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BE NICE TO YOUR BOSS. WE'RE DOWNSIZING

A St. Petersburg Times "annual business outlook" survey conducted in January shows that 13 percent of Tampa Bay area companies polled say they plan to "decrease" their number of employees this year. That's the first time since at least 2000 that this poll has shown a double-digit figure for decreasing employees.

Education isn't our priority, governor

In that same Times poll of business managers, "improving education" barely registered as a top economic priority for Gov. Charlie Crist. Just 4 percent of those surveyed said it was the No. 1 economic priority, while 66 percent chose "lowering property tax and insurance," 9 percent picked "attracting new business to the state" and 7 percent said "stimulating the economy."

Health benefits elude small firms

Among small companies, 59 percent offered health benefits in 2007, down from 68 percent in 2000, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Over that same period, annual premiums have almost doubled, to $12,106 for family coverage and $4,479 for an individual.

Even an optimist can be pessimistic

Wachovia economist Mark Vitner is a rare naysayer. He finds silver linings in economies where others see the plague. So it was disconcerting when Vitner, speaking in the Tampa Bay area in January, showed a slide headlined: "The Tampa Bay Area Is Clearly Struggling."

Being rude is no way to motivate

A University of Florida study on rude bosses found in a test that students treated rudely solved fewer anagrams, recalled less information and "found fewer and less creative uses for a brick."

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