Afternoon Coffee: US Wholesale Inventories Rise, the Cost of Being Sick, Janitors Join CTU Strike?

On the up and up?
US Wholesale Inventories Post Biggest Rise in 5 Months -- Total wholesale inventories climbed 0.7 percent to $485.2 billion, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday. That was the biggest increase since February. Economists polled by Reuters had expected stocks of unsold goods at U.S. wholesalers to rise 0.2 percent after falling by 0.2 percent in June. Inventories are a key element in the government's measure of changes in gross domestic product. Weaker growth in inventories dragged on GDP during the second quarter, when the economy expanded at a 1.7 percent annual rate.

Janitors joining too?
Chicago Teachers' Strike Enters Third Day -- Contract negotiations between striking teachers and public school administrators here were scheduled to begin late Wednesday morning, although as the strike enters its third day, there is no indication that a resolution is near. In the view of some here, the toxic relationship between Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whom Ms. Lewis has called a "bully" and a "liar," has helped push the city's teacher contract talks to the point of a crisis, forcing 350,000 students out of their classrooms in the nation's third-largest school system not long after the new academic year began.

MSU trumps MIT in supply chain program.
Once again, MSU's supply chain program tops in nation -- Michigan State University's supply chain program continues setting the national standard, according to U.S. News & World Report's latest rankings of America's Best Colleges, out today. For the second year in a row, the magazine ranked MSU's supply chain specialty for undergraduate students No. 1, ahead of the program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In March, U.S. News & World Report ranked the supply chain program for graduate students No. 2, behind only MIT. Later that month, the MSU program's chairperson, David Closs, was invited to the White House to discuss ways of making the nation's supply chains more sustainable. The supply chain program, located in the Broad College of Business, is known for training students on the entire supply chain of a given product, from commodity raw materials, to the point the product is consumed, and even the recycling process.

"Illness costs this country hundreds of billions of dollars."
U.S. Workforce Illness Costs $576B Annually From Sick Days To Workers Compensation -- From absenteeism due to illness to the cost of disability and workers' compensation, poor health costs the U.S. economy more than a half a trillion dollars a year, according to a new study by a nonprofit research organization. The Integrated Benefits Institute, which represents major U.S. employers and business coalitions, says poor health costs the U.S. economy $576 billion a year, according to new research. Of that amount, 39 percent, or $227 billion is from "lost productivity" from employee absenteeism due to illness or what researchers called "presenteeism," when employees report to work but illness keeps them from performing at their best.

- Sheena Moore

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