Business Briefs – February 22, 2018

U.S. Jobless Claims Drop To Near 45-Year Low

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell to a near 45-year low last week, pointing to strong job growth in February, which should continue to underpin the economy.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 222,000 for the week ended Feb. 17, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims fell to 216,000 in mid-January, which was the lowest level since January 1973.

Claims for six states, including California, were estimated because of Monday’s Presidents Day holiday. While that probably distorted last week’s data, the underlying trend in claims was consistent with a robust labor market.

“Firms are extraordinarily unwilling to part company with workers reflecting, in all likelihood, the difficulty of replacing them,” said John Ryding, chief economist at RDQ Economics in New York.

Airbnb Unveils New Category of Rentals Rated by Inspectors

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Airbnb is dispatching inspectors to rate some of the properties listed on its home-rental service in an effort to reassure travelers they’re booking nice places to stay. The Plus program is aimed at winning over travelers who aren’t sure they can trust the computer-driven system that Airbnb uses to assess the quality of rentals. Airbnb believes travelers will be willing to pay more for inspector-certified properties, allowing property owners to recoup a $149 fee to participate.

States to Forego Most of $650M Legal Settlement With Takata

DETROIT (AP) – Japanese air bag maker Takata has reached a $650 million settlement over legal claims from 44 state governments and Washington, D.C. But the states won’t get much of the money. That’s because they have agreed not to collect the settlement so victims of Takata’s faulty air bags get larger settlements.

Leading Liberal Policy Group Unveils ‘Coverage for All’ Plan

WASHINGTON (AP) – A leading liberal policy group is raising the ante in the health care debate with a new plan that builds on Medicare to guarantee coverage for all. Called “Medicare Extra for All,” the proposal released Thursday by the Center for American Progress gives politically energized Democrats more options to achieve a long-sought goal. Even though the plan has no chance of passing in a Republican-controlled Congress, center president Neera Tanden says “it’s time to go bolder.”