South Florida Sun Sentinel from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on July 7, 2008 · 2
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South Florida Sun Sentinel from Fort Lauderdale, Florida · 2

Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Issue Date:
Monday, July 7, 2008
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2A SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL SUN-SENTINEL.COM Monday, July 7, 2008 PN PALM BEACH Unemployment could hit 6 DOWNTURN , CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 - i J population continues to increase. And Florida's exports were up 22 percent during the first quarter, partly because of the weak dollar. . What's hurting us: The over-" hang of unsold homes on the market. Home prices in South Florida are now almost 27 percent lower than last year, ac-cordingto the S&PCase-Shill-er index. What hasn't shown up in the numbers yet: Whether high gas prices will cut down on tourism this summer. At the start of the year, almost 24 million tourists visited Florida, a 3.4 percent increase over 2007 for the first quarter. i Unemployment may rise The job losses will continue until next year, according to another forecaster. At the University of Central Florida, economist Sean Snaith figures Florida's unemployment rate, now at 5.5 percent, will fluctuate between that and about 6 percent by the end of the year, then stabilize. He says we will see payrolls grow again in the second half of next year. But don't look for another boom in employment, as Florida experienced from September 2002 through last August. Last week, the sfate revealed that the number of people without jobs jumped 11.5 percent in one month. In May, 459,000 Floridians were unemployed, up from 300,000 in May 2006, according to state figures. By comparison, in the last recession in 200 1 , unemployment also peaked at a 6 percent rate. Diggingin For those whose jobs have not been affected by the slow down, life is going on in a hun-kered-downmode. At the gas pump recently, Bob Anderson, a Fort Lauderdale insurance agent, said, "I'm in a recession-free kind of business." Still, he added, "You have to face the continual toll high prices are taking out of one's paycheck." John Timmons, a math teacher and high school football coach who lives in Wellington, figures it may be a couple of years before things get much better. Still, his family he has three young children is able to get by with his wife working only during the summer months when Timmons is out of school. "In the last six months, everything has jumped up in price," he said. "So you cut back on things, entertainment, and we're more careful with the eating." .. Like many people who have secure jobs, Michelle Ferguson of West Palm Beach, who has been driving a Pepsi truck for seven years, says she is doing OK because she's made adjustments in her spending. "I don't know how we can change it," she said. "What can honest working people do?" Signs to watch for How will we know the economy's changing direction? When the job losses stop, says Lynn Franco, who is in charge of consumer research at The Conference Board. Whenhiringbeginsto spread beyond tourism and other lower-paying sectors, says UCF's Snaith. . When the housing market begins to recover in the rest of the country, says Denslow. And perhaps when ordinary Floridians start spending again. Statewide, sales tax revenue through May was 5 percent below the level of last year, indicating consumers were cautious about their spending. . In June, a University of Florida survey showed that consumers don't think this is a good time to buy big-ticket items and they have a dim outlook for their personal finances. The index of consumer confidence among Floridians hit an all-time low last month. "We were the darling of all the major states, lea'ding in employment growth and income growth. Nothing could go wrong here," says economist Antonio Villamil, head of Washington Economics Group in Coral Gables. "But we fell to earth very quickly." His prescription for returning the state to growth: "We've got to get the consumer back onhisfeet", Harriet Johnson Brackey can be reached at hjbrackey or at 954-356-4614. Converters' metals precious to thieves BY KANTELE FRANKO THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Cincinnati Marty Boyer 's carefully maintained sport utility vehicle growled more like a dragster than a 200 1 Honda Passport when he turned the key. "The second I turned it over, and it sounded like a tank and a Harley, I knew exactly what had occurred," said Boyer, 33. Several office colleagues had told him about that roar after their catalytic converters had been stolen, a crime that has been increasing rapidly across the country, from riverside parking lots in Cincinnati to highways along the California coast. ' The pollution-reducing converters contain small amounts of the precious metals platinum and palladium. They have joined copper wire and sewer grates on the long list of metal ; items targeted by thieves eager to cash in on rising prices for metals. - Converter thieves slip under vehicles with battery-powered saws, sometimes in daylight, and in a matter of minutes leave owners with shocking repair bills. PARTS CHECK: Marty Boyer checks his vehicle Wednesday in a Cincinnati parking lot. Boyer and several other people said their catalytic converters were stolen in the area. AP photoAI Behrman The thefts were only a sporadic problem nationally until about a year ago, said Frank Scaf idi, a spokesman for the National Insurance Crime Bu-reau. However, Scafidi received an overwhelming response when he recently questioned bureau agents. "Everybody was seeing reports of this, hearing reports of this, talking to the local cops all over the country," he said. Since January, 43 converter thefts were reported in downtown Cincinnati, compared with eight during the first half of 2007, said police Lt. Mark Briede. In Phoenix, the police's metal thefts squad has increased to investigate a rash of thefts, including converters. Authorities in Portland, Ore., and Mem- COSTLY FOR OWNERS Catalytic converter thefts have increased widely in the past year as prices for metals have risen. The National Insurance Crime Bureau has received more reports of the' thefts across the country. In one northeastern Ohio township, 75 catalytic converters have been reported stolen this year. Scrap yards pay $50 to $100 for the anti-pollution devices. Replacement bills paid by . car owners range from $200 to $1,000. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS phis, Term., also have reported increases. California has become a hot spot, especially in the Sacramento and San Francisco areas. Thieves sometimes steal vehicles and abandon them after removing the converters, said Lt. Chris Costigan of the California Highway Patrol. No comprehensive national totals of converter thefts are available; they usually are lumped into theft or vandalism categories. Converters have been stand-ard equipment since the mid-1 970s, and some newer vehicles have as many as four of them. Five years ago, platinum traded for about $608 per troy ounce and palladium went for $208. Platinum now goes for $2,083 per troy ounce, and palladium draws about $468 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Atroy ounce is slightly more than a common ounce. Boyer, an assistant technology director at a downtown business, paid $572 to replace his converter and plans to spend $360 for converter protectors. He is now so wary that he put off buying a new vehicle and instead started driving an oldercartowork. For car owners willing to spend extra, there are products such as the CatClamp, a tough-to-cut converter cage sold by American Welders Inc. of Toledo, starting around $225. For others, police say the best defense is for law enforcement officers to make their peers aware of the problem. 'State colleges' will offer 2- and 4-year degrees COLLEGES CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1A dally since budget cuts have prompted universities to curb enrollment. An estimated 4,200 qualified students are being shut out of state universities, according to the Board of Governors, the policy making body for the state university system. "This is an opportunity to expand our access to students in the community and meet the work force needs as well," said Victoria Hernandez, director of 1 ' s , - MAKE MONDAY YOUR FAVORITE - DAY OF THE WEEK! ' 3 tournaments means 3 chances to win big! July 14 11am 3pm 7pm - Registration begins at 9am In ths Player's Club lobby. Tournament seats filled on a first-come first-served basis, COCONUT CREEK $550 NWIOth Slretrt Coeomrt Creek, Fl 33073 954-977-S700' Mminolecoeontrttjrttkwismo.eom for Group Motor Coach mfoftnulion pies eB 954 97 470 0 DWDM lit toniife Rtyltl Club MnMnm mmm the 'low Ui cbmw at mntoi lunnitiiiwi tt oiyllmi llvwiwwimiiwilih(iwliiainWiiii(itrtilmi(WHl,IWJAI)MlflT. governmental affairs for Miami Dade College. Community colleges already are doing this on a limited basis in high-demand areas. Ten Florida community colleges already offer or have been approved to offer limited bachelor's degree programs. These include MDC; Broward College, formerly Broward Community College; and Palm Beach Community College. But these offerings may be greatly expanded under the state college model. Students who want to go the traditional two-year route shouldn't worry, said Judith Fel-sky, executive vice chancellor for the Department of Education. Those programs will stay intact. v "State colleges will remain community colleges," she said. "We are intent on preserving open access and affordability." Tuition for bachelor's degree programs at state colleges will be higher than two-year programs and lower than universities, officials said. That's how it works for the bachelor's programs now offered at community colleges. At MDC, tuition is $54.43 per credit hour for associate's programs and $69.40 per credit for bachelor's programs. State universities charge $82 or more per credit hour. Merisha East, 34, a student at PBCC, said she doubts many students would want to get a four-year degree from a state college. She plans to transfer to Barry University to pursue a bachelor's degree in occupational therapy. She questions whether a four-year degree from a state college or a community college would be as valuable. "If they had a program no one else in the state had, I could see it," she said. Hernandez said It's a misconception that the school's INCREASING ROLE These community colleges have been selected to become state colleges: Chipola College, Marianna Daytona Beach State College formerly Daytona Beach Community College Edison College, Fort Myers Indian River State College Indian River Community College, Fort Pierce Miami Dade College, Miami Okaloosa-Walton College, Niceville Polk Community College, Winter Haven Santa Fe College formerly Santa Fe Community College, Gainesville St. Petersburg College SOURCE: FLORIDA LEGISLATURE four-year degrees would be inferior, saying the colleges go through the same accreditation process as universities.' The idea for a state college system dates back to 2002, when Florida first allowed community colleges to offer four-year degrees. A consultant for the Board of Governors recommended the creation of state colleges in a2 007 study. The report, from Connecticut consultant Alceste T. Pappas, said Flor-ida ranked 43rd in the country for the percentage of residents with bachelor's degrees. Exactly how the new system will work remains to be seen. Acommittee made up of state officials and college administrators will meet regularly during the next few months to map out what exactly a state college will be. Those recommendations will be given to the Legislature next year.Hernan-dez said she doesn't see community colleges competing with those at the universities. Most students who enroll in four-year programs are older than traditional college students, she said. , "They come to us because of the convenience of location," she said. "They are trying to juggle work and a bachelor's program. It's a different niche." Scott Travis can be reached at or 561-243-6637. Sun-Sentinel CUSTOMER SERVICE Subscribers, if your newspaper was not delivered call before 1 0 am weekdays OR before 11am weekends. , TOLL FREE 1-800-548-NEWS (1-800-548-6397) For any other delivery issues, such as vacation stops or to start delivery call Monday-Friday 6 a.m.-6 pm or 730 am-1 p.m. on weekends. CONTACT THE NEWSROOM MAIN NEWSROOM 561-243-6600 READER LIAISON GAIL BULFIN, Reader Editor 954-356-4580 FRONT PAGE, A-SECTION WILLIE FERNANDEZ, 954-3564178 LOCAL ARNiE ROSENBERG, 561-243-6651 BUSINESS ANNE VASQUEZ, Business Editor 954-356-4670 SPORTS KATHY LAUGHLIN, Sports Editor 954-356-4635 FEATURES GRETCHEN DAY-BRYANT, Arts & Features Editor 954-3564718 INVESTIGATIONS JOE DEMMA, Investigations Editor 954-356-4625 PHOTOGRAPHY TAIMY ALVAREZ, Photo Director 954-356-4784 GRAPHICS. LEN DEGROOT, Graphics Editor 954-356-4771 ; CITY & SHORE MARK GAUERT, Editor 954-356-4686 . ADVERTISING CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING CALL 800-250-2000 FAX 954-425-1 700 DISPLAY ADVERTISING North of Delray Beach, 561-736-9700 Boca Raton, Delray Beach, 561-243-6600 BrowardMiami-Dade, 954-356-4144 GENERAL INFORMATION North of Delray Beach, 561-737-0110 Boca Raton, Delray Beach, 561-278-6277 BrowardMiami-Dade, 954-3564000 BACK COPIES & PHOTOS 954-356-4323 CORRECTIONS & CLARIFICATIONS POLICY The South Florida Sun-Sentinel takes complaints about accuracy seriously and will publish a correction or clarification whenever it is established that we have made an error or published misleading information. Corrections and clarifications will ' appear on this page, with some limited exceptions. Opinion page corrections and clarifications will appear on those pages. In the Community News sections, they will appear on Page 2 of the section in which the original material was published. ' . 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