Consumer Wrap - Dec. 9, 2008

December9, 2008 HEATING OIL PRICES
The government has further lowered its projections for the cost of home heating oil this winter.

The Energy Department says thanks to the dramatic drop in crude oil prices - homeowners can expect to pay only about a fourth of what you paid last winter.

The average seasonal heating costs for households using oil is $1,570. That's about $383 less than last year.

Households using natural gas are expected to pay an average of $860 this heating season. That's about the same as last year.

If you're buying your holiday gifts online - consider not only the number of shopping days you have left - but also the number of shipping days. says more than a third of retailers are reporting their ground shipping deadlines will expire on or before Tuesday, December 16th. That's also when free shipping offers will begin to peak.

The latest hiring survey isn't promising.. The net employment outlook - meaning the difference between employers who plan to add jobs and those who expect to cut them - was 3%. That's the lowest it's been since the first quarter of 1992.

Sixty-seven percent of employers say they plan to hold staff levels steady for the first quarter of 2009 and 13% expect a reduction in payrollls.

Employers in construction had the weakest employment outlook.

The survey was conducted by Manpower - a staffing and hiring agency.

Manpower 4th quarter employment survey
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