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Consumers spent more at retail stores and restaurants in July. The Commerce Department says retail sales rose a healthy 0.7% last month, after a 0.3% gain in June. Online retailers, grocery stores, clothing retailers and electronics and appliance stores all reported strong gains.

U.S. housing starts fell 4.0% in July, driven by a decline in the construction of apartment buildings. The Commerce Department says that housing starts slipped last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.19 million units. So far this year, housing starts have declined 3.1%.

U.S. industrial production fell 0.2% in July as factory activity slumped. The Federal Reserve says manufacturing production declined 0.4% last month. Output decreased for autos, fabricated metals, wood products, textiles and plastics and rubber products. Over the past 12 months, factory production has fallen 0.5%.

The Trump administration has taken a step closer to relaxing federal regulations governing the amount of time truck drivers can spend behind the wheel. The proposed rule affects breaks that truckers are required to take, and their time on and off duty. The proposal will be open for public comment before being finalized.

Preliminary labor force statistics indicate North Dakota's July 2019 not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 2.3 percent, lower than the prior month and lower than the 2.4 percent rate reported one year prior. Adjusted for seasonality, North Dakota's unemployment rate was 2.4 percent, up from the prior month. The U.S. rate was 3.7 percent.

Ford is extending the warranties on about 560,000 small cars in the U.S. and Canada to cover a litany of problems with a troubled six-speed automatic transmission. The latest move covers 2014 through 2016 model year Focuses built before Nov. 5, 2015, as well as 2014 and 2015 Fiestas built before Oct. 15, 2014. It extends clutch warranties to seven years or 100,000 miles.

The North Dakota Development Fund has awarded funding for three projects totaling $685,000. Paragon Pro Manufacturing Solutions, Inc. (Grand Forks) was approved $500,000 in funding for the purchase of equipment and working capital. The company designs and manufactures ergonomic equipment used in the construction industry. The North Dakota Development Fund was created in 1991 as an economic development tool.

A new report shows child care providers charge more than federal subsidies provided to low-income parents in most states across the U.S. The federal recommendation is that states provide payment rates at the 75th percentile, which allows eligible families to access 3 out of 4 providers without paying more out of pocket. But the report shows most states set their rates much lower.

U.S. health officials are making a new attempt at adding graphic images to cigarette packets to discourage Americans from lighting up. The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday proposed 13 warnings that would appear on all cigarettes, including images of cancerous tumors and diseased lungs. The agency will take comments on the new proposal before moving to finalize the labels.

Cara Halgren, vice president for student affairs & diversity at the University of North Dakota, has been selected as the recipient of the NASPA IV-W James J. Rhatigan Outstanding Dean Award. The award is presented to a Senior Student Affairs Officer who has made a significant contribution to students, student affairs, and their respective campus. The award will be presented to Halgren during the NASPA IV-W Conference in Fargo, Oct. 28 – 30.

Casey’s General Stores helped raise funds for Special Olympics North Dakota by holding an in-store Round Up promotion during the month of June. The promotion, done in partnership with Coca-Cola, allowed customers to round up for Special Olympics and included proceeds from each 20 oz. Coco-Cola drink and pizza slice combo sold. The campaign raised more than $20,000, from 31 stores across the state.

Valley Memorial Homes is going by another name…Valley Senior Living. Along with the name change comes a new look and logo. The tree continues to symbolize life and growth. Valley Senior Living has three locations in Grand Forks serving about 550 people each day: Valley Senior Living on Columbia… Valley Senior Living on 42nd… Valley Senior Living on Cherry.

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