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The Trump administration is scrapping some rules to make light bulbs more energy efficient, calling the upgrades too costly for consumers.

President Donald Trump told reporters Wednesday that the expected saving from the more efficient bulbs "is not worth it."

The Energy Department's move is a reversal in a years-long push to switch Americans to bulbs that use less electricity.

Environmental groups and Democratic lawmakers say the administration's latest regulation-cutting action is a mistake as the country tries to cut fossil-fuel use.

An Energy Department statement says scrapping the efficiency upgrade gives the choice of lighting back to consumers.

 

Michigan to become first state to ban flavored e-cigarettes

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer moved Wednesday to make her state the first to ban flavored electronic cigarettes, accusing companies of using candy flavors and deceptive advertising to "hook children on nicotine."

The Democrat ordered the state health department to issue emergency rules that will prohibit the sale of flavored nicotine vaping products, including to adults, and the misleading marketing of e-cigarettes. Retailers will have 30 days to comply with the rules once they're filed in coming weeks. The rules will almost certainly be challenged in court.

New York last November began taking steps to bar the sale of flavored e-cigarettes but withdrew proposed rules to allow more time for legal review. The federal government and states ban the sale of vaping products to minors, yet government survey figures show that last year, one in five U.S. high school students reported vaping in the previous month. Top government health officials, including the surgeon general, have flagged the trend as an epidemic.

"Right now, companies selling vaping products are using candy flavors to hook children on nicotine and misleading claims to promote the belief that these products are safe. That ends today," Whitmer said in a written statement, noting that Michigan's chief medical executive determined that youth vaping constitutes a public health emergency.

 

U.S. trade gap narrows in July

The U.S. trade deficit declined in July, including the gap with China that has been the focus of President Donald Trump's tariffs.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that the gap between the goods and services the U.S. buys and what it sells abroad fell 2.7% to $54 billion in July from June. Exports rose 0.6% to $207.4 billion, while imports ticked down 0.1% to $261.4 billion. Compared to a year ago, the average trade gap has increased $7 billion.

Trade has become a sensitive topic for the global economy as the United States has escalated a tariff war with China. Trump has been taxing Chinese imports in hopes of reducing the trade gap and receiving better terms for trade, yet his moves have generated uncertainties that have hurt growth and pushed manufacturing into a slowdown.

By Dec. 15, the United States is scheduled to tax almost every Chinese import. Trump imposed a 15% tax this month on $112 billion of Chinese imports, in addition to already imposing a 25% tariff on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods. The taxes are hitting U.S. consumers and businesses as 87% of textiles and clothing the United States buys from China and 52% of shoes now face a surcharge.

 

Tennessee No. 1 for job growth

Tennessee led all states in employment growth among small businesses in the past year, growing jobs at small businesses by 2.77% in the past 12 months, according to a new Paychex | IHS Markit Small Business Employment Watch.

The job index measuring employment growth among small businesses fell in most states as the U.S. economic recovery entered a record 10th year this summer.

"The jobs index has fallen since early 2017," said James Diffley, chief regional economist at IHS Markit. "In 2019, we've seen a continuation of that slowdown."

Martin Mucci, Paychex president and CEO, said small businesses "are adapting to the challenges of the tight labor market by increasing hours and earnings" to attract workers to fill their vacancies. Amid the tight labor market, hourly earnings grew nationwide by 2.61% in the past 12 months, or 69 cents an hour, while weekly hours worked showed positive growth for the first time in 2019.

In Tennessee, hourly earnings in the past year grew by 3.21% to $24.43 an hour, ranking No. 4 for wage growth among all states.

In Georgia, wages grew 2.26% but were still higher than Tennessee at an average of $26.02 an hour. Employment growth in Georgia was down 2.63% in the past year similar to the nationwide drop, according to the Paychex surveys.

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