Jobless rate increases
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Lawrence County's unemployment rate was up to 7.3 percent in December, compared with 6.9 percent in December 2001.
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry said the county's labor force expanded by 1,000. The total count of employed dropped by 100 while unemployment rose by 300, indicating that those who entered the labor force did not immediately find work in December.
First Niles Financialincreases earnings
NILES -- First Niles Financial earned $272,000 in the fourth quarter, compared with $242,000 in the same quarter in 2001. For the year, the company earned $982,000, compared with $821,000 in 2001. It is the holding company for Home Federal Savings and Loan Association of Niles.
US Airways loan
WASHINGTON -- The Air Transportation Stabilization Board has affirmed its decision to guarantee 90 percent of a $1 billion loan US Airways Inc. has said it needs to continue operating. It is subject to bankruptcy court approval and changes in the company's pension plan.
From Vindicator staff and wire reports

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