Figuratively Speaking for September 19, 2010

Percentage of adult Americans who smoke, according to Gallup-Healthways Well Being Index data from 2009: 21

Percentage of adult Americans in Utah who smoke (lowest): 13

Percentage of adult Americans in Kentucky and West Virginia who smoke (the highest): 31

Source: Gallup.

Percentage of air travelers who said they had been surprised at the airport by unexpected fees for things such as checking bags, requesting a seat assignment, getting extra legroom or flying standby, according to a survey by the American Society of Travel Agents: 66

Percentage of travelers who said they were surprised by such fees often or nearly every time they travel by air: 29

Source: American Society of Travel Agents.

Year that people in lower Manhattan stood in awe when four streets, including Wall Street, started to glow with the light from 400 bulbs, the first public showing of electric lights staged by Thomas Edison, according to the U.S. Census Bureau: 1882

Even by 1940, percentage of U.S. homes that still were not electrified: 20

Source: U.S. Census Bureau.

Average percentage of money that can be saved on groceries by filling a shopping cart with store brands over national brands, according to a study from Consumer Reports: 30

In 21 head-to-head taste match-ups, number of times national brands won: 7

Number of times the store brand came out on top: 3

Number that resulted in ties: 11

Source: Consumer Reports.

Ranks of listening more intently, planning regular dates, and just turning off the television on the list of ways to promote passion, according to a survey of couples by the makers of Sensis condoms: 1(tie), 3

Percentage of respondents who say that ringing phones are a passion killer: 70

Source: Kelton Research.

Estimated cumulative perentage of the global lighting market by 2020 that will be made by LED (light emitting diodes) technology, according to The Third Cycle: 32 to 60

Estimated number of kilowatt-hours of electricity that will be saved in the next decade with the use of LEDs: 5 trillion

Number of full-size power plants that could be removed from the grid due to the energy saved by the full adoption of LED lighting: 559

Source: The Third Cycle.

In 2009, percentage more pay taken home by CEOs of the 50 firms that have laid off the most workers since the onset of the economic crisis than their peers at S&P 500 firms, according to the "CEO Pay and the Great Recession" study from the Institute for Policy Studies: 42

Average CEO pay at the 50 layoff leaders in 2009, compared to the S&P 500 average of $8.5 million: $12 million

Percentage of the firms that announced mass layoffs that did so at a time of positive earnings reports: 72

Source: Institute for Policy Studies.

Estimated number of TV households in the U.S. for the 2010-2011 broadcast season, an increase of 1 million homes from last year, according to Nielsen: 115.9 million

Ranks of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia on the list of the top local TV markets: 1, 2, 3, 4

Source: Nielsen Analytics.

Estimated percentage of the 139 million currently employed workers in the United States who suffered at least one spell of unemployment during the Great Recession that began in December 2007, according to Pew Research: 26 (or 36 million)

Percentage of the re-employed who say they are being paid more now than at their former job: 38

Percentage who say their current benefits are better: 28

Source: Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.

Salary for a production worker, reflecting only a 1 percent increase since 2009, according to the 2010 Compensation Data Manufacturing survey: $29,400

Salary for a tool and die maker, 2.4 percent higher than last year: $47,300

Salary for warehouse workers, up from $28,800 in 2009: $30,200

Source: Compdata Surveys.

Idle Thought

"You desire to know the art of living, my friend? It is contained in one phrase: Make use of suffering." -- Henri Frederic Amiel, philosopher

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

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