News roundup: Robocalls to Baton Rouge residents increase 8% in November … FEMA says Louisiana policyholders received $2B in flood insurance payments … US retail sales barely rise at beginning of holiday season

    On the phone: The percentage of robocalls made to Baton Rouge telephone numbers jumped 8% between October and November, the biggest increase in the nation, according to the latest monthly results from the YouMail Robocall Index. The increase catapulted the Capital City from No. 47 to No. 35 on the Top 50 Most Robocalled Cities ranking. Overall, Americans received an estimated 2.37 billion robocalls in November 2016—a 4% decrease over October but an increase of 141% over the same month one year ago. Roughly 78.9 million robocalls were made every day during the month. YouMail, an intelligent telecom services for consumers and small businesses, launched the YouMail Robocall Index in September 2015. Atlanta is the most robocalled city for the 12th month in a row, receiving 106.1 million robocalls during November. Read the full announcement.

    Paid out: The National Flood Insurance Program says it has paid out more than $2 billion in flood insurance payments to Louisiana policyholders since the August flood. NFIP policyholders can use the payments to repair or rebuild disaster-damaged homes and businesses and replace contents. And the Federal Emergency Management Agency in a new release says some policyholders also have received additional payments to enhance their home’s ability to withstand future storms and floods. Homeowners can receive up to $250,000 for structural damage and $100,000 for contents. Businesses owners may receive up to $500,000 for structural damage and contents. FEMA has estimated that 42% of Louisiana homes in high-risk areas have flood insurance while only 12.5% of homeowners in low- and moderate-risk zones do. Read the full announcement.

    On a budget: Americans increased their retail spending just slightly in November, a possible sign of lackluster holiday shopping. As The Associated Press reports, retail sales rose only 0.1% in November, after a downwardly revised growth of 0.6% in October, the Commerce Department says. Consumers bumped up their purchases at restaurants and furnishers last month. But they also trimmed spending at auto dealers and department stores, limiting the overall advance in retail sales. Michael Dolega, a TD Bank senior economist, says the report puts a slight blemish on a solid string of U.S. economic data. “The disappointing headline suggests that consumers have yet to fully open their wallets despite continued job and income gains,” Dolega says. Read the full story. 

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