What your business can learn from the boom in online gaming

It’s predicted that the sector will be worth around £119 billion by the end of 2015 – its time to level up or it could be game over.

Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store are packed with a range of games that you can play on the go, from farm-themed sagas to fantasy football, word games to world building. There are a huge number of lessons that small businesses of any type can take from the burgeoning online and mobile gaming market.

Break free

One of the major conundrums that online game makers face is how to make money from their products, when most users expect to get games and apps for free.

A popular solution to this is the “freemium” model, which involves offering most of the content for free, but providing extra features or functionality that you can pay to access.
It’s interesting to think about how this model can be applied to other business types.

If you’re struggling to sign up paying customers, consider offering a core service for free (or a low price). Once you’ve got people using your service or buying your products, you could create ‘premium’ options, or additional services that your customers can pay to add.

Mobile matters

Games and apps are so popular because they’re in your pocket and you can access them whenever you need them. You can download a taxi app while you’re waiting for a bus in the rain, or launch your translation app at the very moment when your language knowledge fails.

This provides an important lesson for businesses: access to your products should be easy, instant, and mobile. Not every business needs an app, but you should still make your content and website mobile-friendly and consider mobile as a key advertising channel.

A recent study by Marin Software showed that mobile devices now account for 50% of ad clicks. Plus, the cost per click is usually lower than for desktop and tablets.

Fun amp; games

It’s clear that brand connection and customer loyalty can be built through games, this could be something to apply to your own business.

If it’s appropriate to the type of industry that you operate in, you could run competitions, create interactive content related to your trade, or even engage your existing customers in simple quizzes or competitions. This can also be a good way of gathering interesting customer data.

You can gamify your business internally with great success – to make staff training and compliance procedures more engaging, or to create an interactive and unintimidating way of sharing improvement ideas.


Online games are a great way to reach young audiences. Websites such as Twitch attract hundreds of thousands of viewers each day tuning in to watch people play games online.

Young audiences are getting harder to reach and shun traditional forms of advertising. Many brands are partnering with popular streamers to promote their products alongside all the action of popular online games such as League of Legends and mobile powerhouse Hearthstone. This way businesses are able to reach an audience when they are most receptive, in a time of fun and relaxation for positive reinforcement of their message.

Corporate Reputation Management Vs. Employee Privacy

Law360, New York (July 29, 2015, 12:39 PM ET) — Social media has made corporate brand and reputation management more challenging, while at the same time fundamentally altering an employees privacy profile. Information posted by or about an employee can have a deeply negative impact on a companys image, and the rapidity of its spread can be astounding. Companies are responding by more carefully monitoring employees, including employees presence on social media.

The advent of big data allows companies to rapidly analyze large amounts of information and sift out the data relevant to its own employees,…

Manatee schools budget grows by $42 million

The value of all real properties taxed by the Manatee County School District rose from $27.9 billion last year to $30.5 billion in 2015, a 9.27 percent jump.

Much of that additional money will be spent accommodating 900 to 1,000 new students expected to enroll during the upcoming school year.

But the tax rate paid by property owners will decrease slightly, from 7.367 mills to 7.267 mills. If a home costs $250,000, the 7.267 millage rate would translate to $1,816.75 paid annually in school district property taxes.

Don Hall, the Manatee districts deputy superintendent of operations, said Monday that even though the millage rate is lower, some homeowners could pay more in school property taxes than they did last year.

An increase in property values can result in an increase in property taxes, Hall said.

That extra money generated from rising property values will do little to cushion the districts bank accounts.

In 2016, district officials and school board members will likely ask voters to approve several revenue increasing options including a millage hike, a bond and extending the sales tax.

Without the additional money, Hall said the district would have to find ways to close gaps between state funding and the costs of operating a school district. Even though the district is expected to keep a positive fund balance of $13 million to $14 million every year as required by state law funding for staff and programs continues to dwindle.

Thats where we see deficits, if the state continues to under-fund education, Hall said.

Although Manatee County educates about 5,000 more students than Sarasota County, the Sarasota districts tentative budget is $100 million larger. That is largely because Sarasota County has higher property values and because voters extended a 1 mill referendum in 2010 that pours adds about $48 million to its coffers each year.

Big US Cities Lead the Way in Economic Recovery

Bigger is better for American cities these days.

That is one of the findings in a new report from the National League of Cities that looks at the economic health of cities across the country.

Overall, cities have seen marked improvement in their economic well-being from a couple of years ago. Forty percent of mid-sized cities with a population of 100,000 to 299,999 reported that local economic conditions had greatly improved during the past year. That is compared with just 20% of cities with fewer than 50,000 residents.

No big cities with populations over 300,000 reported that economic conditions had worsened over the last year and 23% said they had improved greatly. Meanwhile, 5% of cities with populations under 50,000 said that they had worsened slightly or greatly.

Attorney sends letter to halt relocation of Lexington Probation and Parole office

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) – An attorney representing several business and property owners near Palomar Centre sent a letter on Thursday to city and state officials, asking for crews to suspend work on relocating Lexingtons probation and parole office until the public has an opportunity to offer feedback on the plan.

The office is moving from its current location downtown on West Main Street to a building on Wellington Way, near Palomar Centre off Harrodsburg Road.

Neighbors, business owners, 10th District Councilwoman Amanda Bledsoe and state Rep. Stan Lee (R-Lexington) have raised questions about the proposed move. Several neighbors said they were concerned about their property values and a potential increase in crime.

They have specifically questioned how the move could be made without notifying neighbors, and some wonder about its proximity to a daycare, bus stop, restaurants, stores and homes.

We want to have a conversation about whether its appropriate in this neighborhood, and we want to have a conversation about whether there could have been some better options, and we think its important to have the publics input on that, said Jacob Walbourn, an attorney representing several business and property owners who live near the new office.

Walbourn sent a letter dated July 30 to Commissioner Derek Paulsen with Lexington-Fayette Planning, Preservation and Development, as well as another letter to Secretary J. Michael Brown with the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, asking for the work on the building to stop, because neighbors were not notified and public input was not sought in planning to relocate the office.

Neighbors remain unhappy about the new location, saying it is simply too close to their homes. Two dozen neighbors showed up to tell WKYTs Garrett Wymer that they do not want it there.

Its ridiculous! said Bo Lanter, who lives nearby. Youve got I dont know how many kids in this subdivision that always walk across to Orange Leaf and McDonalds and Walmart. Would you let your kids walk past a parole office?

Neighbors are also angry they were never notified of plans to put the office there.

I didnt know if they just expected us to wake up one morning and see a bunch of felons outside our door and just be happy about it, but were not, said Jeff Rager, who also lives nearby.

WKYT reached out to the city of Lexington for a response to receiving Walbourns letter. A spokesperson said it is a state issue, and concerns should be addressed to the state.

A spokesperson with Kentuckys Justice and Public Safety Cabinet did not return a request for response on Thursday afternoon.

In his letter to city and state officials, Walbourn writes, As you are certainly aware, KRS Chapter 100 imposed certain requirements on governmental entities with regards to zoning and land use law.

He asks for work at the new office location to stop unless and until there is compliance with the relevant statutes.

The public facility review is a statutorily mandated process that ensures that voice of the public is heard, Walbourn writes. It is vital that this process is complied with strictly, and we request your assistance in effecting such compliance.

Walbourn told WKYTs Garrett Wymer on Thursday that he hopes the parties involved will be able to meet by early next week to figure out how to move forward.

Were not looking to be combative, Walbourn said. Were willing to talk through this process and find agreeable solutions for everyone. We have tremendous respect for probation and parole. But we want to make sure all the correct formalities are observed, and the public has the opportunity to be heard.

Neighbors also pointed out Kentucky Department of Corrections own policy and procedures in stating they should have been notified out of courtesy.

According to Construction, Renovation and Expansion Guidelines in Policy No. 7.1, All new facilities shall be planned with close communication and participation from the community where such facility is planned to be located.

The language states explicitly that the policy applies to all institutions and Probation and Parole.

In an email to WKYT on Wednesday, when WKYT first reported the states plan to relocate the probation and parole office, Department of Corrections Public Information Officer Lisa Lamb said the department has been in the process of relocating the office for a number of years due to the deteriorating condition of the building, and because they have outgrown the current space.

“In 2010, the building was required to evacuate after the Fire Department and the Building Inspector’s office determined three steel support posts had fallen and appeared that there were additional beams that were failing. In addition to structural issues, in January 2015 the Probation and Parole Safety Officer requested an inspection from the LFUCG code enforcement to review the safety of the building due to roof leaks, bursting pipes, and electrical concerns. The Lexington Probation and Parole office has inhabited this space since 1985. In 2012, staff from the Planning and Utilization Branch conducted an inspection that revealed that agency employees were doubled up (or more) in a number of offices and other areas. The report also confirmed the initial space design and subsequent expansions/modifications of the lease have produced conditions where a total renovation of the property could be necessary to accommodate current staff levels in appropriate space. In addition, the present facility includes space on three floors which results in duplication of certain areas (reception areas, copy stations, etc.) that reduces the amount of space available for staff. This facility also does not provide dedicated parking, therefore a separate lease for parking is required. If at any point the parking lease is not renewed or the renewal calls for a cost increase, the nearest available parking is eight city blocks away,” Lamb wrote.

Lamb told WKYT that the property owner inquired early in the process about the proximity to the daycare facility located nearby. After seeking a legal opinion, Lamb said it was determined there are not any laws that govern the location of a probation and parole office.

Still, that doesnt make those who live in that area the least bit happy.

We are concerned about our property value, the safety of our property, and the safety of the people that live here,” said homeowner Matt Marlow.

The center, which falls in Lexingtons 10th District, is something that the councilwoman is also investigating.

My first thought was, why would you move something that is in such a centralized location out to the far south end of Lexington?” said Councilwoman Amanda Bledsoe.

Bledsoe says no one from the city was notified of the move.

Stan Lee, R-Lexington, says he wasn’t notified of the move either. Lee released the following statement:

“After receiving numerous calls from people living in the area, and also being contacted by Lexington Councilwoman Amanda Bledsoe, I reached out to the Department of Corrections who advised me that their agency was under no obligation to provide any type of notice to surrounding property owners, nor did they have to legally take into consideration the proximity of this center to school children or day care centers. I found that shocking.

While that may be the Department of Corrections’ policy, it is certainly not right when it comes to the placement of up to 3,000 parolees, which will no doubt include sex offenders, so close to a residential neighborhood, a daycare center and school children. I urge Governor Beshear, Secretary Michael Brown, and Commissioner LaDonna Thompson to take immediate action to address the concerns of everyone who will be impacted. If necessary, I plan on filing legislation in the 2016 session to address notification of people when something like a parole center is to be located near their subdivision,” said Lee.

Lamb says the Wellington Way location was selected after a lengthy process. She said state law requires them to request bids in order to acquire state property. She also said the Department has worked closely with the Division of Real Properties during this property acquisition.

Although another location was previously secured, that property owner notified Real Properties they no longer wished to enter into a lease agreement. Therefore, bids were again requested and the Wellington Way property near Palomar Center was the only bidder. The Wellington Way property has a greater amount of square footage as well has dedicated parking that is included in the property lease,” Lamb told WKYT.

Lamb says the new site is expected to open in late September or October.

Brief Information On Arbitration In Turkey

Determining Foreign Law as the Governing Law:

International Private and Procedure Law No. 5718
(IPPL) allows parties to a contract bearing a foreign
element freely choose the governing law to be applied to disputes
arising out of such contract, unless the given dispute is required
to be solved according to Turkish Law as per the IPPL. For example,
lawsuits regarding utilization of real properties located in Turkey
or establishment of real rights on the same are subject to Turkish
law or if a lawsuit is initiated regarding infringement of
intellectual property rights for which protection is sought in
Turkey, such lawsuits must again be solved according to Turkish
laws. Moreover, lawsuits that are initiated based on claims of
unfair competition and violation of competition rules, are required
to be solved according to Turkish law, if Turkish markets are
directly affected by the infringing acts. Whereas, disputes over
contractual relationships are – as a rule – subject to the
governing law that the parties freely chose.

In case the parties to a contract have determined a foreign law
as the contract#39;s governing law, which is permitted under the
IPPL, courts in Turkey are required to solve the disputes arising
from the said contract according to the foreign law that the
parties have chosen.

Choosing Arbitration:

As to arbitration in Turkey, parties to a contract bearing a
foreign element may freely choose to have their dispute settled by
a foreign arbitration institution, unless an issue of public order
is in question or Turkish law requires such dispute to be solved
under the exclusive jurisdiction of Turkish Courts. Under Turkish
law, certain types of disputes are subject to the exclusive
jurisdiction of Turkish Courts, such as which relate to the
establishment of real rights on real properties in Turkey.

Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards in Turkey:

In order for an foreign arbitral award to gain effectiveness in
Turkey, such award must be recognized or ratified by a Turkish

The primary legal source for the enforcement of foreign arbitral
awards in the Turkey is the 1958 – New York Convention on the
Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards which was
ratified by Turkey on July 2, 1992 and entered into force on
September 30, 1992 (New York Convention). New York
Convention, as an international treaty, is regarded as a domestic
law (within the hierarchy of norms), as per Article 90 of the
Constitution of Turkey and therefore is binding and enforceable in
Turkey as a domestic law.

New York Convention can be applied in Turkey for recognition and
enforcement of awards made only in the territory of another
contracting State of the New York Convention. Therefore, if the
arbitral award in question is obtained in any of the contracting
States, New York Convention will principally be applied (without
prejudice to other multilateral or bilateral agreements). In
addition, the scope of enforcement that can be sought in Turkey
according to the New York Convention is limited to arbitral awards
that have been rendered with commercial nature only.

IPPL is another domestic legal source regarding the enforcement
of foreign arbitral awards in Turkey. The provisions of the IPPL
are mainly parallel to the New York Convention. However, IPPL may
only be applied if the party to the arbitration agreement is not a
contracting state of the New York Convention, or is not a party to
any of the multilateral or bilateral international agreements
ratified by Turkey.

Regarding the procedure for enforcing a foreign arbitral award
in Turkey (either under IPPL or the New York Convention); a
petition must be filed before the competent court in Turkey, by
those who are party to the arbitration agreement, together with the
following documents: (i) the arbitration
agreement, (ii) a duly certified copy of arbitral
award, and (iii) the certified translations of
these documents. However, depending on the case, the court may
request additional documents.

The court can only determine whether the arbitral award meets
the conditions for enforcement as stipulated under the IPPL or the
New York Convention. Therefore, the court cannot examine the merits
of the dispute settled with the award, unless the foreign arbitral
award violates the public order of Turkey or the rules regarding
conflict of laws in Turkey.

The decision of the court concerning the enforcement of the
foreign arbitral award may be appealed before the Supreme Court in
accordance with the general provisions of Turkish laws. If
appealed, the enforcement of the award is suspended until the
finalization of the appeal process.

Once the decision on the recognition for enforcement is
finalized, the foreign arbitral award is treated as a final court
decision under Turkish law. Therefore, the requesting party may
pursue the execution of the award in accordance with Turkish laws
and procedures.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

Zacks: Analysts Give Average Rating of "Hold" to Investors Real Estate Trust …

Shares of Investors Real Estate Trust (NASDAQ:IRET) have earned a consensus broker rating score of 2.50 (Hold) from the four analysts that provide coverage for the stock, Zacks Investment Research reports. One research analyst has rated the stock with a strong sell recommendation, one has issued a hold recommendation and two have assigned a strong buy recommendation to the company.

Analysts have set a 1-year consensus target price of $9.50 for the company and are forecasting that the company will post $0.15 earnings per share for the current quarter, according to Zacks. Zacks has also assigned Investors Real Estate Trust an industry rank of 85 out of 265 based on the ratings given to related companies.

A number of analysts have recently weighed in on IRET shares. Analysts at Zacks upgraded shares of Investors Real Estate Trust from a hold rating to a buy rating and set a $8.00 price target on the stock in a research note on Monday, June 1st. Separately, analysts at Robert W. Baird reiterated an outperform rating and set a $9.00 price target (down previously from $10.00) on shares of Investors Real Estate Trust in a research note on Monday, June 1st.

Investors Real Estate Trust (NASDAQ:IRET) opened at 7.44 on Friday. Investors Real Estate Trust has a 52 week low of $6.82 and a 52 week high of $8.74. The stocks 50-day moving average is $7.17 and its 200-day moving average is $7.54. The company has a market cap of $926.83 million and a P/E ratio of 70.86.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Wednesday, July 1st. Shareholders of record on Monday, June 15th were paid a dividend of $0.13 per share. This represents a $0.52 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 6.99%. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, June 11th.

In other Investors Real Estate Trust news, EVP Mark W. Reiling purchased 6,500 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, April 29th. The shares were purchased at an average price of $7.39 per share, with a total value of $48,035.00. The acquisition was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through this link.

Investors Real Estate Trust (NASDAQ:IRET) is a self-advised equity Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) engaged in owning and operating income-producing real properties. The Company operates in five reportable real estate segments: multi-family residential; commercial office; commercial healthcare, including senior housing; commercial industrial and commercial retail. Its properties are located primarily in the upper Midwest states of Minnesota and North Dakota. The Company has corporate offices in Minneapolis and St. Cloud, Minnesota, and additional property management offices in Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. The Company seeks to diversify its investments among multi-family residential, commercial office, commercial healthcare, commercial industrial and commercial retail properties.

To get a free copy of the research report on Investors Real Estate Trust (IRET), click here. For more information about research offerings from Zacks Investment Research, visit Zacks.com

Receive News Ratings for Investors Real Estate Trust Daily – Enter your email address below to receive a concise daily summary of the latest news and analysts ratings for Investors Real Estate Trust and related companies with MarketBeat.coms FREE daily email newsletter.

Economic Snapshot: July 2015

Issues raquo; Economy

Economic Snapshot: Economic Snapshot: July 2015
Christian E. Weller on the State of the US Economy

SOURCE: AP/Mary Altaffer

New York State Trooper Maxine Mendez, left, speaks to Xiaojiao Zuo about employment opportunities during a US Chamber of Commerce jobs expo in New York on June 30, 2015.

By Christian E. Weller and Jackie Odum | Friday, July 31, 2015


  • SHARE:

  • Endnotes and citations are available in the PDF and Scribd versions.
  • Download the report:
  • Read it in your browser:

Economic data continue to highlight three economic policy challenges. First, economic growth remains lackluster by historic comparison, which impedes job creation. Second, many of the people who do have jobs lack adequate wages and decent benefits. Third, some vulnerable population groups suffer more in this economy than their counterparts. Communities of color and people with less education, for example, often struggle with lower wages and higher rates of unemployment than whites and people with more education.

Many of the same policies that strengthen the middle class can also spur faster economic growth. These policies include a higher minimum wage, paid family leave, easier access to collective bargaining, and more profit sharing among employees. Such policies would not only boosts incomes, but also reduce employee turnover and provide employers with additional incentives to invest in their workers. In turn, more skills would translate into faster productivity growth and more robust economic growth.

Building a stronger middle class is only one step toward addressing the triple threat of slow economic growth, weak wage growth, and disproportionate economic struggles. Additional policies include investments in infrastructure and education, as well as creating more opportunities for apprenticeships. The bottom line is that policymakers can do a lot more to build real economic security for families who have struggled through the Great Recession and its aftermath.

1. Economic growth, while positive, has been uneven and lackluster for years. Gross domestic product, or GDP, increased in the second quarter of 2015 at an inflation-adjusted annual rate of 2.3 percent, after an increase of 0.6 percent in the previous quarter. Domestic consumption increased by an annual rate of 2.9 percent, and housing spending rose by 6.6 percent, while business investment decreased by 0.6 percent. Exports increased by 5.3 percent in the second quarter, while imports increased by a rate of 3.5 percent. Government spending–which is crucial for infrastructure spending on roads, bridges, and schools, as well as for public services such as education, public safety, and transportation–continues to be a weak spot in the economy, as federal government spending fell by 1.1 percent in the second quarter and state and local government spending increased by 2 percent. The economy needs to maintain and even accelerate its momentum in order to create real economic security for America’s families. After all, the economy expanded 13.3 percent from June 2009 to June 2015, far below the average of 28 percent during recoveries of at least equal length.

2. Gains to US competitiveness fall behind previous business cycles. Productivity growth, measured as the increase in inflation-adjusted output per hour, is key to strong economic growth over the longer term and to increasing living standards for American families, as it means that workers are getting better at doing more in the same amount of time. Slower productivity growth thus means that new economic resources available to improve living standards and to pay for a wide range of services, such as the retirement of Baby Boomers, are growing more slowly than would be the case with faster productivity growth. US productivity rose 6.1 percent from June 2009 to March 2015, the first 23 quarters of the economic recovery since the end of the Great Recession in June 2009. This compares to an average of 15.9 percent during all previous recoveries of at least equal length. No previous recovery had lower productivity growth than the current one. This slow productivity growth–together with high income inequality–contributes to the widespread sense of economic insecurity and slowing economic mobility.

3. The housing market still operates at a low level. New-home sales amounted to an annual rate of 482,000 in June 2015–an 18.1 percent increase from the 408,000 homes sold in June 2014 but well below the historical average of 698,000 homes sold before the Great Recession. The median new-home price in June 2015 was $281,800, down from one year earlier. Existing-home sales increased by 3.2 percent in May 2015 from one year earlier, and the median price for existing homes was up by 6.5 percent during the same period. Home sales have a lot further to go, given that homeownership in the United States stood at 63.4 percent in the second quarter of 2015, down from 68.2 percent before the start of the recession at the end of 2007. The current homeownership rates are similar to those recorded in 1996, well before the most recent housing bubble started. A strong housing-market recovery can boost economic growth, and there is still plenty of room for the housing market to provide more stimulation to the economy more broadly

4. The outlook for federal budgets improves, which creates breathing room for policymakers. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, estimated in March 2015 that the federal government will have a deficit–the difference between taxes and spending–of 2.7 percent of GDP for fiscal year 2015, which runs from October 1, 2014, to September 30, 2015. This deficit projection is slightly down from the deficit of 2.8 percent of GDP for FY 2014. The estimated deficit for FY 2015 is much smaller than deficits in previous years due to a number of measures that policymakers have already taken in order to slow spending growth and raise more revenue than was expected just last year. The improving fiscal outlook should generate breathing room for policymakers to focus their attention on targeted, efficient policies that promote long-term growth and job creation, especially for those groups disproportionately impacted by high unemployment.

5. Moderate labor-market gains follow in part from modest economic growth. There were 10.9 million more jobs in June 2015 than in June 2009. The private sector added 11.6 million jobs during this period. The loss of some 587,000 state and local government jobs explains the difference between the net gain of all jobs and the private-sector gain in this period. Budget cuts reduced the number of teachers, bus drivers, firefighters, and police officers, among others. The total number of jobs has now grown by 8.3 percent during this recovery, compared to an average of 15 percent during all prior recoveries of at least equal length. Faster economic growth is necessary to generate more labor-market momentum and more well-paying jobs for American families.

6. Employers cut back on health and pension benefits. The share of people with employer-sponsored health insurance dropped from 59.8 percent in 2007 to 53.9 percent in 2013, the most recent year for which data are available. The share of private-sector workers who participated in a retirement plan at work fell to 40.8 percent in 2013, down from 41.5 percent in 2007. Families now have less economic security than they did in the past due to fewer employment-based benefits, not just because of modest job and wage gains. The Affordable Care Act, or ACA–also known as Obamacare–returned a sense of economic security to many households by giving them steady access to quality, affordable health insurance. Policymakers can build on this past success by creating more ways for people to access stable, low-cost, and low-risk retirement savings.

7. Some communities continue to struggle disproportionately from unemployment. The unemployment rate was 5.3 percent in June 2015. The African American unemployment rate fell to 9.5 percent, the Hispanic unemployment rate decreased to 6.6 percent, and the white unemployment rate decreased to 4.6 percent. Meanwhile, youth unemployment increased to 18.1 percent. The unemployment rate for people without a high school diploma stood at 8.2 percent, compared with 5.4 percent for those with a high school degree, 4.2 percent for those with some college education, and 2.5 percent for those with a college degree. Population groups with higher unemployment rates have struggled disproportionately more amid the weak labor market than white workers, older workers, and workers with more education.

8. The rich continue to pull away from most Americans. Incomes of households at the 95th percentile–those with incomes of $196,000 in 2013, the most recent year for which data are available–were more than nine times the incomes of households in the 20th percentile, whose incomes were $20,900. This is the largest gap between the top 5 percent and the bottom 20 percent of households since the US Census Bureau started keeping records in 1967. Median inflation-adjusted household income stood at $51,939 in 2013, its lowest level in inflation-adjusted dollars since 1995.

9. Corporate profits stay elevated near pre-crisis peaks. Inflation-adjusted corporate profits were 119.2 percent larger in March 2015 than in June 2009. The after-tax corporate profit rate–profits to total assets–stood at 3.18 percent in March 2015. Corporate profits recovered quickly toward the end of the Great Recession and have stayed high since then. These gains have translated into disproportionate income gains from financial investments for wealthy households, contributing to the massive income inequality that has characterized the economy for the past few decades. Tax reform is a crucial policy priority to address income inequality that arises from the rich receiving outsized benefits from their wealth, especially in the form of capital income from their financial investments.

10. Corporations spend much of their money to keep shareholders happy. From December 2007–when the Great Recession started–to March 2015, nonfinancial corporations spent, on average, 92 percent of their after-tax profits on dividend payouts and share repurchases. In short, almost all of nonfinancial corporate after-tax profits have gone to keeping shareholders happy during the current business cycle. Nonfinancial corporations also held, on average, 5.3 percent of all of their assets in cash. Nonfinancial corporations spent, on average, 163.3 percent of their after-tax profits on capital expenditures or investments–by selling other assets and by borrowing. This was the lowest ratio since the business cycle that ended in 1957. US corporations have prioritized keeping shareholders happy and building up cash over investments in structures and equipment, highlighting the need for regulatory reform that incentivizes corporations to invest in research and development, manufacturing plants and equipment, and workforce development.

11. Poverty is still widespread. The poverty rate was 14.5 percent in 2013, down from 15 percent in 2012. This change, however, was statistically insignificant. Moreover, the poverty rate for this recovery increased at a rate of 0.2 percentage points, compared to an average decrease of 0.7 percentage points in previous recoveries of at least equal length. Some population groups suffer from much higher poverty rates than others. The African American poverty rate, for instance, was 27.2 percent, and the Hispanic poverty rate was 23.5 percent, while the white poverty rate was 9.6 percent. The poverty rate for children under age 18 fell to 19.9 percent. More than one-third of African American children–37.7 percent–lived in poverty in 2013, compared with 30.4 percent of Hispanic children and 10.7 percent of white children.

12. Household debt is still high. Household debt equaled 102 percent of after-tax income in March 2015, down from a peak of 129.7 percent in December 2007. But nonrevolving consumer credit–typically installment credit such as student and car loans–has outpaced after-tax income growth. It has grown from 14.5 percent of after-tax income in June 2009 to 18.4 percent in March 2015. This is the highest share of such debt to after-tax income on record, dating back to 1968. A return to debt growth outpacing income growth–which was the case for total debt prior to the start of the Great Recession–from already-high debt levels could eventually slow economic growth again. This would be especially true if interest rates also rise from historically low levels due to a change in the Federal Reserve’s policies. Consumers would have to pay more for their debt, and they would have less money available for consumption and saving, slowing economic growth and job creation.

Christian E. Weller is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and a professor in the Department of Public Policy and Public Affairs at the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Jackie Odum is a Research Assistant for the Economic Policy team at the Center.

Geek on the Street: We went to the mall and asked, ‘Why aren’t you shopping …

Photo: Julie Clopper / Shutterstock.com

Amazon celebrated its 20th anniversary last week with a massive sale called Prime Day, and new online retail models like Jet.com are emerging to make it easier and more economical to shop online. Not to mention the rise of free same-day delivery.

While online shopping is more popular than ever, many people still battle traffic and parking to go to malls, department stores, and garage sales.

Why? The answer to that question is a window into our consumer preferences, and a measure of the state of the retail industry. GeekWire headed to Seattles University Village, to ask shoppers about their habits, and what their favorite store offer that online retailers dont. Heres what folks had to say.

Ken Anderson, Seattle
“You can actually see and read the ingredients and the instructions to make sure [what the] subtle differences are. You know, I buy a lot online, but when it is things I’m not exactly sure about, it helps when you see it in person. Oftentimes, when you buy online it’s hard to see the label [and] even if it’s there you can’t read it, so it’s just a more precise shopping experience.

I used to use Drugstore.com but the selection here, what you can find in one place, is vastly more comprehensive than what you can get on one online site.”

Cameron Faye, Seattle
“Its near my work and because sometimes I have a list of items I need to grab and there typically isn’t a place online where I can get all of my Bartells kind-of-items, things like facewash and Chapstick.

When I’m here, I can kind of walk down the aisle and look at L’Oreal and Maybelline and they are right next to each other — whereas on Amazon I probably have to look specifically for something. Yeah, when I shop on Amazon its because there is a specific item I am looking for.”

Ashley Wynn, Des Moines, Washington
“I was in the area but trying things on is a big thing, paying for shipping is another.

And getting out of the house is really nice instead of just sitting on my computer all day. I do online shop, but if it’s a nice day Id rather go outside than stay inside.”

Khalid Abdullah, Saudi Arabia
“I came to the store because I am in a hurry. I need to get this right now because I have an event in the evening. That is why I didn’t get it online.

Sometimes I prefer online because sometimes I find something online that I couldn’t find in the store. Sometimes I find my size online when I couldn’t find it in the store.”

Tracy Pitcock, Seattle
“I have tried doing online before and it seems like my husband has an easier time shopping online, but for females — with the sizes — its really hard to not be in the physical store trying on clothing. I have tried, and I haven’t had very much success online. My husband shops online almost exclusively. I am the exact opposite.

Jeffrey Owen, Seattle 
“I happened to be over here and I thought it was convenient, but also I like to come into stores so I can try stuff on to make sure that it fits properly because I don’t want to have the hassle of sending it back.

I have gotten water bottles, phone cases, hats, and a basketball all online.”

Eric Andrews from Quito, Ecuador 

“I like to shop around a lot and I like to see, feel, touch. I am more of a senses kind of person. If you have questions about something, there is someone that is there to help you. I do sometimes shop online, but only when I know exactly what I am getting. If I am just shopping around I like to have all my senses and have people there to help if I need help. I buy books and movies online because I travel a lot so when I read it’s much easier to just carry an iPad.”