published Friday, July 13th, 2012

Business briefing: Chattanooga firms join trade mission

Chattanooga firms join trade mission

Two Chattanooga companies will join five other Tennessee businesses this month as part of trade mission to Mexico City focusing on the state’s automotive industry.

Andersen Flaps, a Chattanooga manufacturer of an eco-friendly alternative to a traditional truck mud-flap, will take part.

Also, Chattanooga-based eSpin Technologies, a manufacturer of polymer nanofibers and nanofiber products for the filtration, health care, auto and aerospace industries, will join the group.

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development said the trade mission will take place Monday through Thursday.

Jobless claims at 4-year low

WASHINGTON — The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits plunged last week. But a big reason is that automakers have skipped some of their usual summer shutdowns to keep up with demand, causing fewer temporary auto layoffs.

Economists expect the number of Americans seeking unemployment aid to go back up in coming weeks.

The auto industry’s recovery has helped support the struggling U.S. economy. U.S. auto sales in the first half of the year jumped 15 percent over the same period a year ago. Sales of new vehicles surged in June.

The Labor Department adjusts the number of applications for unemployment aid to account for seasonal factors. But it didn’t anticipate fewer temporary shutdowns of auto plants this summer — and fewer auto layoffs. That distorted the seasonally adjusted data it released Thursday.

And that may largely explain why applications for unemployment aid tumbled 26,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 350,000 — the fewest since March 2008.

“Take July with a grain of salt,” Jill Brown, an economist at Credit Suisse, said in a note to clients. The auto shutdowns “often cause extreme volatility.”

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