WaMu announces another 1,200 job cuts

Washington Mutual Inc., the nation’s largest savings and loan, said Thursday it slashed 1,200 jobs – about 2.6 percent of its work force – as part of a plan to cut costs and become profitable again.

WaMu, staggering under the rising cost of delinquencies and foreclosures, said in a statement that the layoffs were made in three areas: home loans, jobs not tied to “mission-critical activities,” and positions lost as the company centralizes support functions.

Before Thursday’s announced cuts, WaMu had 45,883 employees.

New York

Board releases latest economic indicators

The economy, hobbled by higher fuel and food prices, tighter credit and a depressed housing market, is limping along at a snail’s pace, a private business group said Thursday.

The New York-based Conference Board said its economic indicators rose 0.1 percent in May. The increase in the indicators, a measure of future economic activity, equaled April’s 0.1 percent advance. The Conference Board revised March’s number down from 0.1 to zero. The index is designed to forecast economic activity in the next three to six months based on 10 components, including stock prices, building permits and initial claims for unemployment benefits.


GM shelves overhaul of pickups and SUVs

General Motors Corp. is indefinitely halting a major overhaul of its full-size pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles as it deals with a drastic drop in sales of those products.

GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson said Thursday the automaker instead will work on more modest updates and enhancements as it shifts resources toward higher-mileage vehicles. The move has been largely spurred by skyrocketing gas prices that have radically changed customers’ buying habits, he said.

U.S. pickup sales in May fell more than 38 percent, and the company has said the market declined more rapidly than expected last month.


Idaho one of 4 states with falling income

Idahoans earned less in the first three months of 2008 than in the last quarter of 2007.

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis on Thursday reported the decline as higher feed prices affected livestock operators and slow housing starts crippled the construction trades.

Personal income fell 0.4 percent in the first quarter, making Idaho one of only four states to see personal income decline. Mississippi dropped 0.3 percent, Louisiana 0.6 percent and Arkansas 1.9 percent.

Personal income rose 1.1 percent nationally during the first quarter.

From staff and wire reports


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