Md. jobless rate drops
Temporary summer jobs were the leading cause of a half percent decrease in Maryland's unemployment rate during July, state officials reported yesterday.
Unemployment in Maryland dropped from 5.5 percent in June to 5 percent in July, said the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.
Unemployment declined or stabilized in every jurisdiction in the state except Carroll and Caroline counties, where it increased 0.1 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.
People entering the labor market boosted the force to a record high level, but hiring in Maryland exceeded that expansion and caused the unemployment rate to drop, officials said.
Union OKs AlliedSignal deal
About 500 members of Local 1561 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers have ratified a three-year contract with AlliedSignal Communications Systems in Towson.
Under terms of the agreement, approved by union members Thursday night, workers will receive 3 percent annual pay raises, increased contributions to their pension plan and additional vacation for workers with 10 years of service.
The contract includes work-rule changes to improve attendance, productivity and efficiency. Another contract provision allows for higher pay for workers with advanced skills.
PHH, First Interstate team up
PHH Corp. said yesterday that it has formed a joint venture with First Interstate Bank to provide mortgage-handling services for the Los Angeles bank.
Hunt Valley-based PHH, which owns the nation's 19th-largest mortgage bank, said the new venture will be called First Interstate Residential Mortgage LLC.
Company spokesman Terence W. Edwards declined to disclose financial terms of the joint venture, which is expected to start up late this year. But he said First Interstate, the nation's 14th-largest bank, will replace many of its approximately 450 mortgage officers with telephones in its banks that will link directly to PHH mortgage processors.
Mr. Edwards said he expects the new venture to generate about $1 billion worth of new mortgages a year. PHH's U.S. Mortgage Corp. unit expects to write about $5 billion worth of mortgages on its own this year, he said.
GM posts August sales gains
General Motors posted gains for August in five of its seven vehicle divisions, reporting yesterday that its U.S. sales of cars and light trucks were up about 7 percent from a year ago.
Honda reported its best month ever, and Chrysler and Nissan showed sales improvements from last August. With reports from the major automakers except Ford and Toyota, the industry's overall sales were up about 3 percent for the month.