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28 minutes | 3 days ago
Making sense of a disappointing jobs report
Most economists expected something like 1 million new jobs in April. Instead, there were 266,000 added — which isn’t going to make much of a dent in recovering the 8 million jobs we’re still down. The hiring slowdown is happening in an economy that has a lot tilted in its favor, including trillions of dollars in relief for individuals, small businesses and local government. On today’s show, we make sense of April’s jobs numbers and ask what it’s going to take to juice the jobs market. Plus: why the Federal Reserve is pointing to risks in the current economy; how restaurants in Texas are finding it hard to attract staff; and a look at the water crisis in a rural Maryland community. Now, this is a good investment: Give $5 a month or more to support Marketplace’s public service journalism and get (almost) any thank-you gift: marketplace.org/donate
28 minutes | 4 days ago
What’s driving the labor shortage?
We got some signs that the job market is improving: Initial claims for state unemployment benefits last week fell under half a million for the first time since the pandemic began. Continuing claims also fell sharply. But employers and trade groups are increasingly saying they can’t find workers to hire. On today’s show: Why this labor shortage is unusual. Also, the Biden administration is backing a temporary waiver on COVID-19 vaccine patents, what a flexible work future looks like, and why QR codes are the future of hospitality. Now this is a good investment: Give $5 a month or more to support Marketplace’s public service journalism and get (almost) any thank you gift: marketplace.org/donate
28 minutes | 5 days ago
Who has leverage in the labor market?
Friday’s jobs report marks one year since the release of one of the worst jobs reports in U.S. history; the economy had lost 20 million jobs in a single month. One year later, there are still millions of people unemployed, but data from payroll processors and online job search sites point to continuing job growth. Chris Hyams, CEO of Indeed, joined “Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal to talk about how the labor market is recovering from the pandemic. Also on today’s show: Small businesses that closed at the beginning of the pandemic may never reopen, a new report warns that critical minerals for green energy might become scarce, and the European Union is raising the drawbridge on companies that get foreign subsidies. Now this is a good investment: Give $5 a month or more to support Marketplace’s public service journalism and get (almost) any thank you gift: marketplace.org/donate
28 minutes | 6 days ago
“I think I really began to question what is living”
The pandemic prompted a lot of people to think about their values and identities, and that includes what they do for a living. According to Prudential’s Pulse of the American Worker Survey, 1 in 5 workers changed their line of work over the last year. On today’s show: a look at the many Americans drastically changing their career paths. Plus, manufacturers are having difficulty filling job vacancies, rental car companies are having difficulty finding used cars, and church real estate is up.
28 minutes | 7 days ago
The low-hanging fruit on Biden’s climate agenda
President Joe Biden has made dealing with climate change a top priority of his administration. While Congress and the White House hammer out the way that shows up in the big infrastructure package, there are relatively easy fixes that have bipartisan support. For example, phasing out the use of hydrofluorocarbons. HFCs are chemical refrigerants found in products we use every day — that do a lot of damage to the climate. Also on today’s show: More homeowners are paying their mortgage bills again, Verizon is selling Yahoo and AOL for $5 billion and how “green hydrogen” could be used to produce energy and steel with zero emissions.
28 minutes | 10 days ago
It could take quite a while for the labor market to recover from COVID
The economic recovery is showing up in a big way: GDP is nearly back to pre-pandemic levels, and consumer confidence is improving as more Americans are vaccinated. There’s been a surge in consumer spending, driven by record-setting personal income — pumped by relief checks and more Americans getting back to work. About that “getting back to work” part. We’ll see the April jobs report next week, and it’s expected to be very strong. Still, the number of jobs in the U.S. economy is nowhere near pre-pandemic levels, and it could take a while to get there. Also on today’s show: how New York businesses are getting ready to reopen, more companies are incentivizing vaccination and how the U.S. is trying to reclaim its rare-earth mantle.
28 minutes | 11 days ago
Do we really want to get back to a pre-pandemic economy?
The Commerce Department announced Thursday that in the first quarter of 2021 gross domestic product grew at an annualized rate of 6.4%. That’s within 1% of pre-pandemic GDP. It’s easy to look back at the pre-pandemic economy all starry eyed; unemployment was low and pay for low-wage workers was rising. But it wasn’t exactly a golden era for workers. On today’s show: Do we even want to go back to a pre-pandemic economy? Also: a look at the child care industry issues weighing on workers and parents, how reparations will help women build houses in Baltimore, and how a variable minimum wage could work.
28 minutes | 12 days ago
Pent-up demand for a vacation
In a recent survey from the U.S. Travel Association, almost two-thirds of Americans said they “desperately” needed a vacation after the last year, and with vaccinations and accumulated paid time off, many of them just might get one. Employers prepare for the coming surge of employees using their PTO. On today’s show: how pent-up demand for a break might shape up. Plus, voting rights legislation prompts a flurry of political fundraising, live venues are finally able to tap into federal funding and what Friday’s consumer spending numbers could mean.
29 minutes | 13 days ago
Why a Baltimore church is pledging half a million dollars in reparations
In 2018, Natalie Conway was assigned to Memorial Episcopal Church as a deacon. Conway, now 73, grew up in segregated west Baltimore, and she and her brother had been researching their genealogy. Not long after she arrived at Memorial, she discovered that her ancestors had been enslaved by Rev. Charles Ridgely Howard — the founding rector of the church she now serves. On today’s show: How that Baltimore church is grappling with its racist past. Plus, shipping containers are increasingly getting lost at sea, what slowing population growth means for the economy, and we check in with an Iowa farmer about surging prices for crops ahead of the planting season.
28 minutes | 14 days ago
Investing in children and families is also infrastructure
President Joe Biden is expected to roll out the next part of his big infrastructure initiative this week, the American Families Plan. The plan calls for major additional investment in education and child care — part of the Biden administration’s argument that this support is necessary in a functioning economy. Also today’s show: Apple’s plan to spend more than $1 billion to build a new campus in North Carolina; what happens when a doctor doesn’t “match” with a residency; and why older single women are buying camper vans.
28 minutes | 17 days ago
The stock market is … an idiot
That’s the conclusion of “Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal after a market freakout yesterday. What spooked it? News that the Biden administration wants to jack up the capital gains tax rate. “Have traders heard of the United States Senate?” our host wondered. All that and more on today’s Weekly Wrap. Also on the show: Homebuyers are waiving contingencies in this hot housing market, Olympic gymnast Simone Biles is leaving Nike for a smaller athletic brand and the president says tackling climate change will create jobs.
28 minutes | 18 days ago
U.S. trade rep: “We don’t exist in a vacuum”
Ambassador Katherine Tai, the United States trade representative, said the world economy needs to evolve in order to solve global problems like climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. In an interview with “Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal, Tai said we need to reimagine incentives to stop the “race to the bottom.” “We don’t exist in a vacuum,” Tai said. “These are collective challenges, and we only get through them if we can get through it collectively.” Also on today’s show: President Joe Biden said a “whole of government” approach is needed to fight climate change, why home construction costs exploded in the last year, and the USDA is extending its free lunch program.
29 minutes | 19 days ago
How control over the pandemic will affect the stay-home economy
While we were stuck at home, sales of paint, furniture, exercise equipment and groceries went through the roof. But as vaccination continues and things open back up, we’re more likely to take a trip than to redo our floors. On today’s show: How the stay-home economy will change when the pandemic ends. Plus, how the plan for that new European soccer league was kicked to the curb; about that semiconductor shortage; and an interview with the CEO of Chipotle.
28 minutes | 20 days ago
About China’s “poverty alleviation slow trains”
The Biden administration’s push to upgrade American infrastructure is partly motivated by seeing China’s sleek infrastructure, including bullet trains that go more than 185 mph. These speedy trains have gradually replaced the slower, green-colored carriages. However, in recent years, the Chinese government has designated 81 routes remaining from the Mao era for the poor. On today’s show: A look inside those trains. Plus, commercial construction faces a rocky year, Apple bets that users will opt in to be tracked and how a food business tied to the hotel industry is recovering from COVID-19.
28 minutes | 21 days ago
Not having paid time off can be a barrier to getting vaccinated
As of today, all adults are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. The vaccine is free to the public, regardless of insurance. About half of all adults have received at least one dose in the U.S., and more than 200 million shots have been administered. But there are still challenges to getting more people vaccinated, including workers getting paid time off to make an appointment or deal with vaccine side effects. Also on today’s show: how businesses that have made it this far in the pandemic are doing, why lumber prices are skyrocketing and why there’s little affordable housing in wealthy Chicago neighborhoods.
27 minutes | 24 days ago
Community pharmacists face challenges in vaccine rollout
Across the country, pharmacies are struggling with insufficient staffing and endless phone calls from people trying to make appointments. They run into other problems, too, like patients who think one dose of a two-dose vaccine is enough. Health care workers are feeling pressure to get this right — to make sure the vaccines are stored correctly, that no one is having an allergic reaction and that everyone’s questions are answered. On today’s show: We hear from three community pharmacists about their experience giving out COVID-19 vaccines. Plus, commercial landlords are looking to grocery stores to fill vacant space, Americans are really ready to travel again and historians weigh in on whether we’re in for another Roaring ’20s.
28 minutes | 25 days ago
How walk-in clinics could help achieve vaccination equity
More than 123 million people have now received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and around 3 million doses are being administered every day. Four months into the vaccination campaign, however, there are still significant disparities by race and ethnicity. In nearly every state that’s reporting data, white residents are being vaccinated at higher rates than Black and Hispanic residents. On today’s show: In Philadelphia, there’s evidence walk-in clinics can help reduce those disparities. Plus, new data points to a strong economic recovery this year, President Joe Biden is imposing economic sanctions against Russia in response to December’s hacking attack, and the challenges of moving to a hybrid work model.
29 minutes | a month ago
Will company culture come back after the pandemic?
The concept of “company culture” is saddled with certain imagery in the imaginations of Americans: The trust exercises of decades gone by, the freewheeling indoor playground layout of Google offices, the oppressive pressure to produce at any given law firm. A company’s culture is intangible — and often privately derided as an invention of PR — but it is very real. Has that survived a year of Zoom and Slack communication? Also on today’s show: Retailers are trying to hire tens of thousands of workers, why some companies didn’t sign a statement pushing back against a restrictive Georgia voting law, and boat builders are struggling to meet soaring demand.
28 minutes | a month ago
Welcome to Zoom Town, USA
Over the past pandemic year, small, rural towns across the U.S. have been inundated with remote workers seeking beautiful landscapes and bigger houses. So common is the trend, the towns in question are being referred to as “Zoom towns.” On today’s show, we visit what may well be the Zoom town capital of California. Plus, why inflation numbers are gonna be wonky for a while, what’s behind the recent surge in retail investors and what happened to America’s public toilets.
28 minutes | a month ago
Surging anti-Asian violence is taking a toll on Asian-owned businesses
It’s been a tough year for small businesses, as many were forced to alter business models and implement extreme safety precautions for employees and customers alike. While most businesses reported declines in revenue and employment, Asian-owned businesses in the U.S. were among the hardest hit. Now, with violence against Asian Americans on the rise, there’s an added economic and emotional toll. On today’s show, we hear from one business owner in Oakland, California, about her experience. Plus, the pushback against vaccine passports is growing, New York created a fund for undocumented workers, and why corporations are betting on “livestreamed shopping” to continue post-pandemic.
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