Workers see better but still low rate of wage increases

Workers saw their wages and benefits rise slightly faster in 2010 than 2009, but the gain was still the second-lowest increase in nearly three decades.

The Labor Department says wages and benefits increased 2 percent last year, slightly faster than the 1.4 percent increase in 2009. However, both years were the smallest gains on Labor Department records that go back 28 years.

The modest gains reflect a severe recession which pushed millions out of work and depressed the bargaining power of those with jobs. While weak wage gains mean low inflation pressures, it also leaves households with less income to boost consumer spending.

Goldman Sachs reveals mega-raise for CEO

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has more than tripled the salary of CEO Lloyd Blankfein to $2 million, and also granted raises to four other top executives.

The investment bank said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Friday that its board’s compensation committee set the new base salary for Blankfein, effective Jan. 1. His previous salary had been $600,000.

The committee set salaries at $1.85 million for four other executives. They are Chief Operating Officer Gary Cohn; Chief Financial Officer David Viniar and Vice Chairmen Michael Evans and John Weinberg.

The filing didn’t elaborate on the reasons for the raises. The salaries don’t include other forms of compensation the executives can receive, such as stock options.

Bank failures in Oklahoma, Wisconsin make 9 for 2011

Regulators have closed small banks in Oklahoma and Wisconsin, lifting to nine the number of bank failures in 2011 following last year’s toll of 157 taken down by the weak economy and piles of soured loans.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. on Friday took over First State Bank of Camargo, Okla., with $43.5 million in assets, and Evergreen State Bank, based in Stoughton, Wis., with $246.5 million in assets.

Bank 7, based in Oklahoma City, agreed to assume the assets and deposits of First State Bank. McFarland State Bank of McFarland, Wis., is acquiring the assets and deposits of Evergreen State Bank.

The failure of First State Bank is expected to cost the deposit insurance fund $20.1 million; the failure of Evergreen State Bank is expected to cost $22.8 million.

Comcast expected takeover completion late Friday

The nation’s largest cable TV company, Comcast, said it would complete its takeover of NBC Universal on Friday at just before midnight Eastern time.

The deal gives Comcast Corp. 51 percent of the fourth-ranked broadcaster NBC, a bevy of cable channels and the Universal Pictures movie studio. It caps a yearlong regulatory review that resulted in conditions meant to keep it from stifling the growth of online video services such as Netflix and Hulu.

Comcast will pay General Electric Co. about $6.5 billion in cash and contribute $7.25 billion worth of cable channels such as E! Entertainment and The Golf Channel to NBC Universal.

GE’s stake will drop to 49 percent from 80 percent, but it plans to exit within seven years and leave Comcast the sole owner.

Chevron abandoning coal, says technologies too slow

Petroleum giant Chevron Corp. says it will get out of the coal industry.

Chevron Mining spokeswoman Margaret Lejuste said Friday new coal technologies are too far off to make staying in coal a good strategy.

Lejuste said Chevron began seeking a buyer last week for its open pit mine outside Kemmerer in western Wyoming.

Chevron is close to closing a deal with Tampa, Fla.-based Walter Energy to sell its North River underground mine in western Alabama.

Lejuste also says Chevron may look to sell reclaimed land from a New Mexico surface coal operation that has been closed since 2009.

The three mines produced nearly 10 million tons of coal in 2009.

Starbucks CEO and founder’s pay in 2010: $22 million

Associated Press calculations show Starbucks CEO and founder Howard Schultz was paid nearly $22 million in fiscal 2010 as the company roared back from the recession.

That’s 45 percent more than he received in 2009 and it includes a salary of $1.3 million, double what he received in 2009, plus non-equity compensation of $3.5 million and $16.7 million in stock and options.

The AP’s calculation is based on a regulatory filing Friday. It aims to isolate the value the company placed on the executive’s total compensation. It includes salary, all bonuses and perks, above-market returns on deferred compensation – of which Schultz received none -– and the estimated value of stock options and awards.