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Empty Strip Malls a Common Sight in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS - Five years ago, customers flocked to the shopping center on the corner of Lake Mead and Jones. Now, the retail center is a virtual ghost town. The only people in the parking lot are teens on skateboards. The Albertson's supermarket closed more than a year ago. The rest of the nearby businesses soon followed.

Tony's Mexican Restaurant is one of the few places still open. But, restaurant manager Elvira Gonzales says with fewer people visiting the area, her business is struggling. Gonzales says customers are noticing that more and more shops are shutting down. "Stuff that was here before, I mean most of it's gone," she said. "A lot of customers say just last week, they drove by a place they used to go (to) before, and now it's not there."

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.)

National Job Numbers Up, Results Seen in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS -- The national unemployment rate remains high, but the country saw job growth of 162,000 new jobs in March. Some are being created right here in Las Vegas.

The Les Olson Company is in the business of selling and leasing copiers and printers to businesses. Six people were recently hired to help with sales. The company admits it's been lucky to piggyback off of other businesses thriving in the economy.

"We're seeing a lot of attorneys, doctors, and CPA's are increasing their volume," said sales manager Mike Augason.

The family-owned business is all about networking to keep expanding. It's something Chris Byrd knows very well. He just opened a cell phone store called Byrd Phones.

"We have 385 people on our service in Las Vegas," he said.

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.)