WASHINGTON – The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid fell 22,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 344,000, evidence that the job market may be picking up.
The four-week average of applications dropped 6,750 to 355,000, the Labor Department said Thursday.
Economists were mildly encouraged by the decline. It “suggests further healing in the labor markets,” Sal Guatieri, an economist at BMO Capital Markets, said in a note to clients.
Stronger hiring is one of the reasons economists expect growth is probably picking up in 2013 after a disappointing October-December quarter, when the economy barely grew.
Weekly applications are a proxy for layoffs. When they decline, it suggests companies are cutting fewer workers and may be more willing to hire.
Applications have fallen steadily in recent weeks. The four-week average has declined almost 11 percent since November. At the same time, employers have added an average of 200,000 jobs per month from November through January. That’s up from about 150,000 in the previous three months.
Groupon fires its founder, CEO Mason
NEW YORK – Struggling online deals pioneer Groupon has fired its quirky founder and CEO Andrew Mason amid worries that people are tiring of the online restaurant, spa and Botox deals that Groupon built its business on.
In a refreshingly candid memo to staff, Mason said Groupon’s employees “deserve the outside world to give you a second chance. I’m getting in the way of that. A fresh CEO earns you that chance.”
Shares jumped more than 4 percent in extended trading following Thursday’s announcement, which had been anticipated for months. Executive Chairman Eric Lefkofsky and Vice Chairman Ted Leonsis were appointed to the Office of the Chief Executive while a replacement is found.
Mason made no qualms about what had happened.
“I’ve decided that I’d like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding – I was fired today,” Mason, 32, wrote. “If you’re wondering why, you haven’t been paying attention.”
‘Girls Gone Wild’ files for bankruptcy
LOS ANGELES – The company behind the “Girls Gone Wild” video empire has filed for bankruptcy in a move it says is an effort to restructure its legal affairs after several disputed court judgments.
GGW Brands LLC and several subsidiaries filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Wednesday in Los Angeles, listing more than $16 million in disputed claims.
The largest claim is $10.3 million that Wynn Resorts Limited is seeking from the company for judgments entered against “Girls Gone Wild” founder Joe Francis over a gambling debt and statements he has made about the casino and its founder, Steve Wynn.
The figure does not include a $19 million judgment Wynn won against Francis in a slander trial last year. The case, which centered on Francis’ claims that Wynn threatened to kill him over the gambling debt, is being appealed.
“Girls Gone Wild remains strong as a company and strong financially,” the company said in a statement, likening itself to other businesses such as American Airlines and General Motors that have filed for bankruptcy to restructure. “The only reason Girls Gone Wild has elected to file for this reorganization is to re-structure its frivolous and burdensome legal affairs.”
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