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Business/Economy

  • Unemployment rate falls to 8.8 pct., two-year low

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The unemployment rate fell to a two-year low of 8.8 percent in March, capping the strongest two months of hiring since before the recession began.

    The economy added 216,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said Friday. Factories, retailers, the education and health care sectors and professional and financial services all expanded payrolls. Those job gains offset layoffs by local governments.

    Another month of brisk hiring provided the latest sign that the economy is strengthening nearly two years after the recession ended.

  • Unemployment stats reveal mixed bag on hiring front

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week, a sign that layoffs are dropping and companies may be stepping up hiring.

    The Labor Department said Thursday that the number of people seeking benefits dipped by 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 388,000 for the week that ended March 26. That's the second decline in three weeks.

    Applications near 375,000 or below are consistent with a sustained increase in hiring. Applications peaked during the recession at 659,000.

    The four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, rose to 394,250. Still, that figure has dropped by 35,500, or 8 percent, in the past eight weeks.

  • Business Watch: SBA Announces Grant to NM Small Business Development Centers

    ALBUQUERQUE – Small businesses in New Mexico will soon have greater access to critical resources to help them start or grow their businesses and create jobs, thanks to a $325,000 grant to SBA’s New Mexico Small Business Development Center.
    The funding was provided under a key provision of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 signed by the President last September, which provided $50 million in grants to SBA’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) across the country to support job creation and retention within the small business community by providing in-depth business counseling and advice to entrepreneurs and small business owners.

  • Money Watch: Financial education summit seeks to build wealth

    Too many New Mexicans are novices when it comes to handling their money, making them easy pickings for predatory lending companies, expensive check-cashing services and other scams that can easily be avoided.
    The fifth annual Summit on Financial Education is set for 8 a.m.-3 p.m. April 15 at the Hotel Albuquerque, 800 Rio Grande Blvd. N.W. The free conference aims to increase the financial knowledge of New Mexicans so that they can make sound decisions about their money and avoid fraud and questionable investments.

  • Rotarians recognize top business--video extra

    Dan Sena has given away more than 600,000 free scoops of ice cream over the lifetime of his business endeavors in Los Alamos. He’s also giving to a local group the $250 check that he received Tuesday as part of his recognition as the Rotary Club of Los Alamos’ 2011 Sonny Brown Small Business Award winner.

    “Every time I do this – give something like this away – believe me it comes back seven fold,” Sena told the crowd gathered for the lunchtime event at Central Avenue Grill.

    Sena’s employees are primarily high school students. He works with them to ensure that their grade point averages stay strong and schedules them appropriately.

  • Stocks higher after payroll report, pharma deal

    NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks rose Wednesday as a strong payroll report and a big pharmaceutical deal overshadowed concerns about the nuclear crisis in Japan and the battle for control of Libya.

    The ADP National Employment Report said 201,000 new private sector jobs were added in March. That is roughly in line with the 210,000 analysts had expected, but investors were encouraged by a strong gain in small business hiring.

  • AP Newsbreak: NM Gov looks at line-item veto of tax

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Republican Gov. Susana Martinez is looking at an option once used by her predecessor, Democrat Bill Richardson, to reject a tax increase approved by the Legislature.

    Martinez is considering using her line-item veto powers to eliminate a $128 million tax increase on businesses in a measure to shore up the state's unemployment compensation program.

    Taking that approach allows the governor to eliminate the higher taxes but preserve nearly $80 million in cost savings through benefit reductions. However, Democratic lawmakers question whether that action would be legal and it could trigger a lawsuit.

  • Stocks struggle higher despite weak housing news

    NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks edged higher Tuesday, overcoming earlier losses from weak reports on consumer confidence and home prices.

    Home Depot Inc. rose 2.7 percent, the most of the 30 large companies in the Dow Jones industrial average. The retailer said it would buy $1 billion of its own stock with cash from selling bonds.

    Stocks started lower after a report showed that home prices fell in 19 of the 20 large U.S. cities tracked by the S&P/Case-Shiller index. Washington was the only city in which prices rose. Prices have fallen 3 percent in the past year.

  • Home prices falling in most major US cities

    NEW YORK (AP) — Home prices are falling in most major U.S. cities, and the average prices in four of them are at their lowest point in 11 years. Analysts expect further prices declines in most cities in the coming months.

    The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city index released Tuesday shows price declines in 19 cities from December to January. Eleven of them are at their lowest level since the housing bust, in 2006 and 2007. The index fell for the sixth straight month.

    Home values in Atlanta, Las Vegas, Detroit and Cleveland are now below January 2000 levels.

    The only market where prices rose was Washington, where homes prices gained 0.1 percent month over month.

  • New Mexico job market remains stagnant

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Federal labor statistics show most states have seen positive job growth over the past year, but New Mexico and several others remain on the negative side of the curve when it comes to the job market.

    There haven't been any sizable layoffs in the past year by big employers in New Mexico, but business leaders say small businesses — from plumbing contractors and car dealerships to real estate companies and architectural firms — have been forced to lay off handfuls of workers, and those numbers are adding up.