September Jobless Rate Is Up But Is Below 2011, 2010 Levels

The jobless rate rose to 12% in September from 11% in August. But it was the second-lowest monthly rate of 2012 and below the same-month rates last year and in 2010 (see chart). The figure marked the 24th-straight month of lower year-over-year industry unemployment. However, over the past six years, the industry still has shed 2.2 million jobs, a 29% drop.

Bechtel, Babcock & Wilcox Face DOE Site Performance Issues

As design issues continue to dog its work on a $12.3-billion nuclear-waste processing plant at the U.S. Energy Dept.'s Hanford site in Washington state, Bechtel National Inc. was notified by DOE earlier this month that it would receive only half of a possible $6.3-million contract-award fee.DOE says the fee recognizes nuclear safety improvements but also reflects remaining site safety problems.

Bechtel will not challenge the decision and is "working closely with the department to bring closure to the issues," says a spokeswoman. Also, at DOE's Y-12 site in Oak Ridge, Tenn., the agency says it terminated site security subcontractor WSI Oak Ridge following a site break-in by anti-nuclear protesters in July. Site management contractor B&W Y-12 Technical Services, a Babcock & Wilcox unit, says it will take over site security, offer employment to all current WSI security workers and honor collective bargaining pacts. But DOE says the contractor also faces cancellation of its contract and noted that, so far, the firm has not done enough to correct site security issues.