Here's a number for you: 725. That's the minimum hourly wage in the United States, as set by the federal government. It hasn't budged in four-and-a-half years. President Obama is pushing to increase it. Some state and local governments are doing that on their own. As 2013 draws to a close, we're hearing about the year in numbers
Today, NPR's Scott Horsley on 725.
SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: 725 is a number that Mary Coleman knows all too well.
MARY COLEMAN: I work at Popeye's here in Milwaukee. I make $7.25 an hour.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
American economic numbers have been stronger lately. Consumer spending rose in November, according to the Commerce Department today. Last week, there were strong growth numbers and unemployment in November sank to a five-year low, seven percent. For many Americans that is not reassuring. We'll hear in this segment about those who are still not working and those making minimum wage.
At the last minute, the Obama administration gave consumers more time to sign up for health insurance starting Jan. 1. People will now have until the end of Christmas Eve, giving them an additional day. The administration hopes a late surge of enrollments will boost numbers, which have lagged far behind expectations. The insurance industry is hoping the same thing. But it is also expressing dismay over recent changes to the law that allow some people to opt out of the individual mandate or purchase plans otherwise prohibited under the law.
In 1907, the U.S. economy was in the grip of a financial crisis. Unemployment was up. The stock market was down.
People started panicking. They were lining up overnight to pull their money out of healthy banks. This can be deadly for an economy: Healthy banks have to shut down, businesses can't get credit, they lay people off, and the economy gets worse.
The California Public Utilities Commission has called on utilities and private companies to install about $5 billion worth of batteries and other forms of energy storage to help the state power grid cope with the erratic power supplied by wind and solar energy.
The need to store energy has become urgent because the state is planning to get a third of its electricity from renewable sources by the end of the decade. And the shift in strategy could open up some big opportunities for small startups, including one called Stem.
Target is trying to get back in its customers' good graces after a massive data breach affecting some 40 million credit and debit account holders. The giant retail chain offered its customers a 10 percent discount over the weekend as an act of atonement, but business was said to be down anyway.
The breach affected customers who used their credit and debit cards at one of Target's 1,750 stores during a three-week period after Thanksgiving.
In studying the connection between economics and yearly trends in what he calls "shark-human interactions," shark attack expert George Burgess spotted a pattern. NPR's Rachel Martin asks Burgess about going to the beach.
When you think about a scrumptious meal, airline food does not come to mind.
There are plenty of challenges to tasty airline meals, like the fact that many airlines now charge you for anything more than a tiny bag of chips and a plastic cup of non-alcoholic drink, at least on domestic flights. Plus, you can't cook on an airplane, so anything you're served has probably been chilled, then reheated. And flight delays certainly don't help with the freshness factor.
The online magazine Ozy covers people, places and trends on the horizon. Co-founder Carlos Watson joins All Things Considered regularly to tell us about the site's latest feature stories.
This week, Watson tells host Arun Rath about an Iranian-American chef hoping to bring basic cooking genius to the masses, and the "CEO Whisperer" who is a secret weapon for many powerful business leaders.
Editor's Note: As part of Tell Me More's three-week-long Twitter exploration of black innovators in the tech sector, digital lifestyle expert Mario Armstrong analyzed the tweets and the conversations going on under the hashtag #NPRBlacksinTech. The series wraps today. Below, he looks back on what we've learned.
By a vote of 59-34 the Senate on Friday moved the nomination of Janet Yellen to be the next chairman of the Federal Reserve past a key procedural hurdle.
The vote invoked "cloture" — effectively preventing Republicans from filibustering President Obama's nominee.
Next up for Yellen's nomination: A confirmation vote, set for Jan. 6. With the Democratic caucus controlling 55 of the Senate's 100 seats, she's expected to get a majority and then become the first woman to head the central bank.
NPR's business news begins with some good news on the economic front.
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GREENE: The U.S. economy grew by 4.1 percent in the third quarter of the year, and that's significantly higher than the earlier projection of 3.6 percent. The upward revision comes mostly thanks to stronger consumer spending, and it is the fastest jump in growth in almost two years. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 10:44 am
The history of the Chesapeake Bay oyster hasn't always been a pure one. So you could forgive a chef for being skeptical about the big bivalve comeback being staged in D.C. and the surrounding area this winter as oyster season gets underway.
But many mid-Atlantic chefs are actually cheering. That's because a major public-private effort to re-establish the oyster as a quality local food product — as well as a weapon against water pollution — seems to be working.
Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 11:14 am
The U.S. economy expanded at a 4.1 percent annual rate in the third quarter, a significantly faster pace than first thought and its strongest showing since the end of 2011, the Bureau of Economic Analysis said Friday.
After each quarter, the agency spends the next three months reporting and revising its figures on gross domestic product growth.
From the NPR Newscast: Julie Rovner on the latest changes to the health care program (with an introduction from Jean Cochran)
Word from the Obama administration that Americans who recently had their health insurance canceled will be allowed to buy "catastrophic policies" mostly intended for young adults has upset the insurance industry, NPR's Julie Rovner tells our Newscast desk.
NPR's business news starts with more changes to Obamacare.
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GREENE: Millions of Americans facing canceled health insurance policies under the Affordable Care Act will no longer be fined for being uninsured in the new year. Instead, they can now enroll in basic coverage, previously available only to those with a hardship exemption.
Nothing like a story about pizza to make you hungry. And then we bring you this, our last word in business, which is: Shanghai Golden Monkey. That's the Chinese candy maker that Hershey bought yesterday for almost $600 million.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Hershey is not monkeying around. It may hold the largest share of the U.S. chocolate market, but only a small share of candy sales overseas.
OK. If you do Christmas shopping, time is running out. But starting today, Kohl's department stores want to help take some of the pressure off. For the first time ever, nearly all the retailers - more than 1,100 stores - will remain open 24 hours a day - 24 hours a day - five days straight. And this is a thing.
The Daily Show's Jon Stewart recently ranted against Chicago-style deep-dish pizza.
"Let me explain something. Deep-dish pizza is not only not better than New York pizza — it's not pizza," said Stewart, calling it "tomato soup in a bread bowl. ... I don't know whether to eat it, or throw a coin in it and make a wish."
Some upset Chicagoans made their own wishes — which can't be repeated here.
Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 11:24 am
Time and again, business leaders say the one thing they want out of Washington is more certainty.
But rarely do they get their wish.
In recent years, business owners have found themselves wondering whether their government would default on its debts, shut down national parks, change tax rules, cancel supplier contracts, confirm key leaders at federal agencies or hike interest rates.
Finally on Wednesday, they saw policymakers take two big steps toward a more certain future.