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Jobless benefits may change

Unemployment benefits may be changed as Washington’s jobless rate improves.

The maximum weeks of benefits will likely be reduced from 99 to 73 by the middle of April. The extended benefits programs are triggered by a state’s unemployment rates.

The changes come on the heels of the lowest unemployment rate since January 2009. More details and specific timing regarding the changes will be announced later.

February’s jobless rate was 8.2 percent in Washington as 4,200 jobs were gained since January, according to state economists.

Washington has added about 90,900 jobs since the recession’s low point.

About 288,000 people are still seeking work, according to the Washington Employment Security Department.

About 197,000 people claimed unemployment benefits. Another 76,103 have now run out of such benefits.

John Stucke

Lululemon opens next week

Lululemon athletica will open its first Spokane store on March 30 on the second level of 117 N. Howard St.

The Vancouver, B.C., company sells yoga-inspired apparel and workout wear.

Company spokeswoman Tracy Keough said the Spokane location will be a “cozier” showroom rather than a full retail store.

“Showrooms are only open part of the week so that we can be out in the community meeting our neighbors and participating in local yoga and fitness classes,” she said in an email.

Hours will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. The showroom will offer Saturday morning yoga at 9:30 a.m.

Tom Sowa

Inland Power hires new leader

Regional electric cooperative Inland Power & Light has hired a new chief executive from Wyoming.

Chad Jensen will lead the 39,000-member cooperative beginning in May.

His tenure follows the retirement of Kris Mikkelsen, who has led Inland Power for the past 12 years and has been with the company for 30 years. The cooperative, founded in 1937, is the largest in Washington.

Jensen is leaving his post at Lower Valley Energy, a power cooperative in Afton, Wyo., a small community about 70 miles south of Jackson, Wyo.

Jensen has been with Lower Valley for 22 years and also served as Afton’s mayor. He has a finance degree from Brigham Young University and an MBA from the University of Wyoming.

John Stucke

Hartford group narrows focus

HARTFORD, Conn. – Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. is exiting the annuity business so it can focus on its property and casualty insurance, group benefits and mutual funds.

The company said Wednesday that it is also looking to sell or pursue other options for its individual life, retirement plans and broker-dealer Woodbury Financial Services.

Credit Suisse’s Thomas Gallagher said in a client note that Hartford could get between $2 billion to $3 billion by selling the businesses.

Associated Press

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