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Unemployment rate slips to 7.7%

BY Ken Clark

The November unemployment rate released this morning declined from 7.9% to 7.7% as more people stopped looking for work, the Labor Department said. 

The mixed bag of data showed that the U.S. economy added 146,000 jobs in November — that’s below the average of 151,000 per month since the beginning of this year. 

In November, employment rose in retail trade, professional and business services, and health care. Employment in construction fields dropped 20,000. Much of the loss in construction occurred in construction of buildings (down 11,000). Since early 2010, employment in construction has shown no clear trend, according to the bureau.

The Labor Department also said the months of October and September added fewer jobs — 49,000 fewer jobs — than originally estimated.

Retail trade employment rose by 53,000 in November and has increased by 140,000 over the past three months.

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Harper Brush Works sold

BY Brae Canlen

Cequent Consumer Products, a market leader in household cleaning tools and automotive aftermarket products, announced the asset purchase of Harper Brush Works, located in Fairfield, Iowa.

John Aleva, president of Cequent Consumer Products, said the acquisition was a way of expanding the Solon, Ohio-based company beyond automotive products.

“We have been leaders in the automotive market for years and now we are strategically paving the way to become the leading manufacturer and distributor of cleaning tool products for both residential and industrial markets,” Aleva said.

Harper was founded by entrepreneur, Alphonso K. "A.K." Harper of Fairfield, Iowa, in 1900. Harper has been manufacturing high-quality cleaning tools for the retail and commercial markets ever since. Cequent will utilize the Harper assets as a strong foundation to continue operations in Iowa, the announcement said. Harper is the second cleaning tool brand Cequent has purchased this year. Laitner Brush, an American broom and brush manufacturer since 1855, was acquired by Cequent in February.

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LF names editor for Residential Building Products and Technology

BY Ken Clark

Veteran building industry journalist Nigel F. Maynard has been tapped to take charge of Residential Building Products and Technology, a new digital magazine of New York City-based Lebhar-Friedman’s Residential Products Group.

The digital magazine will launch in mid-January.

Maynard has developed and demonstrated a passion for architecture, design and building products during his career as an editor, freelance journalist and blogger. For 14 years, he anchored the products beat as a senior editor for Builder Magazine and its sister publication Residential Architect

“As an editor and writer, it’s a rare opportunity to be involved in the start of a brand new magazine or publication,” Maynard said. “The launch of Residential Building Products and Technology is one of those times. The fact that the publication will be a tablet and an app is gravy.” 

Maynard’s work has appeared in This Old House, New Old House Magazine, Inform: Architecture + Design, Bethesda Magazine and Arlington Magazine. In addition to writing, Maynard is also a serious DIYer whose renovated row house just outside Washington, D.C., received media attention when it was published in (the now-defunct) Home Magazine, The Washington Post, and appeared on HGTV’s "I Want That! Kitchens."

The editorial mission of Residential Building Products & Technology includes the promise to dive below the surface of building products and examine the trends and the details that allow builders, remodelers and subcontractors to better serve their customers. Technology, technique and tools will all be featured along with the latest building concepts in the residential construction industry. For more information, visit residentialbuildingproducts.com.

"Nigel is the ideal editor to bring this project to life," said Jack Brannigan, VP and group publisher of the Residential Products Group, which also includes HCN, homechannelnews.com and Hardware Store Connect. "We’re excited to have him on board, along with his passion for the business and the respect he’s earned from the industry."

About Lebhar-Friedman: Founded in 1925, Lebhar-Friedman is a leading media and marketing company serving the retail industry and targeted consumer markets. Diverse, forward-thinking and committed to excellence, the staff delivers award-winning content and high-impact marketing products across all media channels.

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