State of Business: Fair & Warmer?

After a winter of snow and recession, the weather turned warmer across much of the U.S. last week, bringing customers out and nurturing business hopes that the economy will soon hit the upward trail.

Though the signs of improvement are scattered, they are more numerous than they have been for months. One critical exception: employment.

The Labor Department's preliminary estimate of unemployment in mid-February was up some 400,000 in a month, or four times the normal seasonal rate, to a total of 5,800,000 jobless. This meant that 7% of the work force is unemployed,...

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