NEW YORK (CNN) -- CNN Money's Maribel Aber has your top business and financial news on this Friday, March 22.
Jobless claims point to layoffs at lowest level since 2008
Week after week, jobless claims have been hovering at their lowest levels since early 2008. That could mean layoffs are finally back at pre-crisis levels. Initial jobless claims rose to 336,000, from an upwardly revised 334,000 the previous week, the Labor Department said Thursday. The minor increase is not unusual, since the initial claims report is notoriously choppy. Meanwhile, a four-week moving average -- which smooths out the volatility -- shows that initial claims are at their lowest level in five years.
More Americans debt-free, but the rest owe more
More Americans are debt-free than in 2000, but the ones who have debt owe nearly 40% more, and seniors have the biggest percentage increase in debt, the Census Bureau said Thursday. The percentage of U.S. households carrying any debt dropped to 69% in 2011 from 74% in 2000, the government reported. But the median debt load rose to $70,000, from an inflation-adjusted $50,971. Debt owed by seniors doubled, to a median of $26,000, according to the Census. A median figure means that half of households carry more debt while half carry less.
Saturday mail delivery should stay
The U.S. Postal Service must deliver the mail six days a week, said Congress' watchdog arm in a Thursday legal opinion. The legal opinion from the nonpartisan agency throws new questions on the Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe's plans to stop delivering first-class mail, but keep delivering packages and express mail on Saturdays. The U.S. Government Accountability Office stopped short of saying the U.S. Postal Service's August plan to end most Saturday mail service violates current law.
Pepsi rolls out a new shape for bottle
Pepsi will introduce a new bottle shape for the first time in 16 years, along with new graphics, next month. The brand's 16 oz. and 20 oz. plastic bottles will feature a swirled grip on the bottom portion of the bottle, with a shorter label edged in a "cola-colored" border and showing an enlarged version of its existing globe logo. A 12 oz. glass bottle, which will be available in select retailers, features the same twisted shape as well as the globe logo ringed in a thick silver line. The new bottle shape, last updated in 1997, applies to Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Pepsi Max and Pepsi Next.