News roundup: Christmas holiday causes drop in Louisiana’s initial unemployment claims … Oil inventory levels rise in Gulf Coast … SBA launches contest to spur innovation for women-oriented products and services

    On holiday: A shorter work week due to the Christmas holiday contributed to the over-the-week decrease in initial unemployment claims for the week ending Dec. 24, the state labor department says today. Initial unemployment insurance claims for the week decreased to 2,093 from the previous week’s total of 2,637, the latest figures show. For the comparable week a year ago, 2,398 initial claims were filed. The four-week moving average, which is a less volatile measure of claims, increased to 2,676 from the previous week’s average of 2,660. Continued unemployment insurance weeks claimed for the week ending Dec. 24 decreased to 23,719 from the previous week’s total of 23,892. Continued weeks claimed were above the comparable figure of 22,682 for the week ending Dec. 26, 2015. See the full report from the Louisiana Workforce Commission. 

    Going up: The year is coming to a close with another jump in the nation’s stockpile of oil as the U.S. struggles to work through its ongoing glut of crude, reports. Crude oil inventory levels rose by 600,000 barrels last week, according to the Department of Energy, although that growth was more than offset by declines in stockpiles of gasoline and other petroleum products. The federal government describes oil inventories as “near the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.” This is the second consecutive week of oil builds after several weeks of reductions. Almost all of the oil storage growth came in the Gulf Coast. Read the full story.

    Impacting lives: Entrepreneurs and innovators can compete for $70,000 in prizes via the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2017 InnovateHER: Innovating for Women Business Challenge. The annual nationwide competition seeks to drive attention and resources to innovative products and services that impact the lives of women and families. The Sara Blakely Foundation donated the cash to the SBA for the prizes. The competition kicks off in winter of 2017 with local competitions hosted by universities, accelerators, clusters, scale-up communities, SBA resource partners and other economic development organizations. The winners in local competitions will advance to the semifinal round, where the SBA will select up to 10 finalists who will be invited to the National InnovateHER: Innovating for Women Business Challenge to be held in mid-2017. The finalists will pitch their products and ideas to a panel of expert judges and compete for the top three awards along with $70,000 in prizes. Get more details. 

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