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Fri March 30, 2012
Texas Unemployment Rate Down To 7.1 percent
The Texas unemployment rate has fallen for a sixth consecutive month to 7.1 percent in February as the state had a third straight month of job growth exceeding 20,000 positions.
According to Texas Workforce Commission figures released Friday, the jobless rate was down from 7.3 percent in January and has dropped a full percentage point since August.
The February jobless rate is the lowest since March 2009.
The commission says Texas added 27,900 nonfarm jobs in February.
Commission figures show that government was the leading industry in job gains with a jump of 12,800 positions in February. The commission says eight of 11 major job sectors gained positions.
The national unemployment rate has been falling fast as well and is at 8.3 percent.
Unemployment rates fall in 29 US states
Unemployment rates fell in most U.S. states last month as a growing economy encouraged employers across the country to step up hiring.
The Labor Department says unemployment rates declined in 29 states and rose in 8. Rates were unchanged in 13 states and Washington, D.C. The improvement was broader last month: rates fell in 45 states in January.
Still, job growth was more widespread than in previous months. Employers added jobs in 42 states, the most in almost a year. Texas, Ohio, and New York reported the biggest job gains.
Nationwide, the economy added 227,000 net jobs in February. The unemployment rate stayed at 8.3 percent after five straight monthly declines.
Losses keep mounting at American Airlines
American Airlines' parent company is telling a bankruptcy court that it lost $619 million last month, with fuel and labor its biggest expenses.
AMR Corp. says $375 million of that is for expenses related to its bankruptcy reorganization, including $15 million to pay advisers.
Revenue last month was $1.81 billion. The company didn't give a comparable figure for February 2011, but revenue declined from $2.03 billion in January.
American Airlines and AMR filed for bankruptcy protection in November. The airline wants to cut 13,000 jobs and get labor-cost concessions from its unions.
Dallas Jail Passes Inspection
For the third year in a row, the Dallas County Jail has passed its annual “surprise” state inspection.
The jail failed the annual inspections for seven years prior to 2010, forcing County Commissioners to spend 100 million dollars on improvements.
Sheriff Lupe Valdez says this time inspectors called the jail “a model” for others to look at.
The Dallas County Jail is the seventh largest in the U.S.
BJ Austin, KERA News
Big Pot Bust In Parker County
Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler says deputies seized 1 ½ tons of marijuana yesterday at a truck stop on I-20.
A deputy spotted a problem with a weld on the flatbed truck parked at the stop. That led to a search with a drug-sniffing dog. Investigators found long metal tubes on the equipment packed with pot. Sheriff Fowler puts the street value at $7.5 million.
The truck had come from Mexico, headed to the East Coast. The driver picked it up in El Paso, and investigators don’t believe he knew his cargo was illegal.
BJ Austin, KERA News
No Trial For Woman With Loaded Gun On Plane
A Tarrant County grand jury has declined to indict a 65 year old attorney for carrying a loaded gun onto a flight at DFW Airport in January.
Attorney Judith Kenny of Little Elm told officials she forgot the gun was in her bag. She managed to leave the security checkpoint before TSA agents could do a search. Kenney was located half an hour later on board a flight to Houston.
The Tarrant County District Attorney’s office says it considers the case closed.
BJ Austin, KERA News
Review exposes Texas DPS contract problem
A state audit shows the Texas Department of Public Safety improperly used nearly $1 million in federal stimulus money when it overpaid a private border security contract in 2010 but returned the money to the federal account the following year.
The review by the Compliance and Oversight Division of the governor's office was obtained by the Austin American-Statesman under a Freedom of Information request.
The newspaper reports Friday the contract went to a Virginia company and exposed a problem that the agency's grants department didn't keep copies of contracts to vendors.
Department of Public Safety officials say they're putting procedures in place to ensure it doesn't happen again.
Texas Supreme Court limits Open Beaches Act
The Texas Supreme Court has issued a new ruling placing private property rights ahead of the state's Open Beaches Act.
The Texas court was ordered to rehear the case after a federal appeals court found fault with its first ruling. But the new ruling is essentially the same and says that if an act of nature erodes a beach, the landowner's right to the remaining property is not diminished by state law, even if it is now part of the beach.
The Open Beaches Act states that a beach up to the vegetation line is open to the public. But following Hurricane Rita, the beach in Galveston shrank and moved onto private property, prompting a lawsuit. The court ruling Friday gives ownership of the beach to the property owner.