Business and labor at a glance

Unemployment rates remain low

WASHINGTON – More Americans sought unemployment benefits last week but the number of applications remained low, the latest sign that layoffs are scarce.

The Labor Department says weekly applications for jobless aid rose 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 254,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, ticked down to 256,000, matching a 43-year low first reached in April.

The economy is expanding at a sluggish pace, growing just 1.4 percent in the April-June quarter. But businesses are hiring steadily and holding tightly to their staffs. With the unemployment rate low at 4.9 percent, many employers say they can’t find qualified workers for open positions. That makes them reluctant to cut jobs.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. Any figure below 300,000 is a sign of a healthy job market.

Volvo recalls 127K vehicles

DETROIT – Volvo is recalling about 127,000 cars and SUVs worldwide because the air conditioning can leak water into the vehicles and cause air bags to malfunction.

The recall covers 2016 and 2017 XC90 SUVs, S90 sedans and V90 wagons. Volvo says in documents filed with U.S. safety regulators that a drain hose may have been installed incorrectly at the factory.

The moisture may stop the air bags from deploying in a crash and may affect the engine management system. Volvo discovered the problem after getting reports from the field.

The company says it has no reports of injuries or air bags that didn’t inflate due to the problem.

Local financial stocks pat

Local banks were unchanged following trading Thursday. First Niles Financial, which fell $1.50 on Wednesday, saw no change to close at $10.50 a share on Thursday, while Cortland Bancorp stayed at $15.61 a share.

Staff, wire reports

Business and labor at a glance

Local bank stocks end mixed Wednesday

Local banks were mixed following trading Wednesday. First Niles Financial fell $1.50 from where it had been since the end of last week, to close at $10.50 a share. Cortland Bancorp stayed at $15.61 a share.

Ford recalls 74,000 Focus hatchbacks

DETROIT Ford is recalling about 74,000 Focus hatchback cars with manual transmissions in the U.S. and Canada because the hatches can be unlatched too easily while the cars are moving.

The recall covers certain Focus hatchback and RS vehicles from the 2013 through 2017 model years. The company says the hatch can be unlocked and unlatched by pushing a single button when the cars are traveling under 4 miles per hour. Federal safety standards require two actions to unlock doors and operate the latch release.

Ford says it doesn’t know of any accidents or injuries caused by the problem.

Sandwich chain Cosi files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

NEW YORK – Cosi, the restaurant chain known for its flatbread sandwiches, said it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Wednesday and is seeking to sell itself to its lenders.

The company has closed 29 stores but said the remaining 76 Cosi restaurants located around the country will remain open as it goes through the bankruptcy process.

In court documents, Cosi Inc. said it has between $10 million and $50 million in assets and the same amounts in debt.

Business and labor at a glance

Engineer pleads guilty over emissions

DETROIT- A Volkswagen engineer’s decision to tell everything he knows about the company’s scheme to cheat on U.S. emissions tests is a major break for investigators and a message to others involved to cooperate or face prosecution, according to legal experts.

James Robert Liang, 62, of Newbury Park, California, pleaded guilty in Detroit Friday to one count of conspiracy to defraud the government and agreed to cooperate with investigations in the U.S. and Germany. Liang is the first person to enter a plea in the wide-ranging case,.

Local bank stocks stay unchanged

Local bank stocks stood pat for the third day in a row following trading on Friday. First Niles Financial closed at $11.50 a share, while Cortland Bancorp closed at $16 a share.

Staff, wire reports

Business and labor at a glance

Fewer apply for jobless benefits

WASHINGTON – Fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, another sign the U.S. job market remains healthy despite a downshift in hiring in August.

The Labor Department says the number of applications for jobless aid slid by 4,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 259,000, lowest since mid-July. Weekly claims have come in below 300,000 for 79 straight weeks, longest streak since 1970. The less volatile four-week average slipped by 1,750 last week to 261,250.

Unemployment claims are a proxy for layoffs. The low level of applications suggests that companies are hanging on to staff and that job security remains solid for most U.S. workers.

Mazda recalls 2.2M vehicles

DETROIT – Mazda is recalling 2.2 million cars and SUVs worldwide because the rear hatches can fall on people and injure them.

The recall covers certain 2010 through 2013 Mazda 3 compact cars, as well as 2012 through 2015 Mazda 5 vans. Also included are certain 2013 to 2016 CX-5 and 2016 CX-3 SUVs. More than 759,000 vehicles in the U.S. and Canada are affected.

Mazda says the corrosion protection coating applied to the hatch lift supports at the factory wasn’t sufficient.

Ford will replace door latches

DETROIT – Ford will spend $640 million to replace door latches on nearly 2.4 million cars, trucks and vans this year because the doors can pop open while the vehicles are moving.

On Thursday, the company announced it would add 1.5 million vehicles to the pesky and growing recall, which has become so costly Ford had to cut its estimated full-year pretax profit to $10.2 billion from at least $10.8 billion.

The Associated Press