Maine jobless rate in June edges up to 7.8 percent

The Maine Department of Labor says the state’s unemployment rate for June was 7.8 percent, close to what it was a year ago.

Commissioner Robert Winglass said Friday the rate compares to 7.7 percent in May and 7.9 percent in June 2010.

The number of jobless was down 800 from a year ago, to 54,100.

The Labor Department says Maine’s preliminary figures compare favorably to the nationwide unemployment average of 9.2 percent. The New England average in June was 7.8 percent. It ranged from 4.9 percent in New Hampshire to 10.8 percent in Rhode Island.

In Maine, unemployment rates were lower in the Portland-South Portland-Biddeford (6.1 percent) and Bangor (7.1 percent) areas. Lewiston-Auburn was 7.6 percent.

General Electric posts gain of 21 percent for quarter

When it comes to weathering a sluggish economy, it pays to have your fingers in a lot of pies. At least it does for General Electric Co.

The industrial and financial giant has a stake in almost every sector of the economy, from light bulbs and credit cards to windmills. Its mixed bag of business units have propped up the company at different times since the recession. When the real estate meltdown buried GE’s lending arm in bad debt a few years ago, its industrial units continued to grow.

This year, it’s the other way around.

A rebound at GE Capital has so far offset weaker industrial business this year. The lending unit helped GE boost profits 21 percent in the second quarter to $3.76 billion.

Verizon getting big boost from iPhone subscribers

Verizon Communications Inc. is seeing a big boost from the iPhone, adding more new subscribers on contracts in the second quarter than it has in two and half years.

Yet AT&T Inc., which has been the exclusive seller of Apple Inc.’s iconic phone in the United States until February, still activates three iPhones for every two Verizon does.

Verizon added 1.26 million wireless subscribers under contract in the April to June period, a result that flies in the face of the slowdown in new subscribers across the industry in the past two years.

Verizon activated 2.3 million iPhones, well below the 3.6 million AT&T reported for the same period. Verizon sells only the iPhone 4, starting at $200, while AT&T also sells the older iPhone 3GS for $49.

Gas prices moving higher, with Northeast at the top

Americans are paying about 15 cents more for a gallon of gas now than they did over the July Fourth weekend and nearly $1 more than a year ago.

The national average for a gallon of regular was $3.695 a gallon Friday, up 0.6 cents overnight, according to AAA, Wright Express and the Oil Price Information Service.

In a rare twist, California drivers aren’t paying the highest prices in the lower 48 states. That unwelcome distinction belongs to the Northeast.

California drivers paid an average of $3.813 a gallon on Friday. Motorists paid $4.036 a gallon in Connecticut and $3.944 in New York.

FDIC shutters two banks in Florida, one in Colorado

Regulators on Friday shut down two small banks in Florida and one in Colorado, bringing to 58 the number of U.S. bank failures this year, well behind last year’s pace.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. seized Southshore Community Bank in Apollo Beach, Fla., LandMark Bank of Florida in Sarasota, Fla., and Bank of Choice in Greeley, Colo.

Southshore Community Bank had about $46.3 million in assets and $45.3 million in deposits. LandMark Bank had about $275 million in assets and $246.7 million in deposits. Bank of Choice had roughly $1.07 billion in assets and $924.9 million in deposits.

— From staff and news reports