WASHINGTON – Unemployment fell in 20 states last month and nearly three-quarters of the states added jobs, as the nation at large posted a fourth straight month of solid hiring.
Unemployment rates rose in 16 states and were unchanged in 14 states, the Labor Department said Friday. Meanwhile, hiring rose in 36 states and declined in 14.
The larger in unemployment rates occurred in Illinois, where the rate fell to 7.5 percent from 7.9 percent, and Massachusetts, where it fell to 5.6 percent from 6 percent. Georgia reported the largest increase, to 7.2 percent from 6.9 percent.
Nationwide, employers added 217,000 jobs in May, the fourth straight month of gains above 200,000. That’s the first such stretch since 1999. The unemployment rate remained at 6.3 percent, matching a five-year low.
The unemployment rate and job figures sometimes diverge because they come from separate surveys. The job gains are derived from a survey of businesses, the unemployment rate from a survey of households.
Bond market clarity a goal for SEC boss
WASHINGTON – The top U.S. securities regulator said that she is taking steps aimed at making trading in the bond markets more transparent for investors.
Mary Jo White, chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, said Friday that technology and competition have benefited and transformed the stock market. But she says they have not yet had the same effect in the bond markets.
She said trading in the $11.3 trillion market in corporate bonds and the $3.7 trillion municipal-bond market continue to be dominated by big Wall Street firms, making it hard for investors to know whether they are being charged reasonable fees.
Her comments came in remarks to the Economic Club of New York.
White said she is working with other market regulators on how to use technology to make bond trading and prices clearer for the public.
“We must take steps to ensure that the benefits of technological advances are realized by all investors” in the bond markets, White said.
It’s especially important now for the fees investors are charged to be clearly disclosed, she noted, since interest rates are at historically low levels and fees on bond trades can take a large bite out of investors’ returns.
GE clears big hurdle for deal in France
PARIS – U.S. conglomerate General Electric Co. looked set Friday to win its months-long fight to acquire the power generation business of France’s Alstom SA after the French government dropped its objections and threw its support behind the American offer.
The final decision rests with Alstom’s board, which was meeting Friday night to discuss the offer. GE, which has sought a deal with Alstom since April, had given the French company until Monday to sign off on the $17 billion offer.
Friday’s announcement brings an end to months of uncertainty over whether GE would win the French government’s approval despite resistance from President Francois Hollande and other top officials.
French economy minister Arnaud Montebourg said the government preferred GE’s offer to a rival joint bid from Germany’s Siemens and Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and would take a 20 percent stake in Alstom.
Alstom has favored a tie-up with GE but had to postpone signing any deal while the government intervened to seek assurances on jobs and decision-making.