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George Chamberlin's Money in the Morning

More Americans are feeling better about the economy and their personal finances. That's among the findings of the latest Discover U.S. Spending Monitor released this morning. For the first time in the history of the Monitor -- which started in May 2007 -- less than half (49 percent) were pessimistic in their economic outlook. And, the overall survey rose for the third consecutive month. "Consumers definitely see brighter days ahead even though currently, things don't seem that great," said Discover's Jilie Loeger.

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More people are using the current economic slowdown to seize the opportunity of starting their own business. A new report from consulting firm Alibaba.com found that 42 percent of Americans have considered starting a business and that 24 percent have actually taken the plunge. These new owners are being referred to as "Newpreneurs" and Alibaba.com is teaming with Inc. magazine to find the "Newpreneur of the Year." More than $100,000 will be awarded to small business owners who see the recession as an opportunity to start a business. Details at inc.com/newpreneur.

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Hard to believe, but it was 35 years ago that the first Universal Product Code bar code was first introduced. Originally developed to help supermarkets speed up the checkout process, the first live use of bar codes took place in a store in Troy, Ohio, on June 26, 1974. The first item scanned was a pack of Wrigley gum. A recent study suggests that use of UPC bar codes save the grocery industry alone $17 billion a year. Today, bar codes are scanned more than 10 billion times a day.

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Fed chairman Ben Bernanke is getting grilled on Capitol Hill today. As usual, he says there are signs the economic downturn is slowing. But, he also warned that "sizeable" job losses will continue. Bernanke also stuck to his guns that inflation will remain low, a critical component of any substantial recovery in the housing market. One report out this morning does show a slowdown in the pace of job losses. The ADP private employment survey found payrolls declined in May by 532,000. Still a high number, but it is below the 600,000 number that has been reported in recent months. The official government report on May employment comes out Friday morning.

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Congratulations to Kyocera Wireless. The San Diego-based business was honored for the ninth consecutive year with a recycling award from the city's Environmental Service Department. In earning the award, Kyocera Wireless announced it recycled more than 195,531 pounds of paper, plastic, electronics and other waste that otherwise would have wound up in local landfills.

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