U.S. productivity recovers after first-quarter drop

The Labor Department said Friday that productivity increased 2.5 percent at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in the April-June quarter, after plummeting 4.5 percent in the first quarter.

That was the steepest drop in 31 years, and reflected a sharp 2.1 percent contraction in the economy. Economists blamed most of that shrinkage on temporary factors, such as harsh weather and a cutback in stockpiling by businesses.

Productivity measures output per hour of work. Greater productivity increases living standards because it enables companies to pay their workers more without having to increase prices, which can boost inflation.

Attorneys general want ban on flavored e-cigarettes

Attorneys general from more than two dozen states, including Maine, want federal regulators to impose restrictions on electronic cigarettes, including a ban on the more than 7,000 flavors now available.

In a letter Friday to the Food and Drug Administration, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills and 28 others say limits on advertising and prohibiting flavors besides tobacco and menthol will help protect minors.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says that while they contain no tobacco, e-cigarettes have all the same addictive qualities as regular cigarettes.

In April, the federal agency proposed treating e-cigarettes as tobacco products, putting them under its regulatory control.

— From news service reports