National News

What we're looking for in the jobs report

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-03 08:37
Thursday, April 3, 2014 - 12:32 Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Jobs fair.

At 8:30 a.m. Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the nation’s economic vital signs, just as it does every first Friday of the month.  

A couple things to look for:

Was it the weather after all? December and January weren’t so hot... neither in temperature nor in jobs. Whereas in November we added 274,000 jobs, in December we added 84,000. February wasn’t great either at 129,000. 

Many economists lay equal parts blame and hope at the feet of the cold weather. Having warmed up since January, we might expect to see a bounce upward in total non-farm payroll. If we don’t, there will be more reason to think that it wasn’t really the weather, but rather that our economy is sicklier than we’d imagined.

How close will we inch to the pre-recession jobs peak? It’s a target that looms in the distance of every jobs report these days. The pre-recession peak for total non-farm payroll employment was 138.365 million people (seasonally adjusted) back in January of 2008. In February of 2014, we were tentatively at 137.699 million people (seasonally adjusted) with fulltime jobs. So we have 666,000 more to go. We aren’t going to get that tomorrow, but it’s conceivable we might in three months or so. Something to think about.  

I can’t go without saying, though, that the pre-recession jobs peak is a misleading reference point.

We shouldn’t be happy with the level of employment back in 2007 – because we’ve had lots of new people join the workforce. The Hamilton Project (affiliated with the Brookings Institute) keeps track of the “jobs gap,” which is the number of jobs that the U.S. economy needs to create in order to return to pre-recession employment levels while also absorbing the people who enter the labor force each month.

The date when they'll really catch up? The estimate is 2020.

by Sabri Ben-AchourStory Type: News StorySyndication: PMPApp Respond: No

Going beyond GDP to measure economic health

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-03 08:14

When it comes to measuring the health of a country's economy, using the nation's Gross Domestic Product is often the barometer of choice. But as more dollars change hands, why aren't the outcomes always better?

There's a new listing of 132 countries out today that uses 54 different indicators that together measure how well a country is doing in giving its citizens good lives. It's called the Social Progress Index. Michael Green, CEO of the Social Progress Imperative, says that although GDP is important, it doesn't tell the whole story. He joins Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio to discuss the report. 

Court In Turkey Orders Twitter Service Restored

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-03 07:29

The social media site was blocked in the runup to last Sunday's local elections, but the ban was deemed a breach of free expression and ordered reversed.

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'Hot' Oregon Blueberry Fight Prompts Farm Bill Changes

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-03 07:15

A dispute between Beaver State blueberry farmers and workers spurred Congress to change an obscure provision in a 1938 labor law. Some fear it will delay pickers' paychecks.

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PODCAST: Fewest first quarter layoffs since 1995

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-03 06:43

American companies announced fewer layoffs January to March than in any first quarter since 1995. Might that be a hint of good things to come in the month's big employment report that's on the way? We consult Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial in Chicago.

Also, when it comes to measuring the health of a country's economy, using the nation's Gross Domestic Product is often the barometer of choice. But as more dollars change hands, why aren't the outcomes always better? There's a new listing of 132 countries that uses 54 different indicators that together measure how well a country is doing in giving its citizens good lives. It's called the Social Progress Index. Michael Green, CEO of the Social Progress Imperative, says that although GDP is important, it doesn't tell the whole story.

Thousands Of Artifacts Seized At 91-Year-Old Indiana Man's Home

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-03 06:20

The collection of items has "immeasurable" cultural value, the FBI says. Some artifacts are Native American; others are Russian and Chinese. It's unclear how many were collected legally.

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VIDEO: What if Wal-Mart paid its employees more?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-03 05:57

Food stamps turns 50 this year. Since the program was written in to law, it's become one of those government programs that gets a lot of attention from politicians on both the left and the right -- especially recently. 

The program has been growing furiously in the past 15 years. In fact, one in seven Americans is on food stamps today. That's more than twice what the rate was in 2000. Some of that can be explained by changing eligibility requirements and job-losses during the recession. But the fastest growing group of food stamp participants in the last few decades are people who have jobs and work full year-round.

In our series on The Secret Life of a Food Stamp, Marketplace Wealth & Poverty Desk reporter Krissy Clark reports on how big retail chains that employ these workers also themselves take in tens of billions of dollars in food stamps.

In this video, produced by our series partner Slate, we estimate how much more Wal-Mart might have to charge for some products, if it raised wages high enough that a typical worker earned too much to qualify for food stamps.

Note: Eligibility for food stamps varies according to income, number of dependents and other factors. This estimate of Walmart's potential cost from raising wages is based on wages for a Walmart employee with one dependent working 30 hours a week, a typical retail worker based on federal data.

VIDEO: What if Wal-Mart paid its employees more?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-03 05:57

Food stamps turns 50 this year. Since the program was written in to law, it's become one of those government programs that gets a lot of attention from politicians on both the left and the right -- especially recently. 

The program has been growing furiously in the past 15 years. In fact, one in seven Americans is on food stamps today. That's more than twice what the rate was in 2000. Some of that can be explained by changing eligibility requirements and job-losses during the recession. But the fastest growing group of food stamp participants in the last few decades are people who have jobs and work full year-round.

In our series on The Secret Life of a Food Stamp, Marketplace Wealth & Poverty Desk reporter Krissy Clark reports on how big retail chains that employ these workers also themselves take in tens of billions of dollars in food stamps.

In this video, produced by our series partner Slate, we estimate how much more Wal-Mart might have to charge for some products, if it raised wages high enough that a typical worker earned too much to qualify for food stamps.

Note: Eligibility for food stamps varies according to income, number of dependents and other factors. This estimate of Walmart's potential cost from raising wages is based on wages for a Walmart employee with one dependent working 30 hours a week, a typical retail worker based on federal data.

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