Area slips in best business cities list
Spokane ranks 29th in the new Forbes magazine list of the 200 Best Cities for Business and Careers, falling from ninth in the 2008 list.
Coeur d’Alene slipped from 21st to 33rd in the ranking of small cities.
Rankings are determined by cost of doing business, including labor, energy taxes and rent; job growth over three years; and percent of population over age 25 with bachelor’s degrees, or higher.
Spokane ranked 35th in business costs, 62nd in job growth, and 85th in educational attainment. Coeur d’Alene ranked 29th, 24th and 91st in those categories, respectively.
Raleigh, N.C., was the top-ranked large city, with Boise at ninth, Seattle at 17th, Olympia at 23rd, and Portland at 26th.
Sioux Falls, S.D., was the highest ranked small city. In Washington, Bellingham ranked 35th, Wenatchee 36th.
Unemployment grows for 10th straight week
Hopes that the economy may be poised for a recovery got a splash of reality Thursday: The unemployment rolls are still getting bigger as the recession maintains its grip.
For the 10th week in a row, the number of people receiving jobless benefits grew. It now stands at nearly 5.6 million – an indication that the labor market is still grim.
New claims for unemployment benefits rose again as well, to a seasonally adjusted 652,000, up from 644,000 the week before. The government also said the economy shrank at a 6.3 percent annual clip in the fourth quarter, slightly faster than its previous estimate.
Mortgage rates hit low amid housing plan
Rates on 30-year mortgages fell this week to the lowest level on record after the Federal Reserve launched a new effort to assist the staggering U.S. housing market.
Mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac said Thursday that average rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages dropped to 4.85 percent this week, from 4.98 percent last week.
Seven indicted in huge mortgage fraud scheme
A grand jury has returned a 40-count indictment against seven people accused of running a multimillion dollar mortgage fraud scheme in Seattle’s suburbs.
Those charged include the operators of Kobay Financial Corp., Nationwide Home Lending and Emerald City Escrow, all of Bellevue. The indictment says they used straw buyers or other unqualified buyers with vastly overstated incomes to artificially inflate home values and acquire more than $46 million in mortgages from ING and Washington Mutual banks, among others.
Nationwide closed last fall.
The indictment alleges the defendants took $9 million for themselves, using the money to buy luxury cars and boats, among other things.
The charges include conspiracy, as well as bank, mail and wire fraud.
Defendants are Vladislav Baydovskiy and Viktor Kobzar, who ran Kobay, and their employee Camie Byron; Alla Sobol, who ran Nationwide; David Sobol and Donata Baydovskiy, who ran Emerald City; and Sandra Thorpe, a bookkeeper.