ABERDEEN, Wash. — A regular customer at a Washington state diner that closed, leaving a dozen employees out of work, has led a fundraiser that collected nearly $17,000 to help them out.
Glenn Ludwig launched the “Grinch fund” after learning the 12 workers at his favorite restaurant — America’s Diner in Aberdeen — were left jobless and without a paycheck since before Thanksgiving.
Ludwig’s goal was to raise enough money to cover $16,000 in back wages owed to the employees by the owner.
KXRO-AM reports Ludwig collected nearly $17,000, and that $13,700 of it was collected Wednesday in front of the former diner on Heron Street.
Ludwig says some of the excess money will be used to help a diner employee who was fired for reporting the owner to the state Labor and Industries Department after the owner failed to pay workers.
Unemployment claims lowest since 2008
WASHINGTON — In in the latest sign that the economy is surging at year’s end, unemployment claims have dropped to the lowest level since April 2008, long before anyone realized that the nation was in a recession.
Claims fell by 4,000 last week to 364,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. It was the third straight weekly drop. The four-week average of claims, a less volatile gauge, fell for the 11th time in 13 weeks and stands at the lowest since June 2008.
While the economy remains vulnerable to threats, particularly a recession in Europe, the steady improvement in the job market is unquestionable.
Unemployment claims are a sort of week-to-week EKG for the job market. Except for a spike this spring, after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan hurt U.S. manufacturing, they have fallen steadily for a year and a half.
Claims peaked at 659,000 in March 2009. In the four years before the Great Recession, they mostly stayed between 300,000 and 350,000. That claims are edging closer to that range is a sign that the layoffs of the past three years have all but stopped.
Conn. aunt charged in tot’s pit bull mauling death
WEST HAVEN, Conn. — A Connecticut woman has been charged with criminally negligent homicide in the mauling death of her toddler niece by three pit bulls.
Police say 30-year-old Erica Hobdy was also charged Thursday with reckless endangerment and risk of injury to a minor in the death of 20-month-old Neveah Bryant.
The girl was mauled by three pit bulls on Sept. 30 while she was in Hobdy’s apartment. She later died at a hospital.
Hobdy has said the child and dogs were in separate rooms with the door closed when she left to buy a drink. She says she came home to find Neveah had been attacked.
The child’s death was ruled an accident by the state medical examiner.
The animals were killed by police.
Spanish village wins jackpot in world’s richest lottery
MADRID — The world’s biggest lottery on Thursday showered prizes worth $3.3 billion on Spaniards, with the jackpot going to a small farming village.
The Christmas lottery awarded 180 jackpots, known as El Gordo (The Fat One), each worth $5.2 million.
The series of 180 tickets carrying the winning number 58268 was sold entirely in Granen, a village of nearly 2,000 residents in northern Huesca province.
It is rare for anyone to win the entire jackpot, because most people only buy fractions of a ticket, each of which costs a hefty $260.
Every Spaniard spent an average of nearly $74 on the lottery. Sales went down by only 0.5 percent from 2010, despite the country’s unemployment rate of more than 20 percent and a stagnant economy.