business news in context, analysis with attitude

•  From Axios:

"Inflation continued its relentless surge in February, driving the rate of consumer price increases to a new generational high … The Consumer Price Index rose 0.8% in February, and was up 7.9% over a year earlier, the steepest 12-month rise since 1982.

Excluding volatile food and energy — so-called core inflation — the numbers were still high, at 0.5% for the month and 6.4% year-over-year.

"Over the last three months, core inflation rose at a 6.8% annual rate while total inflation increased at an 8.4% rate. Those numbers point to an acceleration of inflation this winter, not a deceleration … The steepest price gains were for gasoline (+6.6%) and fuel oil (+7.7%). But there were price surges for many non-energy items as well, including air fare (+5.2%) and fruits and vegetables (+2.3%)."

•  From the Associated Press

"Slightly more Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, but layoffs have settled to the low, pre-pandemic levels seen before the coronavirus recession in 2020.

"Jobless claims rose by 11,000 to 227,000 for the week ending March 5, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The previous week’s number was 216,000. First-time applications for jobless aid generally track the pace of layoffs."

•  The Los Angeles Daily News reports that "after weeks of fruitless negotiations, some 43,000 Southern California grocery workers employed by Ralphs, Albertsons, Vons and Pavilions have scheduled strike-authorization votes that could signal a potential walkout at the supermarket chains.

"The employees, represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers union, saw their contract expire Sunday March 6. They have scheduled strike votes for the week of March 21.

"They haven’t indicated when a strike might occur."

The story notes that "UFCW Local 770 said it filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board against Ralphs, Albertsons, Vons and Pavilions for surveilling, intimidating and interfering with employees for engaging in union activity.

"UFCW-represented workers with Stater Bros. and Gelson’s are also in active labor negotiations with their employers. Local 770 also filed unfair labor practice charges against Stater Bros. for circulating surveys with questions about bargaining and for delaying negotiations."

•  From the Boston Globe:

"Russia no longer runs on Dunkin’.

"The Canton-based coffee and doughnut company is halting 'all current development and investment in Russia,' amidst that country’s invasion of Ukraine, a Dunkin’ spokesperson said in a Thursday afternoon e-mail.

"The company’s 'approximately 20' locations in Russia will not necessarily close, as they are owned and operated by “a local, independent franchise owner,” the spokesman said. But the company, which is owned by Atlanta-based Inspire Brands, will withdraw corporate support and halt any future growth.

"The coffee conglomerate’s decision comes two days after competitors Starbucks and McDonalds announced that they would be suspending operations in Russia, joining the over 330 other companies that have pulled their business out of the country … Dunkin’ was facing mounting pressure to shut its stores after earning a spot on Yale professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld’s list of companies still operating in Russia during its invasion of Ukraine."