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In brief: Washington’s jobless rate drops to 5.6 percent

Thu., Aug. 14, 2014, midnight

OLYMPIA – Washington’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.6 percent last month, according to numbers released Wednesday by the Employment Security Department.

The newest numbers show that July’s jobless rate was down from June’s 5.8 percent rate. The state also added an estimated 7,300 jobs from June to July, and June’s initial report of 9,100 jobs gained was revised up to a gain of 13,600 jobs.

“Washington’s labor market continues to gain momentum,” Paul Turek, an economist with the Employment Security Department, said in a written statement. “Year-over-year, the state saw growth in nearly every industry.”

Nearly 93,000 jobs have been added in the state over a one-year period ending in July, officials said, with 12 major industries expanding and just one – manufacturing – decreasing.

The national unemployment rate for July was 6.2 percent. The unemployment rate in the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett area dropped to 4.7 percent from June’s rate of 4.8 percent.

Burger King nixes lower-calorie ‘Satisfries’

NEW YORK – Burger King is getting rid of its lower-calorie french fries at most restaurants after less than a year.

The Miami-based chain said in a statement that it gave its franchisees the option to continue selling the french fries earlier this week. Only about 2,500 of the approximately 7,400 locations in the U.S. and Canada opted to continue selling them as a permanent item.

“Satisfries” were a big bet for Burger King when they were announced in September. But they weren’t as well received as Burger King had hoped.

It’s unclear whether customers were aware what made the fries lower in calories. Burger King said Satisfries used a different type of batter to prevent some oil from being absorbed by the potatoes during frying. But the company did not have signs in restaurants explaining the difference between Satisfries and regular fries.

Merck & Co. approved for new sleeping pill

WASHINGTON – Merck & Co. Inc. has won federal approval for a new type of sleeping pill designed to help people with insomnia stay asleep.

The tablet, Belsomra, works by temporarily blocking chemicals known as orexins that control the sleep cycle and can keep people awake at night. It’s unclear whether the new drug is safer or more effective than older drugs because it was tested against a dummy pill, rather than other sleeping medications.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the drug Wednesday in four different doses for various degrees of insomnia. The agency noted that patients who took the highest dose, 20 milligrams, experienced drowsiness and difficulty driving the next morning.


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