Increase in wages boosts jobless aid

E-mail E-mail this article
Print Print this article
Print Search archive
Most e-mailed articles Most e-mailed articles
SEATTLE — Unemployment benefits will rise from a minimum of $109 a week to at least $111 on July 1 to reflect an increase in the state's average annual wage.

Washington workers earned an average of $38,794 last year, a 2.3 percent increase over 2002, according to the State Employment Security Department.

That wage is used to calculate the unemployment insurance base, which is set at 15 percent of the state's average weekly wage of $746. The maximum benefit, which state legislators capped last year, remains at $496 a week.

The average wage does not include federal civilian workers and some other employees. When all workers are accounted for, the average wage was $39,021 in 2003.

Company eyes Asia in Windows battle

SEATTLE — Microsoft will sell a beginner's version of its Windows program in Thailand and Malaysia as it tries to fend off the Linux operating system.

The version, called Windows XP Starter Edition, will be available in Thailand by September and in Malaysia late this year, Microsoft spokeswoman Alex Mercer said. In both countries, Microsoft already sells the current Windows along with the Office word-processing program at a huge discount, charging less than one-tenth the list price in Thailand.

The Starter Edition will have the full functionality of Windows XP, Mercer said, but will be tailored to appeal to less tech-savvy users in those countries.

Microsoft is facing a battle in Asia, where the free Linux operating system is gaining a foothold in the PC market.

Army gives contract for up to $238 million

LYNNWOOD — The U.S. Army has awarded Everett-based Intermec a five-year contract to provide mobile computing, wireless networking and automatic identification technology to all branches of the Department of Defense.

The contract, announced yesterday, could reach $238 million over the next five years and is part of the Defense Department's Automatic Identification Technology initiative (known as AIT-III) to track and monitor department property globally.

Intermec teamed with Northrop Grumman on its government bid; Intermec will serve as the prime government contractor, and Northrop Grumman's information-technology department will install and deploy Intermec's technology.

Internet provider buys GameDaemons

SEATTLE — Speakeasy, a Seattle-based provider of high-speed Internet services, said yesterday it has acquired Dallas-based GameDaemons, which hosts servers for online video-game players. As part of the deal, it also acquired NetFire, an internal unit of GameDaemons that specializes in Web hosting for large bandwidth applications. The companies did not release financial details about the transaction.

Targeted Genetics
Firm continues trial on cystic fibrosis

SEATTLE — Targeted Genetics, a Seattle biotech company, said yesterday it will keep enrolling patients in a midstage clinical trial for its cystic-fibrosis treatment, after an independent committee took an early peek at the trial and found it has a chance to succeed.

Targeted Genetics had scheduled the interim trial analysis to give it guidance on whether or not to pull the plug on the trial — its most developed program — or to keep investing in it. The double-blind, placebo-controlled trial has enrolled at least 53 patients so far, and plans are to enroll 100 by year's end.

Last year, the company reported detailed results of a smaller trial that showed the treatment was safe. Although effectiveness diminished over time, it showed statistically significant effectiveness at improving breathing ability after 30 days.

7 mills to close for maintenance

NEW YORK — Louisiana-Pacific said it will temporarily close seven oriented-strand board mills.

Some "extraordinary maintenance" is needed at the facilities because they have been operating at full capacity to meet demand, the company said. The mills are in Athens, Ga.; Hayward, Wis.; Houlton and Woodland, Maine; Swan Valley, Manitoba; Sagola, Mich.; and Roxboro, N.C.

Production will be cut by about 50 million square feet over the next six weeks and result in a total of 47 days of downtime, the Portland company said. There is no need to lay off workers because the shutdowns will be so short, spokesman David Dugan said.

Oriented-strand board is a popular substitute for plywood in home construction. Prices more than doubled in the past year amid a housing boom, giving the company its first profit last year since 1999.

Compiled from Seattle Times business staff, The Associated Press and Bloomberg News