Business News at a Glance
Posted May 4, 2018 9:39 p.m. EDT
Unemployment Rate Hits 3.9 Percent, a Rare Low
The last time the unemployment rate fell below 4 percent was in 2000, during a period of frenetic activity remembered as the dot-com boom. Nine years into a sustained, if less feverish, economic recovery, that milestone has been achieved again. The Labor Department said Friday that the jobless rate in April fell to 3.9 percent, raising anew the question of how tight the labor market can get. "We’ve continued to add jobs routinely every month for so long, and the unemployment rate we have reached is amazing,” said Catherine Barrera, chief economist of the online job site ZipRecruiter.
Facebook’s AI Growth Squeezes Universities
At a conference in Silicon Valley this week, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, vowed that his company would “keep building” despite a swirl of questions around the way it has dealt with personal data. That is certainly true in the area of artificial intelligence. Facebook is opening new AI labs after hiring three AI and robotics professors. “It is worrisome that they are eating the seed corn,” said Dan Weld, a computer science professor at the University of Washington. “If we lose all our faculty, it will be hard to keep preparing the next generation of researchers.”
Wells Fargo Agrees to $480 Million Settlement Over Sham Accounts
Wells Fargo’s tab for its sham accounts scandal shot up again Friday when the bank agreed to pay $480 million to settle a class-action claim from shareholders who said they were harmed by the bank’s false statements about its misdeeds. The deal, which still needs approval from a federal court in San Francisco, would compensate investors who bought Wells Fargo stock from February 2014 to September 2016. The bank said it denied the shareholders’ accusations but chose to settle the case to avoid the cost and distraction of fighting the claims.
Google Will Ask Buyers of U.S. Election Ads to Prove Identities
Google will begin requiring those who buy ads related to federal elections in the United States through its sprawling advertising network to prove that they are citizens or lawful residents of the country. In a blog post published Friday, Google said it would take steps to verify if people or organizations are allowed to buy political advertising and ask them to prove that they are who they say they are. It will, for example, ask a political action committee for an IRS-issued employer identification number or ask an individual for government-issued identification and a Social Security number.
U.S.-China Trade Talks End With Strong Demands, but Few Signs of a Deal
Senior Chinese and U.S. officials concluded two days of negotiations late Friday afternoon with no deal and no date set for further talks, as the United States stepped up its demands for Chinese concessions to avert a trade war. The U.S. negotiating team, which included Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. trade representative Robert E. Lighthizer, did not release a statement. But a list of demands that the group brought into the meeting called for reducing the United States’ trade gap with China by $200 billion over the next two years and a halt on Chinese subsidies for advanced manufacturing sectors.
Murdoch and DeVos Lost Money in Theranos
Even some of the world’s richest people may get duped, according to newly unsealed documents in a lawsuit filed on behalf of investors in the failing blood-testing company Theranos. High-profile investors who collectively lost hundreds of millions of dollars included Walmart’s Walton family, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her relatives. The list of investors, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, came to light as part of a class-action lawsuit brought in 2016 by Robert Colman, a retired Silicon Valley investment banker, who claims that Theranos misled investors.
3 Women Sue Charlie Rose and CBS, Alleging Harassment
Three women sued Charlie Rose and CBS on Friday, alleging that they were sexually harassed by the former anchorman while working for him and that the network did nothing to stop it. On Thursday, The Washington Post published detailed accusations against Rose by numerous women, including the three who are suing, and alleged that CBS managers knew about harassment complaints before Rose was fired in November. CBS said it was not aware of any allegations about Rose’s behavior before a November article by The Post. PBS, the longtime home of the “Charlie Rose” interview show, also cut ties with Rose.