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Ruby Tuesday chain exits bankruptcy

Four months after filing for bankruptcy reorganization following heavy losses during the pandemic, Ruby Tuesday has emerged from bankruptcy as a smaller but financially healthier company.

The Maryville, Tennessee-based Classic American Restaurant Group, which operates 209 company-owned Ruby Tuesday restaurants, gained the approval of a Delaware bankruptcy judge for its financial restructuring under a Chapter 11 proceeding. Under the plan, the company shed liabilities, including 185 stores shuttered due to the pandemic. The restaurant closings last year included the only Ruby Tuesday in Chattanooga on Highway 153.

"Ruby Tuesday is a healthier company now and is positioned to be more efficient, competitive and stable for the future," Shawn Lederman, CEO of Ruby Tuesday said in a statement Wednesday. "We want to thank our employees, partners and creditors for helping to ensure our plan of reorganization was successful and we look forward to continuing quality service for our guests and communities for many years to come."

 

30-year mortgages rise to 2.81 percent

U.S. long-term mortgage rates rose this week but still remain near historic lows as the pandemic-hobbled economy strains toward recovery with more Americans getting vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average rate on the benchmark 30-year fixed-rate home loan increased to 2.97% from 2.81% last week. By contrast, the benchmark rate stood at 3.45% a year ago.

The average rate on 15-year fixed-rate loans, popular among those seeking to refinance their mortgages, rose to 2.34% from 2.21% last week.

While economists expect modest increases in home-loan rates this year, they likely will remain low while the Federal Reserve keeps interest rates near zero until the economy recovers.

The record-low lending rates have helped push buyers into the housing market. The government reported Wednesday that demand for new homes surged 4.3% in January, confirming that the housing market remains one of the stronger sectors of the U.S. economy.

 

Best Buy lays off 5,000 store workers

Best Buy said Thursday that it laid off 5,000 full-time store workers earlier this month, even as the company's sales soared during the pandemic as homebound people bought laptops, TVs and other gadgets.

The company said it cut the jobs because more shoppers are choosing to buy online instead of coming inside its stores. Best Buy said it will replace the 5,000 full-time employees with 2,000 part-time workers.

Best Buy's workforce has shrunk in the last year after having to furlough workers when it closed stores during the pandemic. It currently has more than 100,000 workers, down by 21,000, or 17%, from the year before.

The company is retraining workers to help with online orders. And more space in stores is being used to ship orders or to get them ready for curbside pickup, where shoppers buy online and fetch their orders in the parking lot.

 

Costco ups minimum hourly wage to $16

The chief executive of Costco waded into the political debate over the federal minimum wage, testifying at a Senate hearing on Thursday that the retailer was raising its starting pay to $16 an hour.

W. Craig Jelinek, the chief executive, said Costco, which already pays an hourly minimum of $15, had some of the highest employee retention rates of any retailer.

"This isn't altruism," Jelinek told the Senate Budget Committee. "At Costco, we know that paying employees good wages and providing affordable benefits makes sense for our business and constitutes a significant competitive advantage for us."

Jelinek was invited to testify by the committee's chairman, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who supports raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next four years.

— Compiled by Dave Flessner

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