Business

Economy
9:22 am
Sat March 7, 2015

More Jobs, Less Inflation Drive Down 'Misery' — So Where's The Joy?

Construction workers in Washington, D.C., in December. The latest jobs report will further drive the "misery index" to its lowest level in more than half a century. But economists say meager wages and big debts are still problems.
Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

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.

Read more
U.S.
5:52 pm
Fri March 6, 2015

Part-Time Workers Struggle With Full-Time Juggling Act

Note: Seasonally adjusted, in millions, for each February (2007-2015)
NPR Bureau of Labor Statistics

Originally published on Fri March 6, 2015 8:05 pm

The cold weather did not hamper hiring last month. Employers added nearly 300,000 jobs to payrolls, and the unemployment rate fell to 5.5 percent.

Despite another strong report, there is little evidence that all the hiring is putting upward pressures on wages.

And there are more than 6.5 million people working part time who would like to have more hours.

Read more
Shots - Health News
12:52 pm
Fri March 6, 2015

Federal Rule To Extend Medical Leave To Same-Sex Spouses In All States

A rule from the federal Labor Department will guarantee that regardless of where legally married same-sex spouses live, they can take unpaid time off to care for a spouse or sick relative.
iStockphoto

Legally married spouses in same-sex couples soon will be able to take unpaid time off to care for a spouse or sick family members even if they live in a state that doesn't recognize same-sex marriage.

Read more
NPR Ed
10:08 am
Fri March 6, 2015

The School Where Everyone Fills Out The FAFSA

For the past two years, Chicago college and career coach Alana Mbanza has raffled off tickets to prom for students who've submitted their FAFSA.
Elissa Nadworny NPR

Originally published on Fri March 6, 2015 7:38 pm

All this week we've been talking about the importance of applying for financial aid, the difficulty of doing so and what can be done to make it simpler.

Read more
The Two-Way
9:55 am
Fri March 6, 2015

Apple To Replace AT&T In Dow Jones Industrial Average

Originally published on Fri March 6, 2015 3:11 pm

Updated at 9:49 a.m. ET

Apple is in. AT&T is out. That's the word from the Dow Jones industrial average Friday morning.

The tech giant will replace the telecom giant after the close of trading on March 18, the S&P Dow Jones Indices said in a statement. The change is effective March 19.

Read more
TED Radio Hour
9:10 am
Fri March 6, 2015

Should We Be Wary of Algorithms?

"Decisions are made automatically by machines, increasingly without human supervision." - Kevin Slavin
James Duncan Davidson TED

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Solve For X

About Kevin Slavin's TED Talk

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.

About Kevin Slavin

Read more
The Two-Way
8:41 am
Fri March 6, 2015

Nearly 300K New Jobs In February; Unemployment Dips To 5.5 Percent

Job applicant Rafael Ferrer, 49, (left) greets a representative of the Hilton Bentley Miami Beach hotel during a job fair at the Hospitality Institute in January.
Lynne Sladky AP

Originally published on Fri March 6, 2015 9:41 am

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.

Read more
Economy
5:11 am
Fri March 6, 2015

Economy Adds Almost 300K Jobs, Amid Another Strong Report

Originally published on Fri March 6, 2015 10:40 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Around the Nation
5:03 am
Fri March 6, 2015

As Workers' Comp Varies From State To State, Workers Pay The Price

Jeremy Lewis lost his left arm during a work-related incident while working at a poultry plant in Alabama. The state has the nation's lowest workers' compensation benefits for amputations and sent Lewis into just the kind of downward spiral workers' comp was intended to prevent.
Dustin Chambers for ProPublica

Originally published on Fri March 6, 2015 6:07 pm

At the time of their accidents, Jeremy Lewis was 27, Josh Potter 25.

The men lived within 75 miles of each other. Both were married with two children about the same age. Both even had tattoos of their children's names.

Their injuries, suffered on the job at Southern industrial plants, were remarkably similar, too. Each man lost a portion of his left arm in a machinery accident.

Read more
U.S.
3:41 am
Fri March 6, 2015

Boston Economy Will Escape Big Freeze Of Historic Snowstorms

In Boston, nearly 9 feet of snow this winter has kept shoppers out of stores, putting a strain on the local economy.
bettlebrox Flickr

Originally published on Fri March 6, 2015 6:38 pm

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."

Read more
NPR Story
5:06 am
Thu March 5, 2015

As Economy Improves, Wages Remain Stagnant

Originally published on Thu March 5, 2015 10:11 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Read more
The Two-Way
4:03 am
Thu March 5, 2015

Federal Regulators Link Workers' Comp Failures To Income Inequality

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.

Read more
Around the Nation
5:33 pm
Wed March 4, 2015

Northwest Oil Terminal Plan Would Mean Jobs — And More Oil Trains

Proponents of the terminal plan say it would bring economic development to the Vancouver area, just across the Columbia River from Portland, Ore.
Conrad Wilson OPB News

Originally published on Wed March 4, 2015 8:29 pm

America's oil boom is going through some growing pains. But despite the recent dip in oil prices, some segments of the industry are focused on long-term growth.

In southwestern Washington state, oil companies want to build the largest oil-by-rail terminal in the country at the Port of Vancouver, on the banks of the Columbia River.

Read more
NPR Ed
11:36 am
Wed March 4, 2015

The Magic Trick That Could Help Students Pay For College

The IRS and the Department of Education have the power to make the FAFSA easier without cutting questions. So why haven't they?
LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Wed March 4, 2015 8:29 pm

Read part one of our reporting on the FAFSA, "Shrink The FAFSA? Good Luck With That"

It's deadline time for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Better known as the FAFSA.

The daunting application — with its 108 questions — stands between many college hopefuls and much-needed financial aid.

Read more
NPR News Investigations
5:04 am
Wed March 4, 2015

Injured Workers Suffer As 'Reforms' Limit Workers' Compensation Benefits

Lupita Ramirez dresses her husband, Joel, at their home in Rialto, Calif. Joel was paralyzed from the waist down after being crushed by a pallet when he was working in a warehouse.
Patrick T. Fallon for ProPublica

Originally published on Thu March 5, 2015 10:25 am

Dennis Whedbee's crew was rushing to prepare an oil well for pumping on the Sweet Grass Woman lease site, a speck of dusty plains rich with crude in Mandaree, N.D.

It was getting late that September afternoon in 2012. Whedbee, a 50-year-old derrick hand, was helping another worker remove a pipe fitting on top of the well when it suddenly blew.

Read more
NPR Ed
3:32 am
Wed March 4, 2015

Shrink The FAFSA? Good Luck With That

Shortening the FAFSA is a tall order.
LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Fri March 6, 2015 9:58 am

Look closely.

Buried deep in President Obama's 2016 budget (Page 41) is a proposal to cut up to 30 questions from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

The Obama administration has already done a lot to make the FAFSA easier — if not shorter. Online technology now allows students to skip questions that don't apply to them.

Read more
U.S.
3:41 am
Tue March 3, 2015

States Face Correctional Officer Shortage Amid A Cultural Stigma

Corrections officer Sgt. Charles Galaviz secures an inmate for transfer with handcuffs and shackles Jan. 24 at the Lexington Assessment and Reception Center, in Lexington, Okla. Overtime is mandatory for correctional officers in the state's prisons, which have a manpower shortage of about 33 percent and the highest inmate homicide rate in the country.
Sue Ogrocki AP

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 2:40 pm

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.

Read more
Economy
3:39 am
Tue March 3, 2015

In Houston, Falling Oil Prices Spark Fears Of Job Cuts Beyond Energy

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.

Read more
The Two-Way
10:06 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Seattle Cuts Public Transportation Fares For Low-Income Commuters

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 1:06 am

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."]

Read more
Economy
4:23 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Increase In Subprime Car Loans Could Lead To Trouble

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 6:38 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Read more
The Salt
3:10 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Your Grandparents Spent More Of Their Money On Food Than You Do

In 2013, Americans on average spent 5.6 percent of their disposable personal incomes on food they consumed at home.
April L. Brown ASSOCIATED PRESS

Originally published on Thu March 5, 2015 2:11 pm

When admiring such enticing items at the grocery store as an avocado for $1.50, an $8 chocolate bar or fresh wild Alaskan salmon for $20 a pound, you've probably experienced sticker shock.

Indeed, retailers and restaurants offer myriad opportunities to blow your food budget in one fell swoop.

Read more
The Two-Way
1:16 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Wages And Prices: A Welcome Breakup

Bigger paychecks plus lower prices add up to more buying power for consumers.
DNY59 iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 1:49 pm

A new government report confirms: Wages and prices are going their separate ways.

This breakup is helping consumers on the rebound from recession.

Fresh evidence of the split came Monday in the Commerce Department's monthly report on personal spending, income and saving. It showed paychecks are fatter, prices are leaner and Americans are saving more.

Read more
The Two-Way
11:34 am
Mon March 2, 2015

Nasdaq Index Hits 5,000 For First Time Since 2000

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 7:23 pm

Updated at 4:27 p.m. ET

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.

Read more
Shots - Health News
4:06 am
Mon March 2, 2015

People With Low Incomes Say They Pay A Price In Poor Health

Hanna Barczyk for NPR

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 7:39 am

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.

Read more
U.S.
3:58 am
Mon March 2, 2015

A Nearly Recession-Proof City Is Not Slowing Down

Lincoln has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in revitalizing its downtown, a historic area called Haymarket, to create a more culturally vibrant urban center that is helping the city keep and attract young adults.
David Schaper NPR

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 8:15 am

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.

Read more
NPR Ed
11:08 am
Fri February 27, 2015

A Glut Of Ph.D.s Means Long Odds Of Getting Jobs

Jorge Cham is the creator of PHD Comics and received his doctorate in mechanical engineering at Stanford University. PHD (Piled Higher and Deeper) is a comic strip about life (or the lack thereof) in academia. See more of his work at www.phdcomics.com.
Jorge Cham PHD Comics

Originally published on Sun March 1, 2015 2:54 pm

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?

They say they have something in common.

Read more
Planet Money
5:27 am
Fri February 27, 2015

Using A Can Of Coke To Explain A Currency Lesson

Originally published on Fri February 27, 2015 9:04 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Read more
Business
4:08 am
Fri February 27, 2015

White House Move To Protect Nest Eggs Sparks Hopes And Fears

President Obama remarks on his proposal to tighten consumer protections for people saving for retirement as Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Labor Secretary Tom Perez listen, at AARP on Monday.
Getty Images

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.

Read more
Economy
12:31 pm
Thu February 26, 2015

Higher Wages, Lower Prices Give Consumers A Break

A sharp drop in gasoline prices led the consumer price index to fall in January. The CPI posted its first year-over-year drop since 2009.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 1:54 pm

Economists usually worry about a "wage-price spiral" taking hold. That's when workers are earning more, but losing buying power as prices rise.

For now, at least, something very rare is happening: Paychecks and prices are heading in opposite directions.

"You have a schism that's helpful to consumers," IHS economist Doug Handler said about the recent decline in prices and rise in wages.

Read more
Shots - Health News
9:38 am
Thu February 26, 2015

Attention, Shoppers: Prices For 70 Health Care Procedures Now Online!

Shopping for an MRI scan? Guroo.org, won't yet show you what your local hospital or radiologist charges, but it will reveal the average cost of the test in your area.
iStockphoto

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?

Read more

Pages