Securities Industry Employees Earning Record Salaries, Report Says (NEW YORK) — A new record on Wall Street has nothing to do with the close of the Dow.
Not since the years preceding the financial crisis has high finance done so well. The average salary, including bonuses, in the securities industry in New York was up 14 percent in 2014 to more than $400,000, according to a report issued by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. That’s nearly six times higher than the rest of the city’s private sector.
Weakness in China and the timing of an interest rate hike may burden the stock market, but the securities industry is making money, adding jobs and paying record salaries.
Wall Street’s profits were strong in the first half of 2015 at $11.3 billion, the strongest first half since 2011, according to the report.
The average bonus paid to securities industry employees in the city was $172,900 in 2014, which was only exceeded by the two years that preceded the 2008 financial crisis. The average bonus increased by more than 50 percent over the past three years.
The securities industry employs nearly 200,000 people in New York City, less than 5 percent of the city’s workforce, but it accounts for 22 percent of wages.
“If you can get the work, it’s certainly very good work,” DiNapoli said.
Getting the work is tough. The industry is 9 percent smaller than before the recession, though it’s on pace to add thousands more jobs this year.
Microsoft(NEW YORK) -- Microsoft has continued to up its game when it comes to making devices that function as both tablets and laptops.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 made its debut Tuesday at the company's Windows 10 devices event in New York City boasting a 12.3-inch screen with five million pixels, making the resolution even higher with an even thinner screen.
"We have this goal, this dream," said Panos Panay, head of Microsoft's Surface team. "We want to make these the most productive devices on the planet."
Microsoft's grand finale at Tuesday's event was the Surface Book, the software company's first-ever laptop, which features a 13.5-inch screen with six million pixels.
"We have the best engineers who understand portability and performance," Panay said. "Ounce for ounce, pound for pound, this is the fastest 13-inch laptop ever made."
Panay said Surface Book is twice as powerful as the MacBook Pro.
It features a 12-hour battery life, company officials said. It starts at $1,499 and will be available Oct. 26.
Surface Book weighs 1.6 pounds and is 7.7 mm thin. It's essentially a clipboard, making it easy to show someone something on your screen.
The release of the Surface Pro 4 comes as Apple and Google recently unveiled their latest entries into the 2-in-1 device category, with the iPad Pro and the Google Pixel C.
"Both Google and Apple have followed Microsoft's lead creating the 2-in-1 category and this event will reveal how Microsoft one-ups the companies who recently launched the Pixel C and the iPad Pro," Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, told ABC News before Tuesday's event.
The Surface Pro 4 starts at $899, and will be available Oct. 26.
Alyssa Newcomb/ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Microsoft's first wearable, the Microsoft Band, has stood out as a sensor-rich device for tracking everything from sleep, heart rate and activity to keeping up with messages and calendar events throughout the day. Now, the company is ready to bring the Band into the world of Windows 10.
The software company showed off the newest Microsoft Band Tuesday at an event in New York City. The latest version of the Band includes an 11th sensor -- a barometer -- allowing wearers to track their elevation. It also includes more integration of Cortana -- Microsoft's digital virtual assistant -- along with a curved screen with extra tough Gorilla Glass.
Microsoft Health, the dashboard letting Band wearers see their data, will also now including readings for VO2 Max, a key metric for fitness buffs looking to measure their maximum oxygen intake.
The latest Band will also include experiences from partners, including Uber, Facebook and a variety of other companies, making the wearable even more seamlessly blend into a person's everyday life.
In an August interview discussing the first Microsoft Band and the power of the wearable, Farah Shariff, a software development engineer who has worked on the Band since its start, told ABC News she was fascinated with packing sensors into a lightweight device that could ultimately deliver a treasure trove of data to the person wearing it.
"The one thing I have been very focused on is the aspect of sleep. There is so much that happens during that time," she said. "Being able to see exercise timing, intensity, stress, as your body goes throughout the day. Sleep helps you realize how your body is coping with everything you’re putting it through."
Pre-orders for the new Band begin Tuesday and will be available Oct. 30 for $249, company officials said.
Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- October is here, and that means that it is officially time to begin thinking about your Halloween costume.
According to new data from Pinterest, the National Retail Federation and Halloween costume retailer Spirit Halloween, this year's hottest costume trends include big-name superheroes, fairy tale favorites, science-fiction all-stars and throwback Thursday outfits.
Read on below to get a sneak-preview of some of the adult, children and pet Halloween costumes that will be sure to make an appearance by trick-or-treaters this year:
Star Wars Characters
With the seventh film being released in December, Star Wars characters are some of the most-popular costume options for this Halloween. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2015 Halloween Consumer Top Costumes Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, the Star Wars franchise made the list for adult, kids and pet costumes this year.
Pinterest declared group costumes one of the biggest trends for Halloween this year, based on their internal data. Costume ideas such as Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood" music video girl gang, the cast of Mario Kart, and all of the feelings from Disney's Inside Out movie are filling people's Pinterest boards.
Superheroes landed in the Top 10 costume category for adults, children and animals this year.
Minions are among the top Halloween trends for adults, kids and pets this year, with one million people planning to be a minion for Halloween, according to the National Retail Federation.
Pinterest noted that 90s-themed costumes are among the most-pinned Halloween costumes this year. People are throwing it back to 90s favorites from TV shows like Rugrats, The Magic School Bus, and The Powerpuff Girls, to celebs such as the Spice Girls, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake.
Princesses will be ruling the streets this Halloween. Still a popular choice two years after it's release are Frozen princesses Elsa and Anna. According to the National Retail Federation, two million people are planning to dress as their favorite Frozen character this year. Classic Disney princesses such as Cinderella, Snow White, Jasmine and Ariel are also in hot demand.
Microsoft(NEW YORK) -- The future is officially here: You can unlock Microsoft's two new flagship smartphones just by looking at them.
While Microsoft has lagged behind competitors when it comes to mobile device offerings, the company on Tuesday showed off two sleek new smartphones showcasing the best of what Windows 10 has to offer, including Windows Hello, which works with an iris scanner to recognize a device's user and instantly unlock it. The feature is currently available for beta on the devices.
The Microsoft Lumia 950 has a 5.2-inch screen while the Lumia 950 XL will appeal to large phone lovers with its 5.7-inch screen. Both phones also include a triple-LED flash on the rear of the phones, along with a forward-facing camera which also works with the iris-scanning security system.
"This is supposed to be the most productive phone you've ever picked up," said Panos Panay, Microsoft's vice president of devices.
The phone also comes with a fifth-generation optical image stabilization system making it perfect for smartphone photographers.
"I don't care if the image is moving or I'm moving, it's going to be clear," Panay said.
Both devices use the USB-C charging standard and include up to 32 GB of internal storage.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Never-before-seen video footage of Steve Jobs emerged on the fourth anniversary of the Apple co-founder’s death.
The videos — played Monday for Apple employees, and obtained by ABC News — feature Jobs in conversations with his colleagues.
“The greatest thing is when you do put your heart and soul into something over an extended period of time, and it is worth it,” he says in one of the video clips.
Jobs died of cancer Oct. 5, 2011, at age 56.
The visionary behind the Macintosh personal computer, the iPod and iPhone can be seen onscreen in two films, the documentary Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, and the biographical drama Steve Jobs, which was written by Aaron Sorkin and stars Michael Fassbender as Jobs.
Apple execs have criticized both films. So on the fourth anniversary of Jobs’ passing Monday, Apple showed employees the rare footage.
In one of the videos, he expresses concern for Apple’s employees.
“I want you all to go into one of our retail stores in the next eight to 10 weeks and just give one of the Apple retail employees a hug,” he is seen telling employees.
He also referenced his favorite band, the Beatles, as a motivating tool.
“Together, they helped amplify each other's really good tendencies and keep each other from making mistakes,” Jobs said. “And that's true of any team. It's never one person. And we got a really great team here at Apple.”
In one video clip, Jobs thanks employees for work on the iPhone the day before its release in 2007.
“I think everyone who has worked on iPhone and made those sacrifices is going to feel that it has been worth it,” he said. “This is a landmark product.”
He even addresses an employee’s inquiry about the history behind his ripped jeans.
“There is no history; they are just old like me, but I am very comfortable in them,” he says. “There is no excuse. There is no excuse.”
iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The first day of McDonald's national roll-out of its all-day breakfast is here, but before you get your hopes up, here's what you can and can't order.
The long-awaited menu for breakfast fans will vary by location. For those who love McGriddle sandwiches, you're out of luck. That item isn't a part of the all-day breakfast menu in any markets, so you'll be skipping on those 450 to 570 calories. Bagel sandwiches, cinnamon melts and "Big Breakfast" platters aren't included in the all-day menu either.
1. In most markets, you can order:
"Fruit ‘N Yogurt" parfait
"Fruit & Maple" oatmeal
hotcakes with sausage
2. In markets that offer McMuffins, you can't get the Egg White Delight or the steak, egg and cheese McMuffin, but you can get:
sausage McMuffin with egg
3. In markets that offer biscuits, you can't order the "southern style" chicken biscuit, but you can order:
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — With robot vacuums, self-driving cars, and other other examples of so-called machine learners becoming more common, one author and computer science professor says someday soon, your boss could be nothing more than a computer algorithm — and it would be better than your current flesh-and-blood one.
Pedro Domingos, computer science professor at the University of Washington and the author of the new book, The Master Algorithm: How the Quest for the Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake Our World, tells the Los Angeles Times that examples of machine learning is all around us already, from your Netflix recommendations, to dating website picks.
Domingos explains, "Companies increasingly use learning algorithms to select job applicants and to evaluate employees for promotions and raises, so machine learning could make or break your career."
"In fact," he notes, "in the future we'll often see workers whose boss is an algorithm, and they'll be surprisingly happy with it, because algorithms can be fairer, less egotistic and more helpful than at least mediocre bosses."
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- You might receive a lot of emails from networking website LinkedIn, but you might want to save one particular message from Oct. 2. In that message, the company says it agreed to pay $13 million in a proposed settlement for a lawsuit that claimed the company spammed customers without their consent.
Specifically, the settlement is related to LinkedIn's "Add Connections" service that allows members to import contacts from their email accounts and email invitations to one or more of those contacts. If a connection invitation wasn't accepted within a certain period of time, up to two emails were sent reminding the recipient that the invitation was pending.
A court found that LinkedIn members didn't consent to those two reminder emails, which used the members' names and likeness from their profile photos. While LinkedIn denies these allegations and any wrongdoing or liability, according to the settlement website, the company is agreeing to a payout.
The class members include current and former LinkedIn members who used "Add Connections" to import their external contacts who were non-members between Sept. 17, 2011 and Oct. 31, 2014.
To apply for a payment, members must submit a claim form online by Dec. 14 of this year or mail it. Class members can also file a form to exclude themselves from the class.
The payment will depend on how many people apply for a payout, but it will be at least $10, according to the settlement website. If the payout is less than $10, LinkedIn will add another $750,000 to its $13 million settlement fund.
The settlement website states that authorized claimants will receive a payout about 90 days after the court gives its final approval of the settlement, which takes place Feb. 11, 2016 in San Jose, California. LinkedIn did not respond to a request for comment.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The food companies that used prison labor to sell products at Whole Foods are defending their programs, saying they provide inmates with new skills and rehabilitation.
Whole Foods, under pressure from prison reform advocacy groups protesting the wages earned by those behind bars, announced last week that it will stop offering products made by prisoners next year.
The company specifically said it will stop selling tilapia sourced from Quixotic Farming and cheese distributed by Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy, two private companies that partner with Colorado Correctional Industries (CCI), a division of Colorado's Department of Corrections. These items will no longer be available to Whole Foods customers as of April 2016.
Michael Silverman, a Whole Foods spokesman, said in a statement, "One of our core values as a company is supporting our communities. We felt that supporting suppliers who found a way to be part of paid, rehabilitative work being done by inmates would help people get back on their feet and eventually become contributing members of society."
Silverman said that the program used local suppliers in Colorado who sourced product and ingredients through a "volunteer inmate rehabilitation program."
He continued: "We do believe that voluntary work programs like this do help people learn skills to become productive members of society, we always want to make sure we are in-tune with our customers' wishes. That is why we decided to stop selling products made by inmate labor programs, and expect that those products will be off our shelves by April, 2016 if not sooner."
The inmates are paid between 74 cents to $4 per day, according to Adrienne Jacobson, Colorado Department of Corrections' legal services associate director, adding that CCI doesn't contract directly with Whole Foods.
A spokesman for Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy defended its practices and argued that prison inmates were actually earning more than a minimum wage worker in Colorado, but only when those hourly rates were combined with the room and board and other services they receive in prison. The minimum wage in Colorado is $8.23 per hour.
"Inmates at the dairy are only required to work one, eight-hour shift, five days per week, but many elect to work double shifts and additional days per week," Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy said in a statement."Depending on their schedule, inmates can earn anywhere from $1,000 per year to over $2,500 per year. Most people don’t consider that it costs the Colorado tax payer $35,800 per inmate, per year for room and board, clothing, medical care, educational programs, counseling services, and required supervision. When factoring in these benefits, inmates are actually earning more than double the Colorado minimum wage."
Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy said its cheeses are sold primarily in Whole Foods stores in the Rocky Mountain region, northern and southern California, pockets of the Southwest, Boston and New York. Whole Foods’ cheese prices vary slightly by varietal and flavor, but on average, four ounces of Haystack Mountain sells for $5.99 and eight ounces sells at $10, according to Silverman.
Claire Constant, a spokeswoman for Quixotic Farming, said the majority of Quixotic's tilapia is raised on the company's Missouri farms and processed at its facility in Penrose, Colo., with civilian employees. She declined to comment about the products in Whole Foods stores.
"Quixotic Farming is proud of the work we do with Colorado Correctional Industries," Quixotic said in a statement. "We enjoy the opportunity to help the inmates who voluntarily apply for jobs at our CCI facility to learn a job skill that they can use when they are released. We appreciate the inmates who work hard to help raise our fish in Colorado, and if they excel and are interested in continuing the work once they are released, we try to help those inmates with job placements either at our facilities outside of CCI or in other seafood industry jobs."
Michael Allen, a prison reform advocate in Houston who helped lead the campaign petitioning Whole Foods to drop the products, told ABC News "I don’t know anyone who doesn’t appreciate earning a wage or even getting out of your cell, but where I have a problem is that they don’t pay anywhere near a fair wage to allow these people to help support their family on the outside."
Allen organized a protest in front of a Whole Foods store in Houston last month that urged the grocer to stop selling products made by prison labor.
“The point is corporations are profiting off of other peoples’ miseries. In order to impact the prison system, we have to try to take out if we can the profit-money motive,” Allen said. “I’ve gotten a lot of flak that this is rehabilitation, but it’s not real rehabilitation. It smells like someone is exploiting these prisoners and tax law for their own corporate profit.”
Gary Burtless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said the decision by Whole Foods was partly "based on a hard-headed calculation."
“It is an understandable decision given Whole Foods’s conclusion that some of its customers were uncomfortable with buying products made by prison labor," he explained. "If enough customers abandon Whole Foods to buy food at competitors’ stores, it calls into question whatever cost advantage Whole Foods was enjoying as a result of purchasing prisoner-made products.”
Oliver Hoffmann/iStock Editorial/ThinkStock(NEW YORK) -- American Apparel, once a juggernaut in the fashion industry, is now bankrupt, a precipitous fall for a company that was once worth $1 billion.
The California-based company filed for Chapter 11 protection in Delaware Monday. As part of a deal with lenders, the company said it will continue operating its business "without interruption to customers, employees and vendors" but it will close some of its stores outside the U.S. The company has 227 retail locations in 19 countries, 130 of which are in the U.S.
A spokeswoman for American Apparel declined to comment, instead referring ABC News to its bankruptcy document.
"This restructuring will enable American Apparel to become a stronger, more vibrant company," Paula Schneider, American Apparel's CEO, said in a statement. "By improving our financial footing, we will be able to refocus our business efforts on the execution of our turnaround strategy as we look to create new and relevant products, launch new design and merchandising initiatives, invest in new stores, grow our e-commerce business, and create captivating new marketing campaigns that will help drive our business forward."
American Apparel's deal with lenders was approved by its board.
Ronnie Moas of Standpoint Research, an investment research firm, said tight competition from other clothing retailers have put pressure on American Apparel for years.
"Zara, H&M and Forever 21 came in and ate these guys alive," Moas told ABC News. "There was too much competition and wage pressure. It was survival of the fittest."
The clothing company's stock once traded at $15 a share in late 2007, when the company was valued at around $1 billion.
"[American Apparel] basically got killed during the recession when the market crashed and they never recovered from that," Moas said.
But the final straw for American Apparel was the rising cost of litigation related to founder Dov Charney. Last year, the company ousted Charney for alleged employee sexual harassment and misconduct. He later sued the company for defamation.
"The nail in the coffin was the legal expenses tied to the CEO," Moas said. "It was such a distraction and they already had zero margin for error. They just couldn’t come up with money with the legal expenses at the same time."
But Moas is hesitant to blame the company's founder and management solely for its downfall. Moas, who said he supports the company's mission to pay its workers a "living" wage, said he believes other companies that use cheap foreign labor are also to blame.
"A lot of times you point the finger at the company when it goes to zero,"Moas noted. "In this particular instance, I’m pointing a finger at the company and the American consumer that they didn’t vote with their wallets that what these other companies are doing is not okay."
Oli Scarff/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced Monday morning a $20 billion settlement for state and federal claims against British Petroleum (BP) for damages caused by the explosion of Deepwater Horizon oil rig in April 2010.
"This is the largest settlement for a single entity in U.S. history," said Lynch. Once approved the court, it will include $7.1 billion for restoration work along the gulf and $4.9 billion for economic damages.
A 15 year restoration plan will be put in place to ensure money is spent effectively.
The 2010 rig explosion was the worst offshore disaster in U.S. history. Eleven workers were killed and millions of barrels of oil spilled into the gulf and onto the shores.
iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Facebook plans to launch an Internet beaming satellite into space next year that will bring online access to people in Sub-Saharan Africa.
"Over the last year Facebook has been exploring ways to use aircraft and satellites to beam internet access down into communities from the sky. To connect people living in remote regions, traditional connectivity infrastructure is often difficult and inefficient, so we need to invent new technologies," CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page.
Facebook and Eutelsat, a satellite operator, announced their collaboration Monday on a new satellite called the Amos-6, which will launch into a geostationary orbit next year, beaming Internet into communities that do not otherwise have access.
Under a multi-year agreement with satellite maker Spacecom, both companies will share the broadband payload on the Amos-6 to help accelerate connectivity in parts of Africa. Eutelsat said in a statement that the Internet will be optimized for users getting online -- perhaps for the first time ever -- through "affordable, off-the-shelf customer equipment."
While Zuckerberg has long said it is his mission to help connect the world, this latest announcement comes following a United Nations report last month which found 57 percent of the world's population is offline and unable to take advantage of the social and economic development opportunities the Internet provides.
"This is just one of the innovations we’re working on to achieve our mission with Internet.org," Zuckerberg wrote. "Connectivity changes lives and communities. We’re going to keep working to connect the entire world -- even if that means looking beyond our planet."
iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Following the launch of Windows 10, Microsoft is getting ready to unveil a line-up of new devices to help leverage the experience of the revamped software.
Microsoft is set to unveil the new devices at an event in New York City beginning at 10 a.m. ET on Tuesday.
While Microsoft is keeping its agenda under wraps until the big event, the company has sent out a few emails teasing the big surprises.
The main attraction is expected to be a follow-up to Microsoft's popular Surface Pro 3 tablet, which offers the same utility as a tablet and when paired with a snap on keyboard, becomes a laptop.
"Both Google and Apple have followed Microsoft's lead creating the 2-in-1 category and this event will reveal how Microsoft one-ups the companies who recently launched the Pixel C and the iPad Pro," Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, told ABC News.
Microsoft is expected to release at least one new smartphone, hoping to drum up excitement in an area where the company has lagged behind competitors.
"Microsoft hasn't been doing well in phones, so they will need to show off something big to become relevant again in smartphones," Moorhead said.
Also look for an update to Microsoft's first-ever wearable, the Microsoft Band. The sensor-packed wearable measures everything from sleep, activity and heart rate while also giving users the option of receiving haptic feedback throughout the day so they can be alerted to new text messages or Twitter mentions.
The launch will kick off a slew of more hardware events -- this time with partners -- on Microsoft's schedule for October. Following the Windows 10 event, Microsoft executives will be in Barcelona, Spain on Wednesday with HP, New York on Thursday with Dell and in San Francisco on Friday with ASUS.
The schedule is also packed the following week with an event in Taiwan with Acer, in Tokyo with Toshiba and culminating with a Lenovo announcement in San Francisco.