Economy Briefs: Jobless rates down in more than half of large U.S. cities

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Unemployment rates declined last month in more than half of the 372 largest U.S. cities, further evidence of steady improvement in the job market.

The Labor Department said Wednesday that rates fell in 201 metro areas. They rose in 116 and were unchanged in 55. And the number of cities with unemployment below 7 percent rose to 180 last month, up from 107 a year ago.

Nationwide, the unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent in September. That was mostly because more Americans began searching for work but not all found jobs. Employers added 171,000 jobs in October and the previous two months were revised higher.

INTERNET

D.C.-based LivingSocial deal site mulls layoffs

In another sign of the troubles faced by once-hot Internet daily deal sites, Washington-based LivingSocial could be the latest to announce layoffs.

The company is planning layoffs for as many as 400 of its estimated 4,500 workers, according to a report Wednesday by the Washington Business Journal.

Earlier this month, Groupon, LivingSocial’s largest competitor, announced 80 layoffs.

LivingSocial did not comment on the report.

ECONOMY

Survey: U.S. economy growing at steady pace

A pickup in consumer spending and steady home sales helped lift economic growth in October and early November in most parts of the United States, according to a Federal Reserve survey released Wednesday. The one exception was the Northeast, which was slowed by Superstorm Sandy.

Growth improved in nine of 12 Fed regional banking districts, the survey said. Growth was weaker in New York, Philadelphia and Boston — areas where Sandy caused widespread disruptions.

UTAH

Russian worker sues FedEx, claims firing was over accent

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah truck driver alleges FedEx fired him because of his Russian accent, even though he offered to appear before corporate higher-ups to demonstrate his English-speaking abilities.

Ismail Aliyev has filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against the Memphis, Tenn.-based shipping company and the long-haul contractor that employed him and was ordered to do the firing.  

MINING

Charged exec cooperating in W.Va. mine-blast probe

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — An executive who ran several coal companies for Massey Energy and worked closely with former CEO Don Blankenship faces criminal conspiracy charges and is cooperating with federal prosecutors, a sign that authorities may be aiming their sights even higher in the company as they probe the April 2010 explosion in West Virginia that killed 29 men.

David Craig Hughart, president of a Massey subsidiary that controlled White Buck Coal Co., is named in a federal information document — which signals a defendant is cooperating.

Although Upper Big Branch is never directly mentioned in the document, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin told The Associated Press that the charges come from the continuing investigation of the explosion.

ENERGY

BP suspended from new U.S. government contracts

The Obama administration put a temporary stop to new federal contracts with British oil company BP on Wednesday, citing the company’s “lack of business integrity” and criminal proceedings stemming from the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010.

The action by the Environmental Protection Agency bars BP and its affiliates from new government contracts for an indefinite period, but won’t affect existing contracts.

From staff and wire reports

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