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Short Bits

BUSINESS COSTS UP

The Producer Price Index (PPI) increased 3.3% for the 12 months ending July 2018. The PPI measures the average change over time in the prices received by domestic producers, or wholesalers, for their output. Movement in this indicator could prove an early sign of increasing (or falling) consumer prices.

EMPLOYEE COMPENSATION UP

Compensation costs for private industry workers increased 2.9% in the year ending June 2018. Over the same period, wages and salaries increased 2.9% and benefits costs increased 2.8%. Employment costs have risen steadily during the past two years.

COLLEGE MAJORS OFFERING THE BEST START

According to research released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York this year, it pays to major in engineering. Practitioners in aerospace, chemical, computer and electrical engineering all earn a median of $100,000 or more mid-career. Mechanical engineers just missed, with a median income of $98,000. Pharmacy majors topped the list with a median income of $115,000. Biochemistry and physics majors had the highest percentage of graduate school degrees at 71% and 70.6%, respectively.

UP IN SMOKE

A Gallup Poll shows the lowest rate of smoking (16%) since the question was first asked in a 1944 poll, when smoking rates were in the 40%-and-higher range. This drop is not only good health news but also good financial news for individuals who buy and companies that offer health insurance, as smoking is one of the leading causes of runaway healthcare costs.

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