News In Brief

MIDDAY UPDATE: December retail numbers, tax refunds and free college

Katharine Crnko Jan 14, 2011

December retail numbers saw .6 percent increase according to today’s report from the U.S. Commerce Department. Jill Schlesinger of CBS/MoneyWatch says consumers are still concerned about the housing and job markets, and are more inclined to save their money than spend it. The Commerce Department’s report could indicate how consumers will use their upcoming tax refund — to pay off debts.

Some Americans this year will receive their tax refund as a prepaid debit card instead of a check. This plan could save the government about $40 million a year, according to Fiscal Assistant Secretary Richard Gregg. Gregg explains the program also hopes to “provide a banking service to individuals who may not have a bank account.”

And this sounds like a great deal for British high school graduates: free college, housing, and a $30,000 salary per year. But there’s one catch: the degree program is in accounting. Accounting giant KPMG hopes the perks of the program will attract students. The company admits that it launched its program because of trouble recruiting and retaining staff.

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