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Business Highlights

  • Article by: The Associated Press
  • Associated Press
  • July 2, 2014 - 4:45 PM

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32 states trail US as a whole in job recovery

WASHINGTON (AP) — Five years after the Great Recession officially ended, most states still haven't regained all the jobs they lost, even though the nation as a whole has.

In May, the overall economy finally recovered all 9 million jobs that vanished in the worst downturn since the 1930s. Another month of solid hiring is expected in the U.S. jobs report for June that will be released Thursday.

Yet 32 states still have fewer jobs than when the recession began in December 2007 — evidence of the unevenness and persistently slow pace of the recovery.

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Ruling impact on birth-control coverage mixed

NEW YORK (AP) — Business owners who don't want to pay for their employees' birth control are ending that coverage after the Supreme Court said they could choose on grounds of religious belief not to comply with part of the health care law.

Some owners are already in touch with their brokers in the wake of Monday's ruling.

The Supreme Court ruled that some businesses can, because of their religious beliefs, choose not to comply with the health care law's requirement that contraception coverage be provided to workers at no extra charge. The 5-4 ruling has the Obama administration looking for another way to provide birth control for women who work for those companies.

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Review: Evolutionary advances in new smartwatches

NEW YORK (AP) — New Android wristwatches from Samsung and LG make a few evolutionary advances, though I won't be rushing out to buy either.

Samsung's Gear Live and LG's G Watch are good products and will appeal to those who like to be among the first to own new gadgets.

The watches serve as pedometers and let you catch up on email, texts and Facebook notifications while your phone is in your pocket or charging in the bedroom. Even with the phone in your hand, you can check messages on the watch and keep playing video on the phone.

Both smartwatches try to keep things simple through voice commands rather than touch. They use Google's Android Wear system, which I reviewed earlier.

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UK investigating Facebook over psych experiment

LONDON (AP) — British data protection authorities are investigating revelations that Facebook conducted a psychological experiment on its users.

The Information Commissioner's Office said Wednesday that it wants to learn more about the circumstances of the experiment carried out by two U.S. universities and the social network.

The commissioner's office is working with authorities in Ireland, where Facebook has headquarters for its European operations. French authorities are also reviewing the matter.

The researchers manipulated the news feeds of about 700,000 randomly selected users to study the impact of "emotional contagion," or how emotional states are transferred to others. The researchers said the evidence showed that emotional contagion occurs without direct interaction between people and "in the complete absence of nonverbal cues."

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Stocks close at all-time highs as hiring surges

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks closed at their latest all-time highs Wednesday following news that business hiring surged in June, adding to evidence that the U.S. economy is picking up momentum.

ADP, a payroll processer, said businesses added 281,000 jobs last month, up from 179,000 in the previous month. The figure suggests the government's monthly jobs report, due out Thursday, could also show a significant gain from May.

The stock market climbed back to record levels a day earlier after separate reports showed that manufacturing expanded in China and the U.S., the world's two largest economies.

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Yellen sees little threat to financial stability

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Wednesday that she doesn't see a need for the Fed to start raising interest rates to defuse the risk that extremely low rates could destabilize the financial system.

Yellen said she does see "pockets" of increased risk-taking. But she said those threats could be addressed through greater use of regulatory tools. Many of those tools, such as higher capital standards for banks, were put in place after the 2008 financial crisis, which triggered the Great Recession.

In her remarks at a conference sponsored by the International Monetary Fund, Yellen disputed criticism that the Fed had contributed to the 2008 crisis by keeping rates too low earlier in the decade.

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Survey: US companies added 281,000 jobs in June

WASHINGTON (AP) — A private survey shows U.S. business hiring surged in June, a sign of stronger economic growth.

Payroll processer ADP said Wednesday that private employers added 281,000 jobs last month, up from 179,000 in the previous month.

The figure suggests the government's jobs report, to be released Thursday, could also show a significant gain from May's tally of 217,000 jobs. But the ADP numbers cover only private businesses and often diverge from the government's more comprehensive report.

Recent economic data suggests that the economy has shifted into a higher gear. Autos sold at an annual rate of 16.9 million in June, the highest rate since January 2006. New orders for manufacturers are at a six-month peak, according to the Institute for Supply Management.

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US factory orders slide 0.5 percent in May

WASHINGTON (AP) — Orders to U.S. factories fell in May, ending three months of gains.

The Commerce Department reported that orders fell 0.5 percent, pulled down by falling demand for military and transportation equipment. That followed increases of 0.8 percent in April, 1.5 percent in March and 1.7 percent in February.

Excluding military hardware, factory orders rose 0.2 percent in May from April. Orders for transportation equipment fell 2.9 percent. Orders for computers and electronic equipment fell 2 percent, biggest monthly drop since December.

Orders for durable goods, meant to last three years or more, fell 0.9 percent in May. Orders for nondurable goods slipped 0.2 percent.

Factory orders were up 2.5 percent from May 2013.

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Missouri city opts not to pay for flood protection

CLARKSVILLE, Mo. (AP) — For years, tiny Clarksville has paid for temporary sandbag walls to protect its quaint business district and historic waterfront homes from Mississippi River flooding. But unwilling to raid its coffers again despite rising water levels, the city has left it to individual merchants and residents to safeguard their property.

After an unusually calm spring, the river is raging. Recent heavy rains in the upper Midwest have caused a sudden surge in the water level and by the middle of next week, the National Weather Service is projecting it to reach 9 feet above flood stage in Clarksville.

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Small business owners learn recession lessons

NEW YORK (AP) — For some small business owners, the Great Recession turned out to be a lesson in how to run their companies better.

Many owners whose businesses failed during the recession have taken the plunge again, restarting or opening new businesses. But they're not repeating past mistakes. Their companies are leaner, smarter and less risky.

There are no definitive numbers on how many small businesses failed during the recession. But there were 337,303 fewer companies with under 499 employees in 2011 than there were before the recession began, according to the Census Bureau. The government hasn't released more recent statistics, so it's not known how many new companies there are, or how many owners went on to start new businesses.

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