TFSA penalties, StatsCan's big mistake, and Jibo's debut: BUSINESS WEEK WRAP
There were a lot of shocked expressions last Friday when Statistics Canada put out a monthly jobs report that showed Canada's economy only added 200 jobs in July.
It's not that a flat showing is unheard of. But some of the details of the numbers, including that expectations had been for a number closer to 20,000, had a lot of people on Bay Street scratching their heads.
Those suspicions were confirmed on Tuesday when the data agency admitted it had made a mistake. On Friday, they gave us the new numbers: instead of 200, some 42,000 jobs were created. Oops!
"In my over two decades of experience in this business, I struggle to think of a comparable foul-up anywhere in the world," was how Scotiabank described the mistake this week.
StatsCan insists it was a simple human error and not going to be repeated, but for people who based their trading decisions and economic forecasts on the sanctity of Statistics Canada's data, the damage may already be done.
Canadians fall into tax trap
The data agency wasn't the only thing caught in a high-profile mistake this week. The Canada Revenue Agency revealed that more than 50,000 Canadians had to pay a tax penalty for falling into a surprisingly common tax hole — they put money into their TFSA, took it out, and then put it back in again, all in the same tax year.
Since implementing the investment accounts six years ago, TFSAs have grown in popularity as a great way to grow wealth. But a tiny percentage of the 10 million Canadians who have a TFSA seem to be continually falling into that trap, and having to pay a tax penalty for effectively "overcontributing" to their TFSAs in this way, even if they didn't necessarily mean to flout the rules.
KSU president's symbolic gesture
South of the border, the president of an American University got a lot of praise this week for taking a pay cut so that dozens of minimum wage workers at his school could get a raise.
Raymond Burse, the interim president of Kentucky State University, put a unique clause into his job contract when he took the new job this year, one that will see his own salary and all of those who come after him get paid 25 per cent less, so that everyone at the university can get paid a minimum wage of $10.25 an hour.
The plan came about after a state bill failed to pass, one that would have seen the state's minimum wage be raised to $10.10 an hour. Burse's move allowed for 24 of the school's employees to get raises, so they now make $10.25 an hour — topped up by money that would otherwise have been his.
"I wanted these 24 employees invested and committed to Kentucky State," he told CBC's The Exchange this week. "Because these employees who are at the lower level of the pay scale are those who are going to do some of the heavy lifting to get where we need to be."
Say hello to Jibo
Another one of our most-read stories this week was about Jibo, a robot prototype that the inventor is pitching as the first robot that works seamlessly with every part of the family home.
Essentially, Jibo is an intelligent tablet computer on an interactive stand that can look things up online, interact with humans, and take pictures. It's a little hard to describe, so you really need to watch what it can do for yourself.
Jibo's inventor, MIT robotics researcher Cynthia Breazeal says the plan is to help families connect, coordinate and play together, and to help organize their busy daily lives.
"Its role is to be your family's little helper," she told The Exchange this week. "It's a social robot."
With a retail price of about $500, it's already well on its way to being the first of many long-rumoured robots to be cheap enough for most families to afford, but also easy and fun enough for them to want to.