Opinion The Big Crunch


  Tuesday, 18 Apr 2017 | 3:08 PM ET

Here are the US states — and the companies — that use the most H-1B visas

It could soon be a lot harder for U.S. companies to recruit skilled workers from overseas.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday for a comprehensive review of visa programs that allow U.S. companies to hire foreign workers instead of their American counterparts.

On the campaign trail, Trump often railed against the H-1B visa, a nonimmigrant visa that lets U.S. companies employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. The H-1B has been a favorite of the tech industry, and tech leaders are anxious to keep it. But a recent research paper estimated the use of the visa had suppressed overall tech industry wages by up to 5.1 percent.

New Jersey would be the state most affected by a change to the visa system. In 2017, employers in the Garden State applied for around 5,400 H-1B visas per one million people, according to a CNBC analysis of data from MyVisaJobs.com, an aggregator of visa applications. Delaware, California and Massachusetts also are high on the list.

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  Tuesday, 18 Apr 2017 | 7:11 AM ET

Steve Ballmer puts the entire government in a spreadsheet

Posted ByMark Fahey

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer isn't satisfied with owning the Los Angeles Clippers and teaching at Stanford and USC.

He's also trying to improve political discourse by making government financial data easier to access. And he's doing it by publishing data structured similarly to the 10-K filings companies issue each year — expenses, revenues and key metrics pulled from dozens of government data sources and compiled into a single massive collection of tables.

Companies typically organize revenue into segments, and Ballmer's USAFacts team has done the same. The U.S. government "10-K" pulls its segments from the missions mandated by the preamble to the Constitution:

  • Establish justice and ensure domestic tranquility
  • Provide for the common defense
  • Promote the general welfare
  • Secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

Here's how the spending on those missions has increased over the last few decades:

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  Thursday, 13 Apr 2017 | 12:49 PM ET

Watch for executives to blame the late Easter for any weak first-quarter earnings

Blame it on the bunny.

Every year, dozens of companies reference the Easter holiday in their earnings conference calls. From lingerie to soft drinks to airline tickets, companies across the S&P 500 expect to get a basketful of extra revenue from the holiday in late March or early April, but it doesn't always work out.

Any company expecting a boost in the first quarter like we saw last year is counting its Easter eggs before they hatch. That's because the holiday doesn't fall in the same quarter every year — instead, it's on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox. That means it could be any day between March 22 and April 25. This year, it's April 16.

Last year was special, with the holiday falling in March, as it also did in 2013 and 2008. With Easter shifting back to April this year, first-quarter results are going to look weak when compared to last year. Executives will be sure to throw the Easter bunny under the bus.

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  Wednesday, 12 Apr 2017 | 11:45 AM ET

Blue states would benefit most from Republican tax plan, study says

Posted ByNick Wells

They didn't vote for Donald Trump, but blue states might reap more benefits from Republican tax plans. That's according to a CNBC analysis of fresh estimates from the Tax Foundation, a right-of-center think tank.

The foundation's new analysis adds a state-by-state look to a study done last summer when the House Republicans released their tax reform plan. It estimates the gain in after-tax income for the median household in each state. Overall, the tax reform plan would increase after-tax incomes of median households by 8.7 percent, the study found.

But that figure is different for each state, depending on the economic breakdown of the population. CNBC combined the tax-gain estimates with election returns and population data.

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  Tuesday, 11 Apr 2017 | 3:00 PM ET

Americans being forced off planes against their will is actually a regular thing

Being physically dragged off a plane may be rare, but passengers are being denied boarding against their wishes every day.

United Airlines is under fire after a video surfaced of a passenger being forcibly removed from a United Express flight operated by Republic Airways.

Airlines are well within their rights to deny a passenger the right to board a plane, but they have to ask for volunteers first. If they don't get enough volunteers, the airline uses a computer system to choose passenger to block from the aircraft.

Last year alone, more than 40,000 people were involuntarily denied boarding on 12 major U.S. airlines, according to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Those are people who declined to take compensation, but were kicked off anyway.

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  Tuesday, 11 Apr 2017 | 11:14 AM ET

Corporate debt is at new highs, and these companies owe the most

Posted ByMark Fahey

Corporate debt hit new highs in 2016, even as earnings grew at a slower pace. The gradual increase in debt in recent years has attracted attention because the ratio of debt to corporate earnings usually peaks during economic downturns, not during economic expansions.

That imbalance, which has led some investors to worry about the health of the market, is not spread evenly across all companies. Much of the debt accumulation relative to earnings has taken place in a few industries, according to an analysis by CNBC.

Over the last decade, total annual EBITDA for the S&P 500 as a whole rose and then flattened, while debt issuance has continued to take off in recent years. That means that the net debt over EBITDA ratio, or how many years it would take to pay off that corporate debt, has been driven up.

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