Figuratively Speaking by John MacIntyre

Figuratively Speaking For November 23, 2008

From January through August 2008, the number of new "functional candies" (products providing nutrients like calcium, protein, fiber, etc.) that were released, according to a survey by the National Confectioners Association: 159

Source: National Confectioners Association

Percentage of Americans who are uncomfortable when introducing themselves to strangers at a party, according to PrimaLoft's annual Comfort Zone survey, conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Media: 34

Percentage of men who are very or somewhat comfortable introducing themselves to strangers: 72

Percentage of women who are very or somewhat comfortable introducing themselves to strangers: 58

Source: PrimaLoft

On average, the number of seasonal workers that each American manager responsible for hiring hourly workers plans on hiring, according to a SnagAJob.com survey conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs: 3.7

Average number of seasonal workers who were hired during last year's holiday period: 5.6

Average pay per hour for a seasonal employee: $10

Source: SnagAJob.com

Estimated number of turkeys that will be eaten at Thanksgiving, according to "interesting facts" from the National Turkey Federation: 46 million

Average weight of a turkey purchased for Thanksgiving: 15 pounds

In order to have enough for the feast and leftovers, too, the recommended number of pounds of uncooked turkey per person to buy: 1

Source: National Turkey Federation (NTF

Percentage of Catholic Charities that reported an increase in requests for financial assistance, according to a national survey by Catholic Charities USA: 86

Percentage that saw more people requesting mortgage, rental or temporary housing assistance: 70

Percentage that recorded an increase in requests for food assistance: 76

Source: Catholic Charities USA.

Percentage of executives who cited better communication as the best remedy for low morale, according to a survey developed by Accountemps: 48

Percentage of respondents who said lack of open and honest communication with staff members tops the list of management missteps that can erode morale: 33

Percentage who said recognition programs, which acknowledge an employee's efforts and achievements, were a good way to remedy low morale: 19

Source: Accountemps.

Percentage of consumers who plan to cut back on holiday spending, according to a Consumer Reports holiday shopping poll: 76

Percentage of Americans who still carry debt from last year's holiday shopping: 6

Source: Consumer Reports.

Percentage of online consumers who have some worry that they will fall victim to identity theft, according to the findings from the "2008 PayPal Trust and Safety Study," conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs in the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom on behalf of PayPal: 75

Estimated percentage of online consumers in Canada, the U.K. and the U.S. who have been victims of identity theft: 10

Estimated percentage of online consumers in France, Germany and Spain who have been victims of identity theft: 5

Source: Ipsos Public Affairs.

Amount of money the United States secured in settlements and judgments in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2008, by pursuing allegations of fraud against the federal government, according to an announcement by the Justice Department: $1.34 billion

Estimated total recoveries since 1986, when Congress substantially strengthened the civil False Claims Act: $21 billion

Percentage of this year's recoveries that are associated with suits initiated by private citizens (known as "relators") under the False Claims Act's qui tam provisions ("qui tam" is a writ whereby a private individual who assists a prosecution can receive all or part of any penalty imposed): 78

Source: U.S. Department of Justice.

Date of "Black Friday" this year, the day after Thanksgiving when Americans begin their Christmas shopping in earnest, according to a survey by Taubman Centers: Nov. 28

Percentage of Christmas shoppers who peruse the newspaper to find out about the in-store specials: 46

Percentage who peruse newspaper inserts: 59

Source: Taubman Centers Inc.

Idle Thought

"It is impossible to imagine Goethe or Beethoven being good at billiards or golf." -- H.L. Mencken, writer, editor and critic (1880-1956).

(Readers can contact John MacIntyre at johnmacintyre(at)bwr.eastlink.ca.)