Business Briefs – January 27, 2019

Economy Likely to Pick Up, Though Pain May Linger for Some

BALTIMORE (AP) – The U.S. economy will likely resume its steady growth now that the government has reopened, though economists say some scars — for the nation and for federal workers — will take time to heal.

Most analysts estimate that the 35-day partial shutdown shaved a few tenths of a percentage point from annual economic growth in the first three month of 2019. They say growth should pick up in the coming months, though some of the money federal workers and contractors didn’t spend in the past five weeks — on such items as restaurants and travel — will never be made up. Having gone without two paychecks, many federal workers were forced to visit food banks or to borrow money. Federal workers will now receive backpay, though some contractors might not.

IMF Sees Greek Economy Accelerating in 2019

ATHENS, Greece (AP) – The International Monetary Fund is optimistic on Greece’s growth and employment prospects for this year, but is urging the government to stick to reforms to maintain the momentum. In a report published Friday following five-day talks with officials in Athens, IMF officials say that the battered Greek economy is set to grow 2.4 percent this year, up from 2.1 percent in 2018.

Even With IRS Staffers Returning, Tax Refunds May Be Delayed

WASHINGTON (AP) – The IRS’ workforce will return to full strength under the short-term deal to reopen the government struck Friday by President Donald Trump and congressional leaders. But the disruption from the partial shutdown and the recent absence of a large contingent of recalled IRS employees mean the possibility of delayed tax refunds.

Researchers Say Amazon Face-Detection Technology Shows Bias

NEW YORK (AP) – A new study says Amazon’s facial-detection technology often misidentifies women as men, particularly those with darker skin. The technology has been marketed to law enforcement. Amazon says the study uses a “facial analysis” and not “facial recognition” technology and that Amazon has updated its technology. MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini says companies should check all systems that analyze human faces for bias.

Queen Urges Common Ground In Remarks Seen as Brexit Nod

LONDON (AP) – Queen Elizabeth II has urged people to seek “common ground” in remarks being seen as being a veiled reference to the toxic debate surrounding Britain’s departure from the European Union. While the monarch didn’t mention Brexit and is barred from commenting on political issues, the Times of London described the comments as a “rebuke to warring politicians.”

Hawaiian Air Flight Diverted After Flight Attendant Dies

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – A Hawaiian Airlines flight from Honolulu to NYC was diverted to San Francisco after a flight attendant died of an apparent heart attack, officials said Friday. San Francisco airport spokesman Doug Yakel said Hawaiian Airlines Flight 50 landed Thursday night after a crew member had “a suspected heart attack.”

Germany Sets 2038 Deadline To End Coal Use

BERLIN (AP) – In a pioneering move, a German government-appointed panel has recommended that Germany stop burning coal to generate electricity by 2038 at the latest, as part of efforts to curb climate change.

The Coal Commission reached a deal early Saturday following months of wrangling.

More Than 25,000 Workers Strike At Mexican Border Factories

MEXICO CITY (AP) – More than 25,000 Mexican workers at dozens of factories south of Brownsville, Texas, went on strike Friday after owners of the plants that assemble for export refused union demands for a 20 percent pay hike and an annual bonus.

The Union of Maquiladora Industry Industrial Workers of Matamoros, the SJOIIM, said that by late Saturday nine companies had agreed to meet the salary and bonus demands.

Union leader Juan Villafuerte thanked union members who had stood outside in the rain and cold, noting “we hope to soon conclude this labor action.”

The strikes affect factories that make auto parts, medical equipment, plastics and other goods.

The labor strife comes on the heels of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s promise to double the minimum wage in communities along the U.S. border to 176.2 pesos a day, the equivalent of $9.28 at current exchange rates.