National News

Finally, April was probably a 'pretty good' month for jobs

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-02 02:19

Chances are, today's Employment Situation Summary for April from the Labor Department will be a pretty good report.

Job growth is expected to have improved compared to mid-winter's labor-market polar vortex. The consensus among economists (Bloomberg) is 215,000 new jobs created in April, and unemployment falling 0.1 percent to 6.6 percent. Job growth has come in around 175,000 non-farm payroll jobs per month since February (3-month average).

For the past six months, economists have had a hard time determining underlying labor-market strength. Nearly every monthly report has been skewed by anomalous or seasonal effects: the partial government shutdown in the fall; expiration of long-term federal unemployment benefits after the New Year (maybe people stopped looking, and getting counted?); severe winter weather in the Northeast and Midwest and Southeast and Northwest that suppressed consumer spending, travel, and hiring nationwide.

In recent weeks, economic signals have been mixed: a strong April private-sector jobs report from payroll processing firm ADP; higher first-time claims for state unemployment benefits (rising to a nine-week high in May 1 report); consumer spending up 0.9 percent in March to a four-year high. Meanwhile, GDP barely cleared the flatline in the first quarter (+0.1 percent preliminary, compared to 2.6 percent in Q4/2013). Home sales and building construction have all but stalled.

Mark Hamrich, who tracks the economy for personal finance website Bankrate.com, says the labor market hasn't changed very much in the past two years. Job creation has averaged , just below 200,000 every month and the unemployment rate has fallen gradually to below 7 percent. That represents slow, steady improvement—without, however, much acceleration in job creation.

"I call it a 'more, please' job market," says Hamrich. He says that's stressful for middle-income Americans--suffering from the lingering effects of the financial crisis, and the precipitous fall in assets such as retirement savings and home values.

Hamrick says income has largely stagnated. "Even for those who have been employed," he says, "many have had to put up with sub-standard wage gains on an annual basis. That leaves people feeling like they aren't making much progress."

Many Seniors Accepted To First-Choice Colleges Go Elsewhere

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-02 01:16

Almost half of college freshmen surveyed last year had enrolled in schools that weren't at the top of their list — not because they didn't get in, but because of costs.

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Agribusiness Funds 'Farmland' To Counter Hollywood Message

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-02 01:16

Films like Food Inc. and King Corn highlight the evils of big agriculture. Now farmers are hitting back with their own movie, Farmland. It was funded by the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance.

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Obamacare Sign-Ups Show Wide Variation By State, Ethnicity

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-02 01:09

Nearly half the 8 million people who bought health insurance through the state and federal exchanges signed up in the last six weeks. Florida enrolled 39 percent of those eligible, despite opposition.

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The history of the marketing of Cinco de Mayo

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-02 01:05

Technically, Cinco de Mayo falls on a Monday this year. But beer companies want people to get an early start, celebrating over the weekend.

But celebrating what, exactly? What does Cinco de Mayo mean for marketers and consumers?

Many in Los Angeles celebrated Cinco de Mayo last weekend. Tens of thousands of Latinos attended a street fair that big corporations saw as a marketing opportunity, even if their message was a little fuzzy.

At the Ford booth, I spoke with Marie, a 'brand ambassador.' I asked her to make the connection between the car company and Cinco de Mayo.

"Ford, to me, is about the people. And people need to drive to get around this city and Ford is a great way to do that," said Marie.

She struggled to make the connection. But, to be fair, it is sort of a hazy holiday.

After all, May 5 commemorates an obscure battle where the Mexican underdogs defeated the French.

"In Mexico, we don't really do Cinco de Mayo," said Marie. "It's more of an American-ized holiday."

In this case, 'American-ized' meant commercialized. Festival goers moved from line to line, waiting for free samples and gift bags. A fiesta of freebies from McDonald's and Palmolive and Colgate.

"The consumer products companies have been the early-adopters of understanding that this is the market that is going to move the needle, and they've really fought hard to create brand recognition," said Xavier Gutierrez with Meruelo Group, one of the event's sponsors.

While some companies try to connect with Latinos, beer companies try to get everyone to party.

According to Nielsen, the market research company, Americans bought more than $600 million worth of beer last year for Cinco de Mayo. That's more beer than was sold for the Super Bowl or St. Patrick's Day.

"Beer companies have been largely responsible for the commodification of Cinco de Mayo. I mean, they spend millions and millions of dollar in Spanish-language advertising," said Jose Alamillo, a professor of Chicano studies at California State University Channel Islands.

Alamillo said the beer industry ignores alcohol related health issues that affect the Latino community.

He'd like to see Cinco de Mayo promoted as a history lesson, instead of -- as critics allege -- an excuse to sell booze.

Ukraine Forces Seek To Retake Slovyansk

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-02 01:05

Ukraine launched what appeared to be its first major assault against pro-Russian forces who have seized government buildings in the country's east.

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Boxers, briefs or radiation underwear? Silicon Tally!

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-02 01:00

It's time for Silicon Tally. How well have you kept up with the week in tech news?

This week we're joined by Kara Miller, host of WGBH’s Innovation Hub. var _polldaddy = [] || _polldaddy; _polldaddy.push( { type: "iframe", auto: "1", domain: "marketplaceapm.polldaddy.com/s/", id: "silicon-tally-may-2", placeholder: "pd_1398982571" } ); (function(d,c,j){if(!document.getElementById(j)){var pd=d.createElement(c),s;pd.id=j;pd.src=('https:'==document.location.protocol)?'https://polldaddy.com/survey.js':'http://i0.poll.fm/survey.js';s=document.getElementsByTagName(c)[0];s.parentNode.insertBefore(pd,s);}}(document,'script','pd-embed'));

Leaving A Dark Time Behind To 'Get Through It As A Family'

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-01 23:51

Frank was severely depressed when he left his wife and three children to live on his own in 2009. But at his oldest son's baseball game two years later, he realized he couldn't stay away any longer.

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Texas Family's Nuisance Complaint Seen As Win Against Fracking

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-01 23:46

A jury awarded nearly $3 million to the Parrs, who say leaks at a natural gas site made them ill. The family won the suit without having to prove that the drilling company broke environmental laws.

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Cinco De Mayo: Whose Holiday Is It, Anyway?

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-01 23:45

Expect to see margarita specials and sombreros galore throughout this weekend — even though, in most of Mexico, May 5 is no big deal.

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Cinco De Mayo: Whose Holiday Is It, Anyway?

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-01 23:45

Expect to see margarita specials and sombreros galore throughout this weekend — even though, in most of Mexico, May 5 is no big deal.

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Afghan Female Cyclists: Breaking Away, And Breaking Taboos

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-01 23:42

There's one women's cycling team in Afghanistan. Free-form traffic and open-mouth stares are just a couple of the things they encounter as they pedal the country's mountainous, potholed roads.

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Amid The Device Hype, This Startup Is Taking Wearables To Heart

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-01 23:41

There's a lot of money and attention going toward wearable devices, though the sophistication of the technology varies. One company is developing wearables with clusters of tiny high-tech senors.

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White House Calls For More Privacy Laws

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-01 23:38

The White House is asking Congress to pass privacy laws that would add more safeguards for Americans' data and provide more protections for emails sought in the course of a law enforcement probe.

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LA NAACP President Resigns Over Move To Honor Sterling

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-01 23:33

Leon Jenkins of the Los Angeles NAACP chapter resigned Thursday following outrage over a decision he later reversed to give LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling an award for promoting civil rights.

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Family finance lessons: Demetria Lucas listens to her mother ... eventually

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-05-01 18:45
Thursday, May 1, 2014 - 19:40

The most important lessons we learn about money don’t come from our accountants or our radios. They come from our family.

Each week, we invite someone to tell us about the money tips they inherited from the people they grew up with.

Our guest this week is Demetria Lucas. She's the author of A Belle In Brooklyn and owns a blog of the same name. You might also recognize her from the Bravo reality series Blood, Sweat and Heels.

Demetria grew up in in a middle-class town near Washington D.C. that she says had lot of African-American professionals. 

"Sort of like a 'Leave It To Beaver' black version," says Lucas. 

Discussions about money happened early in Lucas' household. 

"My mother always taught me to put 10 percent away," says Lucas. "My dad would always talk about my grandmother. She was from Mississippi and she lived on a farm. When she passed away she had saved some ungodly sum of money and no one knew where it came from."

But when Lucas reached adulthood it took some time for her mother's lessons to take hold.

"[After] my very first paycheck, she reminded me of that 10 percent lesson. You know, I heard her and it went in one ear and out the other," says Lucas.

After about a year, though, Lucas got wise. She started cooking more, turning down invitations for nights out, and started setting aside as much as 20 or 30 percent of some paychecks.

Over time, she saved up enough to make a big jump.

"I decided I needed to leave my job to really pursue my blog and my [second] book to the best of my ability, and because I had a nice savings I was able to do that," says Lucas.

Though, she admits, the money from her first book helped a little bit, too.

Marketplace Money for Friday, May 02, 2014Family Money A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life Author: Demetria L Lucas Publisher: Atria Books () Binding: Hardcover, pages by Nick WhitePodcast Title Family finance lessons: Demetria Lucas listens to her mother ... eventually Story Type InterviewSyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No

Microsoft Releases Fix For Critical Internet Explorer Bug

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-01 16:44

The Department of Homeland Security had told Americans to stop using the browser until a fix was issued.

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Family finance lessons: Demetria Lucas listens to her mother ... eventually

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-05-01 16:40

The most important lessons we learn about money don’t come from our accountants or our radios. They come from our family.

Each week, we invite someone to tell us about the money tips they inherited from the people they grew up with.

Our guest this week is Demetria Lucas. She's the author of A Belle In Brooklyn and owns a blog of the same name. You might also recognize her from the Bravo reality series Blood, Sweat and Heels.

Demetria grew up in in a middle-class town near Washington D.C. that she says had lot of African-American professionals. 

"Sort of like a 'Leave It To Beaver' black version," says Lucas. 

Discussions about money happened early in Lucas' household. 

"My mother always taught me to put 10 percent away," says Lucas. "My dad would always talk about my grandmother. She was from Mississippi and she lived on a farm. When she passed away she had saved some ungodly sum of money and no one knew where it came from."

But when Lucas reached adulthood it took some time for her mother's lessons to take hold.

"[After] my very first paycheck, she reminded me of that 10 percent lesson. You know, I heard her and it went in one ear and out the other," says Lucas.

After about a year, though, Lucas got wise. She started cooking more, turning down invitations for nights out, and started setting aside as much as 20 or 30 percent of some paychecks.

Over time, she saved up enough to make a big jump.

"I decided I needed to leave my job to really pursue my blog and my [second] book to the best of my ability, and because I had a nice savings I was able to do that," says Lucas.

Though, she admits, the money from her first book helped a little bit, too.

When College Sexual Assault Panels Fall Short, And When They Help

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-01 16:31

The White House is cracking down on colleges to improve how they handle sexual assault complaints. But critics say schools are in over their heads, and that these cases are meant for the courts.

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NBA Panel Moves Forward With Attempt To Oust Clippers Owner

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-01 16:11

The Advisory/Finance Committee voted unanimously to "move forward as expeditiously as possible" to strip Donald Sterling of his team.

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