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Spokane jobless rate increases to 10 percent

Wed., March 27, 2013

Spokane County’s jobless rate in February climbed slightly to 10 percent, an increase from January’s 9.7 percent.

The county’s unemployment rate hasn’t been in double digits since February 2012 when it was 10.1 percent, said Doug Tweedy, the state labor economist for Spokane.

January and February typically have the highest jobless rates of the year, due to seasonal layoffs, Tweedy said.

The number of nonfarm workers in Spokane grew in February to 208,200 according to the state Employment Security Department. In February 2012 the county had 203,600 nonfarm jobs.

Those numbers come from employer surveys. The separate household survey tracking the civilian labor force reported Spokane with 208,790 workers, compared with 211,040 from February 2012.

From February 2012 to February 2013, the industries with the largest growth were health care (up 1,300), professional services (up 1,300) and manufacturing (up 400), Tweedy said.

Doctors’ profits bring warning from feds

MIAMI – Federal health officials have issued a rare warning about doctors’ ownership of shares in medical device companies that allow them to profit from performing surgeries with those products.

The inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services issued a fraud alert Tuesday that called the practice “inherently suspect” and said it may violate anti-kickback laws.

The agency has only issued a handful of these national fraud alerts in the past 20 years and the warning sends a strong message to the medical industry.

The U.S. Senate Finance Committee warned of an uptick in these doctor-medical device partnerships in 2011, saying they were proliferating in at least 20 states.

Judge: Man’s contract for Facebook deal fake

BUFFALO, N.Y. – A New York man’s multibillion-dollar lawsuit claiming half-ownership of Facebook Inc. should be dismissed, a federal judge recommended Tuesday.

Siding with the Internet company and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, Magistrate Judge Leslie Foschio said the contract on which Paul Ceglia based his case was faked.

Ceglia, 39, of Wellsville, sued in 2010 claiming that he and Zuckerberg, then a Harvard University student, signed a software development contract in 2003 that included a provision entitling Ceglia to half ownership of Facebook in exchange for $1,000 in startup money for the budding company.

The judge found that while the two did sign a contract, any references to Facebook had been added later.

U.S. Steel signs deal to keep Slovak mill

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia – The Slovak government and U.S. Steel signed a deal Tuesday that will ensure the American company remains the owner of a steel mill employing thousands for at least five more years.

The negotiations between U.S. Steel and the Slovak government have been going on for months. U.S. Steel has reportedly had purchase offers for the mill in the eastern city of Kosice.

“Today, we created conditions to motivate U.S. Steel to stay in Slovakia and continue to produce steel,” Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said, a day after meeting with U.S. Steel’s CEO, John Surma, in Pittsburgh.

U.S. Steel bought the operations in 2000, but Europe’s financial troubles have hurt demand for steel and profits at the plant.


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