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Friday business briefs

White House marks $30B

in bailout aid for small firms

The Obama administration is setting aside $30 billion from the financial bailout fund to encourage lending to small businesses. A document obtained by The Associated Press shows $40 billion would go to consumer and business lending programs, $30 billion of it to support lending to small companies, according to a Treasury official who spoke Friday on condition of anonymity. AMAC renews contract

with New York City

American Medical Alert Corp. of Oceanside has renewed its annual contract to provide New York City's human resources administration with health monitoring devices for the elderly, the company said. Qualified seniors get a package including a two-way voice console unit; a wireless activator that can be worn around the neck, wrist or on a belt; a dedicated bathroom activator, and a monitored smoke detector. When activated the console unit dials a toll-free number to AMAC's 24/7 response center and opens a voice link between caller and trained personnel.More states lost jobs than added them last month, signaling that hiring is occurring sporadically. Unemployment rates dropped in 36 states and the District of Columbia, a trend apparently reflecting more people leaving the workforce. Unemployed people who stop looking for jobs aren't counted in the labor force. Friday's Labor Department report underscored that employers have yet to ramp up hiring. The number of jobless for six months rose last month to 5.9 million, according to a report earlier this month. And the average length of unemployment exceeds 28 weeks, the longest on records dating to 1948. In all, 19 states added jobs in November, down from 28 in October; 31 states suffered a net loss of jobs. Of the seven states with statistically important drops in jobless rates, five saw labor forces shrink: Connecticut, Kansas, Kentucky, New York and Pennsylvania.

From staff and wire reports

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