Google Not Just About SEO Anymore, ASBA News Update

Search Engine Optimization was always thought to be special skills allowing one to trick Google's algorithm.  Today, it's now considered to be a multi-faceted discipline that transcends gaming the system.  Google has accelerated this transition by helping users find information faster and promoting their own products at the same time.  

Changes over the past few years has already shifted the perception of SEO, as we're no longer talking about just links, keywords and page rank.  It's now more about branding and online content strategies.  Google is also not just a search engine, as they are anticipating what searchers may now want.  The addition of paid ads on top of the ranks has also lessened the power of a number one ranking.  The huge market of link buying and selling has pushed Google to reduce the importance of inbound links.

Great marketing is important and will sell some product but having a great product is necessary to having long-term success.   

Arizona Business News is brought to you by Copper Point, Arizona's premiere workman's compensation insurance.  Arizona Business News, a featured network of Sequence Media Group, is brought to you by the ASBA.

 

JP Morgan Chase Hit With Security Breach, ASBA News Update

JP Morgan Chase, the country's largest bank, has shed light on a security breach that occurred this past August, affecting more than half of all U.S. households.  Information from 76 million households and 7 million small businesses were compromised in the cyber attack.  This compromised information consisted of mainly customer contact data, such as names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses, as well as internal JP Morgan information about customers.  

JP Morgan has said that the hackers were unable to get detailed account information, such as account numbers, passwords,  social security numbers or dates of birth.  Experts say that the information targeted may have been for later use and that customers may start receiving fake emails sending them to imposter Chase sites in an effort to get more valuable information from customers.

Arizona Business News is brought to you by Copper Point, Arizona's premiere workman's compensation insurance.  Arizona Business News, a featured network of Sequence Media Group, is brought to you by the ASBA.

ASBA Introduces Pulse and Free Workshops for Businesses, ASBA News Udpate

It's the time of year to look at your health insurance options, whether or not you have a broker, and the Arizona Small Business Association can help with that effort.  Whether you're an individual or a small business with one or many employees, ASBA has a group of experts ready to help you with the process.  While you may already have an idea of what you're going to do, it's always helpful to run those ideas by someone else for peace of mind.  

Every Tuesday, ASBA is offering free workshops to help you with your business.  This Tuesday, at Paradise Valley Mall from 7:30-9:00 at the Food Court, you can learn how to accelerate your business growth by aligning with known brands.  This workshop will center around "who had your clients."  It's known that building relationships with companies can help all of businesses, it's important to know how to leverage those relationships to benefit your company both directly and indirectly.  

In partnering with Bode Tree, ASBA is proud to bring you Pulse, a free financial management solution to help you dive deeper into your business data, apply for funding and connect with ASBA's marketplace of solutions.  ASBA has partners in everything from accounting to operations and Pulse can help you build the business of your dreams.  This is a new and exciting way to engage with ASBA online and free accounts are available by signing up on asba.com.

Arizona Business News is a featured network of Sequence Media Group.  Arizona Business News is brought to you by the ASBA, Arizona Small Business Association.

Study Shows Marketplace Health Plan Premiums Cheaper, Jon Gabel, NORC

Prior to the new healthcare law becoming effective, President Obama said that new insurance marketplaces for small businesses would provide more affordable health plans.  According to a new study by the NORC, the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, the small business marketplace are delivering on that promise.  

Jon Gabel, Senior Fellow at the NORC, says that the study found that at the same metal tier, premiums were about 7% lower on the shop than off the shop and carriers that participated in the shop have premiums 2% lower than those who don't participate in the shop.  

Jon Gabel Source: norc.org

Jon Gabel

Source: norc.org

The transparency of the shops invites lower pricing and the more narrow network plans are two factors Gabel believes that are driving these numbers.  The business model of these plans is not to sign up all of the hospitals in an area, rather a select few, enabling lower rates.  Additionally, while the NORC hasn't collected data on this, Gabel suspects that the actuarial value is calculated on the essential benefits and that the non-shop plans have more non-essential benefits.

In conducting the study, the NORC had to collect data from plans both on the exchange and off the exchange in 26 states.  The remaining states' data was not accessible off of the exchange.  Gabel says all the carrier websites were gone through and all of the plans were downloaded one by one, off of which a database was created to generate a multi-data analysis.  

Gabel says it's too early to say if these numbers will hold because the shops didn't really have any IT platform nor any enrollment but he imagines it might go this way because of the transparency and narrow-network plans.

Jon Gabel is a Senior Fellow at the NORC and spoke with Arizona Business News, brought to you by Copper Point, Arizona's premiere workman's compensation insurance.  Arizona Business News, a featured network of Sequence Media Group, is brought to you by the ASBA.

Economy is Focus at Upcoming Arizona Town Hall, With Tara Jackson, Town Hall President

Arizona's economy will be the focus of the 105th Arizona Town Hall at the Grand Canyon on November 2-5.  Tara Jackson, Arizona Town Hall President, says that the Grand Canyon is a beautiful location to host the event, especially when facing challenging policy issues to help keep things in perspective.  

At this Town Hall, the state's economy will looked at, a large part of which is small business.  Jackson says that while Arizona's economy is rebounding slightly, it is not coming back at the pace it normally does, compared to that national economy.  "Arizona has some unique issues to look at if we want to ensure that we have a robust economy for our future," Jackson says.  

One of the key issues is work force, no matter what county of Arizona, and another issue, directly related to work force, is pre-K-12 education and higher education.  Based on the information and opinions that Jackson has been receiving, she says that pre-K-12 education is the most important issue that needs to be addressed as a state to get the economy back on track.

The goal of participation at a statewide Town Hall is to have a "diverse perspective from around the state and bringing those diverse perspectives together," Jackson says.  There will be CEO's and leaders of larger corporations and owners of small businesses in rural Arizona, to have a "mixture of voices at the table" to build collective solutions.  To accomplish that and get small business at the table, Jackson says the Town Hall needs to help because it can be difficult for a small business owner to leave their business and pay for the cost of the program away from the business.  To that end, Blue Cross Blue Shield has helped in establishing a scholarship for small business to be a voice in Arizona Town Hall.  To apply for this scholarship of up to $500, small businesses can click here.  

Jackson believes that small business is a "voice that is not heard enough in policy making in Arizona," and as a small business owner herself, she knows how busy small business owners can get taking care of their business that there isn't always time to make their voices count.  She knows how critical it is that the voice of small business is heard by policy makers.  

The biggest challenge Jackson feels small businesses face is work force and the structural aspects of supporting a business, such as the cost of work force and if there is a prepared work force, as well as managing all of the different requirements and regulations that impact a business on a daily basis.  For those businesses outside of an urban county, structural issues, such as transportation and water, are extremely critical to small business around the state.  Jackson says that Arizona's transportation infrastructure is becoming "very old, very fast," so there is a need to invest in that, especially for those business outside of the urban areas.  

Tara Jackson, Arizona Town Hall President, spoke with Arizona Business News.  For more information on the upcoming Arizona Town Hall, click here.  Arizona Business News is a featured network of Sequence Media Group and is brought to you by the ASBA.

Upcoming Arizona Town Hall to Focus on State's Economy, ASBA News Update

Arizona's economy will be the focus of the 105th Arizona Town Hall at the Grand Canyon on November 2-5.  Tara Jackson, Town Hall President, says that while Arizona's economy is recovering, challenges still do remain.

While the economy is rebounding, it's not keeping pace with the rebounding economy nationally.  Jackson says that Arizona has some unique issues that need to be looked at and she wants to be sure Arizona has a robust economy for the future.  One of the key issues is work force, no matter what part of Arizona, urban or rural.  Related to work force is K-12 education and higher education.  Based on the information Jackson has been getting on this topic, she says that K-12 education is the most important issue that Arizona needs to address as a state to "get our economy back on track."  For Jackson's full interview with Arizona Business News, click here.

This Arizona Small Business Association news update has been brought to you by Copper Point, Arizona's premiere workman's compensation insurance.  Arizona Business News, a featured network of Sequence Media Group, is brought to you by the ASBA.

Effective Ways to Grow Your Business Customer Base, ASBA News Update

Growing and keeping a customer base is crucial to growing a small business.  While there are many ways to identify a small business online, experts say there are some ways that have proven to be most effective.  

Creating an engaging "about us" page on the business website, explaining what the business is and what they do, is an easy way to inform website visitors about the business.   An interesting company blog creates a personality for the business to which customers can connect.  When it comes to social media, it's not necessary for the business to be on every platform.  It's more important to identify where your market is likely to be and focus the attention there.  No matter how great the website it, customers are more likely to be spending their time on social media platforms.  

Video can also be a powerful tool, as website visitors are 57 times more likely to click on a video than anything else.  This is also a great way to showcase customer testimonials promoting the product or service.  For an affordable, local video provider, go to asba.com.

This Arizona Small Business Association news update has been brought to you by Copper Point, Arizona's premiere workman's compensation insurance.  Arizona Business News, a featured network of Sequence Media Group, is brought to you by the ASBA.

Health Plans for Small Businesses Cheaper Through Marketplace, ASBA News Update

Prior to the new healthcare law becoming effective, President Obama said that new insurance marketplaces for small businesses would provide more affordable health plans.  A new study shows that the small business marketplace are delivering on that promise.  According to the NORC, the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, health plans available to small businesses on the law's new health marketplaces cost, on average, 7% less than comparable plans offered elsewhere.  

Jon Gable, Senior Fellow at NORC says that some of the factors influencing the lower costs are the transparency and narrowness of the plans.  These are probably more "narrow network plans," meaning they have a select group of hospitals on the plan, which enables them to get lower rates.  For Gable's full interview about the study, click here.

This Arizona Small Business Association news update has been brought to you by Copper Point, Arizona's premiere workman's compensation insurance.  Arizona Business News, a featured network of Sequence Media Group, is brought to you by the ASBA.

EEOC Challenges Employer Wellness Programs, ASBA News Update

The EEOC has filed its first lawsuit challenging an employer's wellness program, claiming that the program is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  According to the lawsuit, Wisconsin-based Orion Energy Systems violated federal law by requiring an employee to submit to medical exams and inquiries that were not job-related and consistent with business necessity, as part of their non-voluntary Wellness Program.   When the employee refused to participate in the program, she was terminated from her job.  

As the wellness programs are common in the workplace,  Clark Hill attorney Kristi Gauthier feels the EEOC was waiting for a case just like this.  This case presents the "right facts to make their point," and that the commentary and opinions we've seen from the EEOC in the past are on par with the points made in this case.  The EEOC has chose this case as the facts were "ripe for the picking," explains Gauthier.  For more on Gauthier's interview with the Arizona Small Business Association, click here.

This Arizona Small Business Association news update has been brought to you by Copper Point, Arizona's premiere workman's compensation insurance.  Arizona Business News, a featured network of Sequence Media Group, is brought to you by the ASBA.

EEOC Lawsuit Charges Employer Wellness Program Violates ADA

The EEOC has filed its first lawsuit challenging an employer's wellness program, claiming that the program is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Clark Hill attorney Kristi Gauthier says that this is an important case because historically, the EEOC has not filed suit on any wellness programs, rather just informal opinion letters.  

Kristi Gauthier Clark Hill Source: http://www.clarkhill.com/Attorney/kgauthier

Kristi Gauthier

Clark Hill

Source: http://www.clarkhill.com/Attorney/kgauthier

For employers, until we find out what the court is going to decide, we don't know how the EEOC's actions will impede on employer's wellness programs from an ADA perspective, Gauthier says.  As this puts employers in a "holding pattern," it certainly shouldn't make them shy away from wellness programs, notes Gauthier.  

The EEOC found the particular wellness program at issue violates the ADA because it's not truly voluntary in nature, explains Gauthier.  This program in particular required the employees take a Health Risk Assessment or an HRA, which is very common in wellness programs, as well as undergo other diagnostic procedures, such as blood work and a range of motion test.  The real sticking point, Gauther says, is that the EEOC found it wasn't voluntary because the plaintiff in this case refused to comply with those components and as a result of non-compliance, she was forced to pay 100% of the contributions towards her insurance coverage premiums and she was also terminated from her job.  The EEOC found that the penalties were very strict and therefore, not truly voluntary in nature.  

Gauthier believes the EEOC has been "waiting" for a case just like this and waiting for the right facts to make their point, as their opinions and commentaries in the past match their opinions on wellness programs in this case.  Gauthier also feels the facts in this case are just "ripe for the picking," and thus, the EEOC chose it to make their point.  

As wellness programs have been on the rise, these assessments are very common in the workplace.  Health Risk Assessments are a big component and sometimes it can be as simple as a questionnaire, however some of the questions can trip up the ADA and other compliance issues as well, Gauthier notes.  

Kristi Gauther is an attorney with Clark Hill and spoke with Arizona Business News about this case.   Arizona Business News, a featured network of Sequence Media Group, is brought to you by the ASBA.

Health Insurance Open Enrollment Period Begins, ASBA News Update

The open enrollment period for health insurance is upon us and ASBA would like to help in making the decision as to what's best for you.  ASBA has many affordable health insurance options and can help guide you with the many compliance issues that are associated with the Affordable Healthcare Act.  ASBA is your "one-stop source" and by going to asba.com, you can look through the many insurance products to get more information.  

With elections right around the corner, 95% of business owners vote regularly but are growing increasingly frustrated over how our lawmakers are handling things.  A recent survey revealed that business people feel that neither party are better at handling small business issues.  Despite campaign promises and small business speak, ASBA President, Rick Murray wants candidates to take note that small business owners are watching and that very little is actually being done to help small businesses.  He feels lawmakers would do well by embracing the small business mindset that "the customer is always first." 

Arizona Business News, a featured network of Sequence Media Group, is brought to you by the ASBA.

Small Businesses Face Government Compliance Issues With Group Health Insurance, Kristine Kassel, Benefits by Design

Small businesses face government compliance issues with regards to group health insurance plans, whether the business offers insurance or not.

Kristine Kassel President, Benefits by Design Source: benefitsbydesignaz.com

Kristine Kassel

President, Benefits by Design

Source: benefitsbydesignaz.com

One of the main compliance pieces that most employers are not doing is the Summary Plan Document,  Benefits by Design President Kristine Kassel says.  If you have a group plan for health insurance, this documents needs to be in place, as the penalties can go up to $100 per day per employee and starting in 2015, 15,000 auditors have been hired.  ASBA has some companies in place that can help with these types of documents, Kassel says.  

There are also 26 different notices that need to be sent out to employees annually by 2016 and by calling ASBA, you can get some of these documents in place.  Some of these fees can be a one-time fee of about $1200, which is far less than the potential fines that can be accrued on a daily basis.  

Kassel says that even if you're not offering insurance, there are ways for businesses to get themselves in trouble.  The Notice of Exchange, which was required to be sent out last year, needed to be sent out regardless if an insurance plan was in place.  This two-page document is available on the Department of Labor website.  A business can also be fined if they're not handing out a Summary of Benefits to their employees annually and this document states exactly what's covered on the group health insurance plan.  By partnering with a company like Benefits by Design, businesses can be reminded when these documents need to be handed out and even create these documents for the business.  

While a business is not required to provide insurance until they have 50 or more employees, those that already do provide insurance are still subject to these same guidelines.  "Just because it's not a federal mandate to offer insurance that you don't have to worry about these items," Kassel says and that small businesses are mostly affected by these items because they're not aware.  

By calling ASBA, businesses can be introduced to one of their partners, such as Benefits by Design, who can help them with these compliance issues for a very low fee.  Benefits by Design is a brokerage agency that helps individuals and small businesses set up their insurance plans, as well as dental, vision, disability and life insurance.  In representing all of the different insurance companies, Benefits by Design can help guide individuals and small businesses in making the right decisions, as well as helping throughout the year with customer service.

Kristine Kassel is the President of Benefits by Design and spoke with Arizona Business News during this interview.  This Arizona Small Business Association news update has been brought to you by Copper Point, Arizona's premiere workman's compensation insurance.  Arizona Business News, a featured network of Sequence Media Group, is brought to you by the ASBA.

Employers Face Government Compliance With Group Benefit Plans, Kristine Kassel

Employers spend billions of dollars annually to provide insurance coverage for their employees.  Group benefits typically cost less than what's available on the open markets so employees have access to better and more affordable programs.  Providing this insurance coverage, however, exposes employers to many government compliance regulations with many imposing financial and criminal penalties for non-compliance.  

Kristine Kassel President, Benefits by Design Source: benefitsbydesignaz.com

Kristine Kassel

President, Benefits by Design

Source: benefitsbydesignaz.com

Kristine Kassel, President of Benefits by Design, an ASBA partner, it's easy for businesses to unintentionally get themselves into trouble.  Even if a business is not offering insurance, she says there are ways for a business to get themselves into trouble.  The Notice of Exchange was required to be sent out last October, regardless if an insurance plan existed in the company or not.  This two-page document could be accessed directly through the Department of Labor website.  Kassel says it's important to be following guidelines as to what information needs to be sent out.  

If a business is not handing out a Summary of Benefits to their employees, that's another area which can accrue a fine.  This needs to be done annually and the Summary of Benefits states what is covered on the insurance plan.  Working with a partner, like Benefits by Design, can make a business aware of what needs to be handed out and when.  

For more on Kassel's interview with Arizona Business News, click here.

Kristine Kassel is the President of Benefits by Design and spoke with Arizona Business News during this interview.  This Arizona Small Business Association news update has been brought to you by Copper Point, Arizona's premiere workman's compensation insurance.  Arizona Business News, a featured network of Sequence Media Group, is brought to you by the ASBA.

EEOC Lawsuit Charges Employer Wellness Program Violates ADA

Orion Energy Systems in Wisconsin faces an EEOC lawsuit alleging they violated federal law by requiring an employee to submit to medical exams that were not job-related but were part of the employer’s wellness program. After objecting to the program the employee was later fired.

Clark Hill attorney Kristi Gauthier says the EEOC typically files opinion letters over these matters. "This is the first time they have filed a lawsuit." Gauthier also said the EEOC was undoubtedly waiting for a case like this to challenge these programs.

The EEOC brought the suit under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits disability discrimination in employment, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The case, (EEOC v. Orion Energy Systems, Civil Action No. 14-cv- 00619) was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, and is assigned to U.S. District Judge Chief Judge William C Griesbach.

The EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. 

ASBA Members Can Win Southwest Airline Tickets

In an effort to get more contact from its members, ASBA has launched a campaign where members can win free Southwest Airline tickets.  All of the services that ASBA offers, such as LifeLock, AAA and health insurance, just to name a few, are not only for business owners but their employees as well.  Every time a member provides an email address from someone within their organization, they'll be entered to win a pair of Southwest Airline tickets.  Click here for more information and to enter.

On Thursday, September 18, ASBA will be hosting their annual Open House Business Expo in downtown Phoenix.  Last year, more than 1,000 business owners attended, providing a great networking opportunity for them.  Registration is available at asba.com. 

Arizona Business News is a featured network of Sequence Media Group.  Arizona Business News is brought to you by the ASBA, Arizona Small Business Association.

Home Depot Hit With Security Breach, ASBA News Update

Home Depot confirmed earlier this week that its payment data systems were breached and it could potentially impact customers using payment cards at its U.S. and Canadian stores.  The breach has not affected those in Mexico or those who shop on their website.  The investigation is focused on April forward and the company has taken steps to protect customer data.  There is also no evidence that any pin data was compromised.  

While no numbers have been reported on how large the breach was, analysts are saying it could be larger than last year's Target breach.  It's possible the same Russian-Siberian hackers that hit Target are responsible for the Home Depot breach.

This Arizona Small Business Association news update has been brought to you by Copper Point, Arizona's premiere workman's compensation insurance.  Arizona Business News, a featured network of Sequence Media Group, is brought to you by the ASBA.

Small Business Optimism on the Rise, ASBA News Update

The NFIB, National Federation of Independent Business, recently reported that the small business optimism index in August rose to the second highest reading since October, 2007.  Despite the uptick, job creation, job openings, capital spending plans and inventory investment plans, which is what the NFIB refers to as "hard measures" of the index, remain unchanged.  Small business owners say taxes, government regulations and poor sales are their top concerns.  

The data also showed that earnings rose 1 point, which is also the highest since 2007, and many small business owners plan to raise compensation in the next few months.  Twenty-six percent of business owners currently have positions open that they're unable to fill, which is up 2%, with about half of the owners saying there weren't enough qualified applicants for those open positions.

This Arizona Small Business Association news update has been brought to you by Copper Point, Arizona's premiere workman's compensation insurance.  Arizona Business News, a featured network of Sequence Media Group, is brought to you by the ASBA.

Arizona's Record-Setting Rain Affects Businesses, ASBA News Update

Monday's record-setting rain in Arizona crippled many businesses as the rain prevented many customers from travelling.  The effect of the storms may be felt on their bottom line for days to come.  

Volume rain was apparent in Tempe when the Fry's Marketplace at Baseline and McClintock saw its roof fail as rush hour began.  Much of downtown Phoenix was relatively quiet, another sign that productivity was slow, possibly affecting worker's incomes.  Many business owners, at the very least, may find themselves behind schedule.  

Lee McPheters, Director of the JP Morgan Chase Economic Outlook Center at the WP Carey School of Business at ASU, said that these types of events can actually temporarily stimulate the economy.  "There will be spending to offset some of those damages, which will be seen in home repair, landscapers, auto salvage, and general construction," he says.  

This Arizona Small Business Association news update has been brought to you by Copper Point, Arizona's premiere workman's compensation insurance.  Arizona Business News, a featured network of Sequence Media Group, is brought to you by the ASBA.

 

Workman's Compensation Rates and Employer Costs on the Rise

According to a report by the National Academy of Social Insurance, workman's compensation benefits rose by 1.3% in 2012, while employer costs rose by 6.9%.  Both have been attributed to rising employment and earnings as the economic recovery continues, according to Marjorie Brown, Professor of Economics at the WP Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.  

Phyllis Senseman, Vice President of Agency Management and Marketing at Copper Point Mutual Insurance Company, says the good news is that costs are still pretty low for employers, especially in Arizona compared to neighboring states.  As Arizona is the largest provider of workman's compensation, Senseman believes Arizona's claims management strategies and techniques are helping to drive these statistics.  

There are some other outside forces driving these statistics, says Senseman, including the rise in the use of opiates, such as Oxycontin and Percocet.  Annually, $1.4 billion is spent on those drugs and that number continues to rise.  Initially prescribed to treat pain, these drugs are often hard to stop using as people become dependent on them, without any evidence of providing any long-term benefit.  This is not a positive trend occurring in the workplace right now, Senseman says.

Medical inflation has also doubled in the past decade, rising to $2.6 trillion, according to Senseman, as well as obesity being a rising cost, which can affect the time it takes people to heal from injuries or surgeries.  

Phyllis Senseman Copper Point Mutual Insurance Company Source: linkedin.com

Phyllis Senseman

Copper Point Mutual Insurance Company

Source: linkedin.com

At Copper Point Mutual Insurance Company, there are a variety of things they do to help employers control these costs.  They start with a very strong medical network that discounts the fees that are charged for medical procedures and resources, which helps keep the costs down significantly in Arizona.  Copper Point also provides a safety plan template, which is available at no cost on their website at www.copperpoint.com.  This template provides a strategy for businesses to build a safety protocol.  They also provide a lot of safety brochures and training videos and for their customers, Copper Point has loss-control seminars, loss-control consultants and return to work programs.  Their return to work program allows employees to return to work on light duty, which, in turn, makes them feel more valued.

While Arizona is showing signs of growth, Senseman says it's still a "sputtering" economy.  Another issue Senseman points out is how medical marijuana might impact workman's compensation as a whole.  Copper Point also has an association partner program and one of their key partners is the Arizona Small Business Association.  ASBA works with Copper Point's loss-control team to develop and provide education and resources to their members. 

Phyllis Senseman is the Vice President of Agency Management and Marketing at Copper Point Mutual Insurance Company.  She spoke with Arizona Business Newsa featured network of Sequence Media Group.  Arizona Business News is brought to you by the ASBA, Arizona Small Business Association.

Labor Day Travel to Increase This Year According to AAA, ASBA News Update

About 668,000 Arizonans are expected to travel this Labor Day weekend, according to AAA, which is an increase of 1.3% from last year and matches the national increase.  More than 557,000 Arizonans plan to drive to their Labor Day destination, which is about 1.4% higher than last year.  

Though Arizonans are currently paying $3.46 per gallon for gas, which is up 12 cents from last year, gas prices won't be a major factor in determining if consumers will travel over the last summer holiday.  Michelle Donati, AAA's Public Affairs Supervisor, says that the improving economy is contributing to the increases.  This greater consumer confidence has led to more spending which generally means people are doing more travelling.  This is a trend that AAA has seen all summer long and they've seen a gradual increase for all three summer holidays, starting with Memorial Day, July 4 and now Labor Day.  For Arizona, Labor Day tends to be not the busiest summer holiday because for some, school has already been in session for a month.  For more on Donati's interview with Arizona Business News on Labor Day weekend travel, click here.

More people will be travelling by air, with almost 58,000 Arizonans planning on flying to their Labor Day destination.  This is a 1.5% increase from last year.

This news update was provided by Arizona Business News, a featured network of Sequence Media Group.  Arizona Business News is brought to you by the ASBA, Arizona Small Business Association.