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Consumer Confidential: stale job market, new cool for Apple

August 11, 2010 |  9:56 am

Here's your wasted-days-and-wasted-nights Wednesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- All eyes remain on the job market, and the tea leaves aren't that encouraging. U.S. job openings were flat in June, while the number of new hires slipped. The Labor Department says there were 2.9 million job openings in June, almost identical to the number in May. With about 14.6 million people out of work, the latest numbers indicate there were five job seekers for every available position. In the year before the December 2007 start of the recession, job openings were typically around 4.5 million. That shows how far off the mark we are, jobs-wise, and how much ground remains to be covered before we're anywhere close to what can be termed, in economic terms, "good."

-- Is it possible for Apple Inc. to get any cooler? Apparently so. The company will have exclusive access to an exotic metallic material that could provide extra-shiny, super-tough casings for computers and iPhones. Liquidmetal Technologies Inc., a Caltech spinoff in Rancho Santa Margarita, says in a regulatory notice that it's granted Apple a perpetual license to use its technology in consumer electronics. Liquidmetal will retain the rights for other applications. The process mixes molten metal alloys in such a way that they become more similar to glass than metal. No word from Apple about how it will use the stuff, but the possibilities seem endless.

-- David Lazarus