Unemployment rates fall to record lows in 4 states

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washington

Oregon, 3 other states see record low unemployment

Unemployment rates fell to record lows in four U.S. states in March after months of steady job creation nationwide.

Unemployment rates fell in 17 states in March and were mostly unchanged in 33, the Labor Department said Friday. Employers added a significant number of jobs in just three states last month and cut them in four. Employment was mostly unchanged in the other 43 states. Hiring nationwide was weak in March but strong in the previous two months.

Arkansas, Colorado, Maine and Oregon reported the lowest unemployment rates since 1976. Colorado’s rate, at 2.6 percent, was the nation’s lowest.

Maine, Tennessee and Washington state reported the largest percentage job gains last month, while Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania experienced the biggest cuts.

washington

March home purchases at fastest pace in decade

Americans purchased homes in March at the fastest pace in over a decade, a strong start to the traditional spring buying season.

Sales of existing homes climbed 4.4 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.71 million, the National Association of Realtors said Friday. This was the fastest sales rate since February 2007.

The U.S. housing market faces something of a split personality: A stable economy has intensified demand from would-be buyers, but the number of properties listed for sale has been steadily fading. The result of this trend is prices rising faster than incomes, homes staying on the market for fewer days and a limit on just how much home sales can grow. It’s a situation that rewards would-be buyers who can act quickly and decisively.

los angeles

Wells Fargo boosts payout in settlement to $142M

Wells Fargo & Co. has agreed to boost its payout in a class-action settlement over unauthorized accounts to $142 million, up from the $110 million it announced just three weeks ago, according to documents filed late Thursday.

The scandal-rocked bank agreed to the larger settlement after an internal report released last week showed that bank officials knew about unethical sales practices — including the creation of debit cards without customers’ authorization — as early as 2002.

The settlement as proposed last month would have covered customers who had unauthorized accounts opened for them in 2009 or later. Now the bank has added $32 million to the pot and agreed to pay customers affected by that practice going back to May 2002. A federal judge must still sign off on the deal.