Applications for unemployment drop
WASHINGTON The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to a seasonally adjusted 339,000, the second-fewest in more than five years. The drop suggests that layoffs have declined and that job growth may pick up from last month’s sluggish pace. Applications for benefits dropped 16,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The four-week average declined 4,500 to 357,500. Applications are a proxy for layoffs. When they decline, it signals that companies are cutting fewer jobs. Still, layoffs are only half the equation: Businesses also need to be confident enough in the economy to step up hiring. Many companies have been advertising more jobs but have been slow to fill them. Job openings jumped 11 percent during the 12 months that ended in February, but the number of people hired declined, according to a Labor Department report this month. The still-uncertain economy has made many companies reluctant to hire. Some employers appear to be holding out for perfect job candidates. In particular, companies say they can’t find enough qualified candidates for high-skilled manufacturing and engineering jobs. Other employers may not be offering high enough pay to attract the candidates they need. Still, most economists were encouraged by Thursday’s report.
Apple sitting on $145 billion in cash
Apple revealed this week that it is sitting on a pile of cash — $145 billion, to be precise — and the company is planning to flush out some of it to shareholders in a manner carefully structured to minimize its tax burden. How much money is $145 billion? For one, it could buy approximately 45 apples for every person on Earth. Or it could pay for virtually any company on Earth – with the exception of 31 that are valued higher. The cash could buy 38.8 billion gallons of regular unleaded gasoline, or enough to fill up 2.9 billion Honda Civic gas tanks or 1.49 billion Ford F-150 tanks. The company could give $2.3 million to each of the 62,619 estimated homeless veterans living in the United States. It could administer polio vaccines to 290 million people — the combined population of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo, countries where polio rages on. The company could buy all the art in the Louvre 1.5 times over. It could acquire 290 Airbus A380 double-decker private jets. The possibilities are endless.
Hostess to reopen plant in Columbus, Ga.
ATLANTA The new owners of Hostess Brands plan to reopen the company’s Columbus, Ga., plant this summer and eventually employ more than 300 workers. The baking company, which produces Twinkies, Cup Cakes, Ho Hos and Ding Dongs, is expected to resume operations this summer with a new workforce. The company said it is initially recruiting for 200 positions in production, sanitation, distribution, maintenance engineering and management this weekend at a job fair in Columbus. In the next several years, more than 100 workers will be added. Apollo Global Management and Metropoulos & Co. purchased Hostess’ assets out of bankruptcy.
The Associated Press, Slate and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed.