WASHINGTON – Unemployment rates dropped in 22 U.S. states last month and stayed the same in 14, as the nation at large posted a fifth straight month of solid hiring.
The Labor Department said Friday that unemployment rates rose in 14 states. Meanwhile, employers added jobs in 33 states and cut back in 17.
Stronger hiring has helped lower unemployment in many parts of the country. Nationwide, employers added 288,000 positions last month.
The largest job gains, as a percentage of the workforce, occurred in Indiana, North Dakota and Oklahoma. Hiring rose 0.6 percent last month in each state. The biggest job losses were in Alaska, where employment fell 1.7 percent, and West Virginia, where it dropped 1.2 percent.
Amazon enters e-book subscription market
Amazon entered the e-book subscription market Friday by launching Kindle Unlimited, a Netflix-like subscription service for e-books available for $9.99 a month.
Kindle Unlimited includes access to more than 600,000 e-books and thousands of audiobooks, Amazon said. The service is available on Kindle devices and Kindle iOS and Android apps. Customers can try it free for 30 days.
Kindle Unlimited will compete against Oyster and Scribd, two companies that unveiled e-book subscription services in the past year.
Forbes family sells ruling stake in business
The Forbes family is selling a controlling stake in its business media dynasty to international investors.
Hong Kong-based Integrated Whale Media Investments is buying a majority stake in Forbes Media, a nearly century-old media empire that includes the iconic Forbes magazine and Forbes.com.
In announcing the deal Friday, Forbes did not disclose a sales price and said only that the family would retain a “significant interest.”
Current management, the company said, will remain in place.
Forbes said the investor group will increase the international reach of Forbes, which publishes a list of the world’s wealthiest people. The deal is expected to be completed this year, Forbes said.
Dell to take bitcoin; largest company so far
Computer giant Dell announced that it will begin accepting bitcoin as payment, making the Texas-based company the largest business to accept the virtual currency.
Dell, which reported $56.9 billion in revenue for 2013 and employs more than 100,000 people, announced the decision to begin accepting bitcoin via a tweet by the company’s founder, Michael Dell.
Dell customers can begin using bitcoin as payment immediately, and the company is offering a discount for Alienware-brand computer hardware if payments are made in bitcoin. The company is partnering with bitcoin payment processing company Coinbase, which works with tens of thousands of merchants in accepting and using bitcoin.
Toyota option rules out kids’ ‘I can’t hear you’
DETROIT – Toyota wants to help you get your kids’ attention.
The latest version of the company’s Sienna minivan has a feature called “Driver Easy Speak.” It uses a built-in microphone to amplify a parent’s voice through speakers in the back seats.
Toyota says it added Easy Speak “so parents don’t have to shout to passengers in the back.” The feature only works one way.
The feature is an option on the 2015 Sienna, which is being refreshed with a new interior.