Wednesday November 21, 2012

Vt. unemployment up slightly in October

MONTPELIER (AP) -- The Vermont Department of Labor says the state’s unemployment rate ticked up one-tenth of 1 percent in October to 5.5 percent.

The figure is up from 5.4 percent in September and 5.4 percent in October 2011. The national unemployment rate for October was 7.9 percent.

Despite the increase, Vermont still has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.

The statistics show the total labor force in Vermont increased last month for the second straight month.

Seasonally adjusted data for October shows total employment increased by 700 last month while total unemployment increased by 200.

Unemployment in Vermont’s 17 labor market areas ranged from 3.3 percent in Hartford to 6.2 percent in Newport and Rutland.

Vt. nursing program may lose accreditation

BENNINGTON (AP) -- After nearly two years on probation, a nursing program at Southern Vermont College could lose its accreditation.

A visiting team from the National League of Nursing Accreditation Commission has told the college it plans to recommend that the commission not renew the school’s accreditation for associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in nursing.

The team had visited the school in October. It has until early December to issues its formal report, and the full commission meets in the spring.

College Acting President James Beckwith said the adoption of a new curriculum two years ago may’ve led to some confusion. He believes the situation can be fixed.

The college is not expected to lose its approval from the Vermont State Board of Nursing.

John Hancock reaches multi-state settlement

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- New Hampshire’s insurance commissioner says the state is one of six that’s entered into a settlement with John Hancock Life and Health Insurance Co. over unpaid life insurance benefits, the latest in a string of settlements with state regulators.

Roger Sevigny said New Hampshire, California, Illinois, Michigan, North Dakota and Pennsylvania investigated John Hancock’s retention of benefits that should’ve been paid to beneficiaries. He said it’s expected that "many millions of dollars more per year" will go to consumers.

Sevigny said John Hancock selectively used the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File database to end benefits payments, but didn’t use it to find deceased policyholders or their beneficiaries.

The company also agreed to pay $13.3 million to the six states.

AIG, Prudential, MetLife, Nationwide reached have reached similar settlements.

N.H.hunter found dead in woods

SWANZEY, N.H. (AP) -- The body of an overdue hunter has been found in the woods in Swanzey, N.H.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department says 51-year-old Robert Lariviere Jr. of Swanzey went deer hunting early Monday. His family reported him overdue to local police. Crews searched the area Monday night.

Lariviere’s body was found about a quarter of a mile from his car early Tuesday. Police say foul play does not appear to be a factor.

The New Hampshire Medical Examiner’s Office is investigating.

Home sales are
going up in Maine

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- Sales of single-family homes are going up in Maine.

The Maine Association of Realtors says real estate agents last month sold 945 existing homes in Maine, a nearly 25 percent jump from October 2011. The median sales price of those homes came in at $170,500, up from $165,000 a year earlier.

The association says that sales of existing homes nationwide rose about 10 percent for the month.

For the three-month period from August through October, the number of homes sold in Maine increased by 16 percent over the same period last year.

The highest median sales price was in Cumberland County, at $229,900. The lowest median price, $81,000, was in Aroostook County.

Maine research center to probe deep-sea microbes

EAST BOOTHBAY, Maine (AP) -- Bigelow Laboratory’s Single Cell Genomics Center in Maine has extracted and amplified DNA from microbial cells that appear to thrive miles deep in the ocean, which until recently was thought to be devoid of life.

A consortium of scientists, led by a researcher from the East Boothbay lab, has received a major award of services from the U.S. Energy Department to perform single-cell whole genome sequencing of over 300 deep-water microbes that have lived in isolation for millions of years.

The project is a multi-year collaboration between scientists at Bigelow Laboratory, Princeton University, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Desert Research Institute, Technical Research Center of Finland, University of Delaware and Western Washington University.

Bigelow researcher Ramunas Stepanauskas says the project takes advantage of cutting-edge research tools.