MONEY salary

Temps Make 10% Less Than Full-Time Employees for the Same Work

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Joerg Steffens—Getty Images/OJO Images RF

It's common knowledge that temp workers aren't treated as well as full-timers. But this is pretty awful--and blatant.

There’s bad news for those working as temps or on-call workers—a group of Americans that has grown since the recession.

Despite doing equivalent work, so-called “contingent” employees earn about 10.6% less per hour than standard full-time workers, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Contingent employees made up about 18% of the workforce in 2014, up from 12% in 2009. That increase has come in great part because of growth in the “gig economy,” says Mary Beth Maxwell, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy at the U.S. Department of Labor.

“For some, these changes represent greater access to the labor market. For others, they mean reduced access to workplace protections, benefits and stable income, and increased exposure to health and safety risks,” Maxwell wrote in a letter to the GAO.

Indeed, a different new study reveals that on-demand workers (like Uber drivers) most commonly cite low pay as their top reason for quitting.

Some temp workers are paid especially poorly compared to their full-time counterparts, the GAO report found: Teachers and educators make nearly 14% less than standard workers per hour if they are contingent. On the other hand, construction workers make about the same on an hourly basis no matter if they’re contingent or collect salaries full-time.

Unsurprisingly, the job benefits are worse for contingent workers–that is, if they receive benefits at all. Temps are about two-thirds less likely than standard workers to have a work-provided retirement plan and less than half as likely to have employed-based health insurance, the study found.

MONEY bonds

The Weird Reason You Should Buy Treasury Bonds Right Now

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Henglein and Steets—Getty Images/Cultura RF

New research shows sunshine matters to the market.

Market timing is never a great strategy, but if you’ve been thinking about buying Treasury bonds to diversify your portfolio, the sunny spring days we are currently enjoying may be a great time to start.

Why’s that?

A surprising new study finds that seasonal affective disorder (SAD) doesn’t just affect individual investor’s decisions: It actually affects the market as a whole.

University of Toronto researcher Lisa Kramer and her team found that monthly returns on Treasury bonds swing 80 basis points on average between October and April, peaking in the fall and bottoming out in the spring.

“That kind of a systematic difference is huge,” says Kramer.

The variation seems to be caused by SAD, a seasonal mood disorder that affects up to 10% of the population.

Even after controlling for other explanations—like Treasury debt supply fluctuations and auction cycles—the study found that the bond return differences could be explained best by the increase in seasonal depression during dark winter months.

Kramer has also found similar effects of SAD on the stock market: Specifically, equity investors are more risk-averse as nights become longer (leading to lower returns) and then start becoming more open to risk as winter gives way to spring.

MONEY Warren Buffett

This is How Much Warren Buffett Spends on Haircuts

Squawk Box - Season 20
CNBC—NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway in an interview on May 4, 2015.

The Oracle of Omaha has been going to the same barber for more than 20 years.

Warren Buffett, the 84-year-old head of Berkshire Hathaway, may be a billionaire. But he doesn’t spend like one.

He famously still lives in the Omaha, Nebraska, house he bought in 1958 for $31,500.

And, according to a new story by Market Watch, he’s a long-time patron of Omaha barber Stan Docekal—who charges him $18 (tip not included) for a hair trimming every two or three weeks.

Docekal, who has cut Buffett’s hair for about 23 years, is also in his early 80s. Desperate to pick up tidbits about the Oracle of Omaha, journalists have interviewed the barber many times over the years. Apparently Buffett’s activities during haircuts include listening to oldies music, watching CNBC, and reading his mail, a newspaper, or an annual report.

Is $18 a good deal?

Technically it’s higher than the national average of about $14 for a men’s cut, according to a recent study. But it’s pretty darn cheap for the third richest person in the world.

Read more: This Is How Much It Costs to Live Next Door to Warren Buffett

MONEY hedge funds

Mind-Blowing Tool Used by Hedge Funds Costs Just $10

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Colin Anderson—Getty Images/Blend Images

It's a total game-changer

If you’re a hedge fund looking to crunch massive quantities of data, it’s generally cheaper to pay for space a la carte on Amazon’s cloud than invest in million-dollar hardware.

That’s the premise behind a spate of new finance-focused data shops turning out software that runs on the cloud. Ufora, a company profiled in Bloomberg Business, designs software that can process a trillion data points in minutes for the cost of a sandwich.

The technology is complex and involves a type of machine learning, or artificial intelligence, but computing power has become cheap enough that Ufora founder Braxton McKee can analyze a big market data model using only $10 worth of capacity on Amazon Web Services.

Ufora’s hedge fund clients—like all hedge funds today—have good cause to want to keep costs low.

These privately-offered investments, which typically court only those who can invest at least $1 million, are having a tough time holding investors’ interest these days.

That’s partly because their high fees have become harder to justify given that recent returns have actually trailed those of cheap index fund-based portfolios, and performance is increasingly in step with that of benchmarks, meaning that mangers aren’t adding as much value or diversification.

Read more: Why Should I Invest?
Investment Advice From a Nobel Prize-Winning Economist

MONEY Autos

Why Your Toyota Prius Could Make You a Theft Target

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KAZUHIRO NOGI—AFP/Getty Images An employee fixes a main battery of the hybrid system in Toyota Motor's Prius.

Hint: A Tesla Model S driver wouldn't have this problem.

Hybrid cars are increasingly the target of theft, thanks to lightweight batteries that are easy to steal—at least for thieves who know what they’re doing.

Toyota Prius drivers in San Francisco seem to be getting the worst of it, a California ABC affiliate reports, with several thefts across the city in recent months.

Though there’s a serious risk of electrocution, thieves in the area have succeeded in quickly cutting cables attached to the 200-volt batteries, then removing them within about 20 minutes.

Prius batteries can go for as much as $1,000 on Craigslist, a tidy profit given the speed of the job.

Unfortunately for Prius drivers, replacing a stolen battery can cost about $3,000—and once you account for the cost of other repairs, like replacing broken windows, the final bill could be as high as $10,000. Buying a used battery online might be cheaper, but then you can’t be sure of just how used it is (or whether it was come by honestly).

Despite the risks involved, what makes the theft relatively easy is portability: The battery in the Prius weighs only about 150 pounds. Compare that to the Tesla Model S battery, which weighs more than 1,000 pounds.

If you own a Prius, there are a few steps you can take to prevent theft, including replacing the bolts fastening down your battery with tamper-proof ones.

MONEY Gas

Gas is Weirdly Expensive in This One Part of the U.S.

US Gas Prices Rise For 35 Consecutive Days
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Gas prices nearing $6.00 on March 3, 2015 in Sausalito, California.

It could put a damper on your summer road trip.

West Coast drivers might be feeling like they’ve been left out of the cheap gas boom.

Despite sub-$3 gas all over the rest of the country, gas prices on the coast—and especially in California—have been skyrocketing. West Coast drivers are paying a record 88 cents a gallon more than those on the East Coast, Bloomberg reports. And in Los Angeles, prices have actually nosed above $4.

Why the big difference?

It’s partly that California has recently instituted particularly strict laws limiting greenhouse-gas emissions. This forces gasoline companies to spend more on either pollution permits or the production of lower-carbon fuels—costs that get passed on to drivers.

But it’s also bad luck. Several oil refineries in California and Washington have been out of commission in recent weeks because of explosions, breakdowns, power outages, and repairs.

Check out this gas price heat map from GasBuddy.com, or type in your zip code here to see if you are paying fair prices for the area where you live.

MONEY Wages

Los Angeles Just Raised Its Minimum Wage to $15

May Day Rally Held in Los Angeles
Sandy Huffaker—Getty Images Protesters chant during a May Day rally in downtown Los Angeles, California.

The increase will kick in by 2020

The Los Angeles City Council has voted to ramp up the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour from $9 over the next five years.

The urban center is the largest among several cities—including Seattle, San Francisco, and Oakland, California—that have moved to increase pay for their lowest-earning workers. Once signed by the mayor, the L.A. law could affect as many as 800,000 workers, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Other cities, including New York and Washington, D.C., are still considering laws that would also set the local minimum wage at $15. (See this map of places where local minimum wage increases have been enacted or proposed.)

The first pay bump would occur in July 2016, increasing wages in Los Angeles to $10.50 per hour.

Read next: These Are the 25 Best U.S. Cities for Jobs

MONEY Credit

PayPal Asked to Return $15 Million Over Credit Issues

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Eric Piermont—AFP/Getty Images Eric Piermont—AFP/Getty Images

The payments service misled customers, many of whom were unwittingly signed up for PayPal Credit, the agency alleges.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is demanding PayPal return $15 million to consumers and pay a $10 million fine for problems with its PayPal Credit service, according to a new federal court complaint.

“Tens of thousands of consumers who were attempting to enroll in a regular PayPal account, or make an online purchase, were signed up for the credit product without realizing it,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a statement about the suit.

One big problem, the bureau claims, is that PayPal set the default payment method for all purchases to PayPal Credit, formerly named “Bill Me Later.”

And even for those customers who signed up willingly, the company failed to honor advertised promotions, like $5 or $10 credits toward purchases, the CFPB alleges.

Perhaps worst of all, Cordray notes, is the Kafka-esque nightmare many customers faced once they were enrolled.

“PayPal failed to post payments properly, lost payment checks, and mishandled billing disputes that consumers had with merchants or the company itself,” he said. “Numerous consumers reported that the company took more than a week to process payment checks. And even when customers were unable to pay because of website failures, they still got charged late fees.”

If a judge approves the complaint, PayPal will have to reimburse customers who were mistakenly enrolled in PayPal Credit, who mistakenly paid for a purchase with PayPal Credit, and/or who incurred fees or deferred interest as a result of the company’s “inadequate disclosures and flawed customer-service practices.”

You could be eligible if you incurred late fees or interest charges between January 1, 2011, and May 1, 2015.

PayPal’s parent company, eBay, plans to spin off the business this summer.

MONEY consumer products

Wet Wipes Company Rapped for ‘Flushable’ Claim

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Bertlmann—Getty Images Nice-Pak can no longer claim wipes are flushable without proving it first.

The FTC says Nice-Pak must back up its "flushable" labels with real data.

Anyone who has ever dealt with a clogged drain—only to find the culprit is one of those “flushable” wipes from Costco, CVS, Target, or BJ’s—has cause for celebration.

The Federal Trade Commission just announced a settlement with moist toilet tissue producer Nice-Pak that prevents the company from continuing to claim its products are actually flushable, at least until it proves those claims through testing.

“The evidence didn’t back up Nice-Pak’s claims that their wipes were safe to flush,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “If you claim a product is flushable, it needs to flush in the real world, without clogging household plumbing or sewer and septic systems.”

The FTC found that Nice-Pak misrepresented that its Nice ‘N Clean wipes, also sold under several store brands, break apart after being flushed. The specific products made by Nice-Pak include Costco’s Kirkland Signature Moist Flushable Wipes, CVS’s Flushable Cleansing Wipes, Target’s Up & Up Flushable Moist Wipes, and BJ’s Family & Toddler Moist Wipes.

Nice-Pak has responded with a statement claiming it switched its manufacturing process in late 2014 so that now all of its flushable wipes—including the brands named above—comply with the FTC testing requirements. Non-flushable wipes have always featured a “Do Not Flush” logo, a company rep says.

Wet wipes have had an unflattering run in recent news, with some customers claiming that certain brands contain allergy-triggering chemicals. Plus there’s a story from London about a city sewage pipe that simply burst under pressure from an 11-ton clog of congealed fat and—you guessed it—wet wipes.

MONEY Advertising

Jon Hamm Just Predicted Don Draper’s Future After the Mad Men Finale

Film Independent At LACMA Special Screening Of "Mad Men"
Amanda Edwards—WireImage Actor Jon Hamm on May 17, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.

The actor offers some clarity on the ambiguous series finale ending.

After AMC’s hit show Mad Men took its final bow on Sunday, fans took to the Internet to debate the meaning of its ambiguous ending (caution: spoilers ahead).

The final scene shows ad man Don Draper smiling blissfully at a spiritual retreat in California before cutting to the iconic Coca-Cola “Hilltop” ad from 1971. Some commenters have argued that the ad signals Draper’s escape from the clutches of Madison Avenue—and his role as a “Mad Man”—just as the ad world has begun using countercultural emblems to help sell its wares. Others have taken a more cynical view: that Draper will mine the experience to create the iconic commercial.

Turns out that actor Jon Hamm, who played Draper during the series’ seven-season run, falls into the latter camp.

“The next day, he wakes up in this beautiful place, and has this serene moment of understanding, and realizes who he is. And who he is, is an advertising man,” Hamm told the New York Times. “And so, this thing comes to him. There’s a way to see it in a completely cynical way, and say, ‘Wow, that’s awful.’ But I think that for Don, it represents some kind of understanding and comfort in this incredibly unquiet, uncomfortable life that he has led.”

Whether you think that’s cynical or not, it certainly suggests that Hamm and show creator Matt Weiner took to heart the Coke ad‘s multilayered message:

“I’d like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony! I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company.”

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