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Job growth steady for private businesses, survey finds

WASHINGTON — U.S. businesses added jobs at a steady pace last month, with construction and manufacturing showing solid gains, a private survey found.

Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that businesses added 190,000 jobs last month, up from 177,000 in July, but below a six-month high in June of 231,000.

The figures suggest that turmoil in the financial markets and worries about faltering growth in China have not yet had much impact on the U.S. job market.

The government will release its official jobs report for August on Friday. The ADP survey covers only private businesses and frequently diverges from the official figures. —AP

Rise in productivity picks up steam

WASHINGTON — U.S. productivity in the spring rose at the fastest pace since late 2013, and labor costs declined.

Worker productivity increased at an annual rate of 3.3 percent in the April-June quarter, the Labor Department reported Wednesday. That was a rebound from the first quarter when productivity had fallen at a 1.1 percent rate and a sizeable upward revision from the government's first estimate of a 1.3 percent growth rate.

Labor costs fell at a 1.4 percent rate in the second quarter, indicating that wages are not rising even as unemployment declines.

Even with the strong gain in the second quarter, productivity over the past year has increased by just 0.7 percent, far below the long-run average of 2.2 percent. Faster productivity growth allows employers to boost pay without pushing up inflation. —AP

Modest gains for factory orders

WASHINGTON — Orders to U.S. factories posted a modest gain in July, helped by a 4 percent rise in motor vehicles orders, the biggest rise in a year, and a 2.1 percent gain in a category that tracks business investment plans.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that factory orders rose 0.4 percent in July. Orders had increased a much larger 2.2 percent in June. —AP

Banks' earnings shoot up 7.3 percent

WASHINGTON — U.S. banks' earnings jumped 7.3 percent in the April-June period from a year earlier as revenue increased and the volume of soured loans banks had to write off fell to the lowest level since before the financial crisis.

The data issued Wednesday by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. showed the number of "problem" banks continued to fall and some big banks had reduced expenses for legal settlements following large amounts paid out to resolve crisis-related cases.

The FDIC reported that U.S. banks earned $43 billion in the second quarter, up from $40.1 billion a year earlier. —AP

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