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U.S. employers add 175,000 jobs despite harsh weather PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER, AP Economics Writer   
Friday, 07 March 2014 10:05

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. hiring improved in February from the previous two months despite a blast of wintry weather, likely renewing hopes that growth will accelerate this year.

The Labor Department said Friday that employers added 175,000 jobs last month, up from just 129,000 in January, which was revised up from 113,000. December's gain was also revised higher.

The unemployment rate rose to 6.7 percent from a five-year low 6.6 percent. More Americans started looking for work but didn't find jobs. That's still an encouraging sign because more job hunters suggest that people were more optimistic about their prospects.

The figures were a welcome surprise after recent economic reports showed that harsh weather had closed factories, lowered auto sales, and caused existing-home sales to plummet.

"Over the past three months, payrolls growth has averaged 130,000, which is pretty respectable given the widespread weather disruptions," tweeted University of Michigan economist Justin Wolfers.

The low temperatures and snow storms that hit the eastern half of the country in February might still have held back hiring. The number of Americans who said weather forced them to work part time rather than full time reached the highest level for February in the 36 years that the government has tracked the figure. The average work week fell.

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Albertsons parent Cerberus to buy Safeway PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by CANDICE CHOI, AP Business Writers SARAH SKIDMORE SELL, AP Business Writers   
Friday, 07 March 2014 07:34

Safeway has agreed to be acquired by an investment group led by Cerberus Capital Management, the owner several supermarket chains.

The acquisition is worth about $7.64 billion in cash, and pending other transactions could top more than $9 billion.

The deal, announced late Thursday, will bring together Safeway and Albertsons. Cerberus last year had bought the Albertsons stores it didn't already own from Supvalu Inc., along with four other Supervalu chains.

It comes amid ongoing consolidation in the supermarket industry, which is facing growing competition from big-box retailers, specialty chains, drug stores and even dollar stores. Kroger Co., a key competitor, recently snapped up regional chain Harris Teeter.

Safeway said in February that it was looking into putting itself up for sale. The Pleasanton, Calif.-based company has been trying to adapt for some time to increased competition and recently shed some of its smaller, less profitable units, such as its Canadian operations and Dominick's stores in Chicago.

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Minnesota lawmakers mount new push against Sunday liquor ban PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by MIKE CRONIN, Associated Press PATRICK CONDON, Associated Press   
Friday, 07 March 2014 07:35

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota lawmakers hoping to lift the state's decades-old law that forces liquor stores to be closed on Sunday are introducing a range of compromises that would soften the ban, as well as the option to fully repeal it.

A Democratic state senator and Republican representative teamed up Thursday against a ban that's grown increasingly unpopular with Minnesota consumers, but which has proven tough to repeal. Many small liquor store owners support the Sunday prohibition, saying it would force them to be open a seventh day of the week for competitive reasons while not substantially increasing weekly profits.

The powerful Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association opposes lifting the ban, and over several years the group has successfully encouraged liquor store owners around the state to lobby their legislators against changes. But critics of the ban have also grown more organized in recent months, and got a boost recently when Gov. Mark Dayton said he'd sign a repeal bill.

"Eventually, we believe this ban will go away entirely," said Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth. "But to get us closer, we're offering a variety of options from which legislators can choose."

To that end, Reinert and Rep. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, laid out several possible paths:

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Taxis, limos upset over rules for tech competition PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by IVAN MORENO, ASSOCIATED PRESS RAY HENRY, ASSOCIATED PRESS   
Friday, 07 March 2014 07:32

DENVER (AP) — Frustrated and angry, more than 100 cabbies pulled up outside the Colorado Statehouse early this legislative session to protest tech startups known as ridesharing services.

The taxi drivers say the emerging firms, which allow passengers to hail rides with the swipe of a smartphone, are avoiding costly requirements that they and other commercial drivers are forced to follow.

Ridesharing company officials say they're open to regulation and point to self-imposed controls such as criminal background checks as proof of their willingness to cooperate. They're also pushing back, saying critics and protesters are only trying to suppress competition and legislate them out of business.

The dispute in Denver mirrors similar fights playing out across the nation as state lawmakers and city government officials consider how to regulate emerging Web-based businesses that provide a service similar to that offered by traditional cab and limo companies, but under a distinctly different model.

"You know, change isn't easy," said Colorado Democratic Rep. Cheri Jahn. "But sometimes it's time to move forward."

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