NEW YORK – The National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade group, is slamming a global pact to improve safety conditions in Bangladesh, backed by mostly European retailers. At the same time the association is offering few details to an alternative plan it’s pushing that it believes is more flexible.
More than two dozen brands have agreed to sign on to a five-year, legally binding contract that requires that they help pay for fire safety and building improvements in Bangladesh. Notably missing from the pact are U.S. firms, except PVH, the New York-based parent company of Tommy Hilfiger.
In a release Wednesday, the retail trade group criticized the pact for having a “one-size-fits-all” approach and says it leaves retailers open to legal action.
Jobless rate drops in April
OLYMPIA – Washington state’s unemployment rate dropped to 7 percent in April, and the state added an estimated 3,800 jobs last month, according to numbers released Wednesday.
The state has now regained about 78 percent of the more than 200,000 jobs lost during the recession, officials with the state Employment Security Department said.
The state’s unemployment rate has fallen by half a percentage point since the start of the year, with April’s rate down from March’s 7.3 percent. The state’s jobless rate is now the lowest since December 2008, when it was at 7.1 percent.
The national unemployment rate for April was 7.5 percent.
Since April 2012, when Washington state’s unemployment rate was 8.4 percent, the state has gained a total of 67,200 jobs.
More than 243,000 people were unemployed in the state and looking for work last month, including nearly 130,800 who claimed unemployment benefits.
Wholesale prices fall sharply
WASHINGTON – Sharp drops in fuel and food costs reduced a measure of wholesale prices last month by the most since February 2010, indicating inflation has slowed.
The Labor Department says the producer price index, which measures price changes before they reach the consumer, fell a seasonally adjusted 0.7 percent in April from March. It was the second straight decline.
Gas prices dropped 6 percent. Food prices declined 0.8 percent.
Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, core prices ticked up 0.1 percent in April.
Overall wholesale prices have increased just 0.6 percent over the past 12 months. That’s the smallest yearly gain since July. During the same period, core prices have risen 1.7 percent.
FDA OKs prostate cancer drug
WASHINGTON – The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new injectable drug that uses radiation to treat advanced prostate cancer that has spread to the bones.
The FDA said Wednesday it approved the drug, Xofigo from Bayer Pharmaceuticals, for men whose cancer has grown into bone tumors even after receiving medication or surgery to lower testosterone. The hormone spurs growth of prostate tumors.
More than 238,000 U.S. men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year and 29,720 will die from the disease, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Regulators approved Xofigo based on a study of 809 men with advanced prostate cancer who received the drug or placebo. Patients taking Xofigo typically lived 14 months compared to 11.2 months for those taking placebo.
Xofigo’s side effects include nausea and diarrhea.