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Economy Briefs

- - Sunday, July 17, 2011

ECONOMISTS

Survey predicts job growth to improve in second half

NEW YORK — Economists increasingly expect hiring to pick up in the second half of the year, even as overall growth is likely to slow.

In a quarterly survey by the National Association for Business Economists released Monday, 43 percent of respondents said their firms are likely to increase employment in the next six months, up 3 percentage points from a similar survey done in April and the highest number in a year.

What's more, none of the 73 survey participants said their firms planned significant layoffs, although 8 percent said they expected staff reductions through attrition, an uptick from 4 percent in the April survey. The manufacturing sector had the strongest outlook for more hiring, with transportation, utilities, information and communications next.

With high levels of unemployment among the biggest concerns in the economy, any forecast for increased hiring can be seen as a positive. Still, a larger portion of survey participants, 49 percent, said they didn't expect any change in their company's hiring, a factor that may have played in to their view that economic growth will slow through the end of the year.

LAWSUITS

Samsung accuses German firm of LED patent violation

SEOUL — A Samsung unit is raising the ante in a patent dispute with a German rival over energy-saving LED lighting amid intensifying legal disputes among global companies jockeying for supremacy in key consumer technologies.

Samsung LED Co. said Sunday that it asked the U.S. International Trade Commission to bar products of Osram GmbH and two units from entering the U.S., saying it also had filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court charging infringement of its LED patents and seeking unspecified damages.

Semiconductor-based LEDs, or light emitting diodes, are becoming increasingly popular for their durability and energy-saving capability.

Samsung LED is targeting Osram, Osram Opto Semiconductors and Osram Sylvania Inc. in the actions. Munich-based Osram GmbH is a unit of German industrial engineering giant Siemens AG.

"Samsung LED intends to vigorously enforce its intellectual property rights, and these lawsuits reflect Samsung LED's commitment to that enforcement," the company said in a release.

AIRLINES

Delta to end flights to 24 smaller cities

MINNEAPOLIS — Delta Air Lines is shrinking travel to small cities in the nation's midsection, saying it can't make money on flights that are sometimes completely empty.

Delta said its move would affect 24 cities, many of which are not served by any other airline. These cities could lose air service altogether, although some of the routes are likely to be taken over by regional airlines. Delta said it will ask for a federal subsidy to keep some of the flights.

The affected flights connect Delta's hubs to small cities in Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Most of the affected flights are on Delta's 34-seat Saab turboprop, which it is phasing out by the end of this year. Higher fuel prices have made it difficult to operate small planes profitably because the fuel bill is divided among a small number of passengers. Even the next-larger option, the 50-seat regional jets flown by Delta and other airlines, is often unprofitable for the same reason. Delta is retiring many of those planes, too.

HAWAII

State's largest wind farm to be built on Oahu

HONOLULU — Hawaii's largest wind power project is set to be built on Oahu now that a study of its environmental impact has been completed.

Boston-based First Wind LLC plans to build the proposed 70-megawatt wind energy project on former sugarcane land on Oahu's North Shore, generating enough power for 14,500 homes.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Friday that construction of the Kawailoa Wind Farm is scheduled to begin later this year, and it could begin producing power next year.

The additional wind production would significantly expand the state's wind energy output, which currently consists of 112 megawatts of generating capacity on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island.

From wire dispatches and staff reports