NEW YORK — The Dow Jones industrial average punched through another milestone Tuesday: its first close above 15,000. The Dow rose 87.31 points to 15,056.20 points Tuesday, a gain of 0.6 percent. It was another chapter in the market’s epic ascent in 2013. Good economic reports, higher corporate profits and support from central banks have eased investors’ concerns that another economic slowdown could upend the market. Two months ago the Dow recovered the last of its losses from the financial crisis. So far this year it’s up 15 percent. Wall Street followed world markets higher Tuesday. U.S. stocks rose after companies including satellite TV provider DirecTV and watchmaker Fossil reported higher quarterly profits. Markets rose in Japan and Europe in response to good news about central bank stimulus and the German economy. (read more at Kennebec Journal)
WASHINGTON — Buy anything on the Internet lately without paying sales tax? In all but a few states, you’re probably a tax cheat. That’s right, even if Internet retailers don’t collect sales tax at the time of the purchase, you’re required by law to pay it in 45 states, including Maine, and the District of Columbia. Here’s the problem for states: hardly anyone pays the tax, and there’s not much states can do about it. The Senate is expected to pass a bill Monday making it easier for states to collect sales taxes for online purchases. Some of the nation’s largest retailers are rejoicing. But small-business owners who make their living selling products on the Internet worry they will be swamped by new requirements from faraway states. “It’s a huge burden for a company like ours,” said Sarah Davis, co-owner of Fashionphile.com, a California-based company that sells high-end pre-owned handbags and purses. “We don’t have an accounting department, we’ve got my father-in-law.” (read more at Kennebec Journal)
LEWISTON — Local leaders are planning to announce a business expansion on lower Lisbon Street that will add as many as 150 jobs. Lincoln Jeffers, director of Economic and Community Development for Lewiston, issued a statement Monday about a news conference planned for 11:45 a.m. Thursday in the Armand A. Dufresne Jr. Plaza. No details are being released on the name or nature of the business. The new jobs are part of a business expansion that involves a renovation to 64 Lisbon St., site of the former McCrory’s Department Store. (read more at Lewiston Sun Journal)
BIDDEFORD – Police are looking into a complaint that a new bar on Main Street served liquor to an underage patron on its first day of business, a week after residents opposed its liquor license. The manager of Fatboys Saloon, which is owned by a city councilor, denies that anyone underage was served alcohol at the bar. She said Friday that she was unaware police were looking into any alleged illegal service. Fatboys Saloon opened Wednesday, about a week after it got a positive recommendation for a liquor license from the City Council despite residents’ objections about the business. The chilly reception stemmed from concerns about a new bar that could attract more motorcycles downtown and the owner being issued summonses for code violations before it opened. Fatboys Saloon’s Facebook page includes photos of scantily clad bartenders on motorcycles on top of the bar, fueling residents’ concerns that it is a biker bar. The owner and manager describe the saloon as an upbeat country bar. (read more at Portland Press Herald)
When Americans think of Maine, they often think of rocky coasts, lobster and moose. But Maine also has a long and proud tradition of military service, a legacy of world-class manufacturing, and a high percentage of personal firearm ownership. That’s why I invite manufacturers of firearms and related accessories—some of which are under siege in their home states by politicians pushing anti-gun legislation—to come to Maine. As a state that is fiercely protective of our right to bear arms, we will welcome you and your business. When a Bangor daily newspaper in February tried to get the names, addresses and dates of birth of all Mainers with concealed-firearms permits, we leapt into action, drafting and passing a bill in 48 hours to temporarily shield the personal information. Democrats joined Republicans to swiftly enact this emergency legislation. (Legislation to permanently shield the information is in committee.) (read more at Wall Street Journal)
Local worm diggers will petition the Maine Department of Marine Resources not to permit mud flat leasing. A group of worm diggers met March 22 at Westport Landing in Wiscasset and decided they would oppose an idea brought up by a Georgetown clam digger who wanted to seed and harvest four acres of state-owned land. “We oppose the leasing of mud flats to any group,” said worm digger Mike St. Jean, of Alna. “The mud flats should be open to anyone that wants to use them. It is just an idea now, but it could mean the end for worn diggers.” “The people are protected by the Pond act of 1640,” St. Jean said. “To begin the leasing of mud flats would mean altering the constitution.” The Pond Act of 1640 gives people the right to fish and use the tidal waters and ponds, according to St. Jean. “If the state starts leasing mud flats for clam diggers, it won’t be long before the worn diggers will have no place to dig,” he said. (read more at Wiscasett Newspaper)
WARREN, Maine — For generations, Mainers have watched as the state’s manufacturing base has moved to places where the cost of business is cheaper, and shoppers can be hard-pressed to find certain objects that don’t carry the label “Made in China.” But Lie-Nielsen Toolworks in Warren is bucking that trend. The company’s top-quality hand tools and workbenches are proudly made in America, according to owner Tom Lie-Nielsen. Local craftsmen and women use metal casings that come from New England foundries and Maine wood to make tools that are intended to last for generations. They are also now being exported to China, with the first shipment delivered earlier this winter and more to come. “We’re very excited about this,” Lie-Nielsen, who started the company in 1981, said last week in the showroom of his new relationship with a Chinese importer. “China could be very big, but we are not a volume manufacturer. We cannot compete on price. We’ve never been able to.” (read more at Bangor Daily News)
Survey of Households – The preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate estimate for Maine was 7.3 percent in January, little changed from revised rates of 7.2 percent in December and 7.4 percent one year ago. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated 51,700 were unemployed, down 600 over the year. The U.S. unemployment rate was estimated at 7.9 percent, little changed from 7.8 percent in December and down from 8.3 percent one year ago. (The U.S. unemployment rate for February was 7.7 percent. February rates for states will be released March 29.)
Unemployment and payroll job estimates for prior years have been revised. The revisions reflect more steadily declining unemployment rates and rising numbers of payroll jobs. Charts comparing the new figures to what was previously released are available at http://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/revisions.html .
When comparing unemployment rates it is important to be aware of what underlies them. Maine continues to have higher labor force participation than the nation. If the U.S. labor force participation rate were as high as the Maine average, the national unemployment rate would be near ten percent.
Because differences in labor force participation skew unemployment rates, the employment to population ratio provides a better basis for comparing workforce conditions to the nation. Maine had a higher share of employed population than the nation for the 64th consecutive month in January (60.4 percent compared to 58.6 percent for the U.S.).
(NOTE: The labor force participation rate is the share of the population age 16+ working or actively seeking work. Jobless people not looking for work are not counted as unemployed and are not in the labor force. The employment to population ratio is the share of the population age 16+ that is employed.)
The unemployment rate estimate for New England was 7.1 percent; estimates for other states were 5.8 percent in New Hampshire, 4.7 percent in Vermont, 6.7 percent in Massachusetts, 9.8 percent in Rhode Island and 8.1 percent in Connecticut.
Survey of Employer Payrolls – Preliminary estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate there were 595,800 nonfarm payroll jobs in January, up 2,100 from the revised December estimate. The estimate of U.S. nonfarm payroll jobs was up 119,000. (The February estimate was up 236,000.)
(NOTE: When using nonfarm payroll jobs estimates, it is important to know that they tend to be volatile from month to month. When estimates for the period from October 2012 to September 2013 are replaced with actual payroll data in March 2014, they are likely to show less volatility.)
Not Seasonally Adjusted Substate Data
The not seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate was 8.4 percent in January, unchanged from one year ago. Not seasonally adjusted rates ranged from 6.4 percent in Cumberland County to 13.2 percent in Washington County. Rates tended to be lower than the statewide average in southern and central counties and higher than average in northern and rim counties.
The unemployment rate was below the statewide average in all three metro areas: Portland-South Portland-Biddeford (6.8 percent), Bangor (7.6 percent) and Lewiston-Auburn (7.9 percent).
This release is available at http://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/news/release.html . Detailed labor force and unemployment data for the state, counties, and 31 labor market areas; nonfarm jobs data for the state and the three metropolitan areas; and much more data is available at http://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/data.html .
February data will be released Friday, March 29.
March 18, 2013
PORTLAND — A passenger rail service connecting Maine’s two most populated areas — Greater Portland and Lewiston-Auburn — would cost $138 million, according to a study scheduled to be released Monday. In its Smart Growth Mobility Project report, the Maine Rail Transit Coalition also will outline new funding mechanisms that could make the initiative a reality. The commuter-style passenger rail service envisioned by the study would run from 5 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. seven days a week, year-round. Such a rail connection would represent a significant change to Maine’s public transportation landscape, which only last year saw Amtrak Downeaster train service — not seen as a commuter service, but rather an excursion service to Boston and back — extended as far as Brunswick. The 30-mile St. Lawrence and Atlantic rail corridor that connects Portland and Auburn is owned by the state of Maine. The coalition report recommends stops in Falmouth, Yarmouth and Pownal, in addition to the two endpoints. (read more at Lewiston Sun Journal)
MENLO PARK, Calif. — Facebook has redesigned the main attraction of its social network to address complaints that its website has turned into a jumble of monotonous musings and random photos. In an attempt to breathe new life into Facebook’s News Feed, the company will introduce new controls that allow people to sort streams of photos and other material into organized sections. With the makeover unveiled Thursday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg hopes to turn the News Feed into something more like a newspaper tailored to the particular interests of each of the social network’s more than 1 billion worldwide users. Although Zuckerberg didn’t say it, the overhaul also appears to be aimed at carving out more space to show larger and more dynamic ads within the News Feed as Facebook seeks to boost its revenue and stock price. (read more at Lewiston Sun Journal)