US hiring surges back in February, adding 379,000 jobs

US officials credit the job growth to declining new COVID-19 cases and broadening vaccine immunization that has helped more businesses reopen with greater capacity. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP)
US officials credit the job growth to declining new COVID-19 cases and broadening vaccine immunization that has helped more businesses reopen with greater capacity. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP)
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Updated 06 March 2021

US hiring surges back in February, adding 379,000 jobs

US hiring surges back in February, adding 379,000 jobs

WASHINGTON: The US economy added a 379,000 jobs in February and the unemployment rate dipped slightly to 6.2 percent, the Labor Department said on Friday, a better-than-expected result as the country recovers from COVID-19.
The biggest hiring gains were seen in the leisure and hospitality sector, which had been badly damaged by business restrictions during the pandemic, but added 355,000 jobs last month, even as the government warned the pandemic continues to hit the labor market.
“Leisure and hospitality lost half-a-million jobs during the peak of the winter COVID-19 spike in December, and about broke even in January,” said Robert Frick of Navy Federal Credit Union, who called its gains last month “a good sign the beginning of a strong economic recovery may be getting underway.”

FASTFACT

9.5 million

The economy still had 9.5 million fewer positions than February 2020.

However, hiring was tepid outside of that sector, and the report said the economy still had 9.5 million fewer positions than February 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic caused business restrictions that prompted mass layoffs.
The world’s largest economy saw unemployment spike to 14.7 percent in April 2020 after the restrictions were imposed, but joblessness has declined in the months since, albeit at a slower and slower pace.
Outside the strong hiring among restaurants and other sectors saw much weaker gains, with temporary health services adding 53,000 jobs and health care and social assistance adding 46,000.
However, other industries saw job losses, including in education which shed nearly 70,000 positions, and construction which dropped 61,000.
The Labor Department also revised its employment data for the previous two months to show a steeper decline in December payrolls and larger increase in January, for a net gain of 38,000 positions over the two months.

 


Egypt ‘seizes’ Suez megaship, demands nearly $1bn compensation

Egypt ‘seizes’ Suez megaship, demands nearly $1bn compensation
Updated 13 min 5 sec ago

Egypt ‘seizes’ Suez megaship, demands nearly $1bn compensation

Egypt ‘seizes’ Suez megaship, demands nearly $1bn compensation

CAIRO: The megaship which blocked Egypt’s Suez Canal and crippled world trade for nearly a week has been “seized” on court orders until the vessel’s owners pay $900 million, canal authorities said Tuesday.
The 200,000-ton MV Ever Given got diagonally stuck in the narrow but crucial global trade artery in a sandstorm on March 23, triggering a mammoth six-day-long effort by Egyptian personnel and international salvage specialists to dislodge it.
Maritime data company Lloyd’s List said the blockage by the vessel, longer than four football fields, held up an estimated $9.6 billion-worth of cargo between Asia and Europe each day it was stuck.
Egypt also lost between $12 and $15 million in revenues for each day the waterway was closed, according to the canal authority.
The MV “Ever Given was seized due to its failure to pay $900 million” compensation, Suez Canal Authority chief Osama Rabie was quoted as saying by Al-Ahram, a state-run newspaper.
Rabie did not explicitly cite the Japanese owners Shoei Kisen Kaisha, but a different source at the SCA told AFP Tuesday that negotiations over damages between that company, insurance firms and the canal authority were ongoing.
The Japanese-owned, Taiwanese-operated and Panama-flagged ship was moved to unobstructive anchorage in the canal’s Great Bitter Lake after it was freed on March 29, and tailbacks totalling 420 vessels at the northern and southern entrances to the canal were cleared in early April.
The compensation figure was calculated based on “the losses incurred by the grounded vessel as well as the flotation and maintenance costs” Rabie said, citing a ruling handed down by the Ismailia Economic Court in Egypt.
The grounding of the ship and the intensive salvage efforts are also reported to have resulted in significant damage to the canal.
In its court filing, the SCA referred to Articles 59 and 60 of Egypt’s maritime trade law which stipulates that the ship would remain seized until the amount is paid in full, Al-Ahram reported.
But analysts have warned that apportioning legal responsibility for losses incurred by the numerous parties is likely to play out in protracted and complex international litigation.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has ruled out any widening of the southern stretch of the canal where the boat became diagonally stuck.
El-Sisi oversaw an expansion of a northern section, which included widening an existing stretch and introducing a 35-kilometer (21-mile) parallel waterway, to much fanfare in 2014-15.
But that was achieved at a cost of over $8 billion, without significantly increasing revenues from the canal.
The Suez Canal earned Egypt just over $5.7 billion in the 2019/20 fiscal year, according to official figures — little changed from the $5.3 billion earned back in 2014.
Egyptian authorities have presented the dislodging of the ship as a vindication of the country’s engineering and salvage capabilities, but observers point also to the crucial role played by international salvage experts.


SABIC unit aims to ramp up investment support for industrial SMEs

SABIC unit aims to ramp up investment support for industrial SMEs
Faisal Al-Buhair
Updated 13 April 2021

SABIC unit aims to ramp up investment support for industrial SMEs

SABIC unit aims to ramp up investment support for industrial SMEs
  • Nusaned program has potential to create more than 2,000 jobs

JEDDAH: Nusaned Investment, the localization initiative from Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC), was set up in 2018 as part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan to diversify the non-oil economy by encouraging the growth of local companies and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the industrial sector.

“We connect potential investors to the program,” Faisal Al-Buhair, vice president local content and business development and CEO of Nusaned, told Arab News. “Once they register with the Entema platform, which is the opportunity gate at Nusaned, we take them through the investor’s journey.”

Last year 106 Saudi entrepreneurs qualified for Nusaned’s program. The screening of proposed investments is an important step in ensuring that the program focuses on the right candidates and those with the ability to scale up and have national impact.

“An important criteria in our screening process is that the investment needs to support the National Industry Strategy sectors and thereby add value to Saudi Vision 2030,” Al-Buhair said. “In any case, an investor who shows a high level of commitment, knowledge, and readiness will have a higher chance of success.”

He was optimistic about the year ahead after the challenges the Kingdom had faced because of the pandemic in 2020.

Nusaned is aiming to increase its investments in companies that are considered to be strategic and critical industries for the Kingdom, such as automotive, aviation, food processing and pharmaceutical/medical manufacturing.

“We are keen on investments that offer differentiated solutions, specialized applications, and advanced technology to help the Kingdom enhance its competitiveness in local and export markets,” Al-Buhair said.

So far the program has more than 33 investments in the execution phase, of which 14 are already in operation. These investments have an expected annualized gross domestic impact of over $500 million and the potential to create more than 2,000 jobs.

This week Nusaned signed an investment agreement with the Saudi Pallet Manufacturing Company (SPMC) to promote the local production of plastic pallets. The funding will help SPMC to accelerate its product development, ramp up production, and expand its product reach regionally and globally.

“The partnership with SABIC will enable SPMC to serve the fast-moving consumer goods market by producing technologically advanced and patented multi-use plastic pallets from its manufacturing facility in Dammam,” Omar Al-Shawaf, SPMC CEO, said in a press statement.


Syrian government sacks central bank governor

Syrian government sacks central bank governor
Updated 13 April 2021

Syrian government sacks central bank governor

Syrian government sacks central bank governor
  • Analyst said governor didn’t live up to his role through implementing real interventions to salvage local currency
  • Syrian pound lost more than 98 percent of its value against the dollar over past decade

DAMASCUS: The Syrian government on Tuesday dismissed central bank governor Hazem Karfoul whose three-year tenure coincided with a severe economic crisis.
“President Bashar Assad issues a decree terminating the appointment of Hazem Karfoul,” the presidency said in a statement.
It did not give a reason or appoint a replacement.
Karfoul was named central bank governor in 2018, seven years into a conflict that has killed more than 388,000 people and displaced millions.
He oversaw an accelerating economic crisis sparked by civil war and compounded by sanctions, the coronavirus pandemic and a financial crunch in neighboring Lebanon.
An analyst in Damascus, asking not to be named over security concerns, said Karfoul “did not live up to his role through implementing real interventions” that could salvage the local currency.
Karfoul, he said, had been incapable of “quick and decisive decisions” at a time when the government was looking for “energetic new faces” to oversee a rescue phase.
The Syrian pound has lost more than 98 percent of its value against the dollar over the past decade.
Officially valued at 1,256 to the greenback, it sold for more than 3,000 on the black market on Tuesday, money exchangers told AFP.
Last month, it sold for 4,000 to the greenback, hitting an all-time low.
The government last month started enforcing a series of measures to stem a further drop in the pound’s value, according to pro-government newspaper Al-Watan.
They include new import bans and a state crackdown on unofficial money exchangers, it said.
Karfoul held several posts at the central bank, including deputy chief, before he was named governor.
The US treasury department sanctioned him in 2020 along with several other senior officials.
In its announcement, the treasury cited reports that Karfoul in September 2019 met with some of Syria’s wealthiest businessmen to press them to donate to state coffers.
He allegedly “identified the properties and other assets of the businessmen during the meeting and had suggested... their fortunes could be seized if they did not give a significant contribution.”


Egypt imposes measures to protect against aluminum dumping

Egypt imposes measures to protect against aluminum dumping
Updated 13 April 2021

Egypt imposes measures to protect against aluminum dumping

Egypt imposes measures to protect against aluminum dumping
  • It covers a number of aluminum products manufactured from the metal as well as cylinders and wire

DUBAI: Egypt has introduced measures to control aluminum imports for three years, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said in a filing.
It covers a number of aluminum products manufactured from the metal as well as cylinders and wire.
The ministry agreed to implement the measures in response to the large increase in aluminum products, said Ibrahim Al-Sigini, assistant minister of trade and industry for economic affairs.
The increase has hurt Egypt's domestic aluminum manufacturing sector, he said.
The country has informed the World Trade Organization (WTO) of its decision in line with international trade rules.


Dubai sovereign wealth fund skyscraper has double-decker lifts

Dubai sovereign wealth fund skyscraper has double-decker lifts
Updated 13 April 2021

Dubai sovereign wealth fund skyscraper has double-decker lifts

Dubai sovereign wealth fund skyscraper has double-decker lifts
  • Builder ALEC Engineering and Contracting has just completed the main structural construction work on Tower A

DUBAI: Dubai’s latest skyscraper that will be home to the emirate’s sovereign wealth fund comes with double-decker lifts.

Builder ALEC Engineering and Contracting has just finished the main construction works of Tower A on Ithra Dubai’s One Za’abeel project.

“One Za’abeel was designed as a floating gateway to Dubai’s financial district," said Fadi Jabri, executive officer at Nikken Sekkei, the lead architects and engineers on the project.

Standing 304 meters tall, it is connected to neighboring Tower B via a 225 meter sky bridge known as ‘The Link’.

Elevated at just over 100 meters above ground, ‘The Link’ will place the project in the record books as the world’s longest occupied building cantilever, the contractor said.

But perhaps an equally interesting feature for people working in the building will be its double-decker lifts serving two adjacent floors simultaneously.

Designing tall buildings with enough lift capacity has been a perennial problem for architects working on the emirate's famously tall buildings since the earliest days of the construction boom years.

Some of the city's buildings have gained a reputation for congestion during peak hours such as lunchtime when lobbies can quickly become crammed with workers.

That has put elevator technology at the center of many of Dubai's super-tall buildings, with designers adding increasingly intricate features designed to get more people up and down buildings more quickly, with mixed success.

The new Tower A building will have three lifts dedicated to serving the ground and first floors to the 24th and 25th and two lifts traveling from basement one and ground floor to the 61st and 62nd floors.

It will give passengers express access to ‘The Link’ and ICD offices respectively at a speed of eight meters per second, meaning a transit time of just forty seconds from the basement and ground floor to the top, ALEC said.