Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Ways to protect your home from burglars

If you think you're not at risk of being a victim of burglary, think again. If there's an opportunity to invade your home, no matter who you are or where you live, burglars will take the chance. 

"Burglaries are considered 'crimes of opportunity' because the criminal is looking for the easy way to get into your home - the unlocked door, open garage door or open window," says Charlene Miller, Crime Prevention Neighborhood Watch director at the Boise Police Department.

Fortunately, "There are practical security measures you can take to make it so difficult for burglars that they'll go somewhere else," Miller adds.

Want to learn what these measures are? Here are nine things you can do to make burglars think twice before trying to enter your home.

#1 - Secured Doors and Windows

In approximately one-third of home burglaries the burglar comes in through an unlocked door or window, according to the "Burglary of Single Family Houses"guide, published by the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).

"The first line of defense in your home's security is having solid core exterior doors with high quality grade 1 or 2 deadbolt locks," Miller states. "French doors can be secured with a quality deadbolt lock and a slide bolt penetrating the upper or lower doorframe."

Miller notes that sliding glass doors are especially vulnerable if they do not have proper locks, so check with the manufacturer for the right ones.

"A snug-fitting dowel (a piece of cylindrical wood - similar to a broom handle) in the lower track of the door will also prevent it from being opened." Miller also recommends installing eyebolts in the frames of sliding windows to allow for ventilation without leaving enough room for an intruder.

#2 - A Loud Dog

Dogs are not only "man's best friend." They can also be a burglar's worst enemy.

In fact, COPS reports that most burglars avoid houses with dogs. "Burglars don't want to be seen or caught; they also want to avoid pain," agrees Miller, who adds that dogs that bark - even small, noisy dogs - can be an effective deterrent.

And while you might feel safer with a large dog that could do bodily harm, like a German Shepherd, Miller says the most important aspect is having a dog that sounds an alarm with its bark.

#3 - A Home Security System

If you want something that not only makes noise when there's an intruder, but also calls for help, consider installing a home security system. Home security systems detect when someone enters your house uninvited, sets off an alarm, and also notifies authorities of an invasion.

"If you have valuables that need protection, rampant burglaries in your area, and are away from home for long stretches, a home security system could be a good option for you," says Miller.

She recommends doing some online research and checking with local alarm system companies to find the best system for your needs.

#4 - Motion Sensor Lights

Installing sensor lights (which turn on when they detect motion) is a great way to illuminate portions of your property only when needed - like when someone enters the area.

Sensor lights will come on as soon as someone enters under cover of darkness - as a burglar would.

"Outside lighting is one of the cheapest and most effective deterrents to crime," states Miller, who adds that "motion sensor lights give you the ease of having lights come on automatically."

#5 - Surveillance Cameras

A video surveillance system can be a bit costly, but it could help you sleep better at night.

"Installing a video security system can give you peace of mind and act as a deterrent to burglars, especially when you're on vacation," Millers states.

However, if you don't want to go the full route of installing a system, think about putting up a "dummy" camera or two to give the illusion of protection. And while Miller agrees installing a "dummy" camera could intimidate a burglar, she says the downside is it can't provide evidence if a burglary occurs.

#6 - Protection Warning Signs

Got a dog or a home security system? Share that information with signage on your fence, door, or window. Much like putting up security cameras, letting a burglar know you are well protected makes you less of a target.

"It's important to look at your home from a burglar's point of view," shares Miller. "Burglars who think they might be seen or caught will think twice before targeting your house."

Miller cautions that while having this kind of signage can be to your advantage, it could also make burglars wonder what you have that's worth protecting.

#7 - A Trimmed and Tidy Yard

Untrimmed trees and shrubs provide good hiding places for burglars and can obscure their entry into your home.

To get a better sense of what she means, Miller suggests the following: "Stand out on your front sidewalk and take an objective look at your house. Do you have trees or shrubs providing hiding places for someone?" If so, Miller recommends trimming tree branches up to six feet from the ground and shrubs down to below window sills.

A shaggy lawn - especially one that's usually trimmed - can also indicate to a burglar that you're likely on vacation, or simply away on business for a prolonged period of time. Consider hiring someone to mow your lawn if you're going to be out of town for more than a week.

#8 - The Appearance that Someone is Home

Burglars know your routine, and when there's a break in that routine - like when you're on vacation - it's a signal that your home is clear for a break-in.

With that in mind, Miller says that "the goal when you're gone is for your home to appear lived in."
To accomplish this, Miller suggests using motion-sensor lights and timers on your radio and TV to simulate occupancy and create the illusion that you're home.

Corvallis, Oregon home insurance professional, Bonnie Lundy, agrees: "Anything you can do to make your home look occupied while you're away is a good thing - and timed electronics are great for that."
She does caution, however, that burglars are aware people use timers, and recommends some variation in the pattern.

#9 - Helpful Neighbors

We just talked about making your home look lived in while you're away. And while simulating occupancy can get tricky, the good news is you can enlist help. The best recruits? Your neighbors.

Whenever you're away, Lundy highly recommends asking your neighbors to get your mail and newspapers, and check for any deliveries. Miller also recommends asking them to put garbage bags in your garbage can.
And that's not all. You should also "ask a trusted neighbor to park their vehicle in your driveway occasionally while you're out of town," suggests Miller.

Any sign of activity at your home is enough to deter most burglars - who count on an empty house.

The So-Called 'Internet Sales Tax' Explained

Source: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/called-internet-sales-tax-explained/story?id=19042757#.UX_Czkr57ak

That 1990s Super Nintendo System you've been eying on eBay for $79.97 might soon include an extra fee for sales tax, thanks to a bill up for consideration in the Senate this week.

Senators are wrapping up discussions about the Marketplace Fairness Act, better known by its nickname, the Internet Sales Tax. A vote to advance the bill is expected Friday morning.

The proposed legislation would force many online retailers to begin collecting taxes on their wares in all states, not just where they have offices.

Any online store that makes more than $1 million annually in online sales would have to send taxes back to the states where their goods are delivered, based on the rates required in those jurisdictions.

In a time when states and towns are struggling to make ends meet, this bill would mean extra revenue to make up for federal dollars lost to sequester cuts. It's no wonder some lawmakers are looking to cash in on what has become a sizeable chunk of American commerce.

Revenue from purchases made on the Internet in the United States has grown steadily since 2003. That year, they made up about 1.6 percent of total retail sales in the U.S. By 2012 they had risen more than three-fold to 5.2 percent, bringing in $225.5 billion.

The bill can find support on the right despite many Republicans' pledges not to raise taxes, because it does not subject any new items to taxation. Online buyers legally should be paying these fees already, but they rarely do. There is even a section in the bill called "No New Taxes," that explains this.
Some big name retailers, like Amazon, have come out in favor of the bill.

But opponents say the act would impose a burdensome system on small businesses that don't have the administrative resources to keep such complex books. Retailers would have to determine how much to pay in taxes on an item based on the thousands of tax jurisdictions in the United States.

As an example of how that could get complicated, five states do not have state-wide sales tax, but two of those states – Montana and Alaska – allow localities to charge a sales tax. So a business owner in New Hampshire – which has no sales tax – sending a fishing pole to a customer in Juneau, Alaska, would have to collect a 5 percent sales tax, but would charge no sales tax to the buyer in Denali Borough.

Althea Erickson, director of public policy for Etsy, an online marketplace where crafters can sell their creative goods, wrote an op-ed this week urging lawmakers to raise the revenue rate that differentiates between small and big businesses in the act.

"If you're thinking, '$1 million, phew, that excludes me,' that's understandable," Erickson wrote of the threshold for businesses affected by the bill. "$1 million in sales, however, is well below other federal definitions of small business. And the top 500 largest internet retailers make up 93 percent of lost state revenues. A lower exception hurts small businesses more than it helps states."

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

U.S. Payroll to Population Rate Stagnant in March

U.S. Payroll to Population Rate Stagnant in March

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Payroll to Population employment rate (P2P), as measured by Gallup, was 43.4% for the month of March, unchanged from 43.3% in February and in line with the 43.7% found in March 2012.
Trend: U.S. Payroll to Population Employment Rates
Gallup's P2P metric is an estimate of the percentage of the U.S. adult population aged 18 and older who are employed full time by an employer for at least 30 hours per week. P2P is not seasonally adjusted.

These results are based on Gallup Daily tracking interviews with more than 30,000 Americans conducted March 1-30 by landline and cellphone. Gallup does not include adults who are self-employed, working part time, unemployed, or out of the workforce as payroll-employed in the P2P metric.

Because of seasonal fluctuations, year-over-year comparisons are helpful in determining the degree to which monthly changes are due to seasonal hiring patterns versus the result of growth in permanent full-time positions. While P2P for March is flat compared with the same month in 2012, it is still significantly better than the same months in 2011 and 2010, when the rate was 41.9% and 42.4%, respectively. Essentially, the P2P rate made gains in late 2011/early 2012 that have since been maintained.

Seasonally Unadjusted Unemployment Unchanged in March
Unlike Gallup's P2P rate, which is a percentage of the total population, traditional employment metrics, such as the unemployment rates Gallup and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, are based on the percentage of the workforce. Gallup defines the "workforce" as adults who are working or actively looking for work and available for employment. The U.S. workforce participation rate in March was 67.7%, unchanged from 67.8% in February and in March 2012.

Gallup's unadjusted unemployment rate for the U.S. workforce was 8.0% for the month of March, the same as in February, but a modest improvement from 8.4% in March 2012.

Gallup's seasonally adjusted U.S. unemployment rate for March was 7.8%, a slight uptick from 7.6% in February, but down since March 2012. Gallup calculates a seasonally adjusted employment rate by applying the adjustment factor the government used for the same month in the previous year. Last year, the government adjusted March's rate down by 0.2 points, but February's was adjusted downward by 0.4 points, which accounts for the month-over-month increase in seasonally adjusted unemployment, despite the lack of change in the unadjusted rate.
Gallup Adjusted and Unadjusted Unemployment Rate Trend, January 2011-March 2013
Underemployment, as measured without seasonal adjustment, was 17.6% in March, down a half a point from 18.1% in February, and down, though not significantly, from 18.0% in March 2012. Underemployment is now significantly improved from the 20.3% found in March 2010, which was the highest Gallup has measured.

Gallup's U.S. underemployment rate combines the percentage of adults in the workforce who are unemployed with the percentage of those who are working part time but looking for full-time work.
Gallup's U.S. Underemployment Rate, Monthly Averages
The percentage of workers working part time but wanting full-time work was 9.6% in March, a decline from 10.1% in February, but unchanged from 9.6% in March 2012.
Percentage of U.S. Workers Working Part Time but Wanting Full-Time Work, Monthly Averages
Gallup's data depict an employment situation that failed to improve in March, and has remained relatively little changed year over year. Workers did not find the full-time jobs they were seeking, and the labor force and unadjusted unemployment rates were flat. The one seemingly bright spot was the improvement in the number of workers employed part time but looking for full-time work. However, given the lack of change in the other measures, it is most likely that these workers have settled for part-time work and have given up the search for a full-time position.

Gallup's seasonally adjusted U.S. unemployment rate -- the closest comparison it has to the official numbers released by the BLS -- increased slightly in March, though the unadjusted rate was flat. However, the unemployment rate as reported by the BLS each month does not always track precisely with the Gallup estimate, in large part due to differences in the adjustment procedure the BLS uses, and because of some differences in the way in which data are obtained. The BLS may report no change in the unemployment rate or even a slight increase on Friday as a result of the seasonal adjustments, and Gallup's numbers illustrate that in fact little has changed.
Gallup's U.S. Unemployment Measures, March 2013
How Gallup's Unemployment Measure Differs From the U.S. Government's Measure
Gallup.com reports results from these indexes in daily, weekly, and monthly averages and in Gallup.com stories. Complete trend data are always available to view and export in the following charts:
Daily: Employment, Economic Confidence, Job Creation, Consumer Spending
Weekly: Employment, Economic Confidence, Job Creation, Consumer Spending
Read more about Gallup's economic measures.
View our economic release schedule.
Survey Methods Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted March 1-30, 2013, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 30,630 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cellphone numbers are selected using random digit dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, cellphone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2012 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the July-December 2011 National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the 2010 census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.

Payroll Builder is an online payroll service, which makes it simple to use and easy to access. To employers who have workers out on work sites, with a single purchase you can have your employees clock in from their phones and you will be alerted to where exactly they where when they clocked in. We want to serve the Natural State, and are ready to serve you in Fort Smith, Little Rock, Russellville, Fayetteville, and everywhere else in Arkansas and the U.S. Visit our website for more information!

Please leave a comment if you want to share your opinion!