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Business news in brief

Business news from around the region.


Job gains in fewer states

Fewer U.S. states reported job gains last month, reflecting a slower pace of hiring nationwide, even though the national unemployment rate dipped to 8.2 percent from 8.3 percent in February, the U.S. Labor Department said. Twenty-nine states, including Pennsylvania, reported job gains in March, down from 42 in February. Twenty states, including New Jersey, lost jobs. The biggest job declines were reported in Ohio, which lost 9,500 jobs, and New Jersey, which lost 8,600 positions and had an unemployment rate of 9 percent. Pennsylvania gained 7,800 jobs and had an unemployment rate of 7.5 percent. — AP

Judge allows Harleysville vote

A Harleysville Mutual Insurance Co. shareholder vote on its $840 million buyout by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. may proceed, a judge in Philadelphia ruled, rejecting a request from some policyholders to temporarily bar the deal. Shareholders of the Montgomery County company are scheduled to vote on the transaction April 24. — Bloomberg News

Union seeks block on deal

The Communication Workers of America asked the Federal Communications Commission to suspend consideration of Verizon Wireless's proposed airwaves purchase from cable providers, saying the companies aren't allowing full scrutiny of the $3.6 billion deal. The companies were late in producing documents that in some cases can't be searched or read, the union said. Verizon announced in December the purchase of unused airwaves from a group led by Philadelphia-based Comcast Corp. and by Time Warner Cable Inc. — Bloomberg News

Literacy director retiring

The Philadelphia-based Center for Literacy said its president and executive director, JoAnn Weinberger, will retire Jan. 31, 2013, after 26 years at the head of the nonprofit. Weinberger, 69, joined the citywide agency, which has a budget of $3 million, in 1968. The group says it is the nation's largest nonprofit community literacy provider. It has retained Lee van de Velde, an executive search specialist, to help find a replacement for Weinberger. — Reid Kanaley

Regulators close N.J. bank

Regulators shuttered a bank in New Jersey, bringing to 17 the number of banks that have failed so far this year. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said it closed Fort Lee Federal Savings Bank FSB, in Fort Lee. The bank, which has a single branch, had about $51.9 million in assets and $50.7 million in deposits as of Dec. 31. Alma Bank of Astoria, N.Y., agreed to assume Fort Lee Federal's deposits and $15.7 million of its assets. The FDIC estimates that the failure will cost the insurance fund $14 million. It is the first FDIC-insured institution in New Jersey to fail this year. — AP