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The Journal Gazette

Friday, July 12, 2019 1:00 am


Consumer prices crept up in June

STAFF, News services

WASHINGTON – U.S. consumer prices rose just 0.1% in June as cheaper gas prices were offset by higher rents and auto costs.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the consumer price index increased 1.6% in June from a year earlier. That is less than a 1.8% increase in May.

However, excluding the volatile food and energy prices, core inflation rose 0.3% in June, the biggest increase in 18 months. It rose 2.1% from a year ago.

Inflation has been muted throughout the 10-year expansion, which is now the longest on record, even as the unemployment rate has dropped to a very low 3.7%.

California utility knew of wildfire risk

Pacific Gas & Electric, which is blamed for some of California's deadliest recent fires, knew for years that dozens of its aging power lines posed a wildfire threat but avoided replacing or repairing them, a newspaper reported.

The Wall Street Journal, using company documents obtained under the federal Freedom of Information Act, reported that the utility told the U.S. Forest Service in 2017 and 2018 that 49 aging steel towers on one transmission line needed replacement and another 57 needed replacement of their hardware and aluminum lines.

The Journal previously reported that PG&E delayed safety work on the line, known as the Caribou-Palermo line, for five years.

Ex-Lutheran CEO takes Michigan job

Paula Autry, Lutheran Hospital's former CEO, has accepted a position as Henry Ford Health System's central region president, and CEO of Allegiance Health, in Michigan. Her first day is Monday.

Autry, whose husband is a Fort Wayne native, said in an email that she plans to remain in the Fort Wayne community for the near future.

The native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Notre Dame and a master's from Tulane University. Before taking the Lutheran Hospital position in November 2017, she was CEO of Sinai-Grace Hospital in Detroit.

Amazon to invest in worker training

Amazon, needing a more tech-savvy workforce, is offering to pay to retrain its employees and help them switch to more technical jobs at Amazon or elsewhere.

The online shopping giant said Thursday that it plans to spend $700 million by 2025 to retrain 100,000 workers, or a third of its U.S. workforce. With a strong economy and unemployment near a 50-year low, workers have more options, giving employers a tougher time finding help.

“The harder it is to hire workers from the outside, the more sense it makes to invest in training the workers you already have,” said Jed Kolko, chief economist at job site Indeed.

Remarks to Google Assistant not private

Google contractors are able to listen to recordings of what people say to its artificial intelligence system Google Assistant, via either their phone or through smart speakers such as the Google Home.

The company acknowledged that humans can access those recordings after some of its Dutch language recordings were leaked. Google is investigating the breach.