth for the profession. Although computers have greatly increased the efficiency and productivity of interpreters and translators, technology cannot provide the specific nuances of human translation. Demand will likely remain strong for frequently translated languages, but most growth will likely be due to greater need for translators in American Sign Language and emerging market languages. According to the BLS, “growing international trade and broadening global ties” will create new jobs for interpreters and translators.

For the rest of the list, please go to 24/7WallStreet.com.

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TIME Jobs

10 American Jobs That Are Disappearing Now

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Very hard times ahead for these professions

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This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247wallst.com.

By Alexander E.M. Hess

After the Great Recession, which cost millions of Americans their jobs, the U.S. labor market has begun to heal. So far this year the United States has added an average of nearly 230,000 jobs per month. In the 10 years through 2022, the BLS estimates that total employment will grow by more than 15 million jobs, or nearly 11%.

However, the outlook for some occupations is bleak. For example, the number of fallers — logging workers who cut down trees — is expected to decline by 43% between 2012 and 2022, the most of any occupation. Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates and projections for more than 1,000 occupations for 2012 and 2022, 24/7 Wall St. identified America’s disappearing jobs.

Click here to see the nation’s disappearing jobs

In many cases, these rapidly declining occupations are already quite rare. For instance, there were just 1,600 locomotive firers — who are responsible for monitoring train tracks and engine instruments — in the U.S. as of 2012. In all, five of the fastest declining occupations had fewer than 10,000 workers in 2012.

Yet, in other instances, occupations that are expected to contract still employ a large number of Americans. There were more than 320,000 people employed as data entry and information processing workers in 2012. There also were nearly half a million postal service workers.

The projected decline in postal service workers is especially significant. In all, the BLS forecasts that the number postal service jobs will fall by 139,000 between 2012 and 2022 — or more than all of the other disappearing occupations put together. A number of factors are expected to contribute to this decline, including continued drops in mail volumes as well as the ongoing financial struggles of the U.S. Postal Service. The USPS has already cut tens of thousands of jobs since 2012, and it is currently slated to cut another 15,000 jobs next year.

Increased automation, digitization, and technological innovation play a role in the decline of several of the fastest shrinking occupations. “We definitely think that technology and automation are a factor with some of these [jobs],” Martin Kohli, chief regional economist at the BLS, told 24/7 Wall St.

MORE: 10 Cities That Are Running Out of Water

The development of email has reduced mail volumes and, as a result, the need for postal service workers. Automated sorting systems have further reduced the need for human sorting. Similarly, motion picture projectionists have become less common as digital projection replaces traditional film rolls, Kohli said.

International trade can also play a part in the decline of an occupation. Specifically, Kohli identified free trade and imports as factors impacting textile occupations. Trade, Kohli said, “reduces the demand for people to make shoes and textiles in this country, because imported shoes and cloth, often from Asia, cost relatively little.” At the same time, he noted that this allows Americans to focus on other industries, such as high-level manufacturing and providing financial services. Semiconductor processors, too, have become less-common in the U.S., as many businesses have elected to outsource manufacturing work abroad and focus on design, marketing, and distribution.

To determine the jobs with the greatest forecast percentage decline in employment, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed BLS Employment Projections program data for 2012 and 2022. Most of these occupations refer to a specific job. In a few cases — postal service workers, data entry and information processing workers, and textile machine setters, operators, and tenders — we used a broader classification to reflect that multiple jobs in the larger job category would be among the fastest shrinking. Where several occupations were similar in their description, such as textile machine workers and fabric and apparel patternmakers, we selected only one occupation. Employment figures from the BLS for 2012 represent estimates, while figures for 2022 represent forecasts. Median annual wage figures are for 2012. Further information on each occupation came from the BLS’ Occupational Outlook Handbook.

These are America’s Disappearing Jobs:

5. Semiconductor Processors
> Pct. change in employment 2012 – 2022: -27.1%
> Number employed, 2012: 21,300
> Number employed, 2022: 15,500
> Median annual income: $33,020
> Educational qualification: Associate’s degree

Semiconductor processors oversee the manufacturing process by cleaning silicon, monitoring machinery, and testing circuits to ensure they function correctly. Processors work in perfectly clean rooms while wearing lightweight attire called “bunny suits” in order to prevent dust particles from damaging semiconductors. The combination of automation and foreign manufacturing is expected to reduce the number of processors by more than one-fourth between 2012 and 2022. Today, a number of major U.S. companies such as Broadcom and Qualcomm are “fabless” chip makers, meaning they outsource manufacturing operations, often to other countries.

4. Postal Service Workers
> Pct. change in employment 2012 – 2022: -28.3%
> Number employed, 2012: 491,600
> Number employed, 2022: 352,600
> Median annual income: $53,100
> Educational qualification: N/A

The number of postal service workers in general is projected to drop by more than 28% from 2012 to 2022, with postal service clerks expected to experience the biggest percentage drop. According to the BLS, “automated sorting systems, cluster mailboxes, and tight budgets” are all expected to lead to lower postal worker employment. The U.S. Postal Service has struggled for years to repair its finances, and posted a net loss of nearly $5 billion last year amid a decline in mail volume that will likely continue. In response to these declines, the USPS cut hours worked by 2.3% in 2012, and by an additional 1.1% last year. The USPS forecasts that it will run a multi-billion dollar loss in fiscal 2014. It has also announced plans to cut up to 15,000 jobs in 2015, an action that is being opposed by 50 U.S. senators.

MORE: America’s Best Companies to Work For

3. Shoe Machine Operators and Tenders
> Pct. change in employment 2012 – 2022: -35.3%
> Number employed, 2012: 3,500
> Number employed, 2022: 2,300
> Median annual income: $24,310
> Educational qualification: High school diploma

Jobs for shoe machine operators and tenders, who work to build shoes and shoe parts, are projected to drop by more than a third between 2012 and 2022. Yet, such jobs are already quite rare in the U.S., with only 3,500 people working in the field as of 2012. Today, many footwear makers outsource their manufacturing to foreign countries and companies. One such company headquartered in Hong Kong, Yue Yuen, employed roughly 413,000 people at the end of 2013. Major companies that outsource manufacturing to Yue Yuen include Nike, Adidas, and Puma.

2. Locomotive Firers
> Pct. change in employment 2012 – 2022: -42.0%
> Number employed, 2012: 1,600
> Number employed, 2022: 900
> Median annual income: $44,920
> Educational qualification: High school diploma

Locomotive firers are responsible for monitoring train tracks for debris, and they check various instruments in order to ensure that no problems are present with the trains’ engines. The job is currently very rare, with less than 2,000 workers as of 2012 — a number that is expected to drop far more in the coming decade. Already, many such jobs have become obsolete as automation has taken the place of people, with locomotive engineers and conductors filling most of these roles. A handful of companies — BNSF, CSX, Norfolk Southern, and Union Pacific, as well as the national rail operator, Amtrak — employ most railroad workers.

MORE: 10 Companies That Will Disappear in 2015

1. Fallers
> Pct. change in employment 2012 – 2022: -43.3%
> Number employed, 2012: 6,600
> Number employed, 2022: 3,800
> Median annual income: $35,250
> Educational qualification: High school diploma

Fallers are logging workers that cut down trees. According to the BLS, fallers face numerous job pressures that are projected to cut jobs by roughly 43%. Despite a focus on safety, jobs in logging are often dangerous due to the machinery used and the dangers of falling branches. According to the BLS, fallers face numerous job pressures, including increased mechanization, conservation efforts, and foreign competition, that are projected to cut jobs by roughly 43%. Logging workers are already something of a rare occupation. As of 2012, there were just under 44,000 logging workers in the U.S., of which roughly 6,600 were fallers. The number of logging workers, overall, is expected to decline by 8.7% from 2012 to 2022.

For the rest of the list, please go to 24/7 Wall Street.

TIME Companies

These 10 Companies Control the World’s Food Supply

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Empty Coca-Cola Classic cans move along a conveyor to be filled. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

A relatively small band of companies control a vast amount of what we eat and drink every day

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This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247wallst.com.

By Alexander E.M. Hess

The agriculture and food production industry employed more than one billion people as of last year, or a third of the global workforce. While the industry is substantial, a relatively small number of companies wield an enormous amount of influence.

In its 2013 report, “Behind the Brands,” Oxfam International focused on 10 of the world’s biggest and most influential food and beverage companies. These corporations are so powerful that their policies can have a major impact on the diets and working conditions of people worldwide, as well as on the environment. Based on the report, these are the 10 companies that control the world’s food.

Click here to see the companies that control the world’s food.

In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Chris Jochnick, director of the private sector department at Oxfam America, discussed the impact that these 10 companies have on the world. “If you look at the massive global food system, it’s hard to get your head around. Just a handful of companies can dictate food choices, supplier terms and consumer variety,” Jochnick said.

These 10 companies are among the largest in the world by a number of measures. All of them had revenues in the tens of billions of dollars in 2013. Five of these companies had at least $50 billion in assets, while four had more than $6 billion in profits last year. Additionally, these 10 companies directly employed more than 1.5 million people combined — and contracted with far more.

Nestle is the largest of these 10 companies. Converted into dollars, Nestle had more than $100 billion in sales and more than $11 billion in profits in 2013. The Switzerland food giant alone employed roughly 333,000 people.

Many of these companies and their brands are extremely well known. One reason is that they often spend huge sums on advertising. Nine of these 10 companies were among the 100 largest media spenders in the world in 2012. Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO), the world’s sixth largest advertiser, spent more than $3 billion in 2012 on advertising. Unilever’s media expenditure, at $7.4 billion, was the second-highest worldwide.

With such scale, many of these companies’ policies — including advertising, food ingredients, environmental impact, and labor practices — have an significant impact on millions of lives. Often, these companies have been reluctant to address issues related to their environmental impact and the quality of life of workers in their supply chain. According to Jochnick, many of these companies are “unaware of the social and environmental impact that they are creating or facilitating.”

However, not all the companies are reluctant to address these problems. None of the 10 companies was better-rated by Oxfam than Nestle, which was closely followed by Unilever. Still, even these companies had problems, according to Oxfam’s 2013 report. In 2011, Nestle discovered cases of children working in its cocoa supply chain, as well as instances of forced labor. A supplier of palm oil for Unilever was accused of illegal deforestation and forcible land grabs.

A strong public profile, as well as consumer awareness, may lead these companies to address issues of concern. “A company that is good and trusted ought to be a company that is aware of, and taking steps to avoid, serious human rights or social or environmental problems that it is part of,” Jochnick said.

MORE: America’s Fastest-Growing Retailers

Some companies have taken steps towards becoming better corporate citizens. General Mills and Kellogg, which have been among the 10 companies Oxfam studied, have implemented new policies to address important issues such as climate change. Both companies recently committed to disclosing and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years.

Based on Oxfam International’s 2013 report, “Behind the Brands: Food justice and the ‘Big 10’ food and beverage companies,” 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 companies that control the world’s food. We also added information on each company’s revenue, net profit, total assets, and employee count from their most recent annual report. Data were translated from foreign currencies based on the exchange rate on the final date of each company’s reporting period. Information on companies’ brands come from corporate websites and Oxfam. Data on 2012 advertising expenditures are from Advertising Age’s report, “Global Marketers 2013,” and are estimates. Estimates for Mars Incorporated, which is privately held, are from Forbes’ report “America’s Largest Private Companies 2013.”

These are the companies that control the world’s food.

Associated British Foods plc
> Revenue: $21.1 billion
> Advertising spending: N/A
> Profits: $837 million
> Employees: 112,652

Associated British Foods is a U.K. food manufacturer that has built out a global presence largely through acquisitions. Associated British Foods operates sugar factories, sells food ingredients to wholesale and industry customers, and manufactures consumer products such as Mazola corn oil and Twinings tea. According to Oxfam, the company received low marks for its practices in water use, having failed to conduct impact assessments, while also failing to adopt strong practices in managing its water supply chain.

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The Coca-Cola Company
> Revenue: $46.9 billion
> Advertising spending: $3.0 billion
> Profits: $8.6 billion
> Employees: 130,600

Coca-Cola is among the most valuable brands in the world. In total, Coca-Cola and its bottlers sold sold 28.2 billion cases worth of drinks, of which 47% were “trademark Coca-Cola.” In total, sales for The Coca-Cola Company were nearly $47 billion in its latest fiscal year. Overall, The Coca-Cola Company scores well for a number of practices, including addressing inequality for women working in production and supporting female empowerment for workers in its supply chain. The company is also well-rated for its land-management practices.

Groupe Danone S.A.
> Revenue: $29.3 billion
> Advertising spending: $1.2 billion
> Profits: $2.0 billion
> Employees: 104,642

France’s Groupe Danone has a truly global presence. Its largest market, by sales, is Russia, followed by France, the U.S., China, and Indonesia. According to the company, Danone is the world’s largest seller of fresh dairy products, which accounted for 11.8 billion euros in revenue, or over half of the company’s total sales in 2013. Danone is also among the world’s largest sellers of early life nutrition products and bottled waters. Danone received high scores for its policies in a number of major issues, including transparency and managing water resources. However, the company also received low scores in other policies, including its handling of land and farming issues. Danone received the lowest score of any company from Oxfam for its policies regarding women’s issues in agricultural production.

For the rest of the list, please go to 24/7WallStreet.

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TIME Careers & Workplace

These Are America’s Best Companies to Work For

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The Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. company logos are seen on an advertising sign during the Apps World Multi-Platform Developer Show in London, U.K., on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013. Bloomberg/Getty Images

A surprising number one

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This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247wallst.com.

By Douglas A. McIntyre, Alexander E.M. Hess, Thomas C. Frohlich, Alexander Kent, Brian Zajac and Ashley C. Allen

No one knows more about a workplace than its employees. Employee opinions reflect basic measures, such as pay, perks, benefits, and hours worked. But they are also influenced by factors such as a company’s culture, internal politics, and even general mood — intangibles that can be lost in internal audits and consultancy surveys.

While companies have websites, public relations teams, and recruiters to tailor their message to prospective hires, employees have far fewer forums to communicate their views. Glassdoor.com, a career community website, provides the opportunity for employees to give their own opinions, and for potential employees to research the company. To identify the 75 Best Companies to Work For, 24/7 Wall St. examined company ratings provided by current and former employees to Glassdoor.com. (See how we made our list on the last page of this article.)

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Employees in certain sectors are far more likely to offer a positive opinion of their employer than others. Technology companies are certainly well represented among the highest-rated employers, as are consulting firms. Of the 75 best companies, only 12 received an average rating of 4.0 or higher out of 5. Of these, four are in the technology space — Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and Riverbed Technology — and three are consulting firms.

Being a market leader also appears to help. Many well-reviewed companies are the leaders in their respective industries, and as a result are financially successful. Apple, Intel, Procter & Gamble, and Walt Disney are all among the top-rated employers on Glassdoor.com and among the largest public companies in the world by market capitalization. Others are leaders in public relations, like Edelman and auditing giant EY, formerly Ernst & Young.

Many of the best companies to work for have cultivated an extremely strong reputation among the broader public as well. American Express, Facebook, Google, and SAP are all among the best companies to work for and among the top companies by brand value, according to brand consultancy BrandZ. Top employers also perform well according to other measures of brand awareness, such as CoreBrand and Interbrand.

MORE: Ten States with the Slowest Growing Economies

Not surprisingly, companies with strong employee reviews also give CEOs good grades. It would seem leadership matters, not just for running a company and producing returns for shareholders, but also for promoting employee satisfaction. Among the 75 best companies to work for, 38 have CEOs with an approval rating of 90% or higher. In all, just 10 CEOs have an approval rating below 80%, and all have the endorsement of at least two-thirds of their employees.

Employees at these companies also frequently cite a good office culture and work-life balance. In many cases, employees also praise a company if it promotes learning or training opportunities and career development. At several of these companies, employees also note a good benefits package, which is uncommon in many industries, such as retail.

These are America’s Best Companies to Work For

1. LinkedIn
> Glassdoor rating: 4.5
> CEO rating: 97% (Jeff Weiner)
> Employees: 5,045
> Revenue: $1.5 billion

According to the company: “Founded in 2003, LinkedIn connects the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. With over 300 million members worldwide…LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network on the Internet.”

LinkedIn is the nation’s best company to work for, based on ratings awarded by current and former employees at Glassdoor.com. Of course, high pay doesn’t hurt employee morale. According to Glassdoor.com, the average software engineer reported an annual salary of $127,817, while the average senior software engineer reported an annual salary of $145,192. Like other technology companies, LinkedIn has excellent perks and good, free food, but employees at the company also rave about good work-life balance and a confident, inspired leadership. In fact, 97% of reviewers have a high opinion of CEO Jeff Weiner, higher than all but a few other CEOs. However, LinkedIn is also proof no employer is perfect — the company recently agreed to pay $6 million to hundreds of employees for unpaid overtime, plus damages.

2. Facebook
> Glassdoor rating: 4.5
> CEO rating: 96% (Mark Zuckerberg)
> Employees: 6,337
> Revenue: $7.9 billion

According to the company: “Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.”

Facebook is a rapidly growing and highly profitable company. It is also increasingly successful at reaching users on their mobile phones. The company’s success has not only captivated investors — Facebook’s market capitalization is currently $189 billion — but also potential employees. In fact, technology giant Google was so worried about employees leaving for Facebook that it began to provide a counter offer to employees recruited by Facebook within one hour, The Wall Street Journal recently reported. Strong benefits and perks are just one of the repeatedly mentioned advantages of working at Facebook, according to Glassdoor.com. A relatively flat hierarchy and a fast-paced workday are other characteristics of the company that employees enjoy.

ALSO READ: Customer Service Hall of Shame

3. Eastman Chemical
> Glassdoor rating: 4.5
> CEO rating: 91% (Mark J. Costa)
> Employees: 14,000
> Revenue: $9.4 billion

According to the company: “Eastman is a global specialty chemical company that produces a broad range of products found in items people use every day.”

Specialty chemicals maker Eastman receives rave reviews from employees. Workers at Eastman frequently cite work-life balance, helpful colleagues and strong teamwork, as well as a good corporate culture in their reviews. Workers also praise the company’s dedication to workplace safety. According to the company, safety forms one of Eastman’s core values. The company publicly tracks and discloses its own safety track record, as well as its internal goals for workplace safety. The small town nature of Kingsport, Tennessee, where Eastman is headquartered, is among the few complaints occasionally mentioned in Glassdoor.com reviews.

4. Insight Global
> Glassdoor rating: 4.4
> CEO rating: 94% (Glenn Johnson)
> Employees: N/A
> Revenue: $918 million

According to the company: “Through a nationwide network of 37 regional offices, Insight Global provides clients exceptional IT technicians and consultants to meet the demanding technology challenges of today.”

Insight Global is an IT staffing firm, filling over 20,000 positions a year, according to the company. Workers who were assigned jobs through the company rave about its staffing practices, noting that Insight Global’s recruiters are polite and exceptionally helpful. Many reviewers on Glassdoor.com also note that they were placed very quickly. In one such review a worker notes, “I literally got a job in under 24 hours!” Insight Global says it is on track to exceed $1 billion in annual revenue by the end of 2014.

ALSO READ: Customer Service Hall of Fame

5. Bain & Company
> Glassdoor rating: 4.4
> CEO rating: 99% (Bob Bechek)
> Employees: 5,500
> Revenue: $2.1 billion

According to the company: “Bain & Company is one of the world’s leading management consulting firms. We work with top executives to help them make better decisions, convert those decisions to actions, and deliver the sustainable success they desire.”

Bain & Company is the highest-rated consulting firm on this list, surpassing rivals McKinsey & Company and Boston Consulting Group. Bain notes on its website that, historically, client companies have dramatically outperformed the S&P 500. Also indicative of the company’s success, current worldwide managing director Bob Bechek received a nearly unanimous approval rating of 99%. Employees praise the company on multiple fronts, citing its emphasis on professional development and the quality of the workplace culture at Bain. When employees do complain, it is about long hours and demanding travel schedules.

For the rest of the list, go to 24/7Wall St.

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TIME Companies

These Are the Companies With the Worst Customer Service

Wells Fargo has become the leading bank in home mortgages. Photo: Shutterstock

Not great

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This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247wallst.com.

By , , , and

When it comes to companies we dread dealing with, we all know who they are. Let’s put it this way, would you rather go to the Apple Genius Bar to fix something with your iPhone or to the Bank of America teller to reverse a surprise interest charge?

It’s perhaps no wonder Bank of America leads the nation in bad customer service. The massive U.S. financial institution has made the Customer Service Hall of Shame every year since 2009.

In collaboration with research survey group Zogby Analytics, we polled 2,500 adults about the quality of customer service at 150 of America’s best-known companies in 15 industries, asking if that service was “excellent,” “good,” “fair” or “poor.”

Those with the highest percentages of “excellent” rankings make up the Customer Service Hall of Fame; those with the highest share “poor” ratings make up our Customer Service Hall of Shame. (See how the survey was done and full results on the last page of this article.)

MORE: Ten States with the Slowest Growing Economies

Many of the other companies with the bottom-rated customer service have earned spots on the Hall of Shame list in the past. Eight of the 10 companies in the Hall of Shame have made at least three previous appearances since 2009.

It is difficult for businesses in some industries to win consumer praise. Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup — three of the largest banks in the country — received some of the worst customer service ratings in the nation.

For banks, the many fees they charge may contribute to a customer’s poor evaluation of a company. “As soon as you take out your Bank of America ATM card you get charged,” said Praveen Kopalle, professor of marketing at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.

In addition to unpleasant and repeated charges and fees, these large banks engaged in questionable and often unlawful behavior that contributed to the housing crisis. For example, “[Banks] assured customers that [mortgage-backed securities] were actually good products when, in fact, they were pretty toxic,” Kopalle said.

Cable and satellite TV companies are another segment that has repeatedly received poor customer service ratings. Shep Hyken, a customer satisfaction expert, explained that these companies are often unclear about their service charges. “Customers get shocked when they get their bill,” Hyken said.

In some instances, companies have little incentive to offer good service. “If people really don’t like the customer service that they receive from telecom companies, they don’t have a lot of choice,” Tim Calkins, clinical professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, explained. Without competition from other companies, “there is just not that pressure to deliver great service.”

Future consolidation in these industries may exacerbate the problem. Companies like AT&T and DirecTV, as well as Time Warner Cable and Comcast, are driving merger and acquisition activity that will likely close this year, pending government approval.

Many of the companies with the worst customer service, however, are still market leaders and manage to maintain impressive profit margins. Seven of the 10 companies in the Hall of Shame dominate their industries.

This is 24/7 Wall St.’s Customer Service Hall of Shame:

MORE: Ten States with the Fastest Growing Economies

10. Citigroup
> Pct. ratings “poor”: 15.3% (credit card), 15.1% (banking)

More than 15% of respondents said they had a “poor” experience with both Citigroup Inc.’s (NYSE: C) credit card and banking businesses.

However, Citigroup is hardly alone among financial institutions in receiving low ratings for its customer service. Both Bank of America and Wells Fargo had worse-rated banking operations. While missing from the bottom 10, Capital One and J.P. Morgan Chase also received low ratings.

The banking industry as a whole suffers from bad press, likely due to its involvement in the financial crisis. According to analyst Dick Bove, penalties, regulations and rule changes have made quality customer service even more difficult to deliver.

“The banks responded by taking away millions of credit cards from customers that they could no longer do business with on a profitable basis,” Bove said.

While customers gave Citi’s credit card and banking service low grades, the bank performed well overall in the Pew Charitable Trusts’ most recent annual survey on consumer banking practices. Citi’s policies include five of the seven “best practices” endorsed by the study.

MORE: The 15 Highest-Paying Companies in America

9. Wells Fargo
> Pct. ratings “poor”: 16.2% (credit card), 15.0% (banking)

More than 16% of survey participants said their experience with Wells Fargo’s credit card business was “poor.” Wells Fargo’s banking operations did not fare much better for customer service. About 15% reported a “poor” customer service experience for Well Fargo as a bank.

The company declined an interview. In written statement, it said that it was committed to improving customer experience, and that it was “always looking for ways to apply their input and further strengthen our customer service.”

Although Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC) has largely avoided the financial crisis-related fines several of its competitors paid, it has not been immune to scrutiny. The bank, which is the largest provider of home loans, was sued by the Federal Housing Authority in 2012 for bad mortgages. Like other banks, continuous criticism since the financial crisis is likely a major component of Wells Fargo’s customer dissatisfaction.

According to Bove, bad press is only part of the problem. Strict regulations and large fines can have a considerable impact on customer relations as banks are forced to implement cost-cutting measures that may inconvenience consumers.

8. AT&T
> Pct. ratings “poor”: 17.5%

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is hardly the only mobile telephone company that received a disproportionate number of negative reviews for its customer service. In fact, all four of the nation’s leading mobile carriers were among the bottom fifth of companies evaluated.

Although the company’s record of customer service is spotty, AT&T has developed several initiatives designed to improve customer outreach. Among these, the company wrote in its annual report that it had 70 staffers dedicated to customer care on social media platforms. Additionally, last year AT&T streamlined its call center menus, cut waiting times, and trained specialized employees to handle smartphone operating system-related questions.

“Three or four years ago, the customer service at AT&T was very poor, but they really have come a long way,” Kopalle said. Now, “They pick up the phone pretty fast, they resolve your situation very quickly.” However, Kopalle noted that AT&T’s service is hardly perfect. “I think they still suffer from a number of dropped calls. That’s not really a good thing.”

For the rest of the list, go to 24/7 Wall St.

 

TIME cities

These Are America’s 10 Saddest Ghost Towns

Empty buildings and streets in downtown Cawker City, Kansas.
Empty buildings and streets in downtown Cawker City, Kansas. Mike Theiss—National Geographic/Getty Images

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This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247wallst.com.

By and

While there are a variety of options for homeowners in foreclosure, many have chosen to cut their losses and abandon their property. The housing market has been improving across much of the nation. However, some cities still have a long recovery process ahead of them as the market deals with a glut of homes in foreclosure, which can often stay in the system for several years. Meanwhile, many of these remain vacant.

In Wichita, Kansas, nearly half of homes in foreclosure were abandoned as of the first quarter of 2014. In six of the nation’s most populous metro areas, at least a third of homes in foreclosure were vacant. Based on data provided by housing data website RealtyTrac for the nation’s 100 largest metro areas, these are the cities where residents are abandoning their homes.

Median housing prices in all but one of the metro areas with the most vacant homes were among the lowest in the country. In addition, housing prices fell during the last 12 months in four of the 10 cities: Boise, St. Louis, Syracuse, and Wichita. Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, explained that this drop in prices creates a problem for both banks and homeowners because neither wants to hold on to a depreciating asset. This increases the likelihood that homeowners will abandon their homes and banks may find that foreclosing on the home could be more expensive than writing it off.

ALSO READ: Ten States with the Slowest Growing Economies

The length of the entire foreclosure process is a major contributor to vacancy rates because homeowners are more likely to give up on their homes the longer they have to wait for a resolution. Blomquist explained that as foreclosure processes stretch on for years and years, homeowners begin to believe they will not be able to save the house and decide to move on with their lives.

In fact, several of these cities with the most abandoned homes are in states with very lengthy average foreclosure times. Palm Bay, for example, is located in Florida, where the average foreclosure process took 935 days to complete in the first quarter, the second-longest time among all states.

While lengthy and exhausting foreclosure processes encourage some homeowners to abandon their homes, in other cases, people intentionally move away early because they don’t fully understanding the process. With changing housing laws in many states, “homeowners may have more options than they realize to avoid foreclosure,” Blomquist said.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 metropolitan statistical areas with the highest vacancy rates among homes in foreclosure, based on data provided by RealtyTrac for the 100 most populous metropolitan statistical areas. RealtyTrac also provided metro-level median home prices, population, and foreclosure rates, all of which are for the most recent available period. 24/7 Wall St. calculated 12 month average home prices and year-over-year percent change from May of each year. RealtyTrac also provided the average length of foreclosure processes in each state, as of the first quarter of 2014. We also reviewed income data from the Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey, and unemployment rates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

These are the cities with the most abandoned homes.

5. St. Louis, Mo.-Ill.

> Pct. foreclosures vacated: 34%
> Total vacated homes: 847 (27th highest)
> Average home price: $96,083 (14th lowest)

The number of vacant homes in the St. Louis area dropped by nearly 50% between the second quarters of 2013 and this year. Despite this, still more than a third of the area’s 2,500 properties in foreclosure were vacant as of the second quarter. Residents of the St. Louis area are subject to either Missouri’s non-judicial foreclosure process or Illinois’ judicial one. The average lengths of proceedings in both states, however, are exceptionally high and have been on the rise in the last year. A complete foreclosure process took roughly one year on average in Missouri and more than 800 days in Illinois, both among the longer proceedings compared to other large metro areas. Long foreclosure procedures in both states likely contributed to the area’s 34% vacancy rate.

ALSO READ: Ten States with the Fastest Growing Economies

4. Kansas City, Mo.-Kan.
> Pct. foreclosures vacated: 36%
> Total vacated homes: 305 (47th lowest)
> Average home price: $150,717 (42nd highest)

While housing prices in the country rose over the last two years, housing prices in the Kansas City metro area declined 9%. Additionally, the foreclosure rate in the first quarter of 2014 declined by more than 50% from the same period in 2012. Despite the drop in owner vacated homes and the falling foreclosure rate, home prices in the Kansas City metro area fell 9% since 2012, one of the higher declines in the country. Declining home prices may explain why more than one in 10 foreclosed homes in January 2014 failed to sell at auction and were repossessed by the bank, one of the higher rates on this list. This may be a sign that the housing market has not fully recovered.

3. Birmingham-Hoover, Ala.
> Pct. foreclosures vacated: 37%
> Total vacated homes: 428 (43rd highest)
> Average home price: $149,682 (44th highest)

The Birmingham-Hoover region was the only metro area on this list where the unemployment rate rose between the first quarters of 2013 and 2014. High unemployment may, in part, contribute to owner vacancies rising 19% between the first and second quarters of 2014 as owners who lost their jobs may have been afraid of going into foreclosure, as Blomquist suggested. In the first quarter of 2014, it took just 193 days to complete foreclosure proceedings. And while area home prices rose in recent years, they still remain among the lowest in the country.

2. Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, Ore.-Wash.
> Pct. foreclosures vacated: 37%
> Total vacated homes: 804 (30th highest)
> Average home price: $251,888 (12th highest)

Low, declining home prices can lead to higher vacancy rates, as owners are more likely to give up on a property depreciating in value. Prices in the Portland region, however, are exceptionally high. Over the 12 months prior to this past May, a home in the area sold for more than $251,000 on average, among the most compared to other large metro areas. And prices are rising — the median home price in May was up 22% from the same period a year before, one of the larger increases among metro areas reviewed. While the region’s vacancy rate is second only to Wichita, there are signs of improvement for the Portland area. The average length of foreclosure proceedings in Oregon fell 20% over the year prior to the first quarter, which may make homeowners less likely to abandon a property.

1. Wichita, Kan.
> Pct. foreclosures vacated: 49%
> Total vacated homes: 146 (30th lowest)
> Average home price: $131,292 (39th highest)

There were only 301 properties in foreclosure in Wichita as of the second quarter of this year. Nearly half of those, however, had been abandoned by their owners, the highest vacancy rate among the nation’s largest metro areas. Like many metro areas where residents are abandoning their homes, Wichita is located in a state with a judicial foreclosure system, which tends to lengthen the proceedings. The average foreclosure process in the first quarter took 524 days in Kansas, up 34% from the same period a year before and among the higher wait times among major U.S. metro areas. Another factor contributing to the region’s high vacancy rate is likely low and depreciating home prices — as the value of a home decreases, the financial pressure of an unpaid mortgage will go up. Home prices in Wichita were 3% lower in May 2014 than they were in May of last year.

For the rest of the list, go to 24/7Wall St.

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TIME drinking

10 States That Drink the Most Beer

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This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247wallst.com.

By Alexander E.M. Hess and Thomas C. Frohlich

In recent years, Americans have increasingly moved away from beer consumption in favor of wines and spirits. U.S. beer consumption fell slightly from 28.3 gallons per drinking-aged adult in 2012 to 27.6 gallons last year.

Despite declining across the United States overall, beer consumption remains quite high in some states. According to a recent study from Beer Marketer’s Insights, a brewing industry trade publisher, North Dakota residents consumed 43.3 gallons of beer per drinking-age adult in 2013, the most of any state. This was more than double the 19.6 gallons per legal age adult consumed in Utah, which drank the least beer. Based on figures from Beer Marketer’s Insights, these are the states that drink the most beer.

Between 2002 and 2012, the share of Americans’ total alcohol intake coming from beer has declined. The average drinking age adult drank the equivalent of 1.39 gallons of pure ethanol alcohol from beer in 2002, with a total intake of 2.39 gallons from all drinks consumed. In 2012, Americans pure alcohol intake was 2.46 gallons per person. Americans’ alcohol intake from wine and spirits rose by 15.2% and 20.9%, respectively, between 2002 and 2012. Meanwhile, intake from beer dropped by 8.6%.

ALSO READ: Ten States with the Slowest Growing Economies

While some of the states that drink the most beer generally followed this national trend, other states did not. Between 2002 and 2012, alcohol intake from beer consumption declined by 17.4% in Nevada, one of the top beer drinking states. In that time, alcohol intake from wine rose by more than 30%. On the other hand, alcohol intake from beer rose by more than 10% in both Vermont and Maine, also among the top beer drinking states.

Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol is associated with a range of health problems. One in 10 deaths among working age adults in the United States is due to excessive drinking, according to figures recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to the study, “Excessive alcohol use is responsible for 2.5 million years of potential life lost annually, or an average of about 30 years of potential life lost for each death.” Leading the nation in beer consumption, however, did not necessarily increase years lost per legal-age adult. Only three of the top beer drinking states exceeded the national average for years of potential life lost per 100,000 residents between 2006 and 2010.

According to Mandy Stahre, a co-author on the CDC’s study and an epidemiologist with the Washington State Department of Health, health outcomes such as alcohol attributable death rates are influenced by a number of factors, not only drinking patterns. “The number and the enforcement of alcohol control policies … sociodemographics, religious affiliation, race and ethnicity” all can play a role in determining the health consequences of drinking.

In an email to 24/7 Wall St., Eric Shepard, vice president and executive editor at Beer Marketer’s Insights, highlighted a study from the U.K.-based Institute of Economic Affairs, a free market think tank. The study explores the relationship between problematic drinking and consumption levels.

Policy makers often believe that high per capita consumption leads to excessive drinking, which includes heavy and binge drinking. However, the study’s authors contend that “per capita alcohol consumption largely depends on the amount of heavy drinking in the population, not vice versa.” Stahre added the she, too, was aware of studies that showed “a good proportion of the alcohol that was consumed was being consumed in a manner [associated with] binge drinking.”

ALSO READ: Ten States with the Fastest Growing Economies

The states with the highest beer consumption rates also had high rates of heavy drinking — defined as more than two drinks per day for men and more than one drink per day for women. In Montana and Wisconsin, 8.5% of adults were heavy drinkers as of 2012, tied for the most in the United States and well above the national rate of 6.1%. Additionally, seven of the states that drink the most beer had among the 10 highest rates of binge drinking — defined by the CDC for women as consuming four or more drinks, and five or more drinks in the case of men, during a single sitting.

Interestingly, while excessive alcohol use is hardly a healthy behavior, many of the states with the highest beer consumption rates were also likely to practice a range of healthy behaviors such as exercising regularly and eating well. People in Maine, New Hampshire, South Dakota and Vermont, for example, were all among the most likely Americans to eat healthy all day last year. Residents of Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Vermont were among the most likely to exercise regularly.

Stahre noted, however, that people are often better at keeping track of other behaviors than they are about drinking. “Because if you aren’t paying the bill or not paying attention to the number of drinks you have, you could really be underestimating what your consumption is.”

To identify the states with the highest beer consumption rates, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed Beer Marketer’s Insights’ recent report on alcohol consumption. Drinking habits were measured in gallons shipped to distributors annually per 100,000 drinking-age adults. Adult heavy and binge drinking statistics are from the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and are for 2012. We also utilized figures from a recent CDC study, titled “Contribution of Excessive Alcohol Consumption to Deaths and Years of Potential Life Lost in the United States.” This study examined data from 2006 through 2010 for Americans of all ages. We also reviewed healthy behaviors and health outcomes from Gallup’s 2013 HealthWays Well-Being Index. Economic data came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey. Brewery totals are from the Beer Institute’s 2013 Brewer’s Almanac and are for 2012. Tax data are from the Federation of Tax Administrators and are current as of January 2014.

These are the states that drink the most beer.

5. Vermont
> Per capita consumption: 35.9 gallons
> Alcohol intake per capita (2012): 3.02 gallons (7th highest)
> Pct. binge drinkers: 19.3% (10th highest)
> Total brewers (2012): 25

While Americans nationwide drank less beer in 2012 than they did in 2002, Vermonters consumed 11.2% more alcohol from beer. This was the largest increase in the country. The dramatic spike may be due in part to growing enthusiasm for craft beers, for which Vermont has become famous. Several local Vermont beers have been rated among the world’s best, and in some cases black markets have emerged in the wake of excess demand. Like several other states with the highest beer consumption rates, wine has also become considerably more popular in recent years. Drinking-age Vermonters consumed nearly one-fifth of a gallon more alcohol from wine in 2012 than they did in 2002, the largest increase in gallons nationwide, and roughly four times the increase across the country.

4. South Dakota
> Per capita consumption: 38.1 gallons
> Alcohol intake per capita (2012): 2.94 gallons (8th highest)
> Pct. binge drinkers: 20.6% (8th highest)
> Total brewers (2012): 10

South Dakota adults consumed 11.4% more pure alcohol in 2012 than they did in 2002, a larger increase than in all but a handful of states. Most of this increase came from spikes in wine and spirits consumption. While alcohol intake from beer grew by less than 1% — still one of the larger increases nationwide — legal-age adults in South Dakota increased both their wine and spirits intake by more than 30% over that time. Binge drinking may have contributed substantially to the state’s consumption totals. More than 20% of legal-age adults in South Dakota reported consuming at least four drinks in a sitting in 2012, among the highest binge drinking rates nationwide.

3. Montana
> Per capita consumption: 40.5 gallons
> Alcohol intake per capita (2012): 3.13 gallons (6th highest)
> Pct. binge drinkers: 21.8% (5th highest)
> Total brewers (2012): 31

A legal age Montana resident consumed an average of 40.5 gallons of beer in 2013, down from more than 43 gallons in 2009. Montana residents were largely beer drinkers, even though the state ranked 12th in total alcohol intake from spirits in 2012, per capita intake from wine was roughly in line with the nation as a whole. Dangerous drinking was also quite common in the state, where 8.5% of adults were heavy drinkers in 2012, tied with Wisconsin for highest rate in the nation. Additionally, almost 22% of the adult population engaged in binge drinking, more than in all but a few states. High levels of drinking had notable health implications for residents as well. There were 37.7 alcohol-attributable deaths per 100,000 residents in Montana between 2006 and 2010, more than in all but two other states.

2. New Hampshire
> Per capita consumption: 42.2 gallons
> Alcohol intake per capita (2012): 4.74 gallons (the highest)
> Pct. binge drinkers: 17.0% (22nd highest)
> Total brewers (2012): 21

New Hampshire trailed only one other state in total per capita beer consumption in 2013, and it was the nation’s leading state for beer drinking as recently as 2011. Additionally, New Hampshire led the nation in per capita intake of alcohol in 2012, with residents drinking the equivalent of 4.7 gallons of pure alcohol that year on average, versus 2.5 gallons per legal adult nationwide. However, these figures may be somewhat distorted by sales to non-residents by liquor stores located near state borders. Visitors often buy liquor and wine in the state because of the lack of tax at state-run liquor stores.

1. North Dakota
> Per capita consumption: 43.3 gallons
> Alcohol intake per capita (2012): 3.69 gallons (2nd highest)
> Pct. binge drinkers: 24.1% (2nd highest)
> Total brewers (2012): 4

North Dakota residents are the nation’s largest beer drinkers, consuming an average of 43.3 gallons per drinking age adult in 2013. One reason for this may be binge drinking. In 2012, more than 24% of the adult population reported binge drinking, more than in any state except for Wisconsin. Between 2002 and 2012, North Dakota led the nation with a 24% increase in pure alcohol consumption per capita. By comparison, consumption nationwide rose by slightly less than 3% in that time. Most of the increase in alcohol intake between 2002 and 2012 came from higher spirits consumption. High levels of beer consumption, binge drinking and alcohol intake may be related to the state’s attractiveness to younger Americans looking for work. North Dakota had the nation’s lowest unemployment rate in 2013 and has had the nation’s fastest growing state economy in each of the past four years.

For the rest of the list, go to 24/7Wall St.

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TIME Auto

10 Cars Americans Simply Don’t Want to Buy

10 Cars Americans Don't Want To Buy
A Volvo S60 at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show in Geneva, Switzerland. Harold Cunningham—Getty Images

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This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247wallst.com.

The American auto industry nearly collapsed during the recession as car sales plummeted and companies struggled to stay afloat. Since then, U.S. car and light truck sales have steadily increased, reaching 1.6 million in May, up 11% from the year before.

Despite the general recovery, demand for some vehicles continues to underwhelm. According to figures from TrueCar, an auto industry information and technology platform, 15 models spent an average of at least 90 days on dealers’ lots before being sold. No car took longer to turn over than the Volvo S60, at an average of 155.5 days.

Click here to see the ten cars Americans don’t want to buy

Days to turn is useful metric for gauging inventory levels, Eric Lyman, vice president of industry insights at TrueCar, explained in an interview with 24/7 Wall St. “The clock starts when the car lands at the dealership,” Lyman said. This levels the playing field, he added, because production facilities for various carmakers are located at different points across the U.S. or even in foreign countries.

According to Lyman, several factors may contribute to rising inventory levels. Some of these are temporary factors, such as the switch to a new model year. Because TrueCar data for 2014 covers cars in their 2014 model years, it makes sense that turnover rates are lower for models such as the GM’s (NYSE: GM) GMC Yukon, Chevrolet Tahoe, and Cadillac Escalade, all of which have released newly overhauled 2015 models.

In other cases, Lyman added, “high inventory is going to be [due] to a disconnect between the sales goals of the manufacturer and the retail demand for those units.” In some instances, manufacturers overestimate demand for their brands and ship too many units to their dealers. This results in high inventory and turnover levels for the brands.

Many of the brands that take the longest to sell are unpopular with customers, Lyman explained. Both Mitsubishi and Scion have car models that take the most days to turn. Both were also two of the nation’s lowest rated car brands, according to J.D. Power’s 2013 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study, which measures brands’ appeal with car buyers.

Cars from Cadillac, Ford’s (NYSE: F) Lincoln, Jaguar and Volvo, all of which ranked in the bottom half of premium brands, according to the study, also made the list. Only one of the cars with the highest days to turn, the Chevrolet Tahoe, was manufactured by one of the survey’s 10 highest rated non-premium brands.

Although there are differences in how brands are perceived, Lyman added that disparities in actual quality among various brands is often relatively small. Five of the 10 cars requiring the most days to sell were made by brands with above-average scores on J.D. Power’s 2013 Initial Quality Study. Leading these brands was GMC, maker of the Yukon, which trailed only Porsche for fewest problems per 100 cars, according to the Survey. Only three models belonged to brands with scores considerably below the industry average, although one of these, Scion, was the lowest-rated brand in J.D. Power’s survey.

Based on figures provided by TrueCar, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the car models with the highest number of days to turn. TrueCar turnover and sales data for each model reference a particular model year — figures for 2013 apply to cars in their 2013 model year, while figures for 2014 count data for 2014 model year vehicles. TrueCar also provided sales data for each of these models. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) data are from manufacturer’s website, and refer to the newest model year. We also relied on information from J.D. Power and Consumer Reports surveys, and the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). Safety data are from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Sales figures are from The Wall Street Journal, as well as various company press releases.

These are the cars Americans don’t want to buy.

3. Cadillac Escalade
> Days to turn: 115.5
> Jan.-May unit sales: 1,498
> MSRP: $71,695

The Cadillac Escalade is one of three full-size General Motors SUVs among the 10 cars with the longest days to turn, alongside Chevrolet’s Tahoe and GMC’s Yukon. It is also the slowest selling American manufactured car, taking an average of 115.5 days to turn in the first five months of 2014. This is up from 61.2 days to turn between January and May 2013, as sales have dropped 14.7% year-over-year. However, this may not necessarily be an issue of quality. General Motors recently released a new Escalade, which may affect sales and turnover for the 2014 model year. In fact, Cadillac was one of the top-ranked makes in J.D. Power’s 2014 Vehicle Dependability Study, behind only Lexus and Mercedes-Benz. Consumers were also happy with the brand, awarding it one of the industry’s highest ACSI scores.

2. Mitsubishi Outlander
> Days to turn: 117.1
> Jan.-May unit sales: 3,788
> MSRP: $22,995

The Mitsubishi Outlander took dealers an average of 117.1 days to turn so far this year. This was actually an improvement from last year, when it took dealers nearly 128 days to turn an Outlander. Sales of the Outlander have also been strong this year, up 37% in the first five months of 2014 versus the year before. Overall, sales of Mitsubishi cars rose nearly 34% in that time. However, the carmaker still holds just a 0.5% share of the U.S. car market. Mitsubishi’s model competes in a crowded field against some of the nation’s best selling cars, such as Toyota’s RAV4, Honda’s CR-V and Ford’s Escape.

ALSO READ: Ten States with the Fastest Growing Economies

1. Volvo S60
> Days to turn: 155.5
> Jan.-May unit sales: 1,777
> MSRP: $33,300

Volvo’s S60 had the longest average days to turn of any car model sold in the U.S., taking an average of 155.5 days to turn in the first five months of 2014. This was more than twice as long as it took to turn an S60 last year. Sales of the S60 have slid as well, with just 1,777 sold this year through May, down 13% from the same period in 2013. So far this year, total Volvo sales are down roughly 10% nationwide. As a brand, Volvo has long been considered a carmaker in need of a turnaround. Ford sold it to Chinese carmaker Geely in 2010. The brand still maintains a reputation for safety, and the S60 earned a five star safety rating from the NHTSA and was an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ last year.

For the rest of the list, go to 24/7Wall St.

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TIME Business

8 Companies That Seriously Owe Their Employees a Raise

Pile of money
B.A.E. Inc.—Alamy

Should companies with higher profit margins pay employees better?

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This post is in partnership with 24/7Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247wallst.com.

With the stock market reaching new heights daily, companies’ profit margins at multi-decade highs, and falling unemployment, many Americans may be wondering when they will start to see the benefits of the U.S. economic recovery. For many workers, wages have remained stagnant even as the economy is making positive strides.

A number of America’s most successful companies employ large numbers of low-wage workers. These workers are hired to staff stores, call centers, and restaurants. These workers are typically paid hourly, and oftentimes earn little above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Oftentimes, these employees serve as the face of their companies and spend most of their workday interacting with consumers.

Click here to see the companies that owe their employees a raise

Not all employees at these companies are paid modest salaries. While customer account executives at Comcast earn $13.26 per hour on average, according to Glassdoor.com figures, stars of the company’s NBC television network shows were paid hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars a year. And while the average attractions cast member at Disney’s parks and resorts earned just $16.39 per hour, Disney also employs far higher-paid workers at its ABC and ESPN television networks.

Recently, a number of these companies have chosen to use their resources for massive deal making. In February, Comcast announced a deal to acquire Time Warner Cable for $45.2 billion in stock value. In May, AT&T agreed to acquire DirecTV for $48.5 billion. Regulators have yet to approve the deals. Last year, Verizon signed on to an even bigger deal when it bought out British telecom Vodafone’s 45% stake in Verizon Wireless for $130 billion.

Of course, companies may not necessarily have an obligation to pay their employees a higher wage. If the recent spate of mega deals is any indication, companies can spend huge amounts to help provide better returns to their shareholders.

However, many argue that companies still spend too much in executive compensation. Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts earned more than $31 million last year in salary, stock options and awards, and other benefits. Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, received more than $100 million in total compensation from 2011 through 2013. Outsized salaries like these appear especially disproportionate when compared to low-wage workers.

Based on data provided by Capital IQ on S&P 500 companies, 24/7 Wall St. identified corporations with high operating income, high operating profit margins, and major one-year growth in operating income. In order to be considered, companies had to be in a customer-facing industry and have a large number of low-wage workers. We excluded financial companies, such as banks and thrifts, because the data we used to measure profitability is inadequate for judging the industry’s performance. Employee totals by company are from Yahoo! Finance. CEO pay is from filings submitted by public companies with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Figures on compensation are from Glassdoor.com and are self-reported by users to the website.

1. Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC)
> 1-yr. stock price change: 48.3%
> 5-yr. stock price change: 359.9%
> Total employees: 51,200
> Total CEO compensation: $14.2 million

ime Warner Cable is one of the nation’s largest telecom companies, with revenue of more than $22 billion and operating income of $4.6 billion last year. Although Time Warner Cable is not growing especially quickly, it continues to generate large amounts of cash from its operations and return profits to shareholders. The company’s stock has been one of the S&P 500′s better performers over the past twelve months, up 48.3% in that time. Some of the stock price rally is the result of the company’s deal with Comcast, which agreed in February to acquire Time Warner Cable. The merger will combine the nation’s two largest cable operators. But while shareholders reap the benefits of the deal, many employees may be left in the lurch as a result. Part of the deal’s appeal is an estimated $1.5 billion in savings from operating efficiencies, which may include job cuts. According to Glassdoor.com, the average customer service representative at Time Warner Cable makes just $11.85 an hour, and the average inbound sales representative earns just $11.41 an hour.

ALSO READ: The States With the Strongest and Weakest Unions

2. Public Storage (NYSE: PSA)
> 1-yr. stock price change: 12.7%
> 5-yr. stock price change: 156.7%
> Total employees: 5,200
> Total CEO compensation: $9.2 million

Public Storage owns more than 2,200 self-storage facilities across the U.S. and Europe. Because of its low-cost business model, Public Storage recorded a nearly 50% operating margin in its latest fiscal year, higher than nearly all other companies in the S&P 500. Its earnings were actually higher than its operating income because of the earnings it recorded from its investments in Shurgard Europe, a European storeage company, and PS Business Parks, a U.S. commercial real estate company. While highly profitable, Public Storage pays the average relief manager just $10.57 per hour, and the average property manager only $10.50 per hour, according to Glassdoor.com.

3. Michael Kors Holdings Limited (NASDAQ: KORS)
> 1-yr. stock price change: 49.7%
> 5-yr. stock price change: 290.3%
> Total employees: 9,184
> Total CEO compensation: $7.6 million

Michael Kors’ retail operations have grown rapidly in recent years, with comparable store sales up 26.2% last year, due largely to increased sales of accessories and watches.The company also added more than 100 new stores in most recent fiscal last year. Alongside the expansion, total operating expenses increased considerably during fiscal 2013 by about $331 million. As a percent of revenue, however, the company’s operating costs actually declined. While the overall dollaramount allocated to salaries increased from the previous fiscal year, Kors sales associates are paid an average of just $10.37 per hour, according to Glassdoor.com, although they can also earn commissions.

Click here to see the rest of the list.

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