TIME Unions

5 States With the Absolute Toughest Unions

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

The percentage of American workers in unions remained effectively unchanged last year. This marks a departure from the nation’s long-term trend. In the past 30 years, union membership has dropped from 20.1% of the workforce in 1983 to 11.2% last year.

Despite this long running decline, some states remain union strongholds, while others have almost no union presence. In New York, Alaska and Hawaii, more than 22% of workers were union members last year. Conversely, in five states, less than 4% of all employees were union members.

A number of factors help determine whether unions have a significant or negligible presence in a state, including industry composition, labor laws and political atmosphere. Based on data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and calculations by Unionstats.com, 24/7 Wall St. identified the states with the highest and lowest shares of workers who are union members.

With the addition of Michigan in 2012, nearly half of all states have so-called “right to work” laws. These laws prohibit employers from requiring union membership as a prerequisite for employment. As a result, employees often elect not to pay union fees. All 10 of the states with the lowest proportional union membership have right to work laws. Conversely, just two of the 10 states with the highest rates of union membership — Michigan and Nevada — have such laws.

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However, according to an email from Unionstats founder Barry Hirsch, while these laws can weaken a union’s financial base, the impact may be smaller than some suggest. “Right to work is important symbolically as a sign of a pro-business [or] anti-union environment,” Hirsch added.

The number of union workers in a state depends in large part on the representation of government employees. Although the public sector is far smaller than the private sector in terms of total employment, public sector workers are far more likely to be members of a union. Nationwide, more than 35% of public sector employees — which include teachers, firefighters, police officers and postal workers — were union members last year.

As a result, states where public employees were more likely to be in unions had higher rates of overall union representation. In New York, the nation’s most unionized state, 70% of public sector employees were union members, the highest percentage in the nation. By contrast, in North Carolina, the nation’s least unionized state, slightly less than 10% were union members.

In contrast to the public sector, unions are far less prevalent in the private sector, where just 6.7% of the workforce was unionized. However, because the private sector is far larger, it still accounts for a large share of union membership. In fact, most of the top 10 states for overall membership were also among the top 10 for percentage of private sector workers who were union members.

In recent decades, the private sector has accounted for the majority of the decline in the union workforce, while the share of public sector workers in unions has remained relatively constant, Hirsch wrote. “Public sector members now account for half of all members despite being only [one-sixth] of the workforce,” he added.

Often, high levels of union membership in a state were due to the presence of industries where unions traditionally held considerable influence, most notably construction and manufacturing. As of 2013, 14% of all construction sector workers, and 10% of all manufacturing workers, were union members.

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In the past decade, the share of private sector workers in unions fell in all but a handful of states. From 2003 to 2013, the number of private sector union members dropped by more than 1 million, from just less than 8.5 million to 7.3 million. In the same time, manufacturing union membership slipped by 34%, from just under 2.2 million to 1.4 million.

In addition to sector composition, Hirsch also noted that history played a role in determining unionization rates. “States that historically had high unionization in manufacturing are now more likely to have high unionized hospitals and grocery stores, and vice-versa,” he explained. In turn, when young workers have not been exposed to unions through friends and family members, “these workers are far less likely to support union organizing.”

Based on figures published by Unionstats.com, an online union membership and coverage database, 24/7 Wall St. identified the states with the highest and lowest union membership as a percentage of total employment. The database, which analyzes Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Current Population Survey, provides labor force numbers and union membership in both the public and private sector, including manufacturing and construction. Additionally, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed annual average unemployment rates for each state from the BLS, as well as income and poverty data from the 2012 American Community Survey, produced by the U.S. Census Bureau.

These are the states with the strongest unions:

1. New York
> Pct. of workers in unions: 24.3%
> Union workers: 1,982,771 (2nd highest)
> 10-yr. change in union membership: 2.4% (14th highest)
> Total employment, 2013: 8,144,204 (3rd highest)

Nearly one-quarter of New York’s workers — close to 2 million people — were union members in 2013, the highest percentage in the country. Union representation was relatively strong both in the private sector and in government jobs. In the private sector, 15.1% of workers were union members, the highest percentage in the country. Nearly 70% of public sector workers belonged to unions, the highest percentage in the country. However, even in New York, unions have been forced to make concessions so that their members could keep their jobs. In 2011, the state struck a deal with New York’s largest public employees union, the Civil Service Employees Association, to freeze wages in order to avoid mass layoffs.

2. Alaska
> Pct. of workers in unions: 23.1%
> Union workers: 70,692 (16th lowest)
> 10-yr. change in union membership: 19.6% (3rd highest)
> Total employment, 2013: 306,322 (3rd lowest)

More than 23% of Alaska’s relatively small workforce, or 70,692 workers, were union members in 2013, more than in any state except for New York. Additionally, more than one in 10 private sector workers were union members, among the higher rates in the nation. Unlike many highly unionized states, union membership increased in Alaska — by nearly 20% — between 2003 and 2013. This was the third largest increase in union members among all states. Membership across the nation, by contrast, fell by 8% over that time. Alaska residents had among the nation’s highest incomes as of 2012, when a typical household earning more than $67,000. Also, just slightly more than 10% of people lived below the poverty line that year, among the lowest in the country.

3. Hawaii
> Pct. of workers in unions: 22.1%
> Union workers: 121,357 (23rd lowest)
> 10-yr. change in union membership: -0.3% (18th highest)
> Total employment, 2013: 549,219 (9th lowest)

As is the case in many states with strong union membership, a large proportion of Hawaii’s manufacturing workers — 18.3% — were union members as of last year, more than in all but two other states. More than 32% of private construction workers were also union members, among the highest percentages nationwide in 2013. By many measures, Hawaii is a good place to work, with high median incomes and low unemployment helping to offset the state’s exceptionally high cost of living last year. A typical household made more than $66,000 in 2012, more than in all but a handful of states. And the unemployment rate was just 4.8% last year, also among the best rates.

4. Washington
> Pct. of workers in unions: 18.9%
> Union workers: 544,986 (8th highest)
> 10-yr. change in union membership: 8.7% (8th highest)
> Total employment, 2013: 2,880,935 (14th highest)

Washington’s total employment rose by nearly 104,000 workers, or 3.6%, between 2012 and 2013, one of the highest increases in the country. Washington is one of the most unionized states in the private sector, with 11.7% of all employees union members. Nearly one-quarter of the state’s private construction workers were union members in 2013, among the highest in the country. Similarly, 24.2% of all manufacturing workers held union membership, the most in the nation. There were 52,000 fewer public sector employees in 2013 than in 2012, as the state continued to follow through on the budget cuts it initiated during the recession. Despite this, union membership in the public sector held steady, at more than 261,000 workers, or 57% of all public employees.

5. Rhode Island
> Pct. of workers in unions: 16.9%
> Union workers: 77,367 (18th lowest)
> 10-yr. change in union membership: -7.9% (25th highest)
> Total employment, 2013: 458,494 (8th lowest)

Like several other states with strong union presence, nearly two-thirds of Rhode Island’s public sector belonged to a union last year, second only to New York. Labor initiatives appear to be a recent priority for policy makers. The state raised its minimum wage to $8 an hour at the beginning of last year, affecting more than 10,000 workers at the time. Wages may increase even further if the labor union-backed legislation introduced in January is passed. The bill aims to increase the minimum wage to $10 per hour by 2016. While union membership may benefit many Rhode Island workers, high wages could potentially also limit new employment opportunities. Rhode Island’s unemployment rate of 9.5% last year was higher than that of any other state except for Nevada.

Visit 24/7 Wall St. to see the remaining states on the list.

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9 of the Most Totally Misleading Product Claims

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This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on247wallst.com.

Advertisements and packaging increase consumer awareness of a product and provide information so that customers can make educated choices. Oftentimes, however, marketing strategies are focused more on raising sales than providing accurate product information.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) handles numerous cases each year as part of its goal to protect consumers from unfair or deceptive practices. Last year, the FTC ruled that advertisements and packaging of various lines of clothing from a number of companies — including Sears, Amazon.com, and Macy’s — were misleading and unsubstantiated. In these cases, the companies marketed the products as environmentally friendly bamboo, when in fact the manufacturing process involved toxic chemicals.

This incident is one of a slew of recent confrontations companies have had with a number of groups. Regulators, customers and advocacy groups have especially targeted “all-natural” labelled foods. The growth in such labeling is not surprising given the spike in demand for so-called “natural” products in recent years. Other products under scrutiny have ranged from shoes to cars. Based on recent FTC and media reports, 24/7 Wall St. has reviewed the most misleading product claims.

Due to the high volume of litigations in recent years, the word “natural” is slowly disappearing from labels, despite the lucrative sales growths of products with this label. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is one consumer advocacy group that is at the forefront of lawsuits related to food, beverages and health.

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In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Stephen Gardner, Litigation Director at CSPI, explained that food and health-related litigation probably get more media attention because “Americans are increasingly interested in eating [healthy foods].” The problem is that the terms used to identify healthy foods are often inconsistent or vague. Citric acid, for example, can be either natural or artificially produced, which means seeing it listed as an ingredient does not tell a consumer very much, Gardner explained.

Kashi, Emergen-C, and Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats all claimed to be healthier than they actually were. Kashi, which claims to be all all-natural, actually contains artificial ingredients. Emergen-C vitamin C supplement’s effectiveness at preventing or curing the common cold is controversial. Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats do not improve children’s attention span.

To make matters worse, information found on packaging is often unreliable. These strategies are anti-competitive, Gardner argued. “If people don’t want to buy food with high-fructose corn syrup, they shouldn’t be tricked into buying it.” Additionally, if you are a victim of deceptive practices, “You’re not getting what you paid for, and that’s a failure of the marketplace,” Gardner said.

24/7 Wall St. has identified the major government actions and private lawsuits directed at companies on the basis of deceptive practices or false advertising. In order to be considered, a product had to be involved in some major settlement since the start of last year. We excluded incidents that were related to services rather than specific products, such as cases of predatory lending.

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These are nine of the most misleading product claims.

1. Sears’ Bamboo fabric
> Parent Company: Sears
> Ad changed: yes
> Settlement Amount: $475,000

Sears Holdings agreed to pay $475,000 and remove false advertising from its line of “100% pure bamboo” products, which were anything but. Sears was the find the most out of several large companies, including Amazon.com and Macy’s, that agreed to pay fines totaling nearly $1.3 million for violating for violating the Textile Products Identification Act last year. The FTC charged the companies for labelling clothing products as made of bamboo, when they were actually made of rayon. While using bamboo to make clothing is arguably “green,” rayon — a synthetic cellulose fiber — is manufactured using toxic chemicals in a process known for its hazardous byproducts, the FTC noted. These companies had previously received warnings from the FTC in 2010 but did not alter their marketing strategies until last year, when the settlement was reached.

2. Vibram FiveFinger
> Parent Company: Vibram USA
> Ad changed: Yes
> Settlement Amount: $3.75 million

So-called minimalist running gear has gained popularity in recent years, most notably the Vibram FiveFinger shoe, a close-fitting mimicry of the bare foot. The FiveFinger shoe’s initial reception was lukewarm. The glove-like shoe was simply too weird for many Americans.Since then, the market for minimalist shoes has boomed, due in part to the success of author Christopher McDougall’s best-selling book, “Born to Run,” which touted the benefits and freedom of barefoot running.While the best-selling book did not explicitly endorse FiveFinger shoes, Vibram sales soared after the book was released in 2009. However, following a recent settlement, Vibram has agreed to stop making any claims that its shoes strengthen muscles or prevent injuries, and has agreed to refund customers who bought its shoes. In its settlement, the company noted “Vibram expressly denied and continues to deny any wrongdoing alleged in the Actions, and neither admits nor concedes any actual or potential fault, wrongdoing or liability”

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3. Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats
> Parent Company: Kellogg
> Ad changed: Yes
> Settlement Amount: $4 million

Approximately five years ago, Kellogg claimed that “Eating a bowl of Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats cereal for breakfast is clinically shown to improve attentiveness by nearly 20%.” While Kellogg did not admit to false advertising, it did create a $4 million fund last year to reimburse misled customers who bought the cereal between January 2008 and October 2009. The agreement was part of a settlement in a class-action lawsuit charging Kellogg with false advertising. The company settled similar accusations in the past, when the FTC charged Kellogg with misleading health claims on its Rice Krispies cereal. Cereal boxes at that time claimed the food would boost immunity and provide essential portions of healthy nutrients.

4. Snapchat
> Parent Company: Snapchat
> Ad changed: Yes
> Settlement Amount: N/A

Snapchat is a smartphone application designed to send disappearing photos, or “snaps,” to friends. The FTC, however, charged the company for misleading consumers into believing the photos would actually disappear forever, when there are actually a number of simple ways to preserve the snaps. The FTC also accused the company of misrepresenting the extent to which it collected personal information, including geolocation data. This is not the first misstep for the company. Earlier this year, Snapchat leaked the phone numbers and names of millions of users. The incident was particularly embarrassing for the company as it dismissed a security warning it received shortly before the leak. In January, Snapchat finally apologized for the fiasco, detailing how it would prevent further abuse of its application.

5. Kashi
> Parent Company: Kellogg
> Ad changed: Yes
> Settlement Amount: $5 million

Earlier this month, Kellogg agreed to stop including terms such as “nothing artificial” and “all natural” on its Kashi brand of products. The agreement was part of a $5 million settlement filed at the beginning of May. The class action lawsuit accused Kellogg of misleading its customers with claims that its Kashi line of cereal contained “all natural” ingredients. The FDA currently has a vague definition of the term “natural.” According to the FDA, “From a food science perspective, it is difficult to define a food product that is ‘natural’ because the food has probably been processed and is no longer the product of the earth.” Kashi cereal contains pyridoxine hydrochloride, calcium pantothenate, and hexane-processed soy. According to The New York Times, “such ingredients do occur naturally,” but food companies often use synthetic versions of the ingredients.

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These Are the 10 Best-Selling Products of All Time

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

Creating the most popular product of the year will make consumers and investors happy. But making an all-time bestseller can transform an industry and define a business for decades.

Many of the best-selling products were first in a new category. Apple, which has sold more than 500 million iPhones, was the first to introduce a touchscreen smartphone that could seamlessly handle music, web browsing and phone calls. Other bestsellers took a niche market and made it mainstream. Before Star Wars, film was either comedy, romance or drama. The Harry Potter book series was so successful that The New York Times Book Review created a separate children’s bestseller list in 2000 to account for the series’ popularity.

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In some cases, top-selling products were a simply better than their competitors. Before the Sony PlayStation, video game consoles were largely cartridge-based. With the advent of the PlayStation, which relied on the new CD-ROM format, game files could be large enough to support 3D gameplay and full-motion video. Lipitor, which has become the world’s best-selling drug with $141 billion in sales, was far more effective than previously-released drugs at lowering bad cholesterol.

A number of these products continue to be dominate their markets. The iPad remains the world’s best-selling tablet, with a 32.5% market share last quarter, despite challenges from Amazon.com’s Kindle Fire and Samsung’s Galaxy tablet lines. The PlayStation 4 has sold over 7 million units since it launched last year, well above the Microsoft Xbox One.

Despite their success, some of these products face challenges. Sales of Pfizer’s Lipitor dropped each year after its maker, Pfizer, lost patent protection on the drug in 2011 and cheaper generic drugs came on the market. The ongoing Star Wars saga may lose its status as the all time best-selling movie franchise to Walt Disney’s Marvel Franchise. The Avengers broke box office records, grossing $203.4 million on its opening weekend.

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To determine the best-selling products of all-time, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed categories of products widely purchased by consumers and identified individual products that had the highest sales in their category.In some cases, we gathered figures from multiple sources and estimated the final sales figure. In other instances, where one company had a clear market lead, figures reflect data from previous years.

These are the best-selling products of all time.

1. PlayStation
> Category: Video game console
> Total sales: 344 million units
> Parent company: Sony

When Sony released the PlayStation in the United States in 1995, its 32-bit processor was the most powerful available on the console market at the time. Sony sold more than 70 million PlayStations worldwide by the time the PlayStation 2 was released in 2000. The PlayStation 2 also sold very well in the U.S. and abroad. Sony released the PlayStation 3 in 2006, and it sold 80 million units to retailers by November 2013. The latest generation, the PlayStation 4, has been wildly successful thus-far, already selling 7 million units as of April.

2. Lipitor
> Category: Pharmaceutical
> Total sales: $141 billion
> Parent company: Pfizer

Pfizer’s Lipitor is prescribed to lower LDL (or bad) cholesterol — high levels of bad cholesterol increase the risk of heart disease. Lipitor is classified as a statin, a class of drug used to reduce the risk of heart-related ailments. However, Lipitor sales have plummeted in recent years after its U.S. patent expired in 2011. Lipitor has lost patent protection in other major markets since. In 2013, Lipitor sales totaled $2.3 billion, down from $9.6 billion in 2011 according to Pfizer’s 2013 annual report. Still, since its introduction in 1997, no other drug came close to Lipitor’s commercial success. The closest competitor for all time sales is Plavix, which had slightly more than half of Lipitor’s lifetime revenue, according to Forbes.

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3. Corolla
> Category: Vehicle
> Total sales: 40.7 million units
> Parent company: Toyota (NYSE: TM)

Toyota announced last month it sold 1.2 million Corollas in 2013, a 5% year-over-year increase. Since its introduction in Japan in 1966 — the car became available in the U.S. in 1968 — Toyota has sold more than 40.7 million Corollas, more than any other car model. The Corolla’s success on the market is likely due to its reliability, relatively low gas mileage, and affordability. The newly redesigned 2014 Corolla is the model’s 11th generation, and it claims to have better gas mileage and a slightly larger interior. Brand new, the Corolla’s starting MSRP is $16,800.

4. Star Wars
> Category: Movies
> Total sales: $4.6 billion
> Parent company: 20th Century Fox

Only “Gone with the Wind” brought in more money than the original Star Wars movie. Combined, however, the original trilogy grossed $2.4 billion, accounting for inflation. When Star Wars: Episode I was released more than 20 years later, it grossed $675 million, considerably more than the later installments — episodes two and three — which each still grossed more than $400 million. In total, the Star Wars movies, including special editions and re-releases, grossed $4.6 billion adjusted for inflation in the U.S. While 20th Century Fox still owns the rights to the original Star Wars, Disney purchased the Star Wars universe — Lucasfilms — for $4 billion in 2012. Disney will release the final three movies under J.J. Abrams’ direction. The first of the three is scheduled to hit the box office in 2015.

5. iPad
> Category: Tablet
> Total sales: 211 million units
> Parent company: Apple

Despite losing market share in the first quarter, Apple’s iPad is still the best-selling tablet. The iPad held 40% of the tablet market in the first quarter of 2013, but only 32.5% in the first quarter of this year, according to market research firm IDC. Close rival Samsung picked up much of that market share. IDC analyst reported that iPad lost some of its market share because consumers are holding onto their tablets for longer rather than immediately purchasing the newest version. Apple sold 16.4 million units in the second quarter alone, and more than 211 million since the iPad was first introduced in 2010.

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10 Cities Where Americans Are Pretty Much Terrified to Live

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According to Gallup, 70.5% of Americans surveyed in 2012 and 2013 said they felt safe walking alone at night. This is effectively unchanged from 2011, when 71% of respondents said they felt safe.

In a number of metro areas, however, far fewer residents felt safe at night. In McAllen, Texas, where Americans were least likely to feel safe, less than half of all respondents were comfortable outside of their homes after dark. Based on data gathered by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, these are the 10 cities where Americans felt the least safe.

Seven of the 10 metro areas in which residents felt the least safe had violent crime rates above the nationwide rate of 386.9 incidents per 100,000 people in 2012. In the Memphis, Tenn., area, there were 1,056.8 violent crimes per 100,000 people, the most of any metro area in the country. Stockton, Calif., also had one of the highest violent crime rates in the nation, with 889.3 incidents per 100,000 residents.

But not all metro areas where residents felt unsafe had high violent crime rates. In two metro areas, McAllen and Yakima, Wash., there were just 319 and 349 violent incidents, respectively, for every 100,000 residents in 2012. In both cases, this was below the national rate.

Click here to see the cities where Americans don’t feel safe

24/7 Wall St. discussed the issue with John Roman, senior fellow at the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan think-tank based in Washington, D.C. “A fact of modern life [is] that people are bombarded with negative stories about crime,” Roman said. People “develop the perception that where they live, or wherever they like to go, isn’t safe.”

While concerns about safety may be somewhat misplaced in some areas, in others, such “perceptions of feeling unsafe are right on,” Roman added. In those areas, residents may feel unsafe because crime is underreported. In immigrant communities, because “people who are victimized are afraid to come forward and report it, there’s a hidden number of crime,” Roman explained.

However, in bigger cities, like Washington, D.C., New York and Dallas, “immigrant populations are thriving because they can do business with the local governments in Spanish. Those cities that are attracting a lot of first and second generation immigrants have really much lower crime rates than you’d expect,” said Roman.

Residents of areas who are less likely to feel safe tended to also struggle to afford adequate shelter. According to Gallup, the relationship between the concerns for personal safety and being able to afford housing is not coincidental. “The factors that contribute to both of these problems are often rooted in socioeconomic status and are likely traced back to poverty and the discontent that comes with it,” Gallup noted.

In fact, these areas also suffered from high poverty rates. Each of the 10 had a poverty rate greater than the national rate in 2012. In Fresno, Calif., and McAllen, 28.4% and 34.5% of the population lived below the poverty line that year. Both were among the highest rates for any metro area in the country.

However, Roman noted that the state of the local economy is often “less related than you might think it might be” to perceptions of safety. Instead, perceptions of where an area is heading might be more important. Certain parts of the country that are improving “might be poorer than average, but there’s a sense of optimism, there’s a sense of development,” he explained.

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Not surprisingly, residents in these areas also reported being unhappy with where they lived. Across the United States, 85% of residents told Gallup they felt satisfied with where they lived. In nine of the 10 metro areas where residents felt least safe, residents had lower satisfaction rates. In Stockton, just 73.3% of people surveyed were satisfied with the area, the second lowest rate in the country.

To determine the 10 metro areas where people felt most unsafe walking alone at night, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed figures from the Gallup-Healthways Well Being Index. Responses were collected for the index over 2012 and 2013. To determine how recorded crime rates actually aligned with citizens’ opinions of these areas, we considered figures published in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report for 2012. Unemployment rates are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for December 2013 and are seasonally adjusted. Other figures such as poverty rates, education and income are from the Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey. Population figures are from 2012 as well.

These are the cities where Americans don’t feel safe.

5. Modesto, Calif.
> Pct. feel safe at night: 54.2%
> Pct. without money for shelter: 14.2%% (10th highest)
> Violent crime rate: 549.4 per 100,000 (48th highest)
> Poverty rate: 20.3% (64th highest)
> Population: 523,330 (124th highest)

With relatively high crime rates, Modesto residents are not likely to feel completely at ease walking alone at night. Motor vehicle theft was particularly bad in the area, with more than 780 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2012, second worst nationwide. Like many metro areas where people feel unsafe, Modesto’s economy has been strained in recent years. The unemployment rate was an abysmal 12.3% at the end of last year, among the highest rates nationwide. More than one in five residents lived in poverty in 2012, also among the highest rates in the nation. More than 14% of respondents said they had enough money for shelter at all times in the past 12 months, among the worst rates in the country.

4. Columbus, Ga.-Ala.

> Pct. feel safe at night: 54.2%
> Pct. without money for shelter: 14.8% (7th highest)
> Violent crime rate: 437.4 per 100,000 (99th highest)
> Poverty rate: 18.7% (102nd highest)
> Population: 304,291 (182nd highest)

Like in many of the cities in which people do not feel safe, 14.8% of Columbus residents said that they did not have enough money for adequate shelter within the past year, among the 10 worst rates in the country. A high percentage of people in the area struggled economically. The area’s median household income was less than $43,000 in 2012, versus more than $51,000 nationwide. Additionally, the area had one of the nation’s highest portions of residents on food stamps, at 20.6% that year. The region also had 166.3 robberies per 100,000 people in 2012, among the highest rates in the nation, and 4,778.6 property crimes per 100,000 people, worse than all but just five other metro areas in the country.

3. Stockton, Calif.
> Pct. feel safe at night: 52.2%
> Pct. without money for shelter: 12.5% (tied for 34th highest)
> Violent crime rate: 889.3 per 100,000 (6th highest)
> Poverty rate: 18.4% (108th highest)
> Population: 702,670 (97th highest)

Stockton had 889 incidents of violent crime for every 100,000 residents in 2012, higher than all but a handful of metro areas nationwide. That year, there were 89 murders, or 12.7 per 100,000 residents, among the highest rates in the nation. Cases of aggravated assault and robbery were also extremely frequent. Violent crime was such a problem in Stockton that year that the city’s police declared a policy of immediately dispatching officers only in cases of violent crimes and crimes in progress. The city of Stockton, which is currently working on plans to exit from bankruptcy, has lost police officers in recent years due to a combination of layoffs and retirements. At the end of 2013, 12% of the area’s workforce was unemployed. While this was down from 16% two years before, it was still among the worst unemployment rates in the nation.

2. Yakima, Wash.
> Pct. feel safe at night: 51.3%
> Pct. without money for shelter: 12.5% (tied for 34th highest)
> Violent crime rate: 349.4 per 100,000 (172nd highest)
> Poverty rate: 23.1% (29th highest)
> Population: 249,564 (178th lowest)

While Yakima residents often felt unsafe walking home alone at night, the area’s violent crime rate was actually lower than the national rate. Property crime, however, remains a problem. Despite Yakima County’s Crimestoppers grassroots organization, which encourages citizens to report crimes, the area had 1,217.7 burglaries per 100,000 people in 2012, and 673.2 car thefts per 100,000 people, both among the highest rates in the country. Like most metro areas in which residents do not feel safe walking alone at night, Yakima is struggling economically. Nearly one-quarter of the area’s residents had to rely on food stamps for at least part of 2012, and 23.1% of residents lived in poverty in 2012 — both among the worst rates in the country.

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1. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas
> Pct. feel safe at night: 48.5%
> Pct. without money for shelter: 24.5% (the highest)
> Violent crime rate: 319.2 per 100,000 (160th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 34.5% (2nd highest)
> Population: 809,759 (90th highest)

McAllen was the only metro area in which less than half of all respondents felt safe walking home alone at night. This was despite the fact that McAllen actually had a lower violent crime rate than the United States overall in 2012, at just 319 incidents per 100,000 residents, versus 387 crimes for 100,000 residents nationally. However, violence along the border with Mexico remains a concern for many McAllen residents. The State Department warns against traveling to the neighboring city of Reynosa, Mexico, due to high levels of drug-related violence. Additionally, nearly 25% of residents stated they did not have enough money for adequate shelter at some point in the previous year, by far the most of any metro area. A lack of adequate shelter may be tied to the relatively low economic prosperity in the region. In 2012, 34.5% of residents lived below the poverty line, and the median household income was just $33,761, both among the worst in the nation.

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9 Most Ripped-Off Products in America

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Counterfeit products may cost the global economy up to $250 billion a year, according to estimates from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Millions of those shipments enter the United States.

While government agencies do their best to crack down on counterfeit goods, they only manage to catch a fraction of the fake products that enter the United States. Still, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) values that seized fraction at staggering amounts. The value of counterfeit goods seized rose by 38.1% in 2013, from $1.2 billion in 2012 to $1.7 billion last year.

Based on the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of the genuine versions of the counterfeit goods, some of the most valuable imitations were of handbags and wallets, watches and jewelry, and consumer electronics. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the nine most counterfeit items seized in 2013, based on their retail value.

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The value and number of seizures changes considerably from year to year, depending on what items were being counterfeited, as well as law enforcement activity. Therese Randazzo, director of CBP policy and programs on intellectual property rights, explained that, in some cases, increases in seizures are the result of such activity. In other cases, such as footwear, decreases in seizures can also reflect the success of prior campaigns by CBP and other agencies, she added.

In some cases, changes in the number and value of goods seized did not move in tandem. For instance, while the number of watches and jewelry seized remained roughly the same between 2012 and 2013, the value of those seizures rose by 169%. According to Randazzo, fluctuations will occur with luxury goods like handbags, watches and other types of jewelry in particular, because there is such a large range of values with these products.

Luxury items tend to be the most counterfeited products because they are more valuable, according to Randazzo. And with better counterfeiting methods, there is a greater challenge of detection as well as potential for even higher profits, she explained. Consumers can no longer take for granted obvious signs of imitation such as poor stitching or bad zippers. “Now, the quality [of fake products] has improved so dramatically that [criminals] have been able to charge at prices closer to the price of the genuine article.”

China’s role as manufacturer for a broad range of authentic products, as well as its intellectual property rights framework, may contribute to the country’s high levels of counterfeiting. About $1.2 billion of the $1.7 billion worth of imitations picked up by U.S. law enforcement agencies originated in mainland China. More than $400 million worth of seized goods came from Hong Kong, which CBP classified separately.

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The process and methods of detecting these counterfeiting operations is constantly evolving. The increased number of seizures in 2013, according to Randazzo, can be explained in part by new collaborative efforts between CBP and various partners, including China Customs, the customs agency for the People’s Republic of China. The success of such operations has resulted in a measurable increase in the number and value of seizures and the ability to target and intercept shipments of knock-off products, she added.

Based on information provided by the CBP, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the nine most counterfeited items seized by officials based on the MSRP of the genuine article. We looked at the number of shipments of each product type confiscated in both 2013 and 2012. We also reviewed CBP data by country to identify the value of counterfeit goods produced in specific countries.

These are the nine most counterfeited products in America.

4. Wearing Apparel/Accessories
> MSRP of seized goods: $116.2 million
> Pct. of total seized goods: 7%

Last year, the United States seized almost 10,000 shipments of counterfeit apparel and accessories, by far the most of any commodity and up 26.8% from the year before. In all, more than $116 million worth of such items were seized. Like with other goods, exactly what type of product is being counterfeited matters, Randazzo noted, with haute couture knockoffs assigned a higher MSRP than blue jeans, for example. Last year, the CBP, in conjunction with other federal and local agencies, conducted “Operation Red Zone,” which seized $17.3 million worth of fake sporting apparel — jerseys and ball caps — and other collectibles coinciding with the 2013 Super Bowl.

3. Consumer Electronics/Parts
> MSRP of seized goods: $145.9 million
> Pct. of total seized goods: 8%

The dollar amount of counterfeit consumer electronics products seized rose by 40% in 2013, to $145.9 million from $104.4 million in 2012. Further, consumer electronics comprised 8% of the total value of items seized last year, making it the third most frequently seized fake product. The number of seizures of counterfeit electronic products grew in conjunction with their total value. There were 5,656 such seizures in 2013, a 44% increase from the 3,928 seizures in 2012. According to a report by the CBP, one particularly big seizure in 2013 was by a joint CBP and China Customs operation. The two-month long operation resulted in 1,735 electronics shipments being seized, removing more than 243,000 counterfeit consumer electronic products from the market.

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2. Watches/Jewelry
> MSRP of seized goods: $502.8 million
> Pct. of total seized goods: 29%

The value of seized imitation watches and jewelry grew by 168.9% between 2012 and 2013, considerably more than that of any other commodity. In total, the value of watches seized was more than half a billion dollars in 2013. Last year, there were 1,729 seizures, 21% less than there were in 2012. Randazzo noted that the different trends in value and seizures may be a product “of what’s targeted and seized in a given year.” For example, fake versions of high-end watches, which retail for thousands of dollars, can boost the values of counterfeits seized. The Federation of Swiss Watch Industry estimated that some 120,000 imitation watches were seized worldwide in 2013.

1. Handbags/Wallets
> MSRP of seized goods: $700.2 million
> Pct. of total seized goods: 40%

Handbags and wallets were again the most seized counterfeited product, by MSRP, in 2013. The roughly 2,200 shipments seized had a total MSRP of more than $700 million, accounting for 40% of the total value of all goods seized. Because these products are valued so highly, a drop in total handbag and wallet seizures between 2012 and 2013 did not correspond with a drop in the market value of the items seized. In fact, while seizures fell by 17% in that time, the value of goods seized rose 37%, or by nearly $189 million. Randazzo explained that the retail value of the genuine goods can increase the value of the seized counterfeits considerably. While a fake Coach bag is often valued in the hundreds of dollars, “if we seize a counterfeit Hermes bag, the value …of some of those bags is thousands of dollars.” Most such counterfeits originate in mainland China, which alone accounted for more than half a billion dollars in fake purses last year, according to the CBP.

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9 Countries That Hate America Most

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Mar. 31, 2014. A giant American flag is unfurled on the field during ceremonies before the start of the game between the Washington Nationals and the New York Mets at Citi Field in Flushing Meadows, New York. Justin Lane—EPA

International approval of U.S. leadership improved last year, rising from of 41% in 2012 to 46% in 2013. This ended a downward trend in U.S. approval ratings, which had consistently declined since 2009.

While people around the world tended to have positive opinions of U.S. leadership, residents of some countries had a negative impression of the United States. In five nations, more than two-thirds of those surveyed disapproved of the current administration, according to the latest U.S.-Global Leadership Project, a partnership between Meridian International Center and Gallup.

Last year represented a major improvement for U.S. leadership, Ambassador Stuart Holliday, president and CEO of Meridian International Center, told 24/7 Wall St. There were several reasons for this, including a wind-down of America’s role in armed conflicts abroad. As a result, “The view that we are the major shapers of the world and our image as being the world’s policeman are fading,” Holliday said. An ongoing return to normalcy in the global economy, in which the United States plays an outsized role, has also helped, he added.

The United States has long-running political tensions with many nations that disapprove of the U.S. leadership. Among these is Iran, which has not had diplomatic relations with the U.S. since 1980, and whose nuclear ambitions and human rights violations are points of contention for the United States. In Pakistan, the U.S. has launched attacks against terrorists and insurgents inside the country. Most notable was the 2011 raid and killing of Osama bin Laden, which led to heightened tensions between the two nations.

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Another potential reason for high disapproval of U.S. leadership is the relationship with Israel. The U.S. State Department notes America was the first country to recognize Israel in 1948, and that “Israel has become, and remains, America’s most reliable partner in the Middle East.” Countries with long-running disputes with Israel — such as Lebanon and the Palestinian territories — also disapprove of U.S. leadership.

Ambassador Holliday noted the situation in the Middle East is also influenced by a lack of clarity over U.S. policy goals and, to some extent, perceptions of the U.S. government’s support of Israel. This is driven in large part by a 24/7 news cycle that chronicles every twist and turn of the peace process, Holliday added.

Several of the countries that dislike American leadership the most have also undergone recent political upheavals. Mass demonstrations in Tunisia, for example, set the tone in 2011 for what came to be known as the Arab Spring. There has also been considerable political upheaval in Egypt following the forced resignation and trial of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Mubarak was long considered a stable ally of the United States.

However, while it may be easy to conclude disapproval of U.S. leadership is largely limited to the Middle East and North Africa, this is not always the case. Most notably, in Slovenia, 57% of residents disapproved of U.S. leadership — despite the fact that the country is both a major ally in NATO and a member of the European Union.

But what Slovenia has in common with a number of other countries that disapprove of American leadership is the citizens’ negative opinion of their country’s government. In 2012, less than one-quarter of Slovenians had confidence in their own government, and a similar number lacked faith in their judicial system, lower than in the vast majority of the countries in the same region. Similarly, less than one-third of Pakistan and Iraq residents had confidence in their governments.

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America’s strong economy may also provoke resentment among residents of these countries. According to Jon Clifton, Managing Director of the Gallup World Poll, residents of many of these countries experience hardship and do not enjoy the kind of broad economic benefits seen in more developed countries. As a result, residents equate “U.S. leadership and the leadership of whatever the current economic order represents for them.”

GDP per capita in four of the nine countries that hate America the most was less than $10,000 last year. By contrast, U.S. gross domestic product totaled more than $50,000 per capita in 2013.

Limited access to basic needs may also add to the misery of the citizens in many countries that disapprove of the United States the most. Just 31% of Iraqis were satisfied with the quality of their drinking water in 2012, less than any of the 16 other peer countries in the Middle East and North Africa. In Slovenia, only 24% of residents said they were satisfied with the availability of good, affordable housing. This was less than in all but one other OECD nation.

To determine the countries that hate America most, 24/7 Wall St. relied on data from The U.S.-Global Leadership Project, a partnership between Gallup and the Meridian International Center. Gallup also provided data from a number of other indices it produced through polling in 2012. Additional economic information and estimates, including unemployment data, came from the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) 2013 World Economic Outlook. IMF figures on GDP per capita are given at purchasing-power-parity in order to show real differences in wealth. Data on life expectancy was provided by The World Bank.

These are the countries that hate America most.

5. Iraq
> Disapproval rating: 67.0%
> GDP per capita: $7,132 (79th lowest)
> Unemployment: N/A
> Life expectancy: 69 years (57th lowest)

The United States and Iraq have a long history of conflict. The Gulf War in 1991 was followed by the Iraq War, which began in 2003 and lasted until U.S. forces left Iraq in December 2011. Although the war has ended, the U.S. State Department warned that traveling to the country is extremely dangerous because of civil unrest and threat of kidnappings and terrorist attacks. The long-running presence of the U.S. military and the years of conflict, during which hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, including civilians, died have likely contributed to negative opinions of Americans. The new government has struggled since the war began. Many citizens disapprove of the regime of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who was elected to office in 2010 under a free election overseen by the United States. As of 2012, however, Iraqis were less likely to express confidence in their national government, military or judicial system than citizens of peer nations, and just 30% believed their country had fair elections — lower than in any country in the region.

4. Yemen
> Disapproval rating: 69.0%
> GDP per capita: $2,348 (38th lowest)
> Unemployment: N/A
> Life expectancy: 63 years (38th lowest)

More than 100 Yemeni citizens have been detained at Guantanamo Bay over the years. The United States also has been concerned over terrorist activity in Yemen. It is therefore no surprise that the two countries have a strained relationship and that nearly 70% of survey respondents disapproved of U.S. leadership. Also, just 9% of Yemenite respondents approved of U.S. leadership, less than in any other country reviewed by Gallup. The country suffers from a very poor economy, with GDP per capita at just $2,348 last year, among the very lowest in the world. According to the World Bank, more than half of the country’s population lived in poverty as of 2012. U.S. citizens are currently under advisory from the U.S. State Department to avoid traveling to Yemen due to the extremely high security threat level.

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3. Lebanon
> Disapproval rating: 71.0%
> GDP per capita: $15,832 (66th highest)
> Unemployment: N/A
> Life expectancy: 80 years (tied for 23rd highest)

Like many countries that disapprove of U.S. leadership, Lebanon has a long history of conflict with Israel. Hezbollah, a militant group and political party deemed a terrorist organization by the United States and European Union, has operated out of Lebanon for several decades. In February, Israeli forces bombed a Hezbollah convoy on the Syrian-Lebanese border. Hezbollah subsequently claimed responsibility for the roadside bombing of an Israeli patrol along the Lebanese-Israeli border in retaliation. The country is also strapped with debt. Its gross debt was nearly 143% of its GDP last year, the third highest in the world. According to a recent AP report, the country’s debt problem is compounded by corruption and a government unwilling to act. In 2012, 85% of residents stated that corruption was widespread, the most of any comparable country.

2. Pakistan
> Disapproval rating: 73.0%
> GDP per capita: $3,144 (48th lowest)
> Unemployment: 6.7% (47th lowest)
> Life expectancy: 66 (46th lowest)

While 73% of Pakistani respondents still disapproved of U.S. leadership in 2013, this was a six percentage points improvement over 2012. Relations with Pakistan have been tense since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States by al-Qaeda. Shortly after the attacks, the U.S. made Pakistan the base of its operations in its hunt for al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and the war on Afghanistan’s then-leadership, the Taliban. In 2009, a survey revealed that 59% of the Pakistani people viewed the United States as a bully and as a bigger threat than al-Qaeda. Further exacerbating the country’s negative view of the U.S. may be Pakistan’s struggling economy and poor governance. Just one in 10 Pakistanis said they lived comfortably on their incomes in 2012, according to Gallup, and only 23% of Pakistanis expressed confidence in their government.

1. Palestinian territories
> Disapproval rating: 80.0%
> GDP per capita: N/A
> Unemployment: N/A
> Life expectancy: 73 years (95th highest)

Four of five Palestinians disapproved of American leadership, by far the worst perception of the United States globally. One explanation for the country’s hostility toward the United States is Palestine’s conflict with Israel. Hamas, the organization that has effectively governed the Gaza Strip territory since 2007, is considered by the United States and European Union to be a terrorist organization. Possibly emphasizing the deep divides in the Palestinian territories, just 18% of respondents told Gallup the place they lived was a good place for racial and ethnic minorities in 2012, less than all but one other country in the region.

Read the rest of the list on 24/7 Wall St.

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TIME

9 CEOs With the Absolute Worst Reputations

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A good manager understands the contribution of his or her employees. In return, managers often receive the respect of their workers. And indeed, more than two-thirds of American employees approve — even like — their companies’ chief executive officers.

Some CEOs, however, are not popular with employees. At nine major companies, 40% or fewer employees gave their CEOs a positive review. Sears Holdings’ CEO, Edward Lampert, received positive reviews from just 20% of Sears employees and from just 26% of Kmart employees, the lowest rated CEO. Based on 24/7 Wall St.’s independent review of employee ratings provided by Glassdoor, these nine CEOs have the worst reputations.

According to Glassdoor spokesperson Scott Dobroski, “While this list was compiled by independent research by 24/7 Wall St., it’s clear that some CEOs may want to take note that their own employees feel they can improve when it comes to leadership.” 24/7 Wall St. identified a number of factors that can hurt a CEO’s reputation within his or her own company. These include a CEO’s propensity for humiliating the company in public, poor stewardship of the company and a compensation package that employees perceive to be excessive.

A number of CEOs have failed to represent their companies adequately in public. On some occasions, a CEO’s public conduct was nothing more than a nuisance, while in other instances it became a liability for the company. Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Michael Jeffries is an infamous example of the latter. His comments about the retailer’s target audience — “cool, good-looking people” with “washboard stomachs” — have created negative feelings. Both the press and general public heaped scorn on Jeffries for his blatant lack of sensitivity and the company’s customer discrimination.

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Many of the CEOs with poor reputations also ran their companies poorly. Xerox CEO Ursula Burns has repeatedly claimed the company’s 2010 buyout of Affiliated Computer Services would rekindle Xerox’s years of flagging fortunes. Instead, Xerox’s services business has faltered and revenue flattened. The acquisition’s once-prized assets have barely turned out to be valuable at all. Less than one-third of Xerox employees gave Burns a positive review.

One measure of stewardship is the evaluations employees gave their companies. Companies run by the CEOs on this list received scores of less than 3 out of 5 as an overall company rating, indicating workers were unhappy with their jobs and the companies. Employees of Sears Holdings’ Kmart stores gave their company just a 2.0 overall rating.

Dobroski noted that the relationship between overall rating and CEO approval was not a surprise to him. “The same is conversely true for the top [rated CEOs]. CEOs with high approval ratings tend to lead companies with higher than average satisfaction ratings as well.” According to Dobroski, this is because “leadership and the tone for the company going forward is generally set at the top and then trickles down to the rest of the company.”

Layoffs can also breed animosity toward management among employees. Since the beginning of 2013, GameStop has closed 500 stores. It is unlikely that company CEO J. Paul Raines is popular with current and former employees for that decision.

Other cuts can have a similarly negative effect on employee morale. Last year, Forever 21, run by CEO and founder Do Won Chang, cut employee benefits and moved a number of workers from full-time to part-time status. The company denied this was intended to limit some employees from working more than 30 hours per week — which would have required the retailer to provide workers with health coverage as part of the Affordable Care Act.

Continued store cuts at Sears Holdings, which are central to the company’s plans to streamline operations, may also create negative feelings toward management among workers.

Extravagant pay can also lead employees to resent their CEOs. The three members of the Dillard family who run Dillard’s not only serve as management, but they also control the company’s board. The three brothers were paid a total of more than $58 million between 2011 and 2013. With a share price that has risen dramatically in recent years, from just a few dollars to nearly $100, investors may feel this money has been earned. It is unlikely that employees were as enthusiastic.

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The chief executives with the worst reputations may want to look at their more popular counterparts at other companies to determine how they can improve and win over their employees. According to Dobroski, well-liked executives focus on “clearly communicating their vision, including being transparent about where the company is going, how they’re going to get there, and how each employees plays a vital role in this.”

However, for many executives there is little incentive to improve those perceptions without direct intervention from the stockholders. Despite the company’s weak financial performance, and his own rash statements, Abercrombie & Fitch’s Jeffries only stepped down as chairman of the board after hedge fund Engaged Capital launched a campaign to split the roles of CEO and chairman. Sears Holdings’ Lampert not only serves in both these roles, but he also engineered the 2005 merger of Sears, Roebuck & Co. and Kmart, widely considered to be a failure. Additionally, ESL Investments, Lampert’s investment fund, owned 48.5% of all shares outstanding as of March 19.

In order to identify the CEOs with the worst reputations, 24/7 Wall St. examined employee reviews at Glassdoor. To be considered, companies had to have a minimum of 500 reviews. Of the more than 225 companies with more than 500 comments, 24/7 Wall St. identified the nine CEOs with the lowest favorable reviews — 40% or lower. Positive reviews of Eddie Lampert, CEO of Sears Holdings and subsidiary Kmart, were both below 40%. Reviews of Michael Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch and subsidiary Hollister, were also both below 40%. Data on average wages by position were also from Glassdoor. Additionally, we reviewed financial statements from these companies, where available, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Employee counts are from companies’ own financial statements, as well as Yahoo! Finance. Estimates of employee counts of Forever 21, a privately held company, were taken from Forbes.

4. Ursula M. Burns
> Company: Xerox
> CEO rating: 30%
> Company rating: 2.74
> Years as CEO: 5
> No. of employees: 140,000

Ursula Burns made headlines in 2009 when she became the first African-American woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Burns has been exceptionally visible during her tenure, making frequent public appearances even as the company’s prospects have faltered. Burns pushed for the $6.4 billion acquisition of Affiliated Computer Services that closed in 2010, claiming it would help the business. Xerox Corp. (NYSE: XRX), though, has yet to see any substantial benefit from the deal. Late last year, the company called the police prior to announcing 168 layoffs at its Cary, N.C., facility, noting they “were expecting trouble.” It was the second round of a total of roughly 500 layoffs. This treatment of employees stands in contrast to how the board treats Burns, awarding her an average of $13 million a year between 2010 and 2012. One former employee, commenting on Glassdoor, said, “Most upper management have received salary increase over the last 6 years, but staff has not.”

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3. Do Won Chang
> Company: Forever 21
> CEO rating: 26%
> Company rating: 2.4
> Years as CEO: 30
> No. of employees: 30,000

Under founder and CEO Do Won Chang’s leadership, Forever 21 employees commented on Glassdoor that they receive minimum wage, often have to work late into the night and get very little time off. Chang has often received attention for his actions over the years. In August, a company memo sent to employees stated that salaries and benefits would be cut, which many suspected was done in order to avoid paying health benefits as mandated by the Affordable Care Act. He also decided to have a reference to a Bible passage, John 3:16, sewn to the bottom of the retailer’s carrying bags, which may not sit well with some of his employees and customers. Former employees on Glassdoor claim that they have been threatened with termination if they called in sick.

2. Bill Dillard II
> Company: Dillard’s
> CEO rating: 24%
> Company rating: 2.4
> Years as CEO: 16
> No. of employees: 38,900

Like many of the companies run by unpopular CEOs, Dillard’s Inc. (NYSE: DDS) retail employees are paid poorly. According Glassdoor, a sales associate can expect to make $10.72 per hour. In contrast, the three family members of the clothing retailer who control the company, William Dillard II, the CEO, the company’s president, Alex Dillard, and its executive vice president, Mike Dillard, have paid themselves a total of $54 million over three years between 2010 and 2012. Bill Dillard II also did not win over employees when the company settled a class action disability discrimination lawsuit brought by former employees for $2 million in 2012. The company allegedly forced employees to reveal confidential medical information in order to be allowed sick days. Employees are under pressure to meet a sales quota that many of them have labeled as unrealistic. One current sales associate stated on Glassdoor, “Sales quotas are not entirely reasonable. Hard work doesn’t always pay off, especially if no one is in the store.”

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1. Edward S. Lampert
> Company: Sears Holdings (Sears/Kmart)
> CEO rating: 20%
> Company rating: 2.5
> Years as CEO: 1
> No. of employees: 226,000

Lampert created Sears Holdings Corp. after coordinating the merger of retail giants Kmart and Sears, Roebuck & Co. nearly a decade ago. Since then, Lampert has served as chairman of the holding company, and recently took up the role of CEO as well. Lampert controls nearly half of all shares through his fund ESL Investments. Sears has continued to flounder under Lampert, who has repeatedly spun off its various assets and stores into independent entities, including Land’s End and Sears Automotive. Same-store sales, revenue and earnings have all continued to disappoint. A Businessweek profile of the company last year criticized Lampert for pitting divisions against one another. This, according to the article, has discouraged divisions from collaborating. According to one reviewer on Glassdoor, “communication from top levels is weak,” a common complaint for the CEOs with the worst reputations.

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Here Are the 15 Highest-Paying Companies in America

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A surprising No. 1

Median income for Americans was $34,750 in 2012. At some companies, however, the median is more than five times the national number. Based on figures provided by Glassdoor, 24/7 Wall St. examined the highest-paying companies in America.

The companies that pay their employees the most fall primarily into two industries: management consulting firms and tech companies. These companies employ graduates of elite schools who have skills that are in high demand and have high salary expectations to match.

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Consultancies can afford to pay high salaries. Generally, they are high-margin businesses, relying on a relatively small workforce to generate revenues. McKinsey & Co. and Boston Consulting Group, two consultancies that pay big salaries, continue to draw interest from business school students as they compete with some of the nation’s largest public companies to recruit top performers. According to Forbes, 2013 revenue at McKinsey & Co. was $7.8 billion, generated by only 17,000 employees.

For tech companies, maintaining the talent pool requires paying very high salaries to bring in software developers and engineers. According to a study by Glassdoor published last year, the six companies that paid engineers the most included Juniper Networks, LinkedIn, Yahoo!, Google, Twitter and Apple — all of which were among the top 15 highest-paying companies overall.

Many of the highest-paying companies in America are also listed in Glassdoor’s 2014 Best Places to Work. Most notably, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google are all among the top 15 paying companies, as well as among the top 10 places to work based on employee reviews. Apple, Salesforce.com, Chevron, Riverbed Technology and eBay are also among the 30 best-paying companies and the top 50 places to work.

Many of the companies paying the highest salaries are headquartered in some of the wealthiest metro areas in the country. Boston, the fifth-wealthiest metro area by median income, is home to Boston Consulting Group. San Francisco, the nation’s fourth-wealthiest such area, is home to four of the top payers, including both design and engineering software-maker Autodesk and social networking company Twitter.

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But no metro area is home to more top-paying companies than the San Jose area, where Apple, Google, LinkedIn, Yahoo! and Juniper Networks are all headquartered. San Jose topped the nation with a median household income of $79,841 in 2012.

To identify the companies paying employees the most, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from Glassdoor on median annual salaries by company, as well as job reviews and average salaries for specific positions. We also examined Glassdoor’s 2014 study on the Best Places to Work. In addition, we reviewed 2012 median salaries by occupation from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

These are the highest-paying companies in America:

1. Apogee Medical
> Median salary: $220,000
> Number of employees: 750 (no. of physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants)
> Sector: Manufacturing
> Headquartered: Phoenix, Ariz.

Apogee Medical pays its employees a median annual salary of $220,000 — the best in the country. It is likely that the salaries are high because the company is the largest physician-owned hospitalist group in the country. Hospitalists — physicians who provide comprehensive care to hospitalized patients — are Apogee’s highest-paid employees, making an average of $215,000 per year. According to the company’s website, Apogee employs more than 750 physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, all of which earn more than $100,000 a year. The company also offers a variety of opportunities to improve professionally, including its “Apogee University” program, which is available to all employees.

2. Boston Consulting Group
> Median salary: $143,750
> Number of employees: 6,200
> Sector: Business services
> Headquartered: Boston, Mass.

Top management consulting firms generally pay handsome salaries, and that is especially true at Boston Consulting Group (BCG), which pays a median of $143,750 per year. This is well above the median annual salary $114,000 for a management consultant in Boston. The company, which employs nearly 5,000 consultants in 75 offices in 42 countries, consults top management at companies in virtually every sector. With nearly $4 billion in revenue in 2013, BCG is one of the richest management consultants in the world. In addition to a comparably lucrative salary, the firm offers employees a variety of benefits that most companies do not give, according to Workforce Magazine. BCG picks up the full tab on health care premiums for its employees, and it pays its consultants to engage in nonprofit work.

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3. Booz & Company
> Median salary: $140,000
> Number of employees: 3,000+
> Sector: Business services
> Headquartered: New York City, N.Y.

Booz & Company, a global management consulting firm, has been recognized around the world as one of the best firms both for its performance and its treatment of its employees. While the company did not fare well on Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work list this year, employees seem very pleased, citing numerous opportunities for advancement and competitive salaries on Glassdoor. While senior business consultants in New York City earn slightly more than $100,000 a year, they are paid some $140,000 a year at Booz & Co. PricewaterhouseCoopers recently completed a deal to purchase Booz & Co., although whether the business will continue as a standalone brand or adopt the PwC moniker has not yet been announced.

4. A.T. Kearney
> Median salary: $135,000
> Number of employees: 3,200
> Sector: Business services
> Headquartered: Chicago, Ill.

Management consulting firm A.T. Kearney was among the companies where the most business school graduates wanted to work, according to Fortune. One of the likely reasons for this is the pay — the median annual salary at the Chicago firm is $135,000. Comparably, the median annual salary for management consultants in Chicago is $110,365. Generous compensation, however, is not the company’s only draw. The company was also named as one of the Best Places for Diverse and Women Managers to Work by Diversity MBA magazine and Fortune’s “100 Top MBA Employers” in 2013.

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5. Juniper Networks
> Median salary: $134,218
> Number of employees: 9,483
> Sector: Information technology
> Headquartered: Sunnyvale, CA

Unlike many of the best-paying companies in Silicon Valley, Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) is not a consumer electronics, software or social media company. The networking equipment company sells its services and products — including its Junos network operating system — to carriers, cable companies and Internet service providers, among others. Employees working in similar companies may often be well compensated — the median pay for computer network architects in 2012 was $91,000. Juniper is certainly no slouch where pay is concerned. Software and systems engineers at Juniper were paid well more than $100,000 per year.

6. Visa Inc.
> Median salary: $130,000 (tied for 6th highest)
> Number of employees: 9,500
> Sector: Finance
> Headquartered: Foster City, Calif.

Based on the relatively low employee satisfaction score on Glassdoor, many employees find Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) a difficult place to work. However, the company makes up for it by paying higher salaries than its two closest competitors. The average salary for a number of positions at Visa is well over $100,000 a year. By contrast, neither of Visa’s chief rivals, American Express and MasterCard, was listed among the top-paying companies by Glassdoor. Visa also offers perks to employees beyond the typical benefits package. Those include free group exercise classes and benefits to workers who commute via public transportation, walking or bike riding.

7. LinkedIn
> Median salary: $130,000 (tied for 6th highest)
> Number of employees: 5045
> Sector: Information technology
> Headquartered: Mountain View, Calif.

LinkedIn Corp. (NYSE: LNKD) is the highest-paying social network to work for, with salaries that outpace those of both Twitter and Facebook. The company pays software engineers and data scientists salaries that can frequently exceed $150,000 per year. Also, like its competitors, LinkedIn ranks as one of the top companies to work for, according to Glassdoor. Employees noted in their reviews that “this company has an amazing culture!” and that the company “truly cares about its employees, providing opportunities for professional growth and career transformation.”

8. Autodesk
> Median salary: $128,000
> Number of employees: 7,300
> Sector: Business services
> Headquartered: San Francisco, Calif.

Autodesk Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK) is one of the highest-paying companies in the area of software engineering. The company, which specializes in cloud servicing software, is located in San Francisco and had revenue of $2.31 billion in 2013. While the median salary of a software engineer in the United States was $87,100 in 2012, the average salary of a software engineer at Autodesk is $106,959 a year. In addition to generous health and retirement benefits, the company offers employees six weeks paid sabbaticals for every four years of employment, as well as the week off between Christmas and New Year’s Day. One of its unusual benefits is to offer employees assistance in the costs of adopting a child.

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9. Walmart eCommerce
> Median salary: $125,000 (tied for 9th highest)
> Number of employees: 2,000,000 (1,500 in Walmart eCommerce)
> Sector: Retail
> Headquartered: San Bruno, CA

While Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) has been frequently criticized for the low pay of its retail employees, the company is by no means afraid to pay for talent. The company continues to invest aggressively in its online business, with the hopes of catching up to online retail giant Amazon.com. To do so, the world’s largest retailer has had to pay for workers in software development, where the national median salary was $87,100 in 2012. This was far higher than the median earnings of the company’s retail sales workers of slightly less than $20,000 annually. And Walmart eCommerce doesn’t just pay these engineers the national median but far above it. At $125,000 per year, the pay of engineers at Walmart is comparable to pay at tech companies such as Google and Twitter.

10. Google
> Median salary: $125,000 (tied for 9th highest)
> Number of employees: 47,756
> Sector: Information technology
> Headquartered: Mountain View, Calif.

Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) is one of the world’s most valuable companies as measured by market cap, and employees often reap the rewards. Software engineers, product managers and research scientists often earn salaries running well above $100,000 per year, according to Glassdoor. Google is well-known for not sparing any expense to recruit the best talent available. Employees receive a wide range of perks, including on-site medical care and its famous “20% time” — in which employees can work on whatever projects they want. An added perk for some employees is the opportunity to work with a number of the world’s leading thinkers, including chief economist Hal Varian and director of engineering Ray Kurzweil. It is hardly any wonder the company was ranked eighth on Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work.

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TIME

Here Are the 5 Companies Making a Killing Off Wars Around the World

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Global military spending was down in 2012 for the first time since 1998. And for the second year in a row, arms sales from private industry to governments were down as well last year.

Despite the decline in military spending, the business of war remains a good one. The 100 largest arms producers and military services contractors recorded $395 billion in arms sales in 2012. Lockheed Martin, the largest arms seller, alone accounted for $36 billion in such sales during 2012. Based on figures compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), 24/7 Wall St. examined the 10 companies profiting most from war.

The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan is among the biggest reasons for the drop in military spending, according to SIPRI. Spending on these campaigns fell from $159 billion to $115 billion between 2011 and 2012.

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Austerity also contributed to cuts in military spending. Budget control measures were responsible for a $15 billion reduction in U.S. military expenditures in 2012. Belt-tightening in Europe also had an impact on arms sales. In 20 of the 37 countries in Western and Central Europe, military spending declined by more than 10% between 2008 and 2012.

In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Dr. Samuel Perlo-Freeman, director of the SIPRI Programme on Military Expenditure and Arms Production, said that while government military spending is waning in the United States and Western Europe, many developing countries are increasing their expenditures. Arms sellers in several countries, most notably Russia, are benefiting from their nation’s military budget expansion, Perlo-Freeman noted. While U.S. military expenses declined in 2012, Russia’s increased by an estimated 16% that year.

Companies reacted differently to the sales downturn. L-3 Communications spun off part of its business in 2012 to limit exposure to declining government military spending. Other government contractors wrote off significant losses in response to decreased military spending, including General Dynamics, which took a $2 billion goodwill charge related to declining opportunities in the defense sector.

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Faced with possible tough times, some companies have engaged in corrupt practices. Last year, the CEO of Italian aerospace and defense firm Finmeccanica was charged by Italian prosecutors with fraud and corruption related to the company’s sale of helicopters to the Indian government. However, according to Perlo-Freeman, this is nothing new. “The arms industry has always been associated with corruption both in international arms transfers and sometimes in domestic procurement.”

Arms sales have remained concentrated among the same small number of companies for more than a decade. The top 10 companies have largely remained in place because industry consolidation in the 1990s made them dominant players, even through fluctuations in government military spending. “These companies tend to have their core competencies in getting money out of governments,” Perlo-Freeman said.

To identify the 10 companies profiting most from war, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 companies with the most arms sales based on SIPRI’s list of the top 100 arms sellers in 2012. Arms sales, including advisory, planes, vehicles and weapons, were defined by sales to military customers, as well as contracts to government militaries. We also considered the company’s 2012 total sales and profits, and the total number of employees at the company, as well as nation-level military spending, all provided by SIPRI.

These are the companies profiting the most from war:

5. General Dynamics
> Arm sales 2012: $20.9 billion
> Total sales 2012: $31.5 billion
> 2012 profit: -$332 million
> 2012 employment: 92,200

Like many of its defense-sector competitors, Virginia-based General Dynamics Corp. (NYSE: GD) felt the sting of the decreased U.S. military spending. The company, which specializes in aircraft, land and expeditionary combat vehicles, and shipbuilding, lost $332 million in 2012, and its arms sales totaled $20.9 billion, down from $23.3 billion the year before. The loss was due, in large part, to a $2 billion goodwill charge related to declining business opportunities in the defense sector. In its most recent year, the company reported a 16.4% drop in sales in its combat systems group, for which the U.S. Army is major customer.

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4. Raytheon
> Arm sales 2012: $22.5 billion
> Total sales 2012: $24.4 billion
> 2012 profit: $1.9 billion
> 2012 employment: 67,800

While Raytheon’s 2012 arm sales of $22.5 billion were slightly lower compared to 2011, they remained high enough for the company to rank fourth among arms companies. The company, which traces its history back to 1922, assisted the United States in multiple wars, as well as the Apollo 11 moon landing. Raytheon Co. (NYSE: RTN) provides services in a variety of fields, from air and missile defense to radar and cybersecurity. In all, 92% of the company’s sales came from arms sales in 2012. But while the U.S. has cut defense spending in recent years, Raytheon has benefited from a surge in exports to foreign countries, which has helped to offset federal government belt-tightening.

3. BAE Systems
> Arm sales 2012: $26.9 billion
> Total sales 2012: $28.3 billion
> 2012 profit: $2.6 billion
> 2012 employment: 88,200

BAE Systems is the largest non-U.S. military contractor. It had $26.9 billion in arms sales in 2012, which represented some 95% of the company’s total sales. However, the British company’s year-over-year arms sales declined that year from $29.2 billion in 2011. Cuts by England’s Ministry of Defence have taken a toll on the company. As the U.K.’s largest military contractor, it received 13.7% of procurement funds spent in 2012 to 2013. In May 2012, the company announced it would close its Armstrong plant — which made tanks for the nation in World War I and had been in operation since 1847 — and cut 330 jobs as a result. BAE’s failed $45 billion merger with fellow defense contractor EADS in 2012 also hurt prospective sales of England’s main fighter jet, the British Tornado, for which BAE makes the parts.

2. Boeing
> Arm sales 2012: $27.6 billion
> Total sales 2012: $81.7 billion
> 2012 profit: $3.9 billion
> 2012 employment: 174,400

Although arms sales accounted for just 34% of Boeing’s revenue in 2012, Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) was still the world’s second largest military contractor that year. In all, the company’s total revenue was nearly $82 billion in 2012. The company’s commercial airplane segment accounted for a large portion of its sales, with $49.1 billion in revenue that year. Boeing ended 2012 with $3.9 billion in profit and with more than 174,400 employees. Last year, Boeing and union workers in Washington state engaged in heated negotiations, with Boeing threatening to move jobs away from the state unless union workers agreed to concessions related to their pension plan.

1. Lockheed Martin
> Arm sales 2012: $36 billion
> Total sales 2012: $47.2 billion
> 2012 profit: 2.7 billion
> 2012 employment: 120,000

In 2012, Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT) led the world in arms sales, even as its arms sales declined slightly from $36.2 billion in 2011 to $36 billion in 2012. Such sales accounted for 95% of the Maryland company’s total revenue. The company, which employed 120,000 workers as of 2012, specializes in aerospace, global security and information technology systems for the military. It is also known for the C-5 Galaxy Class airplane — the largest air military transport plane in the world. Lockheed Martin has been the largest recipient of government procurement contracts and the top-ranked company on the Washington Technology Top 100 for 19 consecutive years. However, this has also left the company exposed to changes in the federal budget. In October 2012, at the request of President Obama, the company held off on firing thousands of workers that it previously warned it would have to lay off due to military spending cuts.

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