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Friday PM January 21st, 2011

Union membership drops to 1930s levels…EPA approves 15% corn-based ethanol for all cars made in last decade…Schlumberger’s fourth-quarter earnings…Camden Property Trust number 10 on Fortune list of “100 Best Places to Work”


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The nation’s labor unions saw another sharp decline in membership last year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says unions lost 612,000 members in 2010. That drops the unionized share of the work force to 11.9% from 12.3% in 2009. Union membership in the private sector fell from 7.2% to 6.9%, a low point not seen since the 1930s.

The Environmental Protection Agency has approved higher levels of corn-based ethanol to fuel all cars manufactured in the last decade. The agency announced that 15% ethanol blended with gasoline is safe for cars and light-duty trucks manufactured between 2001 and 2006. In October, the EPA approved the same mix for vehicles manufactured since 2007. The previous maximum gasoline blend was 10% ethanol.

Schlumberger announced earnings of $1.04 billion for the fourth quarter of 2010, a 31% increase over the same period a year earlier. The company credits rising demand for oilfield services around the world as energy prices increase. It said 2010 brought the second-biggest demand increase in 30 years. Most forecasts call for that trend to continue. Schlumberger said it earned $4.27 billion for the full year, compared with $3.13 billion in 2009.

“Fortune” has named Houston-based apartment developer Camden Property Trust number 10 on its 2010 list of “100 Best Companies to Work For.” That’s up from number 41 last year. Other Houston firms making this year’s list are Methodist Hospital System at 17, EOG Resources at 67, and Men’s Wearhouse at 68.