Trends to Watch

Recession Helps Cut Auto Deaths

Car crash fatalities fell in 40 states in 08, driven partly by people driving less because of the recession and seat belt use reaching a record high of 83%. That's according to a survey by the Governors Highway Safety Association. Other reasons for the decline include high gas prices in the first part of the year that caused people to drive less or even more slowly to boost fuel efficiency. The survey follows a government report that found auto fatalities dropped 10% in Jan.-Oct. If that trend held up in Nov.-Dec., car crash deaths could reach their lowest level in 42 years.

Robo-Medics Eyed for Battlefield

A snakelike robotic arm could help military medics to check wounded soldiers in the midst of a battle without putting the medics in harm's way. Carnegie Mellon Univ. scientists said the robot includes a camera that can send images back to medics, who would guide the device using a wireless controller. Researchers are also working with the Army on a similar robot that would be integrated into a portable intensive care unit to help medics quickly assess battlefield injuries.

College Degree is Essential

55% of Americans say a college degree is essential for success, up from just 31% in 2000, a new survey said. The perceived need for a degree fell in the 1990s as Internet startups amassed quick fortunes, which were largely lost in the dot-com crash. Most surveyed, however, say college costs pose a major obstacle, with 70% expressing doubt that students can get the financial aid they need.

Execs Less Optimistic About Future

Only 21% of CEOs worldwide are very confident of revenue growth in the next 12 months, down from 50% a year ago, says an annual survey of CEOs by PricewaterhouseCoopers. And executives are gloomier about longer-term growth prospects. Just 34% said they're very confident of growth over the next 3 years, down from 42% last year. In addition, CEOs said they're keeping an eye on energy costs, with 80% taking steps to cut energy expenses and 50% seeking alternative energy sources to power some of their operations.

Smaller Homes

Homes being built in the U.S. are getting smaller as people downsize by choice or by necessity. The average size of homes started in Q3 last year was 2,438 square feet, down from 2,629 square feet in the previous quarter, according to U.S. census data. Among homebuilders, 88% say they're planning to build a greater number of smaller homes, according to an industry survey.

Job Web Sites See Surge in Traffic

The number of Americans visiting job-search sites grew 51% to 18.8 mil last year, making such sites the fastest-growing Web content category, according to ComScore. The tracking firm said that as layoffs spread, the final months of '08 were among that year's most heavily trafficked; those months are usually a time of seasonal softness as people focus on the holidays. led the category with 9.1 mil visitors, up 78% vs. a year ago. was No. 2 with 6.7 mil, up 62%. Yahoo's HotJobs was No. 3 with 5.6 mil, up 146%.


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“What we think or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence.  The only thing of consequence is what we do.”

‘What gets measured gets done.”

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