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U.S. slips to fourth place in Global Competitiveness Index; Investors exit stock mutual funds; Students default on loans; Workplace discrimination against Muslims rises; Jobs at foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies increase

U.S. slips to fourth place in Global Competitiveness IndexThe U.S. has slipped from second to fourth in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index, supplanted by Sweden and Singapore. The rankings, with Switzerland in first place, factor each nation’s infrastructure, education, health care, record of innovation and more.London Guardian

Investors exit stock mutual fundsThe exodus of small investors into bond and money-market funds is taking its toll on stock mutual funds. In the past 12 months, 414 mutual funds, most of them stock funds, have disappeared. The number of taxable bond mutual funds has grown slightly, to 1,271.USA Today

Students default on loans Defaults on student loans are climbing, with 7 percent of borrowers in 2008 falling behind within two years of beginning repayment. That’s up from 6.7 percent in 2007. The default rate for students at for-profit schools rose to 11.6 percent from 11 percent.Associated Press

Workplace discrimination against Muslims risesClaims of discrimination against Muslims in U.S. workplaces rose to 1,490 last year, up from 1,304 in 2008. The number of workplace-bias claims surpassed the previous high of 1,463 made in 2002, in the wake of 9/11.  MSNBC.com

Jobs at foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies increaseEmployment at foreign subsidiaries of U.S. corporations increased 1 percent in 2008—including a 15 percent gain in China. Domestic U.S. hiring at those same companies fell 2 percent in 2008.Los Angeles Times

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