Originally created 10/25/02

Business briefs



Augusta-Aiken unemployment rate rises

The Augusta-Aiken area unemployment rate rose three-tenths of a percent in September to 5.2 percent, despite the fact the five-county area added 1,000 new jobs during the month.

The Georgia Department of Labor said most of the new jobs were added in service-related industries, bringing the area's total non-farm employment to 194,700 jobs.

Augusta-Aiken's jobless rate was 4.9 percent in August and 5.1 percent in September 2001. The state unemployment rate for September was 4.8 percent, up one-tenth of a percent from the previous month.

Mortgage rates rise sharply

WASHINGTON - Mortgage rates around the country rose sharply this week, with rates on 30-year mortgages climbing to their highest level since early August.

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac, in its weekly nationwide survey of mortgage rates, reported Thursday that the average interest rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose to 6.31 percent this week from last week's 6.15 percent.

Two weeks ago, rates on the 30-year mortgage dropped to 5.98 percent, the lowest level since Freddie Mac began tracking them in 1971.

Kennametal to lay off employees

LATROBE, Pa. - Industrial tools maker Kennametal Inc. will lay off 300 to 340 employees worldwide, or up to 2.4 percent of its work force.

The cutbacks will result in two lost jobs in Augusta at the company's Industrial Products Group plant. A spokeswoman for the local plant said the company is working to find the workers other employment opportunities within Kennametal.

The company operates 70 facilities globally and has about 14,000 employees. The cutbacks, which are mostly among support personnel, are expected to save the company about $10 million in the fiscal year ending June 30.

Simplicity to buy Snapper

MILWAUKEE - Simplicity Manufacturing said it will buy Georgia-based lawn equipment maker Snapper to double its sales and expand its reach in the southern United States.

The Port Washington-based lawn tractor manufacturer plans to pay $73.3 million in cash and assume certain liabilities of Snapper, of McDonough, Ga., including accounts payable and warranty costs.

The acquisition, which is subject to antitrust review and other conditions, is expected to close within 30 days. Simplicity specializes in sales to dealers rather than national mass-market retail chains.