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Small Businesses Staying Afloat Amid Recession

LAS VEGAS -- Small, locally-owned businesses are trying to get noticed in the middle of Cyber Monday and Black Friday. Many independent retail stores are barely staying afloat from the recession.

Locally-owned and operated stores often lose price wars against larger brand-name stores. When it comes to choice and options, online shopping is a fierce competitor.

"We're hanging in there and I think the difference between us and a lot of big box stores is the personal service," said Dansey's Hobbies co-owner Judy Lugo. "We usually pick up around the 10th, the 12th, and we run it right through until New Years."

First-Time Unemployment Claims Increased

WASHINGTON -- The number of newly laid-off workers seeking unemployment benefits rose last week, a sign that jobs remain scarce even as the economy recovers. The Labor Department said Thursday that first-time claims increased by 18,000 in the week ending April 3, to a seasonally adjusted 460,000. That's worse than economists' estimates of a drop to 435,000, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters.

The report covers the week that includes the Easter holiday, and a Labor Department analyst said seasonal adjustment for Easter can be difficult since the holiday occurs in different weeks each year. California also closed its state offices for a holiday March 31, the analyst said, which likely held down the claims figures. On an unadjusted basis, claims rose by 6,500 to nearly 415,000.

Virgin Atlantic Expanding Flights to United Kingdom in 2011

LAS VEGAS-Virgin Atlantic announced today that it will begin twice weekly service between Las Vegas and Manchester in the United Kingdom. The flights will begin in April 2011. The new flights will fly out of Las Vegas on Thursdays and Sundays.

Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said that the decision to expand their Manchester flying program underlines Virgin Atlantic's commitment to flying to long-haul destinations from regional airports in the United Kingdom.

Governor Gibbons News Conference Today on Health Reform

LAS VEGAS -- Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons will hold a news conference in Las Vegas to announce what he intends to do about federal health reform.

The Republican governor has been publicly feuding with Democratic Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, who refused his directive to sue the federal government over the bill passed by Congress and signed last month by President Obama. Gibbons' news conference is at noon Tuesday in Las Vegas.

Gibbons argues the law tramples state's rights and amounts to unfunded mandates that will cost the state millions in added Medicaid costs. Masto says the Constitution gives Congress broad powers to regulate commerce. She says 14 other states have already sued, and that any outcome would apply to Nevada even if the state doesn't join the suit.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Nation's Economy Posted Its Largest Job Gain In Three Years

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The nation's economy posted its largest job gain in three years in March, while the unemployment rate remained at 9.7 percent for the third straight month.

The increase is the latest sign that the economic recovery is sustainable and healing in the job market is beginning. Still, the healing is likely to be slow, and most economists don't expect job creation to be fast enough this year to rapidly reduce the unemployment rate. The Labor Department said employers added 162,000 jobs in March, the most since the recession began but below analysts' expectations of 190,000. The total includes 48,000 temporary workers hired for the U.S. Census, also fewer than many economists forecast.

Minimum Wage to Increase for Nevada Workers

CARSON CITY, Nev. -- Minimum wage workers in Nevada will be getting a raise under new requirements announced by the state labor commissioner.

Beginning July 1, Commissioner Michael Tanchek says the minimum wage for workers who also receive qualified health benefits from their employer will increase 70 cents to $7.25 per hour. The minimum hourly wage for workers who don't have employer-paid insurance will rise to $8.25.

Under a voter approved constitutional amendment passed in 2006, Nevada's minimum wage is adjusted annually based on increases in the federal minimum wage over $5.15 per hour, or, if greater, by the cumulative increase in the cost of living. Tanchek says this year's adjustment in Nevada incorporates the final phase of a $2.10 increase in the federal minimum wage that went into effect in 2007.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

More Homeowners Falling Delinquent on Mortgages

LAS VEGAS -- The number of Southern Nevada homeowners delinquent on their mortgage payments has climbed steadily for the past several months. In some cases, it's people just willing to walk away from their homes, and in other cases, homeowners are holding out hope that they will get a loan modification.

In any given neighborhood, chances are good that a homeowner is the process of walking away from their mortgage. In the past, five months was typically the longest a homeowner could stay in their home until the bank would come knocking. But that is no longer the case.

Nick Nolf with The Nolf Group has been in the real estate business through the boom, the bust, and now the slow turn-around.