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Report: U.S. initial jobless claims rise to 410,000 last week

BY CSA STAFF

Washington, D.C. — A report released Thursday by the Labor Department said that applications for jobless benefits increased by 25,000 to 410,000 in the week ended Feb. 12, exceeding the 400,000 median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

The filings increase indicates that labor market will take time to develop.

The total number of people receiving unemployment insurance was little changed, while those collecting extended payments decreased.

According to a report by Bloomberg, a reduction in firings by U.S. firms is needed to keep unemployment going down. Bigger job gains are needed to boost consumer spending, which accounts for 70% of the world’s largest economy.

“Conditions in the labor market will continue to be tenuous as firms look for a sustained pickup in sales,” Maxwell Clarke, chief U.S. economist at IDEAglobal in New York, said before the report. “Claims should remain at an elevated level for some time but should continue along a gradual downward path in the months to come.”

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NRF forecast: 2011 retail sales to rise 4%

BY CSA STAFF

New York City — The National Retail Federation said Thursday that it expects retail sales growth of 4% this year, the biggest increase since 2006.

However, the group warned that shoppers are likely to remain cautious as they cope with slow job growth and rising prices.

The NRF said it expects retail sales to reach $2.47 trillion in 2011, up from $2.37 trillion in 2010, excluding automobiles, fuel and restaurants.

That increase would be higher than the past decade’s average annual growth rate of 3.1% and 2010’s increase of 3.7%. Retail sales rose 4.7% in 2006, which is still under the 5% rate that indicates a robust economy.

"Consumers will continue to be thoughtful about what they’re spending, but they’re certainly feeling better," said Jack Kleinhenz, NRF’s chief economist.

NRF’s forecast is not adjusted for inflation, and the figures include online sales from physical stores but not from such companies as Amazon.com that operate only on the web.

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Kroger EVP Don Becker dies

BY CSA STAFF

CINCINNATI — Supermarket giant Kroger announced company EVP, Don Becker, died Wednesday after suffering an aneurysm. He was 62 years old.

Becker had a 42-year career at Kroger, joining in 1969 as a clerk in the Cincinnati/Dayton division. In his most recent role as the retailer’s EVP, a position he held since 2004, Becker led the company’s merchandising and procurement for grocery, perishables, drug/general merchandise and pharmacy. He also had responsibility for advertising, consumer research and customer loyalty, manufacturing and corporate brands, customer insights and strategy, supply chain and supplier diversity. Kroger’s Cincinnati/Dayton division and the company’s retail clinic operator, The Little Clinic, reported to Becker.

During his career at Kroger, Becker also served as co-chair of Kroger’s first general office cultural council.

"We are deeply saddened to lose Don, our dear friend and extraordinary leader," said David Dillon, Kroger’s chairman and CEO. "Don leaves a legacy of enthusiasm and passion for doing what’s right for our customers and our associates. He touched the lives of countless people in our company as well as throughout our industry and community. He was a true ‘people person’ who mentored many associates at every level of our business."

Becker is survived by his wife, daughter, son-in-law and grandson.

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