Skilled in demand
Gov. Schwarz- enegger said Monday that thousands of skilled workers in the building trades will be needed in the coming years to work on public works projects funded by the 2006 infrastructure bonds. The bonds authorized $42 billion for education, housing, levee repair, flood control, parks and transportation projects. It is estimated that within six years, the state will need more than 73,000 carpenters who will earn a median hourly wage of $23.20; 25,000 plumbers, pipefitters, steamfitters and electricians who will be paid a median wage of $22 to $23 per hour; and 15,000 operating engineers who will earn a median wage of more than $27 per hour. Most of the infrastructure projects will be in "full swing" in 10 to 12 years, with workers building bridges, highways, schools and housing. One apprentice for every five journeymen is required to be employed on all public works projects.
Help with rebates
The Internal Revenue Service said Monday that it will contact about 20.5 million people who receive Social Security or Veterans Affairs benefits to ensure they don't miss the economic stimulus payment of at least $300. The tax agency said that starting next week it will begin sending out 10-page packages with filing instructions and a Form 1040A for the filer to complete. The package will go to people who may qualify for the economic stimulus payment enacted by Congress but who normally aren't required to file a tax return. People must file a return to receive the stimulus benefit, which is worth $300 to $600 for individuals and $600 to $1,200 for couples.
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Home builder woes
Home builder Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. says it lost more than twice as much money in its first quarter compared with a year ago and blamed the continuing struggles of the housing market. It's the sixth consecutive quarterly loss for New Jersey-based Hovnanian, which operates in 19 states. After paying preferred stock dividends, the company Monday reported a net loss of $130.9 million, or $2.07 per share, for the quarter that ended Jan. 31.
Malls and shopping centers are starting to feel the recoil from a rapid expansion by retailers in recent years. Now many retailers are being forced to pull back as the economy slows and purse strings tighten.