Originally created 05/30/97

Business briefs

Economic factors continue to shine

WASHINGTON - More signs of continued economic growth emerged Thursday.

A new survey found manufacturing continued to expand in May, and the number of new claims for unemployment benefits last week remained unchanged at a level consistent with moderate job growth.

A third report showed the number of helpwanted newspaper advertisements in April also was unchanged, another suggestion of a tight job market.

The reports had little effect on Wall Street. Smaller-company shares set a new high for the fifth straight session, but blue-chip shares fell modestly. The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 27.05 at 7,330.18.

Kwikset seeking more workers

Kwikset's doorknob and deadbolt lock plant in Waynesboro, Ga., has begun its second hiring phase.

Going through the Georgia Department of Labor, the plant already has hired 150 and is looking for another 150 workers for its second shift, according to Eddie Fite, Kwikset's human resources manager. That should bring the plant up to its original target of 300 workers by summer's end.

"We are really very pleased with the turnout and with the quality of the people we're getting," he said. "We are getting exceptional people."

Policyholders file claims

NEWARK, N.J. - With the June 1 deadline just days away, hundreds of thousands of life insurance policyholders of Prudential Insurance Co. of America have filed claims seeking compensation for the company's admittedly deceptive sales practices.

Citing a confidentiality clause in the sweeping court-approved settlement, a lawyer for policyholders declined to give exact figures except to say the number of claimants is "well above" 330,000.

That is the threshold set by U.S. District Judge Alfred M. Wolin to determine how much compensation the army of policyholders' lawyers should get. If that figure is exceeded, the attorneys get $90 million.

The class-action settlement approved March 7 by Judge Wolin, which is not capped, will cost the nation's largest life insurer at least $410 million and by some estimates up to $2 billion.

TV company cutting work force

NEW YORK - Scholastic Corp., the backer of children's books and TV shows such as The Magic School Bus and Goosebumps, is cutting 400 jobs, or nearly 7 percent of its work force, in an attempt to improve profits.

The company also plans to close the magazine Agenda, which was aimed at school administrators and educational leaders, and the children's magazines Superscience Red and Math Power and sell Home Office Computing and Small Business Computing. It also will close operations in France and take steps to improve productivity.

Scholastic's stock price rose more than 10 percent on the news. The moves are expected to reduce its costs by $25 million a year - or 2.5 percent to 3 percent of its worldwide cost base.


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