Marketplace

Marketplace®

with Kai Ryssdal

About the Program

Public radio's only national series about the global economy and finance takes a broad view of business, covering any story related to money — most of the world's stories are. Hosted by Kai Ryssdal.

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Even with approval, Keystone pipeline may not get built
The Trump administration has approved a construction permit on the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline. Back when it was planned in 2010, oil was still trading at $100 a barrel and fracking had yet to fully ramp up. The project still serves as a symbol for both environmentalists and energy companies. But the overall impact of the pipeline may be less than originally thought, both in environmental terms and its demand from a market that is already flush with supply.Click the audio player above to hear the full story. (03/24/2017)

Why hiring a new CEO can be really difficult
The world’s biggest entertainment company is taking a little more time to choose a new CEO. Disney announced it will extend the contract for CEO Robert Iger for another year, until 2019. This is the third time Disney has extended Iger’s contract. He was originally supposed to retire in 2015, but Disney keeps convincing him to stay on, this time with a $5 million bonus for the extra year. Disney isn’t the first company to have trouble putting a succession plan in place. Why is it so hard?Click the audio player above to hear the full story. (03/24/2017)

What people get wrong when they talk about NAFTA
This story is from our special series that explores NAFTA’s role in our economy from the perspective of workers, business owners and trade negotiators. What exactly is NAFTA? And what happens if it changes? Join us to discuss how one of the most hotly contested issues in our society shapes the way we live.This week, Marketplace looked at the history of the North American Free Trade Agreement and explored its role in our economy from the perspective of workers, business owners and trade negotiators. What exactly is NAFTA? And what happens if it changes? To wrap up a week of special coverage, Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal talked with Marc Melitz, a professor of economics at Harvard University. Below is an edited transcript of their conversation. Kai Ryssdal: What, in your mind, is the biggest thing that people get wrong when they talk about NAFTA? Marc Melitz: I would say that people do not understand how trade agreements such as NAFTA can generate gains for all of the countries involved. And it's been a good thing for the U.S. as well as for our partners in Mexico and Canada. Ryssdal: Well, explain that a little bit, because, you know, you go out in this country and you talk to enough people, and the overwhelming viewpoint of NAFTA is negative; that it has lost jobs and lowered wages, all of that stuff that I'm sure you've heard on and on again. Melitz: Exactly. The focus tends to be on a job that can be somehow tied to being lost because of NAFTA. But we don't pay anywhere near as much attention to all of the jobs that are created because of NAFTA. And so, in the end, the analysis will show that there is very little effect on overall unemployment from a trade agreement such as NAFTA. But the perception remains that it has been a huge job killer. Ryssdal: And is that just political rhetoric that gets the credit, or the blame, I suppose, for that feeling people have? Melitz: I mean, it tends to be a natural thing. And I think this happens equally across the different parties. Another part of it is just that the job losses are much more concentrated. And so, they're much more visible, much more salient, and the pain associated with that is real. So, we tend to focus on that side of the effects. Ryssdal: Let's venture into the hypothetical here for just a second, and let's say President Trump either successfully renegotiates or pulls the United States out of NAFTA. Would the people who have been on the losing end of that deal still be on the losing end of the American economy? Melitz: So, I'm afraid that the answer would be yes. U.S. manufacturing jobs have seen a steady decline starting in 1960 by a couple of percentage points a year. This happened way before NAFTA, way before there's been a huge wave of imports from China. Automation is one big part of that. And so it's hard to see that had NAFTA not been in place or if we significantly abridged NAFTA now, that that is going to bring back many of those manufacturing jobs. Most likely what would happen is it would divert the pattern of trade away from trade from Mexico and with other countries. Ryssdal: Well, let me follow up on something you just alluded to. What would the American economy look like if NAFTA had never been born? Melitz: Sure. So I think there are two effects. There is a huge difference between abridging an existing trade relationship, which has a huge disruption effect, versus not engaging, say, in a new one, such as cancelling the plans for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But let's say that NAFTA had never happened. The effect on the U.S. economy would be that prices would be higher. Consumers can enjoy lower prices for goods that are imported from Mexico. And firms would be less efficient because NAFTA has allowed supply chains to be streamlined and consolidated across the whole North American continent. And yes, we would have maybe a few more jobs in certain manufacturing sectors but we would have lost the opportunity to grow some other sectors — some of them in manufacturing, and a lot of them in services such as in engineering and in R&D and in marketing. Ryssdal: What's your guess, then, as to what happens with the president's promises? Melitz: Oh, I have no idea. That seems to change by the day, or by the week. I don't feel like I have enough information to answer that. Ryssdal: Mark Melitz is a professor of political economy at Harvard University. Professor, thanks very much for your time, sir. (03/24/2017)

Weekly Wrap: Health care bill falls apart. Now what?
Leigh Gallagher of Fortune and Sudeep Reddy of Politico join us to discuss the week's business and economic news. This week, they talk about the GOP's health care bill falling apart and what comes next now that President Donald Trump shifts focus on tax reform.    (03/24/2017)

Why your robot restaurant might get sued
About half a dozen kiosks stand ready to take your order at Eatsa in midtown New York. With the help of technology, the fast-food startup basically eliminated the need for front-of-the-house staff. Hungry New Yorkers walk in, key in their order, pay and then pick up their order from one of the nearby cubicles. No human interaction necessary. That is, unless you are blind. A lawsuit filed in New York yesterday alleges that Eatsa failed to make its kiosk accessible to blind and low-vision customers. The technology is available on iPads, which are part of Eatsa’s kiosks, according to Rebecca Serbin, an attorney for Disability Rights Advocates, a nonprofit organization that filed the lawsuit. Eatsa just opted not to use it in its restaurants, Serbin told Recode, who first reported on the suit. "We are surprised by this action by DRA. We are strong supporters of the rights of the visually impaired and have served many visually impaired customers since we opened our first Eatsa in 2015,” company founders Scott Drummond and Tim Young said in a statement provided to Marketplace. Related: When robots get creative Retailers looking to save on labor costs turn to automation They pointed out that at each location, there is a host to assist customers if they run into trouble. “[A]ll of our technology is designed to be compatible with the appropriate assistance features. We regret that the DRA did not spend time with Eatsa's staff before taking legal action and hope to bring them satisfaction through a more detailed demonstration and understanding of our service,” they said. “We truly think there is some error in their understanding of the eatsa technology and service and look forward to working through this amicably so we can continue providing a great service to all of our customers." The complaint alleges that the button to request the host’s assistance is also located on the iPad and, thus, is not easily accessible. It suggests that Eatsa add on a Braille keyboard or enable customers to access the iPad’s phone jack, which would enable vision-impaired customers to place an order. Automation continues to be highly contested issue as restaurants rely more on technology. Last year, McDonald’s announced that it would introduce touch-screen ordering in some of its stores. Even as the burger giant shifts toward automated ordering, CEO Steve Easterbrook has assured shareholders that McDonald’s “will always have an important human element.” “Frankly, technology is something that our customers are embracing,” he said during the 2016 shareholder’s annual meeting. “We want to adapt to that. It is not actually meant to be labor replacement. We can just reapportion that labor into that more service-oriented roles.” (03/24/2017)

What 'Frozen' had to do with the 'Beauty and the Beast' reboot
When Disney's live-action remake of "Beauty and the Beast" opened in theaters last weekend, it broke a bunch of box office records. That's pretty good news for Todd Lieberman and David Hoberman, the producers at Mandeville Films who made the film for Disney. Lieberman talked to Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal about the experience. Below is an edited transcript of their conversation.Kai Ryssdal: How did it come to pass that you and your colleagues at Mandeville were the people that Disney said, "Yes, please do this ginormous movie for us."Todd Lieberman: Well, it's one of those stories, I guess, that you can kind of trace back to several years ago —Ryssdal: Like nine years ago, I mean, this thing’s been in the works forever.Lieberman: Yeah. We had the idea a long time ago to do, frankly, a movie about the beast, had several drafts of that done. And then "Frozen came out." And Disney knows their brand better than anybody, and they're kind of geniuses across the board. And [chairman at Disney Studios] Alan Horn and Sean Bailey [president of production for Walt Disney Studios] called and said, "What do you guys think about taking this and going back to the beloved 1991 film and kind of doing that with the available technology now?" So it was their idea and they were right.Ryssdal: OK, but that phrase “beloved 1991 film,” therein lies peril.Lieberman: Sure. Absolutely. Yeah. And when we say “the beloved 1991 film,” we knew it was beloved, but boy, we didn't know how beloved it was. And that movie is revered.Ryssdal: Did Bob Iger, when this deal got signed or whatever Hollywood does when a deal — greenlight, right? When it got greenlighted — did Bob Iger sit down and say, “Listen don't blow this?”Lieberman: No —[[{"fid":"309514","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":"","field_description[und][0][value]":"%3Cspan%3ETodd%20Lieberman%20is%20a%26nbsp%3B%3Cspan%3Eproducer%20at%20Mandeville%20Films%2C%26nbsp%3B%3C%2Fspan%3E%3Cspan%3Ewhich%20made%20the%20%3Cspan%3Elive-action%20version%20of%20%5C%22Beauty%20and%20the%20Beast%5C%22%26nbsp%3B%3C%2Fspan%3Efor%20Disney.%3C%2Fspan%3E%3C%2Fspan%3E","field_description[und][0][format]":"full_html","field_byline_text[und][0][value]":"Mandeville Films","field_migration_notes[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","attributes":{"height":714,"width":1000,"class":"media-element file-default"}}]]Ryssdal: Really? Come on.Lieberman: No, look, I mean there's no overt pressure of "If you guys don't do this, then X Y Z." It's kind of inherent in the pressures on all of us including them. We all feel the same pressure.Ryssdal: Talk to me for a second about the choices you made to diverge, I guess, from the original, right? The Belle backstory and a little bit more about why the beast or the prince or whatever he's probably referred to is, in fact, the way he is.Lieberman: We all collectively wanted to make sure that the story was fleshed out more so than what may have been allowed or normal in an animated film. So there was always a question in fans of the film of what happened to Belle's mom, and we figured that was probably a good question answer. And that's really the tricky balance in this thing, is not changing the original film that people revere to the degree that they do so much that it doesn't feel like that movie. But at the same time giving people enough — more candy and emotion to kind of latch on to to justify being made.Ryssdal: Along those lines, acknowledging that you've been at Disney now for a long time, you and David [Hoberman], are you guys now made men at Disney with this smash runaway hit?Lieberman: That's not a question I could answer really, but I'll say I don't think there's any anything but joy coming out of this experience from anybody. You know, I've had the fortunate — I was fortunate to come into a scenario with David 18 years ago where I think he probably was already a made man because he had run the studio, so I kind of drafted off that goodwill. But yeah, as it stands right now, I would imagine everybody's pretty happy. (03/24/2017)

When it comes to NAFTA and autos, the parts are well traveled
This story is from our special series that explores NAFTA’s role in our economy from the perspective of workers, business owners and trade negotiators. What exactly is NAFTA? And what happens if it changes? Join us to discuss how one of the most hotly contested issues in our society shapes the way we live.In the debate over NAFTA, much has been made of outsourcing to Mexico, that is, products made in Mexico instead of the United States. But in the auto sector, the point of the trade deal was to combine countries’ abilities: Mexico plus the U.S. plus Canada.  This notion of “team NAFTA” has jumbled the mix of 30,000 parts and pieces in every new vehicle.In the course of production, the parts inside every car visit Canada and Mexico and then return — over and over. In fact, they’ve been called industrial tourists, going over, connecting to another part, buying a bad T-shirt and then coming back.It turns out the average part accumulates eight bad T-shirts along the way.To explain all this, Dave Andrea at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan, took the wheel of a 2014 Honda CR-V and explained all the companies behind that wheel. For every assembled piece, the supply chain goes 10 or 20 levels deep.“You have the company making the leather,” Andrea said. “The company that’s providing the thread and the stitching is different. Behind that is the rim. The airbag is sourced by another supplier.”The specifics of supplier relationships are often secret. But it’s a safe bet the metal rim of every steering wheel — when it’s still bare — travels south to get stitched and covered. That’s low-end, manual work done in lower-income places.“That would need to be shipped to Mexico for the covering to be put on top of that and stitched,” Andrea said. “That part then could come back as an assembly.”Under the hood, whenever someone starts a vehicle, the spark plug connects to a series of wires that meet in a kind of wiring hub. It’s called a harness, and those also tend to come from plants in Mexico. Andrea said one plant had a world map of all the pieces coming and going.“It looked like one of the airline charts out of the back of the airline magazines,” Andrea said, “where you have the hub and spoke system. It’s that level of complexity.”Often, the hubs on the map are the auto assembly centers in southern Mexico, Ontario and Michigan. Effectively, this makes for Team North America in the auto sector, competing against Team Europe and Team Asia.The trend of supply-chain globalization began to take off in the early 1990s, right around when NAFTA took effect.“The real increase in the pace of technical change was only kicking in around at that time,” said Mike Smitka, economics professor at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.In the early NAFTA days of the 1990s, U.S. automakers were getting out of the business of parts-making. Over the next two decades, the supply chain exploded in every direction, like an atom. Companies went everywhere, including to Mexico, for cheap labor.“This is people with relatively modest skill levels,” Smitka said, “standing at a peg board, putting wires up and over pegs and then pulling out tape, very fancy tape, and then bundling them together.”The automakers’ push to seek lower costs around the world has helped keep vehicles affordable. By one measure, car prices adjusted for upgrades and other options have stayed relatively flat since the 1990s.Smitka called the NAFTA integration “near-shoring,” or keeping jobs close in North America as opposed to leaving for Europe or Asia. But the success of near-shoring requires smooth passage across North American borders.“This border crossing is people, it’s physical goods,” Smitka said, “and being able to do it in a relatively hassle-free manner.”To be sure, this free movement has allowed some jobs to migrate to Canada and Mexico. But others will stay.Ann Arbor’s Hines Industries makes high-end testing machines for car companies. It sources some parts from abroad, though with today’s complex supply chain, it’s unclear exactly what the countries of origin are.“We have a lot of parts that are imported from Germany,” CEO Dawn Hines said. “They say ‘Germany,’ but they could have been manufactured at the Mexican plant of Bosch and then sent to us.”Still, her machines and production will likely stay in the industrial Midwest. Producing this equipment requires precision, experience and engineering — things that don’t travel well.“Yes, there are balancing machine companies that crop up in a number of developing countries,” Hines said. “Do the major auto suppliers buy them? No, they don’t, because they don’t have the reliability and the brand recognition.”So even if a vehicle was assembled in Mexico, a good portion of the content is likely from the States.Take the 2014 Honda CR-V: According to the Kogod “Made in America” index from American University, the Mexico-assembled version of the vehicle is 68 percent American. (03/24/2017)

03/24/17: The Fed's interest rate hikes have consequences for automobile purchases
There's been another sharp drop in the markets this week, following a delayed vote on the GOP's health care bill. FTN Financial's Chris Low joins us to explain why there's a connection between the two. Next, we'll talk about one indie music label's investment in vinyl records, and then look at the effect that interest rate hikes from the Fed will have on the automobile market.  (03/24/2017)

Senate votes to end Obama-era privacy rules
Most congressional headlines are focused on health care this week, but another bill is on the move that could kill off internet privacy protections.The Senate voted Thursday to put a stop to Obama administration privacy rules that would prevent internet providers like Comcast and Verizon from selling consumer browsing information. The bill looks likely to pass the House and be signed into law by President Trump.The Obama-era rules, not yet in force, would have blocked cable and phone companies from selling customers’ online data without their permission. Without the rules, customers who don’t want their data sold off would have to opt-out.Privacy advocates think rolling back the rules will give too much power to broadband providers, an area where consumer choice is often limited. Republican and telecommunications industry critics say the rules would have held back innovation in digital media. (03/24/2017)

"Who? Weekly" hosts take the Marketplace Quiz
No matter who you are, you've probably had a rough day at the office that changed your perspective, or maybe you made an impulse purchase you really, really wish you could take back. This week, Bobby Finger and Lindsey Weber, the hosts of the pop culture podcast "Who? Weekly," took our money-inspired personality questionnaire. (You can listen to "Who? Weekly" here, or wherever you download your podcasts.)What's a "who"?"A 'who' is a celebrity that you see everywhere, you hear their name all the time, but you're unsure of who they are and what their job is," Bobby Finger said. "You know they're famous in some regard, but you're not exactly sure why."Below is an edited transcript of our conversation.What is something that you've bought you now completely you regret buying?Bobby Finger: So, last week I had the brilliant idea to get into jumpsuits. I saw one during a recent fashion week, and I was, like, "I could pull that off.’ It's crazy for a normal person to look at a fashion show and say, "I could pull that off," because you can't.But my big idea was that I was going to take it to a tailor and have it fitted to my body. Here’s the problem, here's why regret it: I got it, and now I'm absolutely petrified of going to the tailor and, like a baby, putting on this jumpsuit, saying, "Can you fit this to my body?" Lindsey Weber: So you just have this jumpsuit at your house and you’re never going to wear it?Finger: It's a "Tell-Tale Heart” in my closet.Weber: Like when you come home every night you just you feel it. You feel that it's there.Finger: And it's only been two or three nights. It's the dumbest thing I've ever bought.Lindsey, what is the hardest part about being a "who" that nobody knows?Weber: Name recognition. The hardest part of being a "who" that no one knows is you have to tell people who you are all the time. I think assuming people know who you are is a very tough line to cross. And if you assume that people know who you are, you're in trouble, but then if you introduce yourself, it's embarrassing. So like the whole introduction spiel, you know, where you're, like, "Oh, nice to meet you, I'm Julianne Hough," and you're like "Yeah, I know who you are." But most people don't know who you are! So that's probably difficult, you know?What is something everyone should own, no matter the cost?Weber: It has to be an actual cost, not like an emotional cost.Finger: OK, Lindsey, I know. It’s like, existential Marketplace. OK. I feel like I'm being very practical here. No. 1 is something that I have not yet bought myself but will in the future, because I keep realizing that it's worth it. One: A new bed, a good bed, spending a lot of money on a bed.Weber: Oh, yeah, come on.Finger: No. 2: A cast-iron pan.Weber: Oh, yeah, duh.Finger: The mattress, expensive. A cast-iron pan? Pretty cheap. You can cook so many things in cast-iron pans, and if it gets rusty [or] gets dirty, guess what? You clean it off. They're, like, indestructible. You’ll take them with you forever.Weber: Vert practical, very practical.Finger: No. 3: These are the stupidest answers, I’m so sorry.Weber: Yet you have three of them.Finger: No. 3 is a Spotify subscription, a streaming music subscription. When I hear ads on it, I’m ,like, "Come on." It's such a small price to pay to get rid of ads, and you use it all the time. I can't really think of other things that are as essential, that I use every single day. Which is why I bring up cast-iron pans, streaming music and a mattress.What advice do you wish people had given "whos" before they began their careers?Weber: The more and more I read about "whos" and I pay attention to their whereabouts and the industry that they work in, the more and more I realize how important it is to have a good publicist. If you see somebody everywhere and the kind of press that they're getting is something that you like, find out who their publicist is. This cannot be that hard.It's like when Celine Dion loved what Zendaya was wearing and said to whoever in her sphere, “Who was dressing her?” and someone said this guy La Roche (this is one of the judges on America's Next Top Model if you don't know who we're talking about.) Point being, literally a month later, Celine Dion is the best-dressed person in Hollywood. She's all in fashion. She's at the fashion show, she's on every list. All it took was for her to say “I like this thing. I want it.” And I know a lot of celebrities can do that, but I mean as a "who" starting out, your publicist can take you very far.I don't have a publicist, so I don't really know how that works, but I can imagine that it's not that hard to find yourself one that is good.Finger: I think that's smart.Weber: But also, I mean, as somebody who also works in pop culture stuff, you and I both get some of the worst press releases we've ever seen. They're not in English. I mean not like they're in another language, like, nothing's spelled right. It's confusing, there's no call to action as to what I can do to even be involved in this. Some people are just not smart. They don't know your name. There's a few very small things you can do to be a good publicist, and I think the top 5 percent are the only ones doing it.Finger: And it's probably worth the money.Weber: Yeah, like a mattress.Finger: Like a mattress. (03/24/2017)

No ATM card? Wells Fargo customers will be able to withdraw using their smartphones
Starting next Monday, customers of Wells Fargo bank will be able to make ATM withdrawals nationwide without a card using a smartphone. The trend could spread quickly to other banks around the country as consumers grow more used to advanced banking technology.Click the audio player above to hear the full story. (03/24/2017)

New York plans to boost broadband infrastructure
The New York is looking to bridge the digital divide by bringing broadband access to every household in the Empire State by the end of next year. It would be the first state in the country to pull that off. Many poor and rural areas lack broadband. Click the audio player above to hear the full story. (03/24/2017)

This indie music label is investing in vinyl
Dustin Blocker is the owner of Hand Drawn Records near Dallas, a label that caters to independent musicians. And recently, Hand Drawn ventured into a new business: It’s manufacturing vinyl records.Blocker’s presses are inside a giant packaging facility — it’s about the size of two Home Depots. The place is filled with rows of boxes stacked floor to ceiling. In one corner sit two brand-spanking-new vinyl record presses, each about the size of a pickup.“OK. We’re going to start at the beginning of the process,” Blocker said. “You’ve got your polyvinyl chloride, or PVC. That’s what records are made from ... one pound of this makes about three records.” Before Hand Drawn started pressing records, there were about 18 record-pressing plants in the United States. Most of those plants use machines from the '60s, but these new presses were built by Viryl Technologies in Toronto, and they’re nearly three times faster. “The old machines, every minute and a half or so you’d have a vinyl record come off,” Blocker said. “Currently, we can get those down under 30 seconds. Sometimes 20 or 22 seconds.”It costs about $3,000 to press 500 albums. One of Hand Drawn’s first customers was Texas bluesman Charley Crockett. The company pressed his album “In the Night. RELATED: Interscope Geffen A&M CEO says industry has got to figure out streaming How one company is keeping the audio cassette alive The record industry is a lot like Wall Street “They do cost some money to come out,” Crockett said about the upfront cost of pressing an album. “But with Hand Drawn, we’re definitely going to be profitable on a limited press of 500.”Crockett is selling the record for $30 a pop. That may seem pricey, but that’s about average these days for vinyl recordings.  Overall albums sales were down nearly 17 percent last year. But vinyl sales keep growing.[[{"fid":"309293","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":"","field_description[und][0][value]":"Dustin%20Blocker%20watches%20mobile%20arms%20at%20work%20inside%20of%20his%20newly%20obtained%20record%20presses.","field_description[und][0][format]":"full_html","field_byline_text[und][0][value]":"Photo: Hady Mawajdeh","field_migration_notes[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","attributes":{"height":598,"width":768,"class":"media-element file-default"}}]]“In 2016, we sold just over 200 million albums in the United States,” said Keith Caulfield, who works for Billboard. “In that 200 million albums sold, vinyl albums sales were up, but everything else was down.”Caulfield said overall sales are down because of streaming apps like Spotify. But David Grover, the owner of Spinster Records in Dallas, said vinyl is special and made for a different sort of listener.“Vinyl is when you are going to sit down, and you’re going to be present," Grover said. “So I call streaming passive listening and listening to vinyl active listening.” Back in Texas, Hand Drawn’s goal is to press 1 million records this year.  (03/24/2017)

Why the government can't compete with Silicon Valley
The federal government’s tech workforce skews older. As its IT employees retire, they could be hard to replace — it’s difficult for federal agencies to attract young tech workers. You can see the federal IT worker shortage playing out on your computer screen. The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a tech think tank, analyzed almost 300 of the most popular federal websites, looking at security and speed, and whether they’re mobile friendly and accessible for the disabled. “Of those approximately 300 sites, 92 percent of them failed at least one of these core benchmarks,” said Daniel Casdro, the foundation's vice president. RELATED: Young tech workers sought in tightening labor market What killed U.S. productivity? Government jobs deficit hurts minorities and women It doesn’t help that some of the underlying government computer systems are more than 50 years old, with graying federal tech workers helping them limp along. Just how gray is the federal IT workforce? “We now have almost five times as many people over the age of 60 as under the age of 30,” said Max Stier, president of the Partnership for Public Service.And a large number of those aging federal IT workers could decide to retire anytime. The federal government can’t pay as much as Silicon Valley giants competing for the same tech talent. The federal hiring process is complicated and slow, and then there’s President Trump’s temporary hiring freeze. Stier said it sends the wrong message.“People have questions," he said. "They assume that the government can’t be hiring people, and therefore there aren’t opportunities for them.”But here’s the thing: Young tech hotshots believe in public service, said Andrew McMahon, who recruited tech workers for the Obama White House. McMahon said the clunky federal hiring process discourages techies who would love the challenge of overhauling the government’s computer systems.“That would absolutely attract thousands of individuals from across the country to come work for the federal government on that problem,” McMahon said.McMahon said some of the tech fellows were so eager to work in Washington, they made the ultimate sacrifice: swapping their hoodies for a suit and tie. (03/24/2017)

My Economy: Caring for seniors through art
For this latest installment of our series My Economy, we hear from Martha Rast, a therapeutic art teacher living in Tuscon, Arizona. “My name is Martha Rast, and I teach therapeutic art lessons. It’s way better than cool. It’s the best job in the world — I love it. Any kind of therapeutic experience, really, has to be human-to-human. Because the one thing machines cannot do yet, and I don’t think they ever really will, even if there’s AI, is really truly understand emotional intelligence. [[{"fid":"309488","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":"","field_description[und][0][value]":"%3Cspan%3E%E2%80%9CIt%E2%80%99s%20the%20best%20job%20in%20the%20world%E2%80%94I%20love%20it.%20Any%20kind%20of%20therapeutic%20experience%2C%20really%2C%20has%20to%20be%20human-to-human%2C%E2%80%9D%20says%20Martha%20Rast%2C%20a%20therapeutic%20art%20teacher%20living%20in%20Tuscon%2C%20Arizona.%3C%2Fspan%3E","field_description[und][0][format]":"full_html","field_byline_text[und][0][value]":"Photo courtesy Martha Rast ","field_migration_notes[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","attributes":{"height":377,"width":300,"class":"media-element file-default"}}]] I basically made up the job, because I’ve been teaching for 27 years. And I started out in public school. I looked at my take-home pay and thought, "Even if I do this for 32 years, I’m not gonna do this job for money. I’m gonna do this job for spiritual appreciation." In fact, many of the caregivers in the nursing homes that are working around me do not have health care. The irony kills me: That they are taking care of our elderly, and they themselves do not have health care. It’s absolutely unaffordable, there’s no way to slice it. I just want to do my job, but I don’t know how much longer I can do that and remain stable.” (03/23/2017)

Why Silicon Valley isn’t doing enough about gender equality
Liza Mundy’s cover story in the current issue of The Atlantic, “Why Is Silicon Valley So Awful to Women,” draws on a long history of sexism in high tech and in Silicon Valley in particular. Host Kai Ryssdal spoke with Mundy about why many of the biggest tech companies in Silicon Valley need to do better when it comes to hiring women, why age-old biases against women come into play and what fewer women in tech means in the long run. Below is an edited transcript of their conversation. Kai Ryssdal: The answer you get from tech companies — well, let me be fair, the answer you used to get from tech companies when you said, "Why don't you have more women? They're not in the pipeline. Women aren't studying this stuff. How are we supposed to do that?" Is that still the case? Liza Mundy: Well, you know, it's still the case that women are not represented in computer science at the levels that they are in other sciences. The number of women going into many other areas of study and the science has gone up. It's gone down in computer science. But some of the major computer science programs, like Stanford, like Harvey Mudd College, have significantly upped their number of female computer science majors, so it is changing. And many of the big companies in Silicon Valley that are extremely attractive places to work really should be doing better than they are and really should be able to attract, I would say, a disproportionate percentage of the pipeline, and yet are not. Ryssdal: Are they? Is it trying to change? Do you take them at good faith? Mundy: Well, yes. I mean, I think that companies would like to change. Many of them would and are looking for different kinds of fixes. But I think, obviously, the desire for change varies across the board. Ryssdal: Is tech different then, say, I don't know, law or getting a Ph.D. in ancient European history or something? Mundy: One of the disparities in computer sciences, is there's really interesting social science showing that fields that fetishize genius and brilliance are, that there's this tendency to hang on to the idea that men are more likely to be born brilliant and that fields like computer science and also math and philosophy that sort of fetishized this idea about the importance of genius and brilliance are harder for women and for people of color to make inroads in because of this kind of stubborn idea that, you know, men or white men are more likely to be geniuses. And I think that's really interesting body of research and it's not true. Ryssdal: All right, so the idea you just alluded to there about unconscious bias and the fact also that I interrupted during that question gets me to this, actually. Well, a lot of people are going to hear that they're going to go, "Kai, you moron, you're interrupting the female interviewee." And that's part of this next question, which is the exploration of unconscious bias in Silicon Valley has now been raised to both a profitable but also very necessary art form. Mundy: Exactly. So there's a really interesting and many, many studies now showing that in tech as elsewhere women are more likely to be interrupted in meetings, more likely to have their ideas dismissed as in other fields. You know, when women become parents, they are seen as less committed to their work, whereas men are seen as more committed to their work when they become parents. And just as you said, it's becoming a profitable industry for consultants, diversity consultants to give unconscious bias or implicit bias presentations. And the danger is that if a company has something like that once a year, it sort of looks good and sounds good, but it's not going to change things, and it might actually make things worse. Ryssdal: What happens then, do you suppose, if not that they don't fix it, right, because you have to assume, just in the course of time, that this will get fixed and ameliorated. But what happens if it takes a long time? Mundy: What happens is women get shut out of one of the most exciting, attractive fields to work in. Will tech itself be affected? Will the products be somehow less desirable? Some would make that argument. Ryssdal: Liza, thanks very much. (03/23/2017)

Conservatives want the government to stop mandating what insurers must cover
The latest carrot that House leadership and the White House are using to win conservative Republican votes for the health care bill is repealing an Obamacare provision that standardized insurance policies. Under Obamacare, virtually all insurance policies cover things like hospitalization, mental health, prescription drugs and pregnancies – known as essential health benefits. But guaranteeing those benefits cost money, while doing away with them would drop the price of premiums.Click the audio player above to hear the full story. (03/23/2017)

As farmworkers grow scarce, wages are on the rise
Tighter borders were supposed to mean more jobs for native-born Americans. That's the theory anyway, but California farmers aren't living in that world. Instead, they're competing for a workforce where nine out of 10 people are immigrants, and many are undocumented. While some farmers are raising wages well above the minimum to attract workers, many others can't afford to. Los Angeles Times economy writer Natalie Kitroeff visited several California farmers to see how they're coping with a smaller workforce. Host Kai Ryssdal spoke with Kitroeff about what she learned. Below is an edited transcript of their conversation.Kai Ryssdal: Tell me about this guy you met, Trump voter Jeff Klein. Used to farm grapes.Natalie Kitroeff: So Jeff Klein is a farmer in Stockton. He is still farming grapes, but he used to farm more of them. Last fall after the harvest, he ripped out hundreds of acres of chardonnay grapes that his father had planted years ago, so this wasn't an easy decision. But he's facing a ton of competition for laborers, and that's something that a lot of farmers are saying is going on. For Jeff, the result was that he is getting out of the grape business. Essentially, he's being priced out of the market. His solution is to switch from grapes to almonds, which require a fraction of the human labor.Ryssdal: They're just easier to farm, right? You shake the tree, and the almonds fall, and you call it a day, right?Kitroeff: Yeah. Basically, what farmers told me is three workers per 500 acres.Ryssdal: You point out a disparity between Jeff Klein's farm in Stockton, which is in the Central Valley of California, and grape growers in the Napa Valley, where farmworker wages are at, like, $41,000 a year with benefits and the whole deal.Kitroeff: You know, the grapes grown in Napa, as any wine enthusiast will know, they go into bottles that sell for hundreds of dollars. In Stockton, the grapes don't produce wine that sells for that much. So there's a natural limit to what Stockton grape growers can pay their workers.Ryssdal: But the point being: Native-born Americans don't seem to want these jobs.Kitroeff: Right. Even in Napa, $16-an-hour wages are not bringing in native-born Americans yet. That's been the experience.Ryssdal: Has to be said that this immigration tightening started under Obama. I mean, it's Trump's big thesis here. But they did start under President Obama.Kitroeff: Obama tightened the border. He ratcheted up deportations. He made it a lot more expensive for Mexicans to cross over. And that slowed the flow of immigrants into this country.Ryssdal: Given that we're just now seeing the payoff from the Obama era, a tightening of immigration, it will be a number of years, right, before we see the full effect of whatever it is that Mr. Trump is going to do.Kitroeff: You would think, although farmers that I talk to are telling me that they're already seeing workers scared to come to the fields, and they've seen a tightening of their own labor force within these first few months.Ryssdal: Which is unrelated to market forces, right? That's a political forces kind of conversation.Kristoeff: Yeah. That is a by-design political result. You know, word travels fast in these communities, and even if a policy hasn't even been put into place yet and is really just at the conversation level, you can see a kind of economic effect on the ground almost immediately, because what we're talking about is, you know, humans who get in their car every day and have to drive sometimes long distances to get to work. So imagine if you're undocumented what the risks are. So that's a decision that people are making right now. And farmers say the effect is is already underway.Ryssdal: Thanks a lot for coming in. (03/23/2017)

Companies are pulling ads from YouTube to protect their brands
Multiple U.S. companies are pulling their ads from YouTube over offensive material. AT&T, Verizon and Johnson & Johnson’s decision follows other companies here and abroad that will stop advertising until Google can guarantee their ads won’t run before videos containing hate speech. Google says it's committed to working on a resolution, but there are technological challenges, among others.Click the audio player above to hear the full story. (03/23/2017)

What if NAFTA were never born?
This story is from our special series that explores NAFTA’s role in our economy from the perspective of workers, business owners and trade negotiators. What exactly is NAFTA? And what happens if it changes? Join us to discuss how one of the most hotly contested issues in our society shapes the way we live.An awful lot has been made of manufacturing jobs America has lost since signing the North American Free Trade Agreement. The number 6 million is often bandied about. But how many of those were actually caused by NAFTA? In other words, what would the world have looked like without NAFTA?This is our “what if” scenario, also known as a thought experiment. Or, if you’re being very fancy, a “counterfactual.” But really, it’s the George Bailey question from the classic movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.”George Bailey: “I suppose it would have been better if I’d never been born at all.”Clarence the angel: “What did you say?”George Bailey: “I said ‘I wish I’d never been born!’”What if, in 1994, NAFTA had never been born?We have no low-ranking angel named Clarence to reveal this to us. But we do have professors who find the evidence telling. Even without NAFTA, one big job-killing wave would have hit anyway: machines.“There is an element of truth that free trade has destroyed jobs in American manufacturing,” said Mauro Guillen of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. “But most of the jobs, up to 80 percent, have been destroyed by technology.”As in, ATMs replacing bankers, robots displacing welders. Automation is a very old story that goes back 250 years, but it has really picked up in the last couple decades.“We economic developers have an old joke,” said Charles Hayes of the Research Triangle Regional Partnership in an interview with Marketplace in 2010. “The manufacturing facility of the future will employ two people: one will be a man, and one will be a dog. And the man will be there to feed the dog. And the dog will be there to make sure the man doesn’t touch the equipment.”Ouch. But it turns out technology replaced workers in the course of reporting this very story.I interviewed political scientist Cullen Hendrix at the University of Denver and recorded his voice with a cell phone app — that’s it.“This interaction between you and me over this app probably would have involved at least one staff person setting things up. Or a recorder to make sure it happened. All of that has been lost to automation.” And this automation had nothing to do with NAFTA.“We are in the midst of a sea change, driven by technology that is radically altering the face of the U.S. economy,” Hendrix said. “And clobbering Mexican workers is not going to solve that issue.”There’s another big force affecting manufacturing jobs that would have struck, even if NAFTA had not been born. That would be China.“You cannot rewind history, you cannot go back,” Guillen of Wharton said. “But I think regarding NAFTA, if NAFTA had not taken place, the American companies that decided to invest in Mexico would have probably decided to invest in China.”The impact of China in displacing U.S. jobs has far outweighed that of Mexico.“NAFTA gets blamed for a lot of ills in the U.S. economy, and I think unfairly,” said economist Gordon Hanson of the University of California, San Diego, co-author of a defining study on what’s called the China Shock. “Mexico’s production capacity just isn’t that big.”China, by contrast, has an economy the size of nine Mexicos. And its exports are the equivalent of six Mexicos.“The China effect overwhelmingly dominates,” Hanson said. “And it’s not hard to understand why. Growth in Chinese manufacturing exports has simply been stupendous.”But again, most independent economists believe outsourcing has been swamped in the NAFTA years by the job-killing effects of machines and software. Yet many find it unsatisfying to blame soulless electrons.“Human beings tend to blame who they dislike for their problems,” said George Mason University economist Bryan Caplan, author of "The Myth of the Rational Voter." “So if you stub your toe, who do I dislike that I might possibly blame for this? And in particular, what’s very striking is they tend to be foreigners who are more different from you. So it’s very rare that we go and talk about Canadians taking our jobs.As for NAFTA and the George Bailey question from the movie: If the trade deal were never born, our angels have suggested not much would have changed. The jobs would have left Bedford Falls anyway. (03/23/2017)

Trump's trips are expensive. Can Congress step in?
We spent a lot of time this week talking about an existential question for people watching Donald Trump's young presidency: What's a crisis and what isn't? We also spend a lot of time trying to parse what's typical for a new administration and what, like Trump himself, is unprecedented. Those questions were still rattling around in our heads when we got this question from Margot S.:[What are the] limits on Presidential spending if Trump wants another home away from "home" (the White House), or another, or another — do we just keep paying for the services needed at each residence? Trump has spent about half his weekends since the Inauguration at Mar-a-Lago, his residence and exclusive club in Palm Beach, Florida. Those trips include some diplomacy (at times in full view of guests), other meetings and quite a bit of golf. Trump's also made a few stray trips to his other properties, including a night at his new hotel just down the street from the White House and a "mini cabinet meeting" at the Trump National Golf Club outside D.C. Meanwhile, Trump's wife, Melania, is still living at Trump Tower in New York City with their young son, Barron.Trump has started referring to Mar-a-Lago the "Southern White House" instead of the "Winter White House," indicating his trips there will continue. With the White House's "budget blueprint" out, those frequent, expensive trips have raised eyebrows.https://twitter.com/davidmackau/status/843094389601779714The truth is presidential travel is an expensive necessity, though Trump's trips seem to be more expensive than others. One of the only checks on them has traditionally been bad PR, and that's rarely stopped Trump.But are his travel habits really all that unusual?"We've allowed [presidents] generally to act in the way that they think helps them make the best decisions," said Bowdoin College professor Andrew Rudalevige, who studies presidential authority. "Some presidents have done that pretty much entirely in the White House, others at Camp David. You can think back to presidents [Ronald] Reagan or [George W.] Bush spent a lot of time at their respective ranches in California and in Texas."The president is never really on vacation, which is part of what makes these trips so expensive. Author Scott Farris summed up why in the Washington Post a couple years ago:They don't so much leave the White House as they take a miniature version of it with them wherever they go. Some 200 people accompany a president on vacation — including White House aides, Secret Service agents, military advisers, and experts in communications and transportation — to ensure that, while on vacation, the president can do nearly everything he could accomplish in Washington.While presidents cover their own lodging, food and other expenses while they're on vacation — presumably this isn't an issue when Trump owns the place — but taxpayers foot the bill for the rest of that miniature White House. Some of those costs are part of the executive branch's budget anyway; the president's staff still makes a salary whether they're in Washington or Florida. Other additional costs add up fast: Politico estimated a weekend in Mar-a-Lago costs $3 million. Much of that money goes into Air Force One, which costs about $206,000 an hour, and other aircraft moving the presidential apparatus. Camp David, the traditional presidential retreat just a helicopter ride away from the White House, would be a lot cheaper, but Trump seems to have little interest in using it.So the expense report for a working vacation or a family home is always complicated. But a big thing driving costs for the real estate mogul is location, location location. Trump's trips to Mar-a-Lago all but shut down the small local airport, and overtime for local law enforcement costs around $60,000 a day. Even though Palm Beach County is enjoying more tourism thanks to Trump's frequent visits, hosting the president every other weekend threatens to cause a budget crisis. Protecting Melania and Barron Trump is even more expensive."It is much simpler and cheaper to protect a president staying at a remote ranch rather than in a high-rise in the middle [of] one of the world's most populous and hectic cities," Farris said in an email interview. Indeed, the Secret Service requested an additional $60 million in funding for next year, the Washington Post reported. Nearly half of that money is for protecting Trump's family in New York City and around the world as his other sons run his real estate empire. The request was reportedly rejected by the White House Office of Management and Budget.So Trump's trips are expensive, though maybe not as unusual as his critics might think. But Margot's question was about limits — are there any checks on this administration's spending on the Trump lifestyle? The short answer is no.Congress approves the budget, of course, but it's unlikely the battles lawmakers pick will be over Mar-a-Lago or Trump Tower. "I think the basic attitude has been, 'Well, it costs what it costs,'" Rudalevige said. "The president sort of doesn't complain about how much Congress spends on its own staff or its own needs, and Congress approves what the president asks for with regards to executive office spending."The only other check on presidential spending has traditionally been the public. Lavish vacations and other trips, even working ones, aren't a good look for a sitting president."[President Bill] Clinton did polls on where to vacation and picked Grand Teton and Yellowstone parks, but when the presidential entourage ruined a lot of people's vacations there, he realized a secluded place like Martha's Vineyard causes less bad press. Obama concluded the same," Farris said via email. "Trump is getting grief, in part, because he is racking up these expenses while proposing a budget that cuts a lot of small cost programs."But Trump "does not seem to operate using the normal cycles of political shame," Rudalevige notes. He's long held that all press is good press, and a lavish lifestyle is integral to his brand.There's one other big factor here. Other presidents kicked off to their private homes; Trump is staying at resorts he owns. It's too early to tell, but that could put a constitutional check on the weekends in Mar-a-Lago. Remember the Emoluments clause?"One of the things that animates this discussion is: Is he profiting monetarily from the use of his property? In the way that he's promoting it, or raising membership fees and so on. And I think that is potentially troubling. Whether you're monetizing your vacations — that's sort of an interesting twist that would, again, be different from other presidents." (03/23/2017)

ICE union to Trump: Come drain our swamp
President Donald Trump’s plans for immigration policy enforcement call on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to hire thousands of new employees, but union reps are saying that’s not going to happen without some changes. Union presidents representing Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and Customs and Border Protection agents voiced their concerns Wednesday, citing an arduous hiring process and low morale as obstacles to Trump’s hiring directives, even as they lauded the president’s dedication to immigration enforcement. “We enthusiastically support the additional officers identified in President Trump’s executive order on interior enforcement. However, we have very little faith in the ability of ICE leadership to most effectively implement these additional officers and support staff,” said Chris Crane, who represents ICE agents, at the hearing held by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. “From our perspective, ICE should be making every effort to provide U.S. taxpayers the biggest bang for the buck.” As many as 10,000 more ICE agents and 5,000 CBP agents could be hired under Trump’s plan. The union representatives said an overhaul of how the departments are run is needed before additional agents can be hired. “The workplace in many areas within ICE is toxic,” Crane said. He later added: “We need our piece of the swamp drained.” Crane was specifically concerned about whether the current ICE leadership would be able to “effectively implement” the new 10,000 agents if and when they are hired. According to him, “proposed staffing increases at ICE have simply become a numbers drill at ICE.” Related: College students consider what it would mean to work for Homeland Security The Department of Homeland Security would not comment on the individual allegations made during the hearing, but press secretary Gillian M. Christensen said in a statement to Marketplace, “One of the Department’s most significant priorities is to support these dedicated professionals in their efforts to secure our borders, protect the integrity of the immigration system and safeguard our communities from threats posed by bad actors who are in the country unlawfully.” Here’s what the two unions have to say about the hiring challenges faced by both departments: Morale is low Trump’s commitment to immigration enforcement has lifted the morale among ICE and CBP agents who have felt underappreciated and “publicly demoralized” by the Obama administration, according to Crane. “Many lawmakers, pundits for political parties and the previous administration have consistently made disparaging remarks about ICE employees, their mission and the laws they are sworn to uphold. In fact, these actions continue as ICE officers and their arrest activities are incorrectly portrayed and referenced publicly in the media by political pundits as “gestapo” tactics and other Nazi references and false and hateful accusations,” Crane said. “It’s pretty hard every day to maintain morale when your own government and the media turn on you for enforcing the laws enacted by Congress.” He went on to point out that out of 314 federal agencies surveyed, ICE was dead last in moral in 2014, second from last in 2015 and sixth from last in 2016. The morale issue is not much better at CBP, according to Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council. Judd, who worked under the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations, said that he has “never seen the morale lower than it has been over the past four years. Please understand, I do not mean that as a political statement, it is simply a fact. The men and women that I represent felt under-resourced and underappreciated.” [[{"fid":"307980","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"A U.S. Border Patrol keeps watch along the U.S.-Mexico border in Nogales, Arizona.","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":"","field_description[und][0][value]":"%3Cspan%3EA%20U.S.%20Border%20Patrol%20keeps%20watch%20along%20the%20U.S.-Mexico%20border%20in%20Nogales%2C%20Arizona.%3C%2Fspan%3E","field_description[und][0][format]":"full_html","field_byline_text[und][0][value]":"Spencer Platt/Getty Images","field_migration_notes[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","attributes":{"alt":"A U.S. Border Patrol keeps watch along the U.S.-Mexico border in Nogales, Arizona.","height":637,"width":1024,"class":"media-element file-default"}}]] Work vehicles distribution One of the ways to improve morale, according to the discussions at the hearing, would be to allow some border patrol agents to take their work vehicles home and be able to go straight into the field at the beginning of their shift. Currently, they are required to use their personal vehicles to drive to their work vehicles, and then drive into the field, and then return for their personal vehicles at the end of their shift. Crane pointed out that at ICE, they have a slightly different issue with their cars — specifically the unmarked cars that were bought for undercover work. “Managers have taken the majority of those vehicles, and they’re their personal take-home rides at taxpayer’s expense. They have no mission need to take them, they don’t respond to things while our officers then don’t have enough vehicles out in the field to perform their mission,” he said. “We literally have people in — you know how big a 13-passenger detention van is? A great big marked [van]. They are out there trying to do undercover work in 13-passenger detention vans with ringers on them when they go in reverse. And so at five in the morning, when you went too far one way and you need to back up, every window is opening up, going ‘Hey, there is ICE!’ because our managers have taken all of our vehicles.” Failed polygraphs and a long hiring process Crane’s colleagues at CBP were also concerned about their hiring abilities. “We need to make sure we are paying attention to the hiring process,” said Anthony Reardon, national president of the National Treasury Employees Union that represents CBP agents at hundreds of U.S. ports. He pointed out that for CBP, it can take anywhere from 105 to 150 applicants to generate one new employee. “That to me is just incredible.” One of the reasons for this is the polygraph testing that the applicants undergo. “My understanding is that the latest numbers have us failing approximately 70 percent of the applicants,” said Judd of the NBPC. “This failure rate is almost three times higher than other federal agencies, and unfortunately, CBP has been treating prospective job applicants as if they were criminal suspects. We have had police officers who have passed a polygraph for their agency fail our polygraph. We have had military veterans with impeccable service fail our polygraph. We have even had former border patrol agents who left for other law enforcement agencies fail our polygraph upon trying to return.” Additionally, potential applicants often have to travel for one interview to one location and then to another location a few weeks later, accruing expenses for which they are not compensated, Reardon said. Altogether, it can take as many 16 to 18 months to bring someone on board, he said. “How many people in this country can afford to sit around for 16 to 18 months before they can be brought on board?” he added. Related: Policing both sides of the border in Nogales Both sides of the border weigh in on Trump's security plans Lack of pay parity Judd also noted that one of the reasons people leave their job at CBP is because border agents are exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Acts, which can cost border agents as much as $5,000 in overtime pay. ICE agents are not exempt from FLSA, and that has led to competition among the agencies. The competition could increase as both agencies look to hire more agents. “In the last two years, border patrol has lost 500 agents to ICE. When ICE starts hiring in earnest, the border patrol will lose several thousand border patrol agents overnight if we do not take corrective action,” Judd said. “As Congress considers making additional investments in border security, I strongly urge you to consider restoring pay parity with ICE.” (03/23/2017)

Apple will build iPhones in India, widening its market there
It didn't take Apple CEO Tim Cook long. He visited India for the first time just short of a year ago. Now comes word that Apple will begin assembling iPhones in Bangalore within a month or two. India is the world's second-largest smartphone market and growing fast. With China just about tapped out on expensive phones, the Indian market could hold the key to Apple's future growth. The potential for the tech company is huge. But the hurdles Apple needs to clear are pretty big, too. Click the audio player above to hear the full story. (03/23/2017)

03/23/17: When your government is a bank robber
Last week, 258,000 applied for unemployment benefits last week. While these numbers move around week to week, the latest figures indicate a large spike. Diane Swonk, the CEO of DS Economics, breaks down the causes of this increase, which include bad weather. Next, we'll talk about new research that looks at the connection between the mortality rate and job opportunities. And finally, we'll discuss North Korea's possible involvement in a mega bank heist at the New York Fed. (03/23/2017)

Study: Less-educated white people face alarming mortality increases
New research finds America’s education gap is increasingly a matter of life and death, and lack of job opportunity may be to blame.A new Brookings Institution paper finds alarming midlife mortality increases for less-educated white Americans. It’s a topic with increasing relevance as policy questions swirl about how to create stable jobs that support families as well as presidential election results that reveal a swath of America deeply frustrated with their economic state. RELATED: If the economy is rigged, toward whom?  A new approach to increasing low-income college grads Americans are not so great at talking about death The report from Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton finds that mortality is sharply rising for those without a college degree and falling for those who are college graduates. There’s also an alarming rise among less-educated, white Americans in suicides and deaths from drug and alcohol abuse.Diminished job prospects for less-educated people seem to take an increasing toll on physical and mental health over time.“The conditions that you face as you enter the labor market as an 18-year-old with a high school degree may become a larger and larger boulder that you have to shoulder over your life,” Case said.Economists have been watching this trend for some time, as policymakers worry about good, stable work disappearing from rural and suburban American communities.The population the researchers focus on is a slice of America getting greater attention after the election. Polls show less-educated whites are big supporters of President Donald Trump. They played a big part in the election result that shocked forecasters. (03/23/2017)

More African-Americans are going to the movies, likely drawn by recent films focusing on black characters
In spite of a whole lot of predictions to the contrary, the movie industry is hanging in, even as competition for our attention grows. According to a new report from the Motion Picture Association of America, ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada were flat compared to last year. One bright spot – it turns out the movie industry is attracting a more diverse audience.Click the audio player above to hear the full story. (03/23/2017)

Trump set to reshape the Wall Street regulation?
The Senate Banking Committee is scheduled to hold a confirmation hearing Thursday on Jay Clayton, President Donald Trump’s choice to head the Securities and Exchange Commission. Clayton does not have a track record in Washington, and that makes it difficult to know if he shares Trump’s distaste for government regulation. But we can tell something from his past experience in the private sector.Click the audio player above to hear the full story. (03/23/2017)

Hospitals worry as Obamacare repeal vote approaches
A heavyset man sits on a gurney pushed to the side of a hallway in the emergency room at Jefferson Health in Philadelphia. It’s not even 9 a.m, and already beds are filling up.CEO Dr. Stephen Klasko guides me to a fancy-looking IV pump. It can replace nearly half of someone’s blood after they got shot, stabbed or hurt in a car accident.“In the old days, we would lose patients because we weren’t able to get that volume in quickly enough,” he said. “The difference between three minutes or seven minutes could be life and death.” RELATED: House Republicans look for more support with revised health care bill Who wins and loses under the GOP's health care proposal? Health care takes on the fight against trafficking Klasko is showing me around to make a simple point: It takes money to buy powerful equipment. And the bill to repeal Obamacare being voted on tonight in Congress threatens his revenue stream. Klasko estimates the legislation would move about three percent of his patients from the insured column to uninsured, which could cut annual revenue by $50 million to $100 million.“There are consequences to these types of policies,” said Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association.The AHA launched a media campaign against the bill and brought dozens of hospital leaders to lobby members of Congress. The real danger, Pollack said, is that the hospital would have to absorb the cost of care for the uninsured patients. So as executives have made their case to lawmakers, one message they carry is that hospitals are businesses.Pollack said if hospitals lose paying patients, they will have to consider drastic steps.“There could be hospital closures. There could be certain services shut down. There could be staff reductions,” he said.The typical U.S. hospital already has operating margins in the red, said UCLA Law professor Jill Horwitz. We’ve heard about how hospitals may pass any debt from caring for uninsured patients by negotiating higher prices with insurers. But Horwitz said if this legislation passes, hospitals may also look to conduct unnecessary tests and procedures on insured patients as a way to increase revenue.“It’s important not to say they are rapacious doctors and horrible hospitals, and they are trying to squeeze every last dollar out of you,” she said. “But it would be silly to think that hospitals and doctors don’t respond to those incentives. They have to.”That’s the kind of move lots of Americans could see as more people enroll in high-deductible insurance plans. Bottom line, Horwitz said, if hospitals take it on the chin, everybody is going to feel it, insured and uninsured alike. (03/23/2017)

Employers struggle to make H-1B visas work
There’s really no polite way to say this. When it comes to the H-1B system, the tech industry is pissed off. “You know the fantasy of the H-1B opposition is that we’ll just hire more out-of-work coal miners and bring them to New York. And it’s not possible,” said Amol Sarva, a New York-based entrepreneur who’s helped found multiple startups, including Peek and Virgin Mobile USA. “They don’t have the skills or network or knowledge or background,” he said.There are a lot of disagreements surrounding H-1Bs. Critics say jobs that should go to Americans are given away to cheap foreign labor. But Sarva said creating jobs is hard to do when you can’t hire the workers you need. Even worse, the rules surrounding H-1Bs are complicated. It’s so bad that when I call the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Office to clarify the rules, the spokesperson there gets something wrong. She says when workers lose their visas, they have 10 days to leave the country, when really it’s 60.  RELATED: What it's like to live and work in H-1B visa limbo Indians worry about U.S. degree prospects under Trump Some economic context for the immigration debate And with President Donald Trump’s recent executive orders on immigration, what once seemed merely complex and onerous became labyrinthine and even threatening.“We had to set up a separate hotline that was receiving phone calls about 18 hours of the day,” said Ian Macdonald, an immigration attorney with Greenberg Traurig, a law firm with offices around the globe. “Companies are wringing their hands. They’re frustrated. The companies we work with are just looking for simple guidance from the government. They want to be able to plan.” Virtually all of his clients, when faced with the hassles of applying for and maintaining H-1B status, would prefer to hire American, Macdonald said. But the perceived level of difficulty associated with the H-1B program can vary depending on the size of the firm. Just take the Protect and Grow American Jobs Act. One of three new bills proposed to overhaul the H-1B system, it would see the minimum wage paid to H-1B workers raised from $60,000 to $100,000 a year.[[{"fid":"309450","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Amol Sarva has helped found multiple startups.","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":"","field_description[und][0][value]":"Amol%20Sarva%20has%20helped%20found%20multiple%20startups.","field_description[und][0][format]":"full_html","field_byline_text[und][0][value]":"Courtesy of Amol Sarva","field_migration_notes[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","attributes":{"alt":"Amol Sarva has helped found multiple startups.","height":547,"width":800,"class":"media-element file-default"}}]]“The very large, well-known IT companies, quite frankly, wouldn’t bat an eyelid at paying higher filing fees, paying increased salaries, if it means they can get the employees they deem necessary for their operations,” Macdonald said. Instead, it’s the small to midsize companies that are worried.“The H-1B visa program is a one-size-fits-all. And that’s problematic,” said Daniel Aobdia an accounting professor who studies H-1Bs at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. The system is lottery based and companies have to pay the filing fee, up to $4,000 per applicant, to enter. But last year the program was oversubscribed. Triple the number of applicants applied. Chances of getting your application picked were only about one in three. The office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services says when an application isn’t selected, filing fees are refunded, but that doesn’t include legal fees, lost time or the loss of an employee you need.“Right now the current system privileges certain kinds of companies over other ones,” Aobdia said. Large ones. And small companies that really need one or two special workers can be left facing the difficult decision of whether or not to participate in an expensive gamble.“We didn’t win the lottery. I mean literally. We did not win the lottery,” said Ben Waber, CEO, co-founder of Humanyze, a small tech startup in Boston that analyzes productivity.  Waber is frustrated. His company uses sensors and digital data to better understand how employees collaborate and interact in the workplace. He said the workers he needs are hard to come by.“Literally in our field, there are about three, four dozen people outside my company who can do what we do. Globally,” he said.“Innovation doesn’t happen along these boundaries that are so incredibly scripted by the government,” said Sarva, the New York entrepreneur. The threat to the U.S. economy doesn’t come from hiring skilled foreign workers, Sarva said. "Far more real is, if you can’t get visas, you just open an office overseas,” he said.That's a decision Waber may be forced to make. “At a fundamental level, businesses need two things to operate in a stable fashion: a stable labor pool and stable regulations,” he said. “And the current administration has thrown both of those really into disarray.”If his employees don’t get their visas next time, Waber is prepared. He’s started pricing office space in Japan and Canada.  (03/23/2017)

Water, water everywhere in California, but no way to hold onto it
California’s had one of the wettest winters on record — more than twice as much rain and snow as in an average year. That's especially wild since we're six years into a historic drought. But California doesn't have enough dams, reservoirs or other storage. So instead of using it, all that precipitation just joins the Pacific Ocean.Click the audio player above to hear the full story. (03/22/2017)

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