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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Briefs for Wednesday

UPDATED: Tue., Dec. 22, 2020

Spokane County’s nonseasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased to 6.7% in November, according to the Washington State Employment Security Department.

The county posted an increase of 800 nonfarm jobs and 700 private sector jobs in November, compared with a month prior, the department reported Tuesday.

The education and health services sector had the greatest number of jobs added in November at 1,300. The service providing sector added 1,000 jobs, while professional and business services increased by 600, compared with October.

The leisure and hospitality sector shed 600 jobs, which included a drop of 300 positions at restaurants and bars.

The financial activities sector lost 400 jobs in November.

The county’s unemployment rate was 5.8% in October and 4.5% in November 2019.

There were 16,470 unemployed people in the county in November, an increase of 1,162 compared with October, according to ESD data.

Google files response to antitrust suit by feds

Google is pushing back in court this week on antitrust claims brought against it by the Justice Department two months ago.

In a legal filing with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Google denied or partially rejected almost 200 specific complaints against it. On only one count, that Google was a “founded in Menlo Park garage 22 years ago,” did the company side with the Justice Department.

It said that people use its search engine “because they choose to, not because they are forced to or because they cannot easily find alternative ways to search for information on the Internet.”

In October the Justice Department sued Google for abusing its dominance in online search and advertising – the government’s most significant attempt to protect competition since its groundbreaking case against Microsoft more than 20 years ago.

And last week U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta set a tentative trial date of Sept. 12, 2023 for the landmark case.Google has fiercely denied government allegations that it has illegally struck a series of deals to thwart competition in the search market to help give it a stranglehold on a digital advertising market that has brought in more than $100 billion in revenue to the company during the first nine months of this year alone.

Consumer confidence tumbles in December

SILVER SPRING, Md. – A closely watched gauge of U.S. consumer confidence tumbled in December as rising coronavirus cases dragged American optimism to its lowest level since the summer.

Rising pessimism is spreading during the crucial holiday season, which could make or break a number of retailers, airlines, restaurants and other sectors that have been hammered during the pandemic.

The December reading of 88.6 released Tuesday by the Conference Board is a sharp decline from last month, which was revised downward to 92.9, and it is far worse than economists had expected.

It may be an ominous sign for an economy in which consumer spending accounts for 70% of all economic economic activity.The Commerce Department reported last week that U.S. retail sales fell a seasonally adjusted 1.1% in November, the biggest drop in seven months, and also worse than most were expecting.

The drumbeat of weak economic data may be providing a grim preview of Christmas receipts, which can account for a quarter or more of a retailer’s annual sales.

From staff and wire reportsThe index measuring consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions also fell sharply, from 105.9 last month to 90.3 in December. Consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business, and labor market conditions ticked up slightly from 84.3 in November to 87.5 this month, possibly because of recent approvals for COVID-19 vaccines.

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