Business

Economy
7:34 am
Sun August 5, 2012

A Peek Into The Republican Economic Tool Kit

Weekend Edition Sunday is beginning a series of conversations with economists, asking them to explain their positions and what they think ought to be done to improve the economy. Guest host Linda Wertheimer talks to Greg Mankiw, former chairman of the Council of Economic advisers under President George W. Bush. He's also an informal adviser to the Romney campaign.

Around the Nation
6:06 pm
Sat August 4, 2012

How America's Losing The War On Poverty

Members of the Dolan family walk home with bags of food from the Southern Tier Mobile Food Pantry in Oswego, N.Y., in June. Food banks across the nation are reporting giant spikes in demand.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Mon August 6, 2012 1:53 pm

While President Obama and Gov. Romney battle for the hearts and minds of the middle class this election season, there's a huge swath of Americans that are largely ignored. It's the poor, and their ranks are growing.

According to a recent survey by The Associated Press, the number of Americans living at or below the poverty line will reach its highest point since President Johnson made his famous declaration of war on poverty in 1964.

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Economy
7:32 am
Sat August 4, 2012

Economists Cautiously Applaud Jobs Report

Originally published on Sun August 5, 2012 11:43 am

Transcript

SUSAN STAMBERG, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Susan Stamberg in for Scott Simon. In an encouraging sign for the U.S. economy, the Labor Department told us yesterday that the country gained 163,000 jobs in July. That was better than expected but not all signs are pointing up. In a separate government survey, the unemployment rate increased slightly to 8.3 percent. NPR's Chris Arnold is at a gathering of economists in northern Maine. He sent this report.

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Presidential Race
5:52 am
Sat August 4, 2012

Obama, Romney Each Read Jobs Numbers Differently

Originally published on Sun August 5, 2012 11:43 am

The stock market rallied on Friday's jobs report, with the Dow Jones industrial average jumping more than 200 points. But what do the numbers mean for the political stocks of President Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney? That's harder to measure.

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Planet Money
6:21 pm
Fri August 3, 2012

Episode 392: Keeping The Biggest Secret In The U.S. Economy

The Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps monthly unemployment figures very safe.
Don Goldberg (DoGoLaCa) flickr.com

Originally published on Mon August 6, 2012 3:01 pm

  • Listen to the Episode

The monthly jobs numbers are important — really important. They tell everyone from manufacturers to stock traders how the economy is doing. Billions of dollars ride on the jobs numbers.

Get them early, and you'd have everything you need to make a quick fortune. And once — just once, as far as anyone knows — someone did get them early.

On today's show, we talk to the guy who got the numbers before everyone else. And we learn the crazy lengths the government now goes to in order to keep those numbers secret until it's time to release them.

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Economy
4:42 pm
Fri August 3, 2012

Despite Jobs Added, U.S. Unemployment Rose In July

Originally published on Fri August 3, 2012 6:06 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish. The job market is finally showing signs of improvement after months of disappointing numbers. The Labor Department said today that employers added 163,000 jobs to their payroll in July. That's the best performance since February. Of course, it wasn't all good news. With the jobs increase also came an uptick in the overall unemployment rate to 8.3 percent. As NPR's Jim Zarroli reports, that underscores just how tenuous the recovery remains.

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It's All Politics
12:17 pm
Fri August 3, 2012

Latest Jobs Data Maintain Status Quo Of Obama-Romney Race

Originally published on Fri August 3, 2012 2:10 pm

(Revised @ 1:48 pm ET)

With only three monthly jobs reports left before Nov. 6, President Obama needs every piece of good economic news he can get to add to his argument for re-election.

Friday's employment report certainly provided some. The Labor Department reported that the economy added an unexpectedly strong 163,000 jobs in July. Forecasters had predicted that the economy would add as many as 100,000 jobs, so the report took most everyone by surprise.

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Planet Money
11:37 am
Fri August 3, 2012

Actually, The U.S. Lost 1.2 Million Jobs Last Month

Originally published on Mon August 6, 2012 3:02 pm

Everyone (including us) is saying this morning that the U.S. economy gained 163,000 jobs last month. Strictly speaking, this is a lie.

In fact, the U.S. economy actually lost 1.2 million jobs last month. There were 134.1 million jobs in June, and 132.9 million jobs in July. (The numbers are in this PDF.)

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The Two-Way
8:54 am
Fri August 3, 2012

163,000 Jobs Added In July; Unemployment Rate Rose To 8.3 Percent

A sign pointing the way to a career fair in San Mateo, Calif., last month.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Fri August 3, 2012 12:12 pm

There were 163,000 more jobs on public and private payrolls last month, but the nation's unemployment rate edged up to 8.3 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics just reported.

The jobs gain was the best in five months and was much better than the revised estimated of growth for June — a gain of just 64,000 jobs. But it wasn't good enough to keep the jobless rate from rising slightly. In June, it stood at 8.2 percent.

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The Two-Way
6:44 am
Fri August 3, 2012

Best Guess: 100,000 Jobs Added In July; Unemployment Stayed At 8.2 Percent

Originally published on Fri August 3, 2012 8:52 am

Update at 8:45 a.m. ET. Report Has Better Than Expected News:

"163,000 Jobs Added In July; Unemployment Rate Rose To 8.3 Percent"

Our original post:

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Economy
5:30 am
Fri August 3, 2012

July Jobs Report: A Political Analysis

The Labor Department announces the number of jobs added in July and the national unemployment rate Friday. NPR's Scott Horsley joins Renee Montagne to talk about the report and the consequences for the presidential race.

Energy
4:57 am
Fri August 3, 2012

States Ask Detroit: 'Build Us A Natural Gas Car, Please'

Honda's CNG Civic is the only natural gas-fueled sedan currently available in the United States. With so few CNG passenger cars on the road, pumping stations are few and far between.
Tracy Samilton for NPR

Originally published on Fri August 3, 2012 5:31 am

More than 20 state governors are taking an unusual step to boost the natural gas vehicle industry. Independent of the federal government, they're asking Detroit carmakers to build them a new kind of car: a midsize sedan that runs on compressed natural gas instead of gasoline.

The governors are hoping to boost demand for natural gas cars with their collective buying power. Combined, the states say they could ultimately buy thousands of CNG vehicles to replace their current vehicle fleets — if those cars were available.

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Planet Money
3:30 am
Fri August 3, 2012

Keeping The Biggest Secret In The U.S. Economy

In one part of the BLS offices, a supervisor rings this bell to let employees know that it is officially 8:30 AM.
Bureau of Labor Statistics

Originally published on Fri August 3, 2012 10:04 am

The single most important number in the U.S. economy comes out on the first Friday of each month at 8:30 a.m. That's when the government reports how many jobs were added or gained in the previous month.

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Economy
5:20 pm
Thu August 2, 2012

Americans Divided On Historically Low Interest Rates

Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 6:39 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONDSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

This week, the Federal Reserve acknowledged that the U.S. economy is losing strength. Economic recovery has been disappointing, and record low interest rates have not proven to be as helpful as some predicted. As it happens, they also mean different things whether you're a borrower or a saver. Thirty-year fixed home mortgage rates of three and half percent are one thing, earning less than a percent on your savings account is another.

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Economy
4:01 pm
Thu August 2, 2012

What Can We Do To Fix The Economy?

Courtesy of Jared Bernstein

U.S. employment is stalled, growth is anemic, and the Federal Reserve has decided not to take action for at least another month.

Most economists weren't expecting the Federal Open Markets Committee, which sets the Fed's monetary policy, to announce another round of quantitative easing — a fancy term that basically means the central bank buys bonds to increase the money supply and make borrowing cheaper — at this week's meeting. Still, that's exactly what a number of them think is needed.

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The Two-Way
8:52 am
Thu August 2, 2012

Jobless Claims Rose By 8,000 Last Week

The number of people filing first-time clams for unemployment insurance rose by 8,000 last week, to 365,000 from 357,000 the week before, the Employment and Training Administration says.

It adds that the "4-week moving average," which is supposed to give a slightly broader look at the trend in claims, "was 365,500, a decrease of 2,750 from the previous week's revised average of 368,250."

But according to The Associated Press:

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Economy
5:32 am
Thu August 2, 2012

The Swing Back After Stock Market Glitch

Federal regulators are trying to piece together what happened in the stock market Wednesday morning. Just after the opening bell, the prices of dozens of stocks began to gyrate up and down. The swings were soon traced to a software glitch at a New Jersey brokerage firm called Knight Capital. NPR's Jim Zarroli joins Steve Inskeep with more.

Education
5:23 am
Thu August 2, 2012

Families Make Big Changes To Pay For College

Emily Macri looks over a college brochure with her mother, Maureen O'Brien, in Kingman, Ariz. Macri is transferring to Northern Arizona University so that she can pay in-state tuition.
Courtesy of Emily Macri

Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 8:50 am

Maureen O'Brien told her daughter Emily Macri: dream big.

She could pick any college she wanted and they would figure out a way to pay for it.

Macri chose the University of Vermont, which costs more than $49,000 in tuition and fees per year for out-of-state residents.

O'Brien and her daughter co-signed a private student loan from Sallie Mae for $24,000 and a $30,000 Parent PLUS loan, a federal loan program for parents. And that was just for Macri's first two years of college.

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The Two-Way
4:00 pm
Wed August 1, 2012

Federal Reserve Says Economy Has Slowed, But Leaves Policy As Is

While it does indeed appear that "economic activity decelerated somewhat over the first half of this year," the Federal Reserve also said in its policy statement this afternoon that it is not — as of yet — taking any news steps to give the economy a boost.

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Economy
2:45 pm
Wed August 1, 2012

One Job Seeker's Ruse To Check Out His Competition

Have you ever wondered who else is out there applying for the jobs you want?
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 10:49 am

Eric Auld wants a full-time job. He completed a master's program in 2009 and has a part-time job as an adjunct lecturer, but that provides barely enough to cover the bills.

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Planet Money
2:39 pm
Wed August 1, 2012

The Endlessly Disappointing Jobs Recovery

Three years into the economic recovery, the unemployment rate is still disastrously high. So today's big economic question is whether the Federal Reserve will announce new measures to bring down unemployment when it releases its policy statement this afternoon.

Update: The new statement is out. The Fed isn't doing anything new right now.

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Planet Money
11:19 am
Wed August 1, 2012

How The Poor, The Middle Class And The Rich Spend Their Money

Lam Thuy Vo / NPR

Originally published on Mon June 24, 2013 12:38 pm

For a historic look at spending in America, see our post What America Buys. For more, see our Graphing America series.

How do Americans spend their money? And how do budgets change across the income spectrum?

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The Two-Way
9:13 am
Wed August 1, 2012

Employers Added 163,000 Jobs In July, Survey Suggests

There was a 163,000-gain in the number of jobs on private payrolls in July, according to the latest ADP National Employment Report.

That's down from an estimated 172,000 boost in June (a number revised slightly from ADP's previous report of a 176,000-increase for that month).

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Business
7:02 am
Wed August 1, 2012

What Ever Happened To Jordache Jeans?

Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 7:31 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

One of the brands that defined the '80s was Jordache jeans.

(SOUNDBITE OF JORDACHE JEANS AD)

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing) You've got the look I want to know better. You've got the look that's all together. Working. Playing...

MONTAGNE: Some among you will remember squeezing into a pair of those skintight jeans and then pulling on a purple velour top.

Reporter Matthew Boyle wondered whatever happened to this now faded brand, which led to his profile in of today's Jordache for Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine.

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Economy
7:02 am
Wed August 1, 2012

Fed Considering Steps To Boost Economy

Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 7:31 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

Later today, the Federal Reserve could announce new steps to boost the U.S. economy.

INSKEEP: Let's remember, the Fed has two mandates here: one is to keep inflation in check, the other is to promote a healthy level of employment. Now, the unemployment rate has been stuck above eight percent.

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The Two-Way
5:20 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Fannie, Freddie Regulator Holds Firm Against Mortgage Write-Downs

Many experts say reducing mortgage principal can help troubled homeowners avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes. But the regulator who oversees two of the nation's largest mortgage holders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, has rejected the idea.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

A federal regulator is blocking the government-owned mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from reducing the principal that homeowners owe on their mortgages in order to avoid foreclosures.

Tuesday's decision came from Edward DeMarco, the acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

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Fresh Air Interviews
1:14 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Facing The Fiscal Cliff: Congress' Next Showdown

Bill Ingalls/NASA Getty Images

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 12:35 am

In December, Congress is poised for another showdown on the deficit and taxes. If Congress doesn't act, 2013 will mark the end to Bush-era tax cuts that have been in place for a dozen years, and the beginning of automatic cuts to domestic and defense programs that would total $1.2 trillion over 10 years. The Congressional Budget Office says the combination of higher taxes and deep spending cuts could create a 4 percent reduction in economic output, a number big enough to throw the country into another recession.

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Technology
12:01 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Spam Familiar In E-Mail, Now Flooding Your Phone

Spam text messaging is on the rise — it's estimated that American cell phone owners received billions of spam texts last year. And they're not just annoying, they can be costly, too. Host Michel Martin speaks with telecommunications expert Ben Levitan about what consumers and cell phone providers can do to prevent spam text messages.

The Two-Way
9:23 am
Tue July 31, 2012

Homes Prices Rise, Consumer Spending Flattens

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 11:55 am

Two fresh economic indicators:

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Crisis In The Housing Market
5:07 am
Tue July 31, 2012

Is Housing Recovery Real? Not Everyone Is Convinced

A construction worker carries lumber while working on new homes in San Mateo, Calif., in March. Homebuilding is at its highest level in nearly four years.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 5:08 pm

Housing, the sector that led us into the recession, now looks to be one of the brighter spots in the economy. Homebuilding is at its highest level in nearly four years. More homes are selling, and at higher prices.

The question, of course, is whether this is a solid enough foundation to sustain a full housing recovery.

Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, says housing woes are largely behind us.

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