Amazon wants to hire 120,000 U.S. workers for the holidays

Amazon is gearing up for the holidays, and plans to hire 120,000 temporary U.S. workers to help it fulfill the millions of orders coming its way.

The surge of temporary help will nearly double the number of the workers it has at its fulfillment centers, sorting centers and customer service sites. The company will be hiring in 33 states.

Amazon hired the same number of seasonal workers last year, and 100,000 workers for the 2015 holiday season. Overall the company has more than 200,000 permanent U.S. employees.

It’s getting harder to find holiday employees with unemployment now at 4.2%, the lowest jobless rate since 2001. The Labor Department said Wednesday that there are 6.1 million unfilled job openings across the economy, essentially unchanged from the record level reached the month before. A little over one in ten of those openings are in retail.

Earlier this fall Walmart, the nation’s largest employer, said it would fill its need for more seasonal help by giving additional hours to its existing part-time workers, rather than bringing on additional employees.

Social Security checks to get a tiny increase in 2017

— NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Social Security checks are about get a little bit bigger. Very little.

Checks for 66 million beneficiaries will rise between 0.2% to 0.5% in 2017. That works out to between $2.61 and $6.53 a month more for the typical retiree, according to the American Institute for Economic Research, a nonpartisan think tank.

The average retirement benefit check is currently $1,305.30, according to government figures.

This is by far the the smallest percentage increase of any year in which benefits did rise.

But it’s better than 2016, when Social Security checks didn’t increase at all. There have only been three years without any increase at all since Social Security’s cost-of-living adjustment was put in place in 1975 — 2010, 2011 and 2016.

In all three of those years, falling gasoline prices played a big role in capping inflation, which is the measure that Social Security increases are tied to.

The government won’t release the official cost of living adjustment until after the September inflation reading, which is due on Oct. 18. But the AIER’s estimates, which use government data, are typically on the mark.

The formula used to calculate Social Security benefits is somewhat flawed, since retirees typically do not drive as much as younger workers who commute to work. So they don’t benefit as much from the lower gas prices. And retirees often spend a bigger proportion of their money on health care, which has seen prices rise faster than overall inflation.

At the same time, retirees get hurt by low interest rates, since many depend on savings for at least part of their living expenses.

Why your Starbucks barista seemed a little happier this morning

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — If your Starbucks barista seemed particularly happy for a Monday morning, there’s a reason: The whole company just got a raise.

Pay increases of 5% to 15% took effect Monday for all 157,000 Starbucks employees in the United States.

The raises were announced in July. They include an increase in base pay of at least 5% and a doubling of company stock awards for employees who have been there at least two years.

The bumps apply to workers in Starbucks’ 7,600 company-operated stores, but not in the almost 5,000 licensed locations operated by other companies.

Starbucks does not disclose its pay scale, saying only that it depends on where an employee lives. But workers in stores get an average of $9.35 an hour, according to, which tracks salaries. Shift supervisors get an average of $11.68 an hour, according to the site.

The Starbucks raises are the latest move by a major U.S. retailer to hike pay to fill positions in an improving labor market.

Starbucks didn’t say what it would spend on the raises, but it previously said it would spend $275 million in 2015 and 2016 on additional “digital and partner investments.” A significant part of that will go to wages, spokesman Corey duBrowa said.

Customers are paying for it, at least in part. The company raised the prices of some drinks in July, as much as 30 cents in some cases.

Starbucks had faced complaints from employees unhappy that their hours had been cut. An online petition posted a few weeks before the pay hikes were announced claimed that cutbacks in hours and staffing were killing morale and hurting customer service. The petition got 13,000 signatures before the raises were announced, and 4,000 more since.

CEO Howard Schultz addressed the complaints in a letter to employees announcing the raises, saying, “You have my personal commitment that we will work with every partner to ensure you have the hours you need.”

Even after that promise, some employees told CNN they were unhappy with the hours they were being scheduled to work.

Jay Z’s Tidal streaming service sued by musician

— Jay Z started streaming music service Tidal last year, claiming that it would benefit artists. Yet a recording artist is suing Tidal, which allegedly paid him less than he’s owed.

The suit was filed in federal court in New York on Saturday by John Emanuele, half of the duo American Dollar.

Jay Z has attracted some high profile artists to Tidal, such as Kayne West, Rihanna and Taylor Swift, to the site with his claim that it would be better for artists than other services such as Spotify and Apple Music. He said it would be owned by the artists That claim is mocked by the lawsuit.

“Different owner, same game,” it charges. “Defendants’ systematic failure to obtain … licenses is part of an egregious, calculated, and ongoing campaign of deliberate copyright infringement.”

But a spokesmen for Tidal said the service is up to date on all royalty payments it owes to Emanuele and all other artists and that the suit is without merit The service said the songs were streamed very infrequently while on the service and have now been removed.

“This claim serves as nothing other than a perfect example of why America needs tort reform,” said the service.

The suit charges that no matter how Tidal is treating some of its big name stars, it is ripping off independent artists whose songs are on the service.

“Defendants made a calculated business decision to avoid the cost of complying with the law,” the suit charges. “Instead, defendants entered into blanket licenses that cover most of the songs in their library, but ignored the 35% made up of independent artists.”

The suit says that Emanuele holds copyrights on 118 songs, and that Tidal owes him $150,000 per song, or $17.7 million. But the suit seeks class action status on behalf of other artists on Tidal.


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Roger Goodell’s pay is cut to $34 million

— NFL commissioner Roger Goodell took a pay cut of nearly $1 million during his tumultuous 2014-15 season, according to a new tax filing.

But with a salary of $34.1 million, he still earned more than all but one NFL player.

Only Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan took home more that season — $36.5 million, thanks to a huge signing bonus, according to salary tracker Spotrac.

Goodell came under fire during 2014-15 over how he handled the league’s domestic violence cases.

He admitted he made a mistake when he originally gave a two-game suspension to Baltimore Raven Ray Rice during the 2014 season after a video showed Rice dragging his unconscious fiance out of a casino elevator. When another video surface showing him knocking her out, even some sponsors criticized him. But he weathered the storm.

In 2013-14, Goodell earned $35 million, which was a steep cut from the $44.2 million he earned the prior year.

Overall, he has been paid $174.1 million by the league in the seven seasons for which data is available, far more than any player received in the same period.

The pay for the commissioners of other sports leagues isn’t disclosed.

The NFL has to disclose Goodell’s pay because during the 2014-15 season it still operated as a not-for-profit organization, dispersing profits to the league’s 32 teams rather than keeping the money itself.

But last year the league decided to end its not-for-profit status, which means it won’t have to disclose commissioner pay.

Goodell has helped the league and its owners achieve tremendous financial success, making the NFL by far the most profitable sports league in the world.

The NFL likely had revenue of more than $12 billion in the 2014-15 season, according to a CNNMoney analysis of publicly disclosed data, up 16% thanks to new TV rights deals, more sponsorship revenue and higher ticket sales.

Sales will continue to grow thanks to a new rights deal the league just reached with NBC and CBS to show Thursday night games.

Obesity group with ties to Coke shuts down

— An anti-obesity group backed by Coca-Cola has closed after criticism of ties to the soft drink maker.

The Global Energy Balance Network had argued that exercise the key to combating obesity, downplaying the need to cut back on consumption of sugary soft drinks.

But it has shut down its Web site. A message on it says the group was “discontinuing operations due to resource limitations.”

The University of Colorado’s medical school had received a $1 million grant from Coke to support scientists in the group, and the University of South Carolina had received $500,000.

But the University of Colorado returned the money. “While the network continues to advocate for good health through a balance of healthy eating habits and exercise, the funding source has distracted attention from its worthwhile goal,” the school said in a statement last month announcing the return of the funds. The University of South Carolina kept its grant money from Coke.

The anti-obesity group had denied it was letting Coke affect its findings.

But at one point its Website included a video from South Carolina professor Steve Blair, the vice president of the group, in which he said: “Most of the focus in the popular media and the scientific press is, ‘Oh they’re eating too much, eating too much, eating too much’ blaming fast food, blaming sugary drinks and so on, and there’s really virtually no compelling evidence that that, in fact is the cause.”

Other public health experts criticized the Global Energy Balance Network and its funding support from Coke, comparing it to the tobacco industry’s funding of scientists who denied a link between cigarettes and cancer.

“Unfortunately, Coca-Cola and its academic helpers won’t accept the well-documented evidence that sugary drinks are a major contributor to obesity, heart disease and diabetes,” said a letter signed by 36 public health advocates after Coke’s support for the group was first disclosed by the New York Times.

For a time, the group pushed back against the criticism.

“GEBN is not about minimizing diet or even the role of sugar-sweetened beverages in development of obesity,” it said in response to the attacks. Its mission was to find an “evidence-based approach to ending obesity.”

Neither Blair nor University of Colorado professor James Hill, the founder and president of the group, responded to a request for comment on its closing.


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VIDEO: Tearful Tracy Morgan thanks Walmart after accident

— Tracy Morgan thanked Walmart, the company’s whose truck hit his car a year ago seriously injuring him and killing a friend, saying that the company “stepped up to the plate in a tremendous way.”

CNN Video

Tracy Morgan gives first TV interview since accident

Comedian Tracy Morgan did his first television interview since being involved in a deadly car accident last year.

In an emotional interview on NBC’s Today Show Monday in which he broke down in tears several times, Morgan said he was grateful that Walmart had taken full responsibility for the accident and had also settled with the family of his friend who was killed, James McNair.

“I’m just happy that they looked out for Jimmy Mac’s family. He can rest in peace now,” Morgan said. “In the beginning there was a misunderstanding but that got squared away. They came through in the clutch.”

Walmart CEO Doug McMillion plans to speak directly to Morgan and his attorney Benedict Morelli later this week to apologize, Morelli said during the interview.

“I thought that was a huge gesture,” he said.

The Walmart driver was traveling more than 20 mph over the speed limit when his truck struck the limo bus that Morgan, McNair and others were traveling in on the New Jersey Turnpike in June 2014. Safety officials said the truck driver had been awake for more than 24 consecutive hours before the crash.

Morgan’s interview was his first public appearance since the accident. He said he does not remember the crash itself and has still not been able to return to work but hopes to do so.

“I love comedy. I can’t wait to get back to her. But right now my goal is just to heal and get better. I’m not 100% yet,” he said.

Morgan was in a coma following the accident, and suffered multiple broken bones and brain trauma. He said he has good days and bad days, the latter when he forgets things and has headaches. But he said the emotional loss has been more difficult than the physical injury.

“Bones heal. The loss of my friend will never heal,” he said.


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Floyd Mayweather: The star athlete no sponsor will touch

— Floyd Mayweather is one of the most successful athletes in the world, but no advertiser wants him selling their product.

Even companies such as Nike and Coca-Cola that have signed or stayed with athletes who find themselves in legal trouble, such as Michael Vick or Kobe Bryant won’t touch Mayweather, who is undefeated in 47 professional matches.

“You can’t deny people want to watch him, and people have been waiting a long time to see this fight. It doesn’t mean you’ll buy a product he’s endorsing or believe him as a spokesman,” said Bob Dorfman, editor of the Sports Marketers Scouting Report.

Mayweather has pled guilty to domestic violence charges at least three separate times. He served served two months in jail in 2012 for attacking the mother of his 9- and 10-year old sons in front of them. He’s also plead guilty or was found guilty on domestic violence charges in 2001, 2002 and 2003, serving suspended sentences and house arrest. A former fiancee is suing him over allegations that he beat and threatened her for two years.

Even if he wins his much anticipated match with Manny Pacquiao Saturday, he probably still won’t score any endorsements, Dorfman said.

Advertisers avoided Mayweather before he landed in jail, thanks to his habit of going on racist and homophobic rants about other fighters, including Pacquiao.

He did one commercial for AT&T in 2009 in which he didn’t have any lines. And he had a shoe deal with Reebok. But neither deal was renewed in 2010.

And unlike other athletes who apologize when they find themselves in legal trouble, Mayweather has never acknowledged or apologized his guilt despite guilty pleas.

He defended his domestic abuse record to CNN’s Rachel Nichols last fall, saying that there were “no pictures” of the abuse, even though he had plead guilty to the charges.

Mayweather was also a bigger defender of Ravens NFL running back Ray Rice, than Rice was himself. Rice issued numerous apologies after knocking out his then fiancee and pleading guilty to aggravated assault.

Mayweather is the world’s best-paid athlete according to most estimates, based solely on his earnings in the ring. So it’s not like he needs the sponsor money.

He earned more than $100 million in 2014 alone, and will likely get at least $120 million for Saturday’s fight.

Mayweather’s vast wealth is another reason why he probably won’t get any endorsement deals — few advertisers could pay enough to make it worth his while.

“There’s a lot of brands who might be interested if they could get him for $50,000 or $100,000,” said Matt Delzell managing director of The Marketing Arm, which negotiates celebrity endorsement deals. “But not at the prices he would demand.”

Nestle says it is dropping artificial flavor and color from chocolate bars

— Nestle says it will become the first major candy maker to eliminate all artificial color and flavors from its chocolates.

The company said the change will be completed by the end of this year for more than 250 products including Nestle Crunch, Butterfinger, 100 Grand, Oh Henry and Baby Ruth chocolate bars.

It said it believes believes consumers won’t be able to tell the difference.

“When making these changes to more than 75 recipes, maintaining the great taste and appearance consumers expect from the chocolate brands they know and love is our No. 1 priority,” said Leslie Mohr, the nutrition, health and wellness manager for Nestle.

For example, Nestle said the crunchy center of its Butterfinger bars will be colored by annatto, which comes from the seeds found in the fruit from the achiote tree. That replaces its use of the dyes Red 40 and Yellow 5.

In Crunch bars, natural vanilla flavor will replace artificial vanillin.

Now at Wal-Mart: Health insurance advice for customers

— Wal-Mart Stores is getting into the health insurance business, teaming with an agent to offer customers the chance to compare insurance plans and enroll in the one they pick.

The firm,, will have agents in 2,700 Walmart stores to help answer customers’ questions about plans and enroll them either online or by phone.

“For years, our customers have told us that there is too much complexity when it comes to understanding their health insurance options,” said Labeed Diab, president of Wal-Mart’s health & wellness unit.

The company said research from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows 60% of people have difficulty understanding their health insurance options and nearly 40% believe they picked the wrong plan after enrollment.

DirectHealth will help customers who are age 65 and older weigh 1,700 Medicare supplement plans from 12 leading carriers. Open enrollment for those plans runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7.

Those under age 65 will have access to thousands of health exchange plans from more than 300 companies. The open enrollment period for those customers takes place from Nov. 15 to Feb. 15.


™ & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.