June 18, 2011 in Business



Gregoire in Europe for trade mission

OLYMPIA – Gov. Chris Gregoire began a weeklong trade mission in Europe on Friday, saying the overseas trip could spur Washington exports and the state’s economic recovery.

Gregoire’s first stop was in Spain, where she met with executives of the construction company Dragados. The company’s U.S.-based subsidiary was selected to build the tunnel to replace Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct, and Gregoire said she wanted a firsthand look at a project Dragados recently completed ahead of schedule in Madrid.

She also has meetings with renewable energy firms and wants to encourage them to locate or expand in Washington.

“This trade mission is about Washington’s economic recovery,” Gregoire said in a statement. “It’s about selling Washington state and its products, and increasing our exports to ensure job growth in areas like aerospace, life-sciences, automotive production and green energy.”

Associated Press

Rare vote on union planned at Target store

NEW YORK – Target may be known for its cheap-chic apparel, but workers at one New York store say the company is just plain cheap.

Late Friday night, about 250 workers at a Target store in Long Island planned to vote on whether to join the country’s largest retail union. This is the first union vote Target has faced in two decades and if workers vote “yes,” the store will be the first of the company’s 1,700 locations to bring in organized labor.

The vote could have a ripple effect in the U.S. retail industry as the economy recovers from the worst recession since the 1930s. At a time when jobs are scarce, the retail industry is expected to be one of the strongest sectors for job growth during this decade. But the hours and pay for jobs selling clothes, computers and other goods have been declining in recent years. At the same time, the industry has faced decreasing union membership, which can limit workers’ ability to fight for better wages.

Associated Press

Idaho jobless rate down; N. Idaho still struggling

Unemployment in Idaho inched down to 9.4 percent in May, but the story was different in North Idaho, where only Boundary County showed any improvement.

The Idaho Department of Labor said Friday seasonal hiring helped bring the state rate down from 11.6 percent in April. Job creation remains slow, the department said, with a net increase in jobs of only 7,900 from April to May, compared with 9,300 a year ago.

Manufacturers and contractors added some workers, but the totals remain at levels equal to those of 1991 and 1994, respectively. Total employment grew to 694,000, the best level in two years.

In North Idaho, unemployment in Kootenai County rose to 11.4 percent from 11.2 percent in April. It was 11.1 percent in May 2010.

The rate in Benewah County rose to 15.1 percent from 13.6 percent; in Bonner County to 13.4 percent from 13.2 percent; and in Shoshone County to 15.2 percent from 14.1 percent.

The rate fell to 14.6 percent from 14.9 percent in Boundary County.

Bert Caldwell

Rise in food prices predicted to continue

PARIS – High food prices are likely to rise even further over the next decade, putting the poor at an increasing risk of malnutrition and hunger, a world food report warned Friday.

The joint report of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said the risk of price volatility that has hurt farmers across the globe remains high.

Associated Press

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