Business Briefs – June 2, 2016

United CEO Aims to Win Back High-Paying Business Travelers

NEW YORK (AP) – United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz knows that his airline has alienated some of its most loyal fliers. His effort to win them back starts with a new business class product that he unveiled Thursday.

United is giving its business class seats their first upgrade in a decade — and removing middle seats from those planes that still have them in the premium cabin. Passengers will also get do not disturb signs and more storage space. There will be dedicated lounges in key airports just for business class fliers.OPEC States Fail to Reach Deal on Production

OPEC States Fail to Reach Deal on Production

VIENNA (AP) – OPEC countries failed Thursday to agree on measures to influence crude supplies and prices — a missed opportunity to show the resolve that for decades let them set how much consumers and industries worldwide would pay for gas, heating and related necessities.

At the same time, OPEC officials argued that the cartel was alive and well, scoffing at suggestions that its authority was eroding to the point where it will soon be negligible. But the decision to make no decision appeared more an illustration of lack of unity, particularly between OPEC rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran, whose deepening struggle for Mideast supremacy has for years been mirrored at oil meetings.

Federal Regulators Look to Severely Curb Payday Lending

NEW YORK (AP) – Federal regulators proposed a significant clampdown on payday lenders and other high interest loans on Thursday, the first nationwide attempt to address an industry widely thought of as taking advantage of the poor and desperate.

The proposals, if enacted intact, are likely to cause a nationwide contraction and restructuring of the $38 billion payday loan industry.

Roughly 12 million Americans take out a payday loan each year, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts, who has done extensive research on the industry. The average borrower takes out eight loans of $375 each per year, spending $520 on interest.

Applications for U.S. Unemployment Benefits Dipped Last Week

WASHINGTON (AP) – Fewer Americans applied for jobless aid last week, the third straight drop in a sign that the job market remains healthy despite a recent slowdown in hiring.

Weekly applications for unemployment aid dipped 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 267,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell to 276,750.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs, so the decline in jobless aid suggests that companies are confident enough to hold onto their workers. When layoffs are low, hiring is usually steady.

Survey: U.S. Companies Add a Solid 173,000 Jobs in May

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. businesses added 173,000 jobs last month, lifted by strong gains in services industries, according to a private survey.

Payroll processor ADP said Thursday that construction firms also hired more workers, while manufacturers shed jobs. Large job gains occurred in retail, shipping, and utilities companies, as well as in professional services such as accounting and engineering.

The figures nearly matched a gain of 166,000 in April. That suggests hiring has slowed a bit from an average of about 210,000 a month over the previous six months, according to ADP. Still, last month’s job gains, if sustained, are enough to lower the unemployment rate over time.

BGM Says Its Takata Inflators Are Safe; Government Disagrees

DETROIT (AP) – General Motors announced its largest recall of Takata air bag inflators yet, but the nation’s biggest automaker says the parts are unique to its trucks and SUVs and don’t pose a safety risk.

The government’s highway safety agency disagrees.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says GM must proceed with two recalls adding up to 1.9 million trucks from the 2007 through 2011 model years.

The recalls were unveiled Thursday along with those from six other automakers totaling 4.4 million vehicles. A total of 17 automakers are adding 35 million-to-40 million inflators to what already was the largest auto recall in U.S. history.