Main Street in Webster City, Iowa, has so far survived the 2011 closure of an Electrolux factory. But retraining funds and unemployment are running out for former workers, leaving businesses worried that a serious downturn is ahead.
Credit Andrea Hsu / NPR
Electrolux's former warehouse and distribution center in Webster City, Iowa, is up for sale. The plant itself, across the street, will soon be demolished.
What becomes of a city of 8,000 people when its main employer leaves town? What does it look like, and what does it feel like? I set out to answer those questions on a trip to Webster City, Iowa, last month, as part of my report on the Swedish appliance maker Electrolux.
Electrolux's new plant in Memphis, Tenn., is the Swedish appliance company's most modern and high-tech facility. The factory will open this summer while an Electrolux plant in Quebec, Canada, is being shuttered.
Credit Andrea Hsu / NPR
Memphis Mayor A C Wharton (left) with Jack Truong of Electrolux at the company's new plant. The city used a large incentive package to entice the company.
Credit Courtesy of Electrolux
Jerry Kloberdanz and seven family members were laid off when Electrolux closed its Webster City, Iowa, plant in 2011.
The United States lost close to 6 million manufacturing jobs between 2000 and 2009. Now, slowly, some of those jobs are coming back. Over the past three years, the U.S. economy has gained a half-million manufacturing jobs.
But even with the manufacturing recovery, there are both winners and losers — and sometimes they're created by the same company.
Buckle up — climate change could make this a bumpy flight.
That's according to a newly published study by two British scientists who say increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere will make "clear air turbulence" — which can't be easily spotted by pilots or satellites — more common over the North Atlantic. That means the potential for gut-wrenching flights between the U.S., Europe and points east.
As the U.S. economy struggles to recover from the financial crash, and Europe is buffeted by a series of banking crises, attention has focused on the presidents and prime ministers who've tried to cope with it all. Journalist Neil Irwin, an economics writer for The Washington Post, says there's an elite group of policymakers who can make enormously important decisions on their own, often deliberating in secret, and in many ways unaccountable to voters.
In what would seem to be a contradiction, a respected study says that the quality of service provided by U.S. airlines remained near an all-time high last year even as passengers' complaints soared 22 percent.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Coming up, we'll hear the latest installment in our tweet poetry series, Muses and Metaphor, but first, we'd like to talk about an effort to add some flavor to the top ranks of restaurant kitchens in America's spiciest city.
Target has apologized for a poor choice of words. Susan Clemens was looking at a gray dress on the company's website, when she noticed how the color was described. Regular sizes were dark heather gray. Plus sizes - in the exact, same color - became manatee gray.
Manatees are walrus-like animals. They're also known as sea cows. Clemens tweeted her disgust, and it went viral. The company says from now on, they're just going to go with gray.
After a 15-month hiatus, the world's newest nation is pumping oil again. It's a key step toward mending relations with Sudan, its former civil war foe. And it's a crucial step if South Sudan is to avoid economic collapse.
Earlier this year, all 787 Dreamliners were grounded after overheating issues caused by its batteries led to electrical failures in two separate incidents. Boeing is analyzing flight data and submitting materials to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Car2Go vehicles lined up in Washington, D.C., as the company prepared to launch service there last year. The car sharing service is also in Europe and other American cities, including Seattle; Austin, Texas; Miami; and Portland, Ore.
Late last week, Amazon, which features reader reviews on its sales website, announced that it's buying Goodreads, a hugely popular reader review site. Now, the announcement jarred a lot of Goodreads fans and upset lots of reader-reviewers and authors too. Greg Bensinger has been covering the story for the Wall Street Journal. He joins us from KQED in San Francisco. Thanks so much for being with us.
GREG BENSINGER: My pleasure, hello.
SIMON: Why did Amazon want to inhale Goodreads so much?
Almost 5 million Americans are considered long-term unemployed, meaning they have been searching for work for at least six months.
This week, their plight is getting a bit tougher as the government cuts their unemployment benefits — part of the automatic reductions in federal spending that took effect recently.
On a recent day, about 40 people turned out at a Manhattan jobs center run by the New York Labor Department to get advice on looking for work. These are all people who have been out of work for at least 27 weeks.
California's economy is a study in contrasts. The state's unemployment rate — 9.8 percent — is tied with Rhode Island for the highest in the country. Parts of the state are still suffering mightily from the housing collapse. But there are also large pockets of job growth and revival.
It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.
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At first blush, it might seem like good news from the Labor Department this morning: The unemployment rate that has been dropping in recent months fell again. It fell to 7.6 percent in March. But job growth was much weaker than expected. And the main reason that the rate went down is that a large number of people decided to leave the workforce. NPR's Yuki Noguchi joins us now. Hi, Yuki.
The forced budget cuts known as the "sequester" have not yet started to trickle down to the local level. But that hasn't stopped politicians from talking about what those cuts will mean. But business leaders in a city with strong aviation ties aren't looking at only the conversations in Washington as they plan their futures.
Lots of people are surely looking at today's jobs headlines somewhat puzzled, asking one significant question: How can it be that hiring was much worse than expected in March and the unemployment rate still fell — to 7.6 percent?
The answer isn't a happy one. There are a couple of ways the unemployment rate can fall.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Later in the program, we will speak with a Christian leader who's led his church to rethink both its politics and its worship. It's the Reverend Cecil Williams of San Francisco's Glide Memorial Church. He and his wife, who's also a church leader, will join us for a Faith Matters conversation in a few minutes.
The 11.7 million Americans searching for work got discouraging news Friday morning when the Labor Department said employers created only 88,000 jobs in March. The weak job growth comes at the same time benefits for the long-term unemployed are shrinking.
The smaller-than-expected increase in payrolls was a big disappointment, coming after a long stretch of much better results. Over the past year, employment growth has averaged 169,000 jobs a month.
But the nation's jobless rate still edged down to 7.6 percent from 7.7 percent. That dip wasn't for a good reason, though: Nearly half a million fewer people were participating in the labor force. That smaller pool meant the jobless rate could tick down even as job growth was weak.
From 'Morning Edition': Yuki Noguchi talks with David Greene
Update at 8:41 a.m. ET.: Job Growth Slows Sharply, But Unemployment Rate Dips
Although economists had been expecting to hear that the U.S. economy added 200,000 jobs in March, the news is out and the number is far less. Just 88,000 jobs were added to private and public payrolls, the Labor Department reports. The jobless rate still edged down to 7.6 percent — but only because nearly half a million fewer people were in the labor force.
Bitcoin is a virtual currency that's traded largely online. It was created in 2009 in the aftermath of the global financial crisis as an alternative to currencies which are controlled by countries and central bankers. But Bitcoin has been on a wild ride lately, soaring in value during the anxious days of the Cyprus banking crisis.
We're going to look at the currency's history in today's Business Bottom Line. Here's NPR's Steve Henn.
Now former Enron CEO Jeffery Skilling could be released early from federal prison, as part of a reduced sentencing agreement under consideration at the Justice Department. Skilling was sentenced to 24 years in prison for his role in the collapse of the energy trading giant.
The Labor Department on Friday reported the nation's unemployment rate inched down to 7.6 percent in March, the lowest rate in four years, mainly due to more people stopping their search for work. In February, the job rate was 7.7 percent.
The computer maker's chairman Ray Lane has stepped down as executive chairman. He's been on thin ice with shareholders after his role in acquiring a business software company ended up hurting HP's bottom line.