Business Highlights

Published on NewsOK Modified: September 24, 2014 at 4:49 pm •  Published: September 24, 2014
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Middle-class squeeze: From day care to health care

WASHINGTON (AP) — Three years ago, Jason Prosser was stunned to discover the cost of child care for his newborn son — so much so that he and his wife postponed having a second child.

The day care center they found near their Seattle home tops $10,000 a year. Next year, their son, now 3, can attend a Catholic preschool less than half as costly.

He and his wife are among legions of middle-class families who are straining under the weight of accelerating costs for a range of essential services from day care to health care. And now a study by the Center for American Progress shows just how heavy the burden has grown: For a typical married couple with two children, the combined cost of child care, housing, health care and savings for college and retirement jumped 32 percent from 2000 to 2012 — and that's after adjusting for inflation.

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Wal-Mart's mobile checking account nixes fees

NEW YORK (AP) — Wal-Mart is the latest company to get rid of fees that traditional banks charge customers who don't have enough money in their accounts to cover purchases.

The world's largest retailer said Wednesday that it teamed up with Green Dot Corp., a company known for its reloadable prepaid cards, to bring mobile checking accounts to its shoppers. The accounts won't charge overdraft and bounced-check fees.

It's the latest attempt to offer banking services that cater to cash-strapped Americans who are still struggling in the economic recovery. Bank of America and Citibank both launched checking accounts this year that don't charge overdraft fees, which can normally cost up to $35 per transaction.

The moves come as overdraft fees, which occur when a customer doesn't have enough cash in their account to cover a purchase, have come under increasing scrutiny by regulators in the past few years.

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Anti-addiction groups call for new FDA chief

WASHINGTON (AP) — Anti-addiction activists are calling for the Food and Drug Administration's top official to step down, saying the agency's policies have contributed to a national epidemic of prescription painkiller abuse.

In a letter released Wednesday, more than a dozen groups ask the Obama administration's top health official to replace FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg, who has led the agency since 2009. The FDA has been under fire from public health advocates, politicians and law enforcement officials since last October, when it approved a powerful new painkiller called Zohydro against the recommendation of its own medical advisers.

The new letter is the first formal call for new leadership at the FDA over the issue.

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AP Exclusive: Drones left out of air traffic plans

WASHINGTON (AP) — Designers of the ambitious U.S. air traffic control system of the future neglected to take drones into account, raising questions about whether it can handle the escalating demand for the unmanned aircraft and predicted congestion in the sky.

Congress passed legislation creating NextGen in 2003, and directed the agency to accommodate all types of aircraft, including drones.

The program, which is not expected to be completed for at least another decade, is replacing radar and radio communications, technologies rooted in the early 20th century, with satellite-based navigation and digital communications.

The FAA has spent more than $5 billion on the complex program and is nearly finished installing hardware and software for several key systems. But the further it progresses, the more difficult it becomes to make changes.

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Learning how to survive a plane crash

LONDON (AP) — They raced down the slide, one by one, like children on a playground. At the bottom, smartphone photos were snapped and high fives exchanged.

The frequent fliers were all smiling and laughing — and quietly hoping to never use an evacuation slide again. Doing so would mean their plane had just crashed.

The slide demonstration was part of a half-day safety course that encourages passengers to be aware of their surroundings and familiarize themselves with what happens in an emergency. The two dozen participants learned the best way to brace for a crash, how to open aircraft doors and why to wait until exiting a plane to inflate life vests.

Started as a training exercise for oil company employees who routinely flew to remote locations, the course is now open to frequent fliers willing to pay $265, although most participants are still sent by their companies. There are up to three classes a week.

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