NEW YORK (CNN) -- CNN Money's Maribel Aber has your top business and financial news on this Monday, July 8.
Earnings season kicks off this week
Corporate earnings season kicks off on Monday, and investors will be looking of any signs of economic improvement that could influence the Federal Reserve. Alcoa will report second-quarter earnings after the bell on Monday. Several other companies, including Yum Brands, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, will report throughout the week. Corporate earnings will be under even more scrutiny than usual, as investors have been on heightened alert for any sign of economic improvement since the Federal Reserve hinted that it could pull back on its stimulus measures at the end of this year. There will be another chance for investors to parse what the Fed meant this week, as minutes from the FOMC's June meeting are due out on Wednesday. Investors will be looking for any more hints about when the central bank might decide to ease up on its controversial stimulus program, which is pumping $85 billion a month into the economy.
650,000 defense employees start furloughs Monday
Starting Monday, 650,000 defense employees will be on furlough. As part of the sequester, or federal spending cuts, that are currently underway, civilian Pentagon workers will be forced to take one unpaid day off each week, leading to a 20% reduction in their pay through Sept. 21. Some people have made light of the sequester because its effect has gone relatively unnoticed by the public so far. However, the Pentagon is the largest federal employer, with a budget of $680 billion. Even though defense isn't the first agency to start furloughing workers, it is the largest in terms of the sheer number of workers that will be hit by the $85 billion in federal spending cuts that kicked in on March 1.
Samsung Electronics Co.'s weaker-than-expected second-quarter earnings guidance and tepid results from HTC Corp. show that high-end smartphone makers are starting to see growth taper as competition bites and cheaper devices flood the market. Another $6.5 billion came off Samsung's market value on Friday after the world's biggest smartphone maker by shipments said it expects an operating profit of between 9.3 trillion won ($8.2 billion) and 9.7 trillion won for the second quarter, disappointing investors who had been hoping the figure would reach at least 10 trillion won. Since mid-March, Samsung's shares have fallen 17% because of concerns about disappointing sales of its high-end Galaxy S4 smartphone, launched at a lavish Broadway-style event at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
High-tech jobs that don't require college degree
When people think of high-tech jobs, they typically think of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and Ivy League Ph.D.s. But according to a new definition of STEM jobs - those requiring skills in science, technology, engineering or math - half of all high-tech positions are held by employees without a bachelor's degree. A recent report by the Brookings Institution redefines STEM jobs to include those with a substantial base of technical knowledge, but not necessarily requiring a bachelor's degree. With this new perspective, high-tech jobs are not limited to advanced degrees and represent a larger part of the American middle class. The average STEM job available to workers without a bachelor's degree paid $53,000, 10% higher than other jobs requiring similar educational attainment. Among the eight most popular STEM jobs that do not require a college degree, six paid more than the national annual average wage of $45,230. There were nearly 500,000 people working as computer systems analysts in 2011, a position that does not require a bachelor's degree and paid $82,320, on average.