Out-of-work executives are finding good jobs faster

FOR executive-level workers, the job market continues to improve, according to a recent study by Drake Beam Morin Inc., an outplacement consulting firm in New York.

The study, based on the experiences of 4,500 executives involved in DBM outplacement programs, reveals that the time it takes outplaced middle-level executives to find a new job is the lowest in three years.

The study shows that in 1993, it took executives an average of 3.8 months to find a new job, compared with six months in 1991 and 1992. For workers 55 years and older, it took about a month longer to find a new job than for younger executives. Retirement plans that offer more choice grow in popularity

DEFINED contribution plans - retirement funds that allow employees to choose how their money is invested - have grown by 15 percent a year over the past five years, according to a new survey. Carried out by the Conference Board, a business research group in New York, the survey polled chief financial officers of major United States corporations.

Of the 44 companies surveyed, the average asset size of defined contribution plans is $2.5 billion. The participation rate of eligible employees in these plans is a high 82 percent, the survey found. Employer matching of employee contributions, usually by 50 percent or 100 percent, is the prime means of encouraging participation. Americans can fill `er up for far less

COMPARED with the rest of the world, drivers in the US have it pretty good, according to an analysis of gasoline prices worldwide by Runzheimer International, a Rochester, Wis.-based management consulting firm.

There are a few less-expensive places to buy gasoline, including Caracas, Venezuela, where a gallon of gas costs 21 cents; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (33 cents); and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (83 cents). But with a national average of $1.11 per gallon in December, the US compares favorably to most other places in the world.

In Tokyo, the average pump price is $4.58; Hong Kong averages $3.87; Paris, $3.58; and Amsterdam, $3.43. Gas prices are high because of the taxes those countries impose, says Chris Ritter, vice president of the international division at Runzheimer.

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