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Applications for jobless benefits dip

The number of people seeking unemployment benefits dipped last week to 382,000, the fourth drop in five weeks. Applications at about 375,000 signal sustained job growth. Applications peaked during the recession at 651,000.

Fewer people have been applying for unemployment benefits since late January, evidence that layoffs are slowing. Applications have fallen by 11 percent in the past seven weeks.

As applications have fallen, hiring has picked up. Employers added 192,000 jobs in February.

Associated Press

American Airlines strike unlikely

DALLAS – A union president at American Airlines said Thursday that federal officials aren’t likely to let flight attendants go on strike because of the weak condition of the economy and the airline.

The union and the airline have been negotiating for nearly three years. The Association of Professional Flight Attendants wants pay raises while the airline says labor costs are already too high.

By law, airline workers can’t strike unless federal mediators declare a deadlock in negotiations and trigger a 30-day “cooling-off period.” Mediators have declined to end the talks at American.

Union President Laura Glading said mediators cited the economy and health of the airline as factors last month. American parent AMR Corp. was the only major U.S. airline company to lose money in 2010 and analysts expect another loss this year.

Associated Press

Development ordered halted on jet engine

CINCINNATI – The Defense Department on Thursday ordered work to stop on an alternate engine being developed at a GE Aviation plant in southwest Ohio for the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet.

The Obama administration and the department strongly oppose the program, and the president’s fiscal 2012 budget proposal to Congress does not include funding for it.

“In our view it is a waste of taxpayer money that can be used to fund higher departmental priorities, and should be ended now,” the department said in a statement.

The F136 engine is being developed by GE Aviation, a General Electric Co. unit outside Cincinnati. Fairfield, Conn.-based GE makes the engine with London-based Rolls-Royce. The jet’s main engine is built by Connecticut-based Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp.

GE Aviation spokesman Rick Kennedy said the Defense Department took action with Congress still working to complete the 2011 budget, and the company will continue to “self-fund the project through this crisis.”

Associated Press