For decades, economists have tracked the "misery index," a simple formula that adds the unemployment rate to the inflation rate. The result equals how miserable — or not — you feel.
On Friday, the Labor Department released February's jobs report, and the good numbers will further drive down the misery index, already at its lowest level in more than a half-century, thanks to falling oil prices.
Netflix, Uber, and the stock market are governed by algorithms. Entrepreneur and artist Kevin Slavin shows how these formulas can reshape finance, culture, and physical environments, with potentially harmful consequences.
The U.S. economy added 295,000 jobs last month, according to the Labor Department's monthly survey, and the unemployment rate dropped to 5.5 percent. The latest strong data beat expectations and follow a robust jump the previous month — a sign that the nation's economy is finally picking up steam.
Nearly 9 feet of snow has fallen on Boston this winter — most of it in February — closing workplaces for days and leaving commuters stranded.
"I've been working from home for the past couple of days because I can't get to work," says Christopher Clickner, an insurance agent. "It's been taking me an hour-and-a-half sitting here to try to catch a bus, and it just hasn't worked at all."
Originally published on Thu March 5, 2015 11:13 am
A few hours after ProPublica and NPR issued the first in a series of reports about workers' compensation "reforms" sweeping the country, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration coincidentally released a paper linking workplace injuries to income inequality.
More than 1.3 million people are incarcerated in state prisons in this country, and keeping those prisons running requires tens of thousands of corrections officers. But right now, some states are facing major staffing shortages.
Much of this shortfall is because of the strong economy, but recruiters also are struggling with the job's cultural stigma.
Cadets at Wyoming's Department of Corrections Training Academy are practicing how they'll handcuff prisoners. In a few weeks this scenario will be very real, but right now everyone is pretty relaxed.
Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 12:19 pm
In recent weeks, the price of gasoline has ticked up but regular unleaded still costs about a dollar less than it did a year ago. That's good for consumers, who have more money to spend. But in Houston, one way or another, the paychecks consumers depend on come from the oil business.
The world's three biggest oilfield service firms — Schlumberger, Halliburton and Baker Hughes — have announced a combined 22,000 layoffs in recent months. Those job cuts are worldwide, but many are falling in Houston, where all three companies have headquarters.
Yesterday, Seattle began offering some commuters lower fares for public transit based on their income. Individuals making less than $23,340 a year and families of four making less than $47,700 annually now qualify for a program called ORCA LIFT, which will give users rates of $1.50 per ride, less than half of usual peak fares. [ORCA stands for "One Regional Card For All."]
The Nasdaq composite index returned to territory it hasn't seen since the heyday of the dot-com boom, closing above the 5,000 mark Monday. The index hit the mark nearly 15 years to the day since it surpassed the 5,000 mark on March 9, 2000.
We'll note that the index didn't have far to rise from Friday's close of 4,963.53.
When you ask people what impacts health you'll get a lot of different answers: Access to good health care and preventative services, personal behavior, exposure to germs or pollution and stress. But if you dig a little deeper you'll find a clear dividing line, and it boils down to one word: money.
At 2.5 percent, Lincoln, Neb., has one of the lowest jobless figures in the country. But that's nothing new — the city has ranked at or near the top of the nation, with one of the lowest unemployment rates for years, even during the Great Recession.
But on a recent visit, it's clear that Lincoln is not resting on its laurels. It's working hard at keeping and drawing talent to this city of nearly 300,000.
This week marked National Adjunct Walkout Day, a protest to gain better working conditions for part-time college instructors. Why are college professors from San Jose State University to the City University of New York taking to the streets like fast-food workers?
Originally published on Fri February 27, 2015 5:12 pm
The Obama administration is creating new protections for Americans saving and investing for retirement, but industry groups say the new rules could hurt the very people the president says he wants to help.
If you're building a retirement nest egg, big fees are the dangerous predators looking to feast on it. The White House says too many financial advisers get hidden kickbacks or sales incentives to steer responsible Americans toward bad retirement investments with low returns and high fees.
Originally published on Fri February 27, 2015 4:04 pm
Buying health care in America is like shopping blindfolded at Macy's and getting the bill months after you leave the store, Princeton economist Uwe Reinhardt likes to say.
But an online tool that went live Wednesday is supposed to help change that, giving patients in most parts of the country a small peek at the prices of medical tests and procedures before they open their wallets.
Got a sore knee? Having a baby? Need a primary-care doctor? Shopping for an MRI scan?