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Business/Economy

  • NM lawmakers OK 72% tax hike on businesses as unemployment fix

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Lawmakers are sending Gov. Susana Martinez a proposal to shore up the state's unemployment compensation program by raising taxes on employers and cutting jobless benefits.

    If the governor signs the legislation, taxes on businesses will go up by $128 million next year.

    The Workforce Solutions Department projects the unemployment fund will run out of money by next March without any changes.

  • Stocks fall on weak economic reports, Japan crisis

    NEW YORK (AP) — Disappointing U.S. economic news and more worries about the nuclear crisis in Japan sent stocks lower Wednesday.

    The Commerce Department reported that new home construction fell to the second-lowest level on record in February, reflecting weak demand. Homebuilder Lennar Corp. fell 3 percent, while Pulte Group Inc. and D.R. Horton Inc. each fell 2 percent.

  • NM House OKs pension overhaul for public employees

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The House approved a proposal Tuesday to improve the solvency of New Mexico's public employee pension programs by establishing a minimum retirement age of 55 and limiting cost-of-living increases in some government workers' and educators' retirement benefits.

    The changes would apply to employees who have worked for state or local governments, school districts or colleges for less than five years as of July.

  • Fed says economic recovery on firmer footing

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve expressed more confidence in the U.S. economy even as Japan's nuclear crisis raised worries around the globe.

    The Fed said the economic recovery is on "firmer footing" and the jobs market is "improving gradually," in a statement released after its meeting Tuesday.

  • Retail sales up 1 percent in February

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Shoppers snapped up new cars, clothing and electronics in February, pushing retail sales up for the eighth straight month.

    Retail sales rose 1 percent last month, the Commerce Department reported Friday. Part of the gain reflected higher prices for gasoline. Still, excluding sales at gas stations, retail sales rose a solid 0.9 percent.

  • NM unemployment rate in January: 8.7 percent

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's jobless rate rose to 8.7 percent in January, up from 8.6 percent in December and 8.1 percent in January 2010.

    State labor officials say New Mexico lost 3,500 jobs between January 2010 and January 2011.

    An analysis shows the state's total nonfarm employment peaked at 849,600 in February 2008, and had fallen to 796,900 in December 2010.

    The state Department of Workforce Solutions says seven sectors have reported growth and six had declines.

  • Stocks plunge on economic news, slumping oil price

    NEW YORK (AP) — Weak economic news from China, the U.S. and Spain combined with a slump in oil companies sent stocks sharply lower Thursday.

    Investors were jarred when China reported a surprise trade deficit in February. China's exports fell as businesses closed for the weeklong Lunar New Year holiday, but imports of higher-priced oil and other goods jumped, widening the country's deficit to $7.3 billion.

  • More people sought unemployment aid last week

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of people seeking unemployment benefits rose last week. But the rise comes after applications hit their lowest level in nearly three years, and economists expect further declines as the economy improves.

    Applications rose by 26,000 to a seasonally adjusted 397,000 during the week ended March 5, the Labor Department said Thursday.

    The latest report covers the week after the Presidents' Day holiday, when many government offices were closed. Applications usually rise in weeks following holiday-shortened weeks.

  • Underwater mortgages rise as home prices fall

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth rose at the end of last year, preventing many people from selling their homes in an already weak housing market.

    CoreLogic said Tuesday that about 11.1 million households, or 23.1 percent of all mortgaged homes, were underwater in the October-December quarter. That's up from 22.5 percent, or 10.8 million households, in the July-September quarter.

  • NM House approves higher worker pension payments

    SANTA FE — (AP) — The House has approved a proposal requiring public employees and educators to pay more for their pension programs while government lowers its contributions.

    The measure will cut government costs by nearly $111 million in the upcoming fiscal year to help the state balance the budget.

    The bill passed the House on Monday on a 43-26 vote and goes to the Senate.