Business Briefs – April 4, 2016

Job-Seekers Return At Fastest Pace Since Before Recession

WASHINGTON (AP) – Americans are flooding back into the job market at the fastest pace since before the Great Recession, encouraged by steady hiring and some signs of higher pay.

The flow has halted, at least temporarily, one of the economy’s more discouraging trends: the sharp decline in the percentage of people either working or looking for work. That figure fell last year to a four-decade low.

The pickup since then suggests that nearly seven years after the recession ended, Americans are finally more confident that they can find jobs.

$15 Minimum-Wage Movement Sets Sights on More States

NEW YORK (AP) – California and New York — where almost 1 in 5 Americans live — are on their way to raising their minimum wage to $15 an hour, and the activists who spearheaded those efforts are now setting their sights on other similarly liberal, Democratic-led states.

Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington are among the states with active “Fight for $15” efforts, and even economic experts who oppose the increased rate see it gaining momentum.

The idea faces headwinds in more conservative and rural areas activists believe the movement is picking up steam.

Automakers Report Best US March Sales in 16 Years

DETROIT (AP) – Most major automakers reported U.S. sales gains last month as stronger employment figures and consumer confidence drove the auto industry to its best March in 16 years.

But the sales growth rate appeared to be slowing as brisk SUV and truck sales barely offset falling car sales. Some automakers had to raise discounts on cars or peddle more of them to rental companies. That could mean better deals for car buyers down the road.

Apple Still Strong at 40, But Are Best Years Behind it?

CUPERTINO, Calif. (AP) – Apple turned 40 on Friday, and it’s a very different company from the audacious startup launched in a Silicon Valley garage in 1976.

Today, the maker of iPhones and Mac computers is the world’s most valuable public corporation, with 100,000 employees and a new, multi-billion dollar headquarters in Cupertino, California, set to open next year. Despite its astounding financials — Apple reported $53 billion in profit on $233 billion in sales last year — some critics have suggested Apple’s best years are behind it, as it has struggled to come up with new products and match the phenomenal success of recent years.

Orders for Lower-Priced Tesla Hit 198,000

HAWTHORNE, Calif. (AP) – Demand for Tesla Motors’ new lower-priced electric car surprised even the company’s CEO Friday as 198,000 people plunked down $1,000 deposits to reserve their vehicles.

CEO Elon Musk unveiled the car Thursday night at a design studio near Los Angeles. It starts at $35,000 and has a range of 215 miles per charge, which is far more than most people drive each day.

The orders came from across the globe even though the car isn’t scheduled for sale until late in 2017.