Business Briefs – August 9, 2016

U.S. Worker Productivity Falls In 2q, Causing Annual Decline

WASHINGTON (AP) – American workers’ productivity slipped in the April-June quarter, feeding into a 12 month decline in how much people are producing for each hour worked.

Productivity fell at an annual rate of 0.5 percent in the second quarter, the Labor Department said Tuesday. Over the past 12 months, productivity has dropped 0.4 percent, as labor costs and the hours worked are rising faster than the output of workers’ goods and services. Unit labor costs rose 2 percent in the second quarter, after decreasing 0.2 percent in the first quarter.

Survey: Americans Remain Gloomy About Economy, Chinese Sunny

WASHINGTON (AP) – Americans, Japanese and many Europeans are glum about their national economies. By contrast, Chinese, Indians and Australians feel positive about theirs.

Those are among the findings from a survey released Tuesday of 20,132 people in 16 countries by the Pew Research Center. Just 44 percent of Americans rated the U.S. economy as “good,” although that proportion has risen steadily from 18 percent in 2011. Since that year, the U.S. unemployment rate has tumbled from 9 percent to 4.9 percent.

GM Begins Autonomous Car Tests in Scottsdale, Arizona

DETROIT (AP) – General Motors and its autonomous technology company Cruise Automation are testing self-driving cars on the streets of Scottsdale, Arizona.

Testing of self-driving electric Chevrolet Bolts began in Arizona about two weeks ago. It’s the second city for GM’s real-world tests. Autonomous Bolts with Cruise Automation software have been driving around San Francisco since May 20.

GM spokesman Kevin Kelly says the company is considering other cities for tests but wasn’t ready to announce locations.

Dallas-Based AT&T to Pay Nearly $7.8M in ‘Cramming’ Cases

DALLAS (AP) — AT&T has agreed to pay nearly $7.8 million to settle government allegations of unauthorized third-party charges for directory assistance services not provided.

The Federal Communications Commission on Monday announced the settlement with the telecommunications giant.

Billing for unauthorized charges is known as “cramming.”

AT&T will issue refunds, totaling $6.8 million, to current and former consumers who were charged the fee since 2012. AT&T also agreed to pay a $950,000 government fine.

EU Sets New Deficit Deadlines For Spain, Portugal

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union has set new deadlines for Spain and Portugal to bring their budget deficits into line after both countries escaped fines for failing to rein in spending.

EU headquarters said Tuesday that Portugal is now required to correct its deficit by 2016 and Spain by 2018 at the latest.

The two countries must submit a report by Oct. 15 on how they plan to bring their deficits under the EU ceiling of 3.0 percent of gross domestic product.