BC-US--Business Features Digest, US

The business news enterprise package planned through May 13. For comments or questions, call Joseph Pisani at 212-621-1975. For questions about photos, call ext. 1900. For questions about graphics, call ext. 7636. Repeats of stories are available from http://apexchange.com or the Service Desk, 1-800-838-4616.

Eds: Adds HOUSING-WHERE ARE THE JOBS?; DO-IT-YOURSELF DETROIT.

Note: SMALLBIZ-REALITY SHOWS stands for SMALLBIZ-SMALL TALK. Small Talk will return next week.

HOUSING-WHERE ARE THE JOBS?

U.S. builders and the subcontractors they depend on are struggling to hire fast enough to meet rising demand for new homes. Builders would be starting work on more homes â¿¿ and contributing more to the economy â¿¿ if they could fill more job openings. The worker shortage ranges across occupations â¿¿ from construction superintendents and purchasing agents to painters, cabinet makers and drywall installers. More than six years after the housing bust stalled construction and led many companies to slash payrolls, the labor shortage is holding back the housing market's rebound. By Real Estate Writer Alex Veiga.

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AP photo.

SMALLBIZ-REALITY SHOWS

NEW YORK â¿¿ There's no business like small business. Mix the high stakes of running a small business with a dash of family drama and throw in a camera crew and you get hit reality television shows such as "Pawn Stars," ''Welcome to Sweetie Pie's" and "Duck Dynasty." Turning small business owners into stars has become a winning formula for television producers, but the businesses featured in the shows are cashing in, too. Sales explode after just a few episodes have aired, transforming nearly unknown small businesses into household names. Some small-business owners also are benefiting financially from opening gift shops that sell souvenirs or getting involved in other ventures that spawn from their newfound fame. By Business Writer Joseph Pisani.

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AP photos.

With:

â¿¿ SMALLBIZ-REALITY SHOWS-GLANCE â¿¿ A look at some reality TV shows that feature small businesses and the average number of people that are watching.

â¿¿ SMALLBIZ-REALITY SHOWS-HOW TO GET ONE â¿¿ Want your business to be the star of a reality show? Here are some tips that may help.

DO-IT-YOURSELF DETROIT

DETROIT â¿¿ Detroit may be broke but it will soon have a first-rate motor pool, featuring 23 new ambulances and a fleet of 100 new police cars. One of the surprising things about Detroit's descent toward insolvency is that public services haven't collapsed as completely as some might have expected. But that's not because city departments are functioning as usual. They're not. Instead, a growing collection of volunteers, some affluent, some just average guys riding their Toros, are trying to pick up some services that local government normally provides. By Corey Williams.

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AP photos.

BANGLADESH-BUILDING COLLAPSE-BEYOND PR

MUMBAI, India â¿¿ Global clothing brands involved in Bangladesh's troubled garment industry responded in starkly different ways to the building collapse that killed more than 600 people. Some quickly acknowledged their links to the tragedy and promised compensation. Others denied they authorized work at factories in the building even when their labels were found in the rubble. The first approach seems to deserve plaudits for honesty and compassion. The second seems calculated to minimize damage to a brand by maximizing distance from the disaster. Communications professionals say both are public relations strategies and neither may be enough to protect companies from the stain of doing business in Bangladesh. By Kay Johnson.

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AP photo.

MANCHESTER UNITED-FERGUSON-BUSINESS

When Alex Ferguson walked in to take the helm at Manchester United in 1986, the club was languishing and its status as one of England's top football clubs, on and off the field, was in serious jeopardy. Now, 27 years later, Manchester United is back at the top of the English pile and, with annual revenues of nearly half a billion dollars and a market capitalization of a little over $3 billion, has secured its status as one of the world's top sporting franchises. By Pan Pylas.

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AP photos.

NIGHTCLUBS TAKE VEGAS

LAS VEGAS â¿¿ To step into club XS at the Wynn Las Vegas is to enter the dreamscape of a modern artist with fetishes for gold and bronze and bodies in motion. A golden-plated frieze made from casts of nude women sits atop a shimmering staircase. Waves of electronic dance music grow louder with each downward step toward a pulsating, football field-sized club where lasers cut the air above thousands of dancers. By Hannah Dreier.

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AP photos.

CHINA-SUV NATION

SHANGHAI â¿¿ BYD is known for electric cars but this year's flagship model is the S7, a gasoline-powered SUV. It comes with an air purifier, radar to help with backing and digital TV. An onboard hard drive can hold 1,000 films. This is China's Year of the SUV. Whatever their specialties used to be, automakers ranging from global brands to China's ambitious rookies are scrambling to cash in on the explosive popularity of sport utility vehicles. The SUV boom clashes with Beijing's efforts to push automakers to develop electric cars and to sell smaller vehicles to help curb smog and demand for imported oil. But the SUV's image of safety appeals to prosperous Chinese drivers who face chaotic city streets while electric vehicles from BYD and other producers struggle to attract buyers. By Business Writer Joe McDonald.

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AP photos.

COLUMNS:

OF MUTUAL INTEREST-ASIA INVESTING Q&A

BOSTON â¿¿ Where is global growth headed? Two numbers are critical to assessing the current outlook. Japan's inflation rate is a gauge of whether the country can end two decades of economic stagnation. China's gross domestic product will show whether its new leadership can restore rapid growth after a recent slowdown. But Kenneth Lowe of the 5 star-rated Matthews Asian Growth & Income Fund advises not to get caught up in the numbers. Instead, consider whether Japan and China can adopt economic reforms needed for long-term, sustainable growth. We'll hear Lowe's outlook in a Q&A. By Personal Finance Writer Mark Jewell.

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AP photo.

DIGITAL LIFE-TECH TEST-PINTEREST'S NEW LOOK

NEW YORK â¿¿ Don't worry, Pinterest fans: Your sprawling virtual pegboards of wedding dresses, handmade jewelry, craft projects and food porn haven't changed dramatically. They're just easier to manage. The popular link- and photo-sharing website has rolled out an update, one offering people simpler navigation and new ways to arrange their boards to fit their needs. Although the haphazard spirit of Pinterest remains, the site is much less overwhelming. By Business Writer Bree Fowler.

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ON THE MONEY-STUDENT LOANS

Finding a job in a slowly growing economy is daunting enough without new financial obligations. That's the challenge many university students graduating over the next few weeks will soon face as their student loan payments start coming due. Here are several ways new grads can manage their student loan debt. By Alex Veiga.

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Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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