Fed: Economy’s slow pace is frustrating

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Wednesday acknowledged that the pace of economic growth is likely to be “frustratingly slow,” after the Fed downgraded its forecast for the next two years. Bernanke said the central bank is looking for growth and the job market to improve gradually over the next two years, but at a sluggish pace. Bernanke cited the debt crisis in Europe as a particular concern. He said it could have adverse effects on confidence and growth. As a result, the central bank is closely monitoring the situation, he said. When asked if the Fed would purchase more mortgage-backed securities to help the depressed housing market, Bernanke said that was a “viable option.” But he declined to say if, or when, the Fed would pursue such action. “We remain prepared to take action as appropriate to make sure the recovery continues,” Bernanke said. Bernanke’s comments came at his third news conference this year.

Zumiez sales increase 11 percent in October

Action sports apparel retailer Zumiez Inc. of Everett announced Wednesday that net sales for the four-week period ending on Oct 29 increased 11.1 percent to $34.9 million, compared to $31.4 million for the same period a year ago. Sales for company stores opened at least one year increased 3.3 percent for the period. A year ago, comparable store sales increased by 21.5 percent.

Port of Everett to meet on taxes and budget

The Port of Everett will hold an extra meeting this month to approve its 2012 budget and consider continuing its property tax. The port, which normally meets the first two Tuesday’s of each month, will also meet at 5 p.m. Nov. 29 for a public hearing on the budget. Commissioners will approve a budget after the hearing and take action on the tax. The port plans just one meeting in each of the following two months, Dec. 13 and Jan. 10.

Everett Port approves dredging contract

Port of Everett commissioners approved a dredging contract Tuesday for Pacific Pile &Marine of Seattle. Pacific was the low bidder at $888,560 to remove sediment from a portion of the marina. Vessels in the affected area will need to move at the end of this year and will be able to return in late February. Director John Mohr said the port had planned to do the whole marina at one time, but it discovered that some areas are contaminated with dioxin, a highly toxic chemical that can cause cancer. Dredge spoils from those areas will have to be taken to a special landfill for toxic material. Clean spoils can be dumped in deeper water in Puget Sound, he said. So only parts of the marina will be dredged at a time, he added. In a separate decision, the city of Everett has set a public hearing at 9 a.m. Dec. 8 at 2930 Wetmore Ave., Suite 8-C, on a port plan to add 285,000 cubic yards of dredged material from the Snohomish River to Jetty Island.

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