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a.MKE The List: Sears Corp Closing Two Locations in WI & Free Transportation on New Year's Eve: Today’s Top Stories

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The Sears Corporation made an announcement this week saying it will close up to 120 Sears and K-Mart stores. The final list hasn’t been announced just yet. The company no longer plans on keeping “marginally performing” stores open while it works on improving their performance. Store closings could generate over $140 million in cash, plus additional funds from selling land.

The number of Americans filing first-time claims for jobless benefits rose by 15,000. The Employment and Training Administration just reported that filings grew by 15,000 last week from the previous week, making the new total 381,000. The trend is pushing toward the notion of improving labor market conditions.

With 2012 just around the corner, Miller Lite is teaming up with the Milwaukee County Transit System and Waukesha Metro Transit to give free bus service for those celebrating the New Year.  Miller Lite Free Rides will be offered on most bus routes starting at 7 tomorrow. All of this is a reminder for Milwaukee-area residents to ring in the New Year safely and not drink and drive.

The Census Bureau just reported that the U.S. Population is expected to top out at close to 313 million people by New Year’s Eve. This figure makes it a “0.7%” increase from last year. So to think about it even more, the report estimates that starting in January, one American will be born every eight seconds and one will die every 12 seconds.

Governor Walker is supporting a bill that would allow non-striking workers to collect unemployment when they can’t work due to a strike. Under the current state law, workers can’t collective unemployment whether they’re in the action or not, but with the proposed Senate bill that’s under consideration by the unemployment insurance advisory council, that could change.

For all you who read the Journal Sentinel, access to its online articles is set to change on January 4th. The change is a digital subscription plan called “JS Everywhere”…so online readers will only be able to read up to 20 articles per month at no charge, but after reaching that limit, readers will be directed to become a print or digital subscriber. However, anyone who already subscribes to the print edition will have free access to all digital products.