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Upfront health costs turning off U.S. workers
Years of rising health-care premiums are making U.S. workers less willing to choose plans with higher upfront costs, according a survey by consulting firm Watson Wyatt. A survey of large-company employees shows that workers are significantly less willing to pay higher premiums to keep out-of-pocket expenses such as deductibles and copays lower this year compared with 2007. Only 19 percent of employees surveyed this year were willing to opt for higher premiums, compared with 38 percent last year.
Local Office Depot stores escape downsizing plans
Office Depot Inc. plans to close more than 100 underperforming retail stores in North America over the next three months. A spokeswoman said stores now operating Downtown, in Ross, Munhall, Bethel Park, Monroeville and West Mifflin would remain open. The Boca Raton, Fla.-based chain also will close six of its 33 North American distribution facilities. New store openings planned for next year have been cut in half to about 20. The company said further actions could be taken as it works to cut costs.
Dodge Ram pickups recalled for fire danger
Chrysler LLC is recalling 108,429 Dodge Ram pickup trucks to fix a flaw in an engine-compartment pad that can cause a fire. The recall affects Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 pickups with a 6.7-liter diesel engine from model years 2007 and 2008, according to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Mack Trucks to lay off 180 at Pa. operation
Mack Trucks plans to lay off 180 employees at its Macungie factory near Allentown and to extend its annual end-of-year production shutdown at the site. Layoffs will take effect Dec. 23, with production scheduled to resume with a reduced work force in the week of Jan. 12. The plant employs about 680 workers making heavy trucks.
Traffic at retail stores off 17% in November
U.S. retail store traffic dropped 17 percent in November, research firm ShopperTrak RCT Corp. said. On Black Friday, the day after U.S. Thanksgiving, traffic fell 18 percent from a year earlier, while shoppers spent 3 percent more, Chicago-based ShopperTrak said yesterday.
Also in business ...
Take Care Health Systems has opened health clinics at Walgreens stores in Coraopolis, Ross, Uniontown and Washington, Pa. The company now has 12 clinics in the area ... National Public Radio said it was laying off 7 percent of its staff, or 64 full-time employees, for the first time in 12 years, after experiencing sharp declines in funding. NPR also is canceling "Day to Day" and "News and Notes," two shows that have not received the audience traction and corporate sponsorship that could make the shows self-sustaining ... Ceramic tile manufacturer Dal-Tile said it would lay off about 105 workers at its Gettysburg operation. The company, a unit of Mohawk Industries Inc., said the layoffs were prompted by the slowdown in the construction industry. The Gettysburg plant employs about 275.
Correction/Clarification: (Published Dec. 12, 2008) An item originally published with this business news briefs article Dec. 11, 2008 about Office Depot's plans to close stores did not mention the fate of the Monroeville store, which will not be affected.
First Published December 11, 2008 12:00 am