The economy added just 142,000 non-farm payroll jobs in August. Is the labor market cooling? Read about these and more of the day's top business news stories.
Job Growth Cools in August
The Labor Department Friday said that non-farm payrolls added just 142,000 jobs in August even with the unemployment rate dropping to 6.1 percent. Economists polled by Reuters had expected job growth of 225,000 so the actual numbers were far below expectations. The unemployment rate drop was as expected. The news from the Labor Department actually jump-started markets on Friday as traders saw the low growth numbers as an indication the Federal Reserve will not change interest rates any time soon. The August report breaks a long string of months in which at least 200,000 jobs were created. Professional and business services added the most positions at 47,000 while health care gained 34,000 and bar and restaurant positions went up by 22,000.
“Reckless” BP Faces $18 Billion in Additional Fines
A U.S. District Judge blasted London-based oil giant BP for its “conscious disregard of known risks” during drilling operations that led to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico disaster. BP could be facing close to $18 billion in additional fines stemming from the nation’s worst oil spill. Judge Carl Barbier concluded that BP bears most of the responsibility for the explosion that killed 11 rig workers. He will decide how much BP will pay in the next stage of the case, which is scheduled to start in January. Under the federal Clean Water Act, a polluter can be forced to pay a maximum of $1,100 in civil fines per barrel of spilled oil, or up to $4,300 per barrel if the company is found grossly negligent, the Associated Press reports. Government experts estimated 4.2 million barrels, or 176 million gallons, spilled into the Gulf. BP previously agreed to pay a record $4 billion in criminal fines and penalties over the Deepwater Horizon disaster, plus more than $27 billion in cleanup costs and compensation to people and businesses harmed by the spill. Attorney General Eric Holder said Barbier's ruling "will ensure that the company is held fully accountable for its recklessness" and will "serve as a strong deterrent to anyone tempted to sacrifice safety and the environment in the pursuit of profit."
Would You Like Handcuffs with That?
Fast food workers in protests across the country found themselves served by police with handcuffs for blocking traffic. The protests Thursday were planned by labor organizers for about 150 cities as part of the “Fight for $15” campaign to raise hourly pay. In New York, 19 people were arrested for blocking traffic. In Detroit, about two dozen protesters were after they wouldn't vacate a street near a McDonald's. Others were detained in Chicago, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Miami and Denver. In Milwaukee, Democratic U.S. Congresswoman Gwen Moore was taken away in handcuffs by police for blocking traffic at a McDonald's. The National Restaurant Association said in a statement that the protests are an attempt by unions to "boost their dwindling membership” and hoped organizers would be respectful to customers and workers during the protests.
For Google, Search for “Settlement” Get’s “$19 Million” Hits
Google has agreed to pay at least $19 million in full refunds to consumers who were charged for app purchases their children made without parental consent. The settlement is part of the third case by the Federal Trade Commission about unauthorized in-app purchases made by children. It settled with Apple for $32.5 million in January and it filed a complaint against Amazon, which has said it won't settle over the charges, the Chicago Tribune reports. The FTC said that since 2011, Google customers have reported children had made unauthorized charges ranging from 99 cents to $200 within kids' apps downloaded from the Google Play store. According to the FTC complaint, when Google introduced in-app charges to the Google Play in 2011, they were not password protected. As a result, children could buy virtual items just by clicking on popup boxes within an app while they used it. In mid- to late-2012, Google instituted a pop-up box that asked for a password before a payment could be made but that still opened up a 30-minute window during which a password wasn't required.
Merck’s Melanoma Drug Gets Approval
Merck’s new cancer treatment for advanced melanoma received accelerated approval from U.S. regulators, and the new drug could create billions of dollars in new revenue for the company. The drug is called Keytruda, and is expected to cost $12,500 per patient for one month’s supply, according to a Dow Jones report. Keytruda would be the first drug of its kind to receive approval from the Food and Drug Administration. It works by blocking a cellular pathway known as PD-1, which restricts the body’s natural immune system from attacking melanoma cells. In 2011, more than 960,000 Americans were diagnosed with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. The National Cancer Institute says it is responsible for 10,000 deaths per year in the United States.
Starbucks Announces Two New Restaurants
In an attempt to capture more of the demand for upscale reserve coffee drinkers, Starbucks Friday announced. Starbucks is also going to test an “express’’ store in Manhattan to provide service to customers in a real hurry. Starbucks is responding to challenges it is getting from high-end craft coffee sellers such as Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Blue Bottle Coffee and Intelligentsia, as well as better coffee now being served at fast-food restaurants. Starbucks announced it is going to open a 15,000 square foot small-batch reserve roaster in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, Starbucks’ home market, in December. The new store will have a tasting room and café for its reserve coffees. It hopes to open at least 100 reserve-only cafes globally in the next five years.