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Avista trimming costs with worker buyout

Avista Corp. will buy out 56 employees in a cost-cutting measure, the Spokane company said Thursday.

Avista invited 919 of its 1,550 employees to apply for the voluntary severance. The 56 who were notified Thursday that they were approved for the buyout represent about half of those who applied, spokesman Dan Kolbet said.

Their last day at work will be Dec. 31.

The severance was offered to non-union full-time and part-time active employees.

“The goal of the program was to achieve sustainable cost savings in 2013 and beyond, and slow the pace of growth in our costs,” Kolbet said. “This program along with several other budgeting initiatives are being used to achieve savings.”

The measure is driven by spiraling operating costs that include huge increases for medical insurance and pension payments, the company said previously.

Scott Maben

Unemployment claims up by 17,000 last week

WASHINGTON – The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week by 17,000, reversing four weeks of declines. But the number of people seeking aid is consistent with a job market that continues to grow modestly.

Unemployment claims rose the week of Dec. 15 to a seasonally adjusted 361,000 from a revised 344,000 the week before.

The less-volatile four-week moving average fell 13,750 to 367,750, the lowest since late October. Applications had surged in early November after Superstorm Sandy, then dropped back.

Just over 5.4 million people were receiving some type of unemployment benefit the week ended Dec. 1, down from nearly 7.2 million a year earlier.

Associated Press

GM recalling pickups to repair hood problem

DETROIT – General Motors is recalling more than 145,000 pickup trucks because the hoods can fly open unexpectedly and block the driver’s vision.

The recall affects Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon midsize trucks from the 2010 through 2012 model years. Most of the trucks were sold in North America.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says some of the trucks may not have a secondary hood latch. If the main latch isn’t fastened correctly, the hoods can open while the trucks are in motion.

GM said Thursday that it doesn’t know of any crashes or injuries caused by the problem.

Owners will have the option of checking the hoods for the secondary latch or taking it to a dealer. If there’s no secondary latch, GM will replace the hoods free of charge.

Associated Press

Toyota Camry performs poorly in new crash test

DETROIT – The Toyota Camry, the best-selling car in the U.S., performed poorly this year in a new crash test and failed to get the best safety rating from an insurance industry group.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Camry a “Poor” rating on a test that measures how well people are protected when the front corner of a car hits another car or an object.

The Camry still did well on the institute’s other four tests and earned a “Top Safety Pick” designation. But it failed to get a “Top Safety Pick-Plus” rating because of the bad performance on the new “small overlap” test of corner crashes.

Ten moderately priced midsize cars got the institute’s highest rating. They include the Honda Accord, Chrysler 200, Dodge Avenger, Ford Fusion, Kia Optima, Nissan Altima, Subaru Legacy and Outback, Suzuki Kashai and the Volkswagen Passat.

Associated Press