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Consumer Confidential: Airline merger, more jobless Californians, sweaty sleep

September 17, 2010 | 10:06 am

Here's your fiesta Friday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--Well, here's some great news: Shareholders of United Airlines' parent company and Continental Airlines have approved a merger of the two carriers, creating the world's largest airline. This is terrific for passengers because ... well, it's probably good somehow, except that now there will be less competition in the airline industry and more market power in the hands of fewer corporate players. And all that almost inevitably means higher fares, more fees and generally better stuff for them and not so much for us. Too cynical a view? Talk to me again a year from now and we'll see who was right.

--More tough stuff for the local economy. California's unemployment rate hit 12.4% in August as the state lost another 33,500 jobs. That means 2.3 million of us were jobless last month. Construction, manufacturing, financial activities, government, leisure and hospitality, trade, transportation and utilities lost jobs over the month. But gains were seen in educational and health services, mining and logging, and professional and business services. The state has lost 113,100 jobs since August 2009, when the unemployment rate was 12%. The unemployment rate in Los Angeles County rose to 12.6% from 12.4% in July.

--And here's a helpful hint: A new study from the Sleep Disorders Center at Northwestern University finds that a good sweat will help older adults sleep better at night. The study finds that if middle-age types get some aerobic exercise earlier in the day -- take your pick: biking, workouts, whatever -- they'll get more shut-eye when the lights go out. "Insomnia increases with age," says Phyllis Zee, director of the sleep center. "Around middle age, sleep begins to change dramatically. It is essential that we identify behavioral ways to improve sleep." Or you could always just drink yourself into a stupor. I've heard that works too.

-- David Lazarus