Originally created 05/17/02

Business briefs



Georgia saw growth in jobs during April

ATLANTA - The number of jobs in Georgia rose in April for the third-straight month, and the state's unemployment rate dropped to 4.2 percent, labor officials announced Thursday.

About 15,500 jobs were added in Georgia during April, increasing the total number of nonfarm jobs to 3,880,100. Most of the increase came in trade- and service-related industries.

Since January, the number of jobs has grown by 43,700, or 1.1 percent. The state's unemployment rate in April was down 0.4 percent from 4.6 percent in March. Georgia's jobless rate was 3.5 percent in April 2001.

House construction drops to 6-month low

WASHINGTON -Home builders broke ground in April on the smallest number of projects in six months, a sign the housing market is slowing a bit.

The Commerce Department reported Thursday that housing construction fell 5.4 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.56 million units. That was the lowest level since October.

It marked the second straight month that housing construction fell. In March, new housing projects dropped by 8.1 percent.

Mild weather early in the year gave a big boost to housing construction, which remained solid throughout last year's recession, but analysts have been predicting some slowing.

Tyco plans payoff of $10 billion debt

CONCORD, N.H. -Tyco International Ltd. plans to pay off about $10 billion of its $27 billion in debt after it spins off its lending division, and is on course to do so by the end of June, a company executive said Thursday.

The figure includes the $7.2 billion the huge conglomerate hopes to generate from its CIT unit through an initial public stock offering or whatever the division would fetch through a sale. Tyco would pay off the balance of the $10 billion with cash.

A worst-case scenario would require Tyco to refinance $3.25 billion in debt when Tyco's next payment comes due in February, chief financial officer Mark Swartz said in a conference call with investors. Tyco owns the Kendall Co. bandage plant in Augusta.

Surge in bankruptcies shows strong spending

WASHINGTON -Consumers spent so freely during the recession that record numbers found themselves in heavy debt and filed for bankruptcy.

Personal bankruptcy filings rose 15.2 percent to a total of 1,464,961 in the 12 months that ended March 31, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts reported on Thursday.

Filings by businesses rose 10.7 percent to 39,845, including Enron's on Dec. 2. Individuals account for about 97 percent of all bankruptcy filings.

Consumers lured by sales, car deals and low interest rates spent heartily, said Samuel Gerdano, executive director of the American Bankruptcy Institute, a group of bankruptcy judges, lawyers and experts. The strong spending helped make the recession shallow but added to household debt, he said.

AROUND TOWN

Human resources professionals will meet

Augusta's Society for Human Resource Management will have its May meeting from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Radisson Suites on Washington Road.

This month's speaker will be Jill Hagist, the president of Connected Solutions Inc. She will speak on Making Training and Development Work for You: Determination of ROI. For more information, call Dawn McCraith at 738-5046.

Credit union changes its enrollment policy

CSRA Federal Credit Union announced Thursday it will convert from a multiple common bond to a community-based charter, opening membership to everyone who lives, works, attends school or goes to church in Columbia, Richmond and McDuffie counties.

The date of the change was not announced. The credit union has three branches, two in Augusta and one in Aiken, with assets of $46 million and more than 13,000 members.

NOTE TO READERS

Just what makes your job so great?

Where are the best places to work in the Augusta-Aiken area? The Augusta Chronicle wants to know. Drop us a line and let us know what makes your employer special, be it flex time, company cars or fringe benefits. Write to Damon Cline, Business Editor, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903; send e-mail to dcline@augustachronicle.com; or fax us at (706) 722-7403.