Business

Business
8:53 am
Mon July 27, 2015

Fiat Chrysler Hit With Record $105 Million Fine Over Safety Recalls

About 1.4 million Fiat Chrysler vehicles, including Dodges, Jeeps, Rams and Chryslers, were recalled on Friday over concerns that they could be remotely hacked. On Sunday, federal regulators announced previous Fiat Chrysler safety recalls had been mishandled and hit the company with a record $105 million fine.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Mon July 27, 2015 9:36 am

Federal regulators are fining Fiat Chrysler $105 million for failing to acknowledge and address safety defects in a timely fashion.

The civil penalty — the largest ever imposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — will be accompanied by three years of "unprecedented" federal oversight, the agency says. Fiat Chrysler has also agreed to buy back some vehicles from their owners.

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Business
5:16 am
Thu July 23, 2015

Fast-Food Workers Cheer As $15 Minimum Wage Advances In New York State

Labor leaders, workers and activists attend a rally for a $15 minimum hourly wage Wednesday in New York City. A panel appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo recommended the increase.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Thu July 23, 2015 2:40 pm

There aren't a lot of obscure government board meetings that warrant a watch party, let alone one with a marching band.

But that's how fast-food restaurant workers and their supporters celebrated Wednesday on a blocked-off street in Manhattan, as they watched a state panel recommend a $6.25 increase in their hourly wage, to $15.

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Business
3:33 am
Tue July 21, 2015

Zappos: A Workplace Where No One And Everyone Is The Boss

Zappos.com tour guide Erika Newman (right) shows off the ball pit in the human resources department of the company's Las Vegas headquarters. Zappos eliminated managers and embraced a system of self-governance known as holacracy.
Sacramento Bee TNS/Landov

Originally published on Wed July 22, 2015 2:43 pm

Jacqui Gonzalez once spent an hour and a half on the phone helping a customer. The Zappos.com employee enjoys being generous with the online shoe retailer's money, sending gift baskets and thank-you cards to people whose complaints she has solved.

And mostly, she's grateful that she doesn't have a manager to consult in making those decisions.

"We don't have to put someone on hold and ask permission," says the former customer service agent, who is now a tour guide at the company. "We don't have a manager that you need to be transferred to. How refreshing is that?"

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Business
5:06 am
Fri July 10, 2015

Chicago's 'Cloud Tax' Raises The Cost Of Streaming Videos

Chicago is taxing services such as Netflix and Spotify. Some residents wonder if a tax on other Internet services will follow, and others worry the levy will scare away business.
Tang Yau Hoong Getty Images/Ikon Images

Originally published on Fri July 10, 2015 3:15 pm

You wouldn't expect to pay a local tax when you stream a movie on Netflix, but Chicago has decided that such cloud-based services should be taxed just like tickets for live entertainment.

There was no debate or public hearing over the city's "cloud tax" — a 9 percent tax on streaming entertainment like Netflix and Spotify.

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Business
3:36 am
Wed July 8, 2015

Amid New Overtime Rules, More Employers Might Set Email Curfew

New federal rules could expand the number of employees eligible for overtime. That may lead more companies to curtail the use of work email after hours.
Skopein Getty Images/Ikon Images

Originally published on Tue July 21, 2015 3:20 pm

The buzzing phone or ding of an email from the bedside table might be standard these days. But a long-awaited proposal that would increase the number of employees eligible for overtime pay could mean more companies curtailing the use of work email after hours.

When Nicholas Castillo was hired as a bank branch manager several years ago, he was told his $30,000 salary came with expectations.

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Business
6:35 pm
Thu July 2, 2015

BP To Pay $18.7 Billion In Landmark Settlement Over 2010 Gulf Oil Spill

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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Business
5:36 pm
Thu July 2, 2015

So Far, So Good For The Economy. But What About The Second Half?

A worker welds parts in fans for industrial ventilation systems at the Robinson Fans Inc. plant in Harmony, Pa., in February. Hourly wages in the U.S. remained unchanged last month.
Keith Srakocic AP

Maybe it seems like just yesterday that you were storing away your holiday decorations.

Maybe it actually was yesterday because life gets busy and tasks get put off, and before you know it, half the year is over and you're scrambling to catch up.

So in case you have been too busy to pay close attention, here's what we now know about the just-ended half of this year's economy:

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Business
5:32 pm
Thu July 2, 2015

New Rules Could Create A New Class Of Overtime Workers

Originally published on Thu July 2, 2015 7:22 pm

As President Obama promised, a new rule would make 5 million more Americans eligible for overtime pay.

Many workers say it's a welcome change. But businesses say employees could see negative, unintended consequences.

Barrett Zenger has managed a music store in Corpus Christi, Texas, for the past seven years, where he oversees two dozen employees, stocks inventory and fills in for sales clerks who call in sick.

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Business
7:17 am
Wed July 1, 2015

Toyota's Top Female Executive Resigns After Arrest

Toyota Motor Corp's Managing Officer and Chief Communications Officer Julie Hamp speaks to media during a news conference in Nagoya, central Japan, in this photo released by Kyodo on June 18.
Kyodo Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed July 1, 2015 10:05 am

Julie Hamp, Toyota Motor Corp.'s first senior female executive who was appointed head of public relations just weeks ago, has resigned after her arrest for allegedly importing the prescription painkiller oxycodone in violation of the country's narcotics laws.

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Business
6:25 pm
Mon June 15, 2015

Theft Of Social Security Numbers Is Broader Than You Might Think

A surprising number of Social Security numbers have been stolen, and that number keeps rising.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Mon June 15, 2015 6:33 pm

As cyberattacks continue, analysts are seeing a new pattern: Hackers are focused on stealing personally identifiable information. That includes the security clearances of U.S. intelligence officers, with the reported theft of background information. It also includes information that's less sensitive but far-reaching — like Social Security numbers.

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Business
3:21 am
Tue May 26, 2015

Don't Write Off Paper Just Yet

The paper industry struggled in the past decade, but some sectors have fared better than others.
Christopher Groskopf NPR

Originally published on Thu May 28, 2015 9:23 am

There's a scene in the television series The Office that says all you need to know about the paper industry's image these days. That sad sack of a company Dunder Mifflin is launching an advertising campaign — and just in time, says one of the sad sack employees. Whenever he tells people he works for Dunder Mifflin, they assume the company make mufflers or muffins or mittens, but "frankly all of those sound better than paper, so I let it slide."

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Business
6:03 am
Thu May 21, 2015

#MotorCityDrive: Is Detroit's Economic Engine Roaring Back To Life?

Murals on display across the street from the Red Bull House of Art gallery in Detroit, Mich. After the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, Detroit hopes outsiders will focus on the city's potential, not the history of conflict and crisis that has cut its population in half since 1960.
Joshua Lott AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu May 21, 2015 8:29 pm

For generations of Americans, Detroit was the place where people made things: powerful cars, amazing architecture, beautiful music. But now Detroit is entering a new chapter. After months of often tense and difficult negotiations, Detroit is now formally out of bankruptcy. Millions of dollars of contributions from private foundations and corporations helped the city preserve its acclaimed art collection. A new generation of artists and entrepreneurs, doers and makers is calling Detroit home. So we'd like to ask, what's next? What will drive Detroit's future now?

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Business
7:11 pm
Sun May 17, 2015

Often Employees, Rarely CEOs: Challenges Asian-Americans Face In Tech

Google was one of five Silicon Valley companies included in a recent study that looked at executive-level representation for Asian-Americans in the tech industry.
Marcio Jose Sanchez AP

Originally published on Mon May 18, 2015 9:47 am

A new report on diversity in Silicon Valley shows that Asians and Asian-Americans are well-represented in lower-level positions — but, in comparison, severely underrepresented at the management and executive levels at five large, established tech companies.

Ascend, an Asian-American professional organization based in New York, found that although 27 percent of professionals working at those companies are Asian or Asian-American, fewer than 19 percent of managers, and just under 14 percent of executives, are.

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Business
4:31 pm
Tue May 5, 2015

In Puerto Rico's Debt Crisis, There Are No Easy Solutions

Protesters gather April 30 outside Puerto Rico's Capitol building in San Juan to oppose Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla's budget proposal. The plan would raise taxes to help cover the state's massive debt.
Ricardo Arduengo AP

Originally published on Thu May 7, 2015 8:45 am

The island of Puerto Rico is many things: a tropical paradise, a U.S. territory and an economic mess. After years of deficits, state-owned institutions in Puerto Rico owe investors some $73 billion. That's four times the debt that forced Detroit into bankruptcy two years ago. The bill is now due.

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Business
4:35 am
Mon May 4, 2015

Where Poor Kids Grow Up Makes A Huge Difference

Where you grow up matters.
Quoctrung Bui/NPR

Originally published on Mon May 4, 2015 4:28 pm

In two new studies, Harvard economist Raj Chetty and his colleagues found that where poor kids grow up has a huge effect on how much money they earn as adults.

In one study, families living in public housing were randomly selected to be eligible for housing vouchers that required them to move to low poverty neighborhoods. Kids whose families received the vouchers grew up to earn significantly more than those whose families remained in public housing.

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Business
5:29 am
Sun March 15, 2015

Smell Something Different At The Gym? It Might Not Be What You Think

The weight training center at Anytime Fitness in Michigan in December. The company started using scent marketing four years ago.
Danielle Duval MLive.com/Landov

Originally published on Mon March 16, 2015 1:06 pm

Eric Spangenberg knows he's too old for Abercrombie and Fitch. He knows as soon as he smells it.

The store's signature fragrance, Fierce, is a mixture of citrus and musk. It's a combination that Spangenberg, 55, says is clearly targeted toward a specific demographic: a young one.

It's called scent marketing — when a business chooses a specific scent to attract customers and boost sales, and it has become widely popular in the last several years, he says.

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Business
8:52 am
Fri March 6, 2015

Nearly 300K New Jobs In February; Unemployment Dips To 5.5 Percent

Job applicant Rafael Ferrer, 49, (left) greets a representative of the Hilton Bentley Miami Beach hotel during a job fair at the Hospitality Institute in January.
Lynne Sladky AP

Originally published on Fri March 6, 2015 9:41 am

The U.S. economy added 295,000 jobs last month, according to the Labor Department's monthly survey, and the unemployment rate dropped to 5.5 percent. The latest strong data beat expectations and follow a robust jump the previous month — a sign that the nation's economy is finally picking up steam.

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Business
1:16 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Wages And Prices: A Welcome Breakup

Bigger paychecks plus lower prices add up to more buying power for consumers.
DNY59 iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 1:49 pm

A new government report confirms: Wages and prices are going their separate ways.

This breakup is helping consumers on the rebound from recession.

Fresh evidence of the split came Monday in the Commerce Department's monthly report on personal spending, income and saving. It showed paychecks are fatter, prices are leaner and Americans are saving more.

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Business
3:58 am
Mon March 2, 2015

A Nearly Recession-Proof City Is Not Slowing Down

Lincoln has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in revitalizing its downtown, a historic area called Haymarket, to create a more culturally vibrant urban center that is helping the city keep and attract young adults.
David Schaper NPR

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 8:15 am

At 2.5 percent, Lincoln, Neb., has one of the lowest jobless figures in the country. But that's nothing new — the city has ranked at or near the top of the nation, with one of the lowest unemployment rates for years, even during the Great Recession.

But on a recent visit, it's clear that Lincoln is not resting on its laurels. It's working hard at keeping and drawing talent to this city of nearly 300,000.

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Business
11:53 am
Mon February 23, 2015

50 Years Of Shrinking Union Membership, In One Map

Quoctrung Bui/NPR

Fifty years ago, nearly a third of U.S. workers belonged to a union. Today, it's one in 10. But the decline has not been the same for every state. Here is a map showing how union membership has changed across the country.

A few notes on the map:

  • In 1964, the Midwest was full of manufacturing jobs and had the highest concentration of union workers in America. That has changed dramatically — both because the share of jobs in manufacturing has fallen, and because fewer of the manufacturing jobs that remain are held by union workers.
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