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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. Lincoln is not an economic utopia — but it might be close. It never really had the...

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...

When it comes to marijuana laws, the Justice Department is now treating American Indian tribes the way it treats states that have legalized pot. The move, announced in December , has inadvertently sparked interest in the marijuana business. While many see dollar signs, others worry about contributing to the impact substance abuse has already had on Indian Country. Havasupai Tribe Chairman Rex Tilousi says he was relieved to hear the Justice Department was recognizing tribal sovereignty when...

The humorist Bill Bryson once wrote that "the purpose of the modern American suburb is to make sure that no citizen is ever more than 500 yards from a food product featuring melted cheese." That's an exaggeration, but health officials have long worried that our environment of plentiful, cheap and easily accessible calories is contributing to obesity. A group of economists argues in a new paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research that the prevalence of restaurants and big-box...

Anyone who has pulled up to a gas station this winter knows oil prices have fallen — down roughly 50 percent since June. But it's not just oil. Prices for many commodities — grains, metals and other bulk products — have been plunging too. Here are a few of the changes since many prices peaked in recent years: - Copper is $2.59 a pound, down from $4.50 in 2011. - Corn costs $3.85 a bushel, compared with about $8 at its 2012 peak. - Iron ore pellets go for about $104 a metric ton, down from...

Citing violations of aviation safety rules, a court in South Korea has sentenced Cho Hyun-ah, former vice president of Korean Air, to one year in prison. Cho sparked an uproar after she demanded that the jet she was on return to an airport gate to leave behind a flight attendant. The incident on the plane at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport immediately drew criticism from Koreans who saw the outburst by Cho, whose family controls Korean Air, as another sign of the entitlement enjoyed by the...

More than 600,000 homes in the U.S. have solar panels today — up dramatically from just a few years ago , according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. Leasing programs that require little or no money up-front have played a key role in that growth. But here's a question for homeowners: Is it better to lease or buy? In Maplewood, in northern New Jersey, two next-door neighbors with similar houses arrived at different answers. Elizabeth Ebinger bought her panels — while Tim Roebuck...

The Los Angeles City Council is currently considering whether to raise the minimum wage to $15.25 an hour by 2019. It would follow Seattle and San Francisco, two cities that approved $15 minimum wages in the past year. The spread of a higher minimum wage is a huge victory for the labor unions backing these measures — but it is unlikely most of the people getting raises will ever be part of organized labor. The idea of a $15 minimum wage first came to the public's attention in a series of fast...

Tens of millions of people may have had information stolen, including their names, Social Security numbers and birth dates, when health insurer Anthem's database was hacked . Having your identity stolen is a frustrating, panic-inducing prospect. Just ask Brandy Freeman, an adult care provider in Jacksonville, Fla. She found out one day when she got a phone call from her boss. "He was kind of shocked and he was like, 'Have you filed for unemployment?' and I was like, 'No, what are you talking...

Continued job growth has boosted prospects for the U.S. economy, but it continues to face some tricky crosswinds. The big drop in oil prices and a stronger dollar both help the economy and hurt it. Add to that the recent slowdown in global growth. Lots of economists have suggested the big drop in oil prices is a gift to consumers that will propel the economy. David Kotok of Cumberland Advisors is one of them. He argues that cheaper oil will ultimately be a positive. "The U.S. comes out a big...

A huge trove of leaked documents is shedding new light on the secretive Swiss banking industry. The documents were downloaded by a former computer security expert at the giant bank HSBC, and they were released over the weekend by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The documents contain records of some 30,000 accounts kept at HSBC's Swiss subsidiary between 2005 and 2007. The accounts contained almost $120 billion and were tied to politicians, royalty, designers and...

Hard times have hit the oil fields. A barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude has dropped from a high of over $100 to less than $50. But Tracy Perryman, a small oilman in Luling, Texas, has learned how to survive the lean times. Oil companies that take on a lot of debt sometimes don't survive the downturns. But veterans of oil busts have learned how to plan for the inevitable price plunges. Perryman's family has been in the oil business in Luling since the 1920s, when a wildcatter drilled...

*We used data from the Census Bureau, which has two catch-all categories: "managers not elsewhere classified" and "salespersons not elsewhere classified." Because those categories are broad and vague to the point of meaninglessness, we excluded them from our map. What's with all the truck drivers? Truck drivers dominate the map for a few reasons. Driving a truck has been immune to two of the biggest trends affecting U.S. jobs: globalization and automation. A worker in China can't drive a...

By now, the surprise of cheap gas has probably worn off. But drivers on the hunt for the very best prices have noticed a new trend: Small, independent gas stations are often the first to cut prices when the price of crude oil falls. This has a lot to do with how gas is bought, sold and moved from pipeline to pump. "It's definitely savings," says Doug Warden as he fills up at Pronto Food Mart, a tiny, neighborhood gas station in Austin, Texas. "It's like I got a bonus." Pronto Food Mart was...

Russia's worsening economy is having an impact far beyond its borders — even affecting Alpine ski resorts where Russians once flocked. For the past decade, they've come in large numbers to ski the fabled Alpine slopes around Mont Blanc. But the drop in the ruble is now keeping them away. And that's having an effect on the wintertime economy in the region. In the cozy and chic village of Megeve in southeastern France, horse-drawn carriages jingle through the snowy streets. People gather around...

The ouster of Bryan Stockton from his perch as CEO at Mattel this week came as the toymaker's best-known brands like Barbie stagnate and it loses business to Web-based games. Stockton himself said last year that Mattel lacked an innovative culture and blamed it in part on something specific: bad meetings. That's a common and persistent corporate ailment. Scott Ryan-Hart is a cartographer for the Ohio Department of Transportation, where a typical meeting can last more than two hours. "I would...

President Obama revved up quickly for his economic victory lap. "After a breakthrough year for America, our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999," President Obama said less than a minute into his State of the Union address Tuesday night. The lap was fueled by cheap gas: "We are as free from the grip of foreign oil as we've been in almost 30 years," he said. Democrats roared. And then Obama pointed to where he wants to steer the economy — toward greater economic...

In the U.S., roughly 10,000 people reach retirement age every day. And though not everyone who turns 62 or 65 retires right away, enough do that some companies are trying to head off the problem. Dave Tobelmann, who for 33 years developed new products for General Mills, retired five years ago at age 57 — around the same time as a number of other colleagues. "Yeah, I went to a lot of retirement parties," Tobelmann says. Losing veteran workers is a challenge, even for big companies like General...

If you've traveled outside the U.S. recently, or sent your U.S.-made products abroad, you've probably noticed that the dollar is getting stronger. The stronger dollar is the sign of a healthier U.S. economy, but its strength has the potential to erode growth. There are a number of factors behind the dollar's rise, says economist Jens Nordvig, a currency expert at Nomura Securities. The main one is the health of the U.S. economy. "When you compare the U.S. economy to the rest of the world, you...

For the Detroit automakers, there's likely no bigger prize than being the No. 1 truck. Pickups represent the lion's share of profits and the industry's recent growth. And for more than three decades, Ford has been the king of trucks. But there are some new contenders for the throne. The North American International Auto Show kicked off in Detroit this week and crowned its 2015 North American Truck of the Year . The nominees were the Chevrolet Colorado, the Ford F-150 and the Lincoln MKC. And...

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