Boss to troops: Don’t blame me, it’s Obamacare!
Recapping the day's news and newsmakers through the lens of CNBC.
Open enrollment season is getting underway, and employers all over the country are telling the troops that employee health care premiums are going up, generally about 5 to 7 percent. That's practically an annual rite, but this year many employers have found a new way to deflect blame: they lay it on Obamacare. While the typical notice to employees offers no specifics or proof, it's common to cite vague bogeymen like "federally mandated health care changes." One survey showed half the employers acknowledging their premium hikes had nothing to do with the Affordable Care Act, though some cost increases, like coverage for children until they turn 26, clearly are caused by ACA. Over the past decade, employee health insurance contributions have gone up 89 percent—from $2,412 to $4,565 per year.
"Most of the language in open enrollment guides is not specific about the portion of the increases attributable to the Affordable Care Act, allowing companies and insurers to use the new law as an excuse for increases they might have implemented anyway."—CNBC's Scott Cohn
Top MBAs cool on Wall Street
How's your business doing at recruiting top-level talent? If you're finding it harder than it ought to be, maybe it's because your industry is falling from favor. Maybe you're on Wall Street. A preliminary tally from the Harvard Business School (HBS) shows, for example, that investment banks harvested just 5 percent of this year's newly minted HBS MBAs, down from 12 percent in 2007 and 10 percent as recently as 2011. Another industry losing its luster is private equity. Its share of grads fell to 10 percent this year, from 15 percent a year earlier. What's hot? Top talent likes technology and telecommunications. Those industries attracted 18 percent of those new MBAs, up from 7 percent in 2006 through 2009.
"Wall Street appears to be losing its grip on the nation's best and brightest business students. More and more, tech is where it's at."—CNBC's John Carney
A crucial system as snafu-ridden as Obamacare
Parents of college-bound high school seniors know that autumn is a madhouse of SAT preparation, early admissions applications and alumni interviews. You need a spreadsheet to keep on top of the deadlines. If you're one of these moms or dads, better leave extra time this year to handle common snafus with the common app. Though it's meant to make things easier—one basic application for more than 500 schools—the Common Application has been plagued with glitches like those undermining Obamacare. The recently redesigned system is prone to crashes and sometimes refuses to do routine tasks like accepting uploads of teacher recommendations. In response, some understanding colleges are loosening early-decision deadlines, many of which are Nov. 1.
"It crashed every single time I put in something new. The browser would just log me out. It would delete everything. It took me forever. I had to use Firefox and Chrome, and all these different browsers."—Kenji Johnston, a 17-year-old high school senior in Bloomfield Township, Mich., trying to apply to Harvard and University of Michigan
Good news for SkyMall's captive readers
If you travel a lot, you know how annoying those "turn off devices" periods can be. If you didn't bring a book or pick up a $6 magazine in the terminal, you're stuck re-reading the airline mag that seems to never change, or looking again at catalogue items like the bedbug killers. Well, the FAA has finally taken pity on us, announcing today a relaxation of policies on some devices during takeoff and landing periods. Phone calls, texts and other transmissions will still be banned, but passive devices like e-readers and tablets will be okay. Some experienced hands worry about confrontations as attendants try to determine if tablets and readers are really on Airline Mode. If you're flying soon, pack a book, as the airlines must do some testing before the new rules take effect next year.
"People are always pretending to turn things off even when they're not."—former flight attendant Tiffany Hawk
—By Jeff Brown, Special to CNBC.com