Business news

United Airlines To Close Cleveland Hub

Feb 3, 2014



NPR's business news starts with a Cleveland hub closure.


INSKEEP: United Airlines announced plans over the weekend to drop Cleveland Hopkins International Airport as one of its main hubs for connecting flights. Company officials say the hub has not turned a profit in more than a decade and loses tens of millions of dollars annually. How is that possible? It's one of the few airports I can remember where you can get a boilermaker.

In his State of the Union speech Tuesday, President Obama stepped up to a podium before Congress and the country and declared that the state of our union was strong.

"Here are the results of your efforts: The lowest unemployment rate in over five years; a rebounding housing market; a manufacturing sector that's adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s," the president said.

For more than four years, the unemployment rate has been sliding down — from a 10 percent peak to today's 6.7 percent.

But does that reflect a fast-strengthening economy? Or is the rate falling only because so many people are dropping out of the workforce?

In coming weeks, members of Congress and the Federal Reserve Board will be making big policy decisions based upon their best understanding of those unsettled questions.

In 1895, legislators in New York state decided to improve working conditions in what at the time could be a deadly profession: baking bread.

"Bakeries are actually extremely dangerous places to work," says Eric Rauchway, a historian at the University of California, Davis. "Because flour is such a fine particulate, if it gets to hang in the air it can catch fire and the whole room can go up in a sheet of flame."

The House is expected to vote Wednesday on a $1.1 trillion spending bill that would fund the federal government into October and bring to an end, for now at least, the bitter partisan battles that have led to one government shutdown and threatened to push the U.S. into defaulting on its bills.

The recent disclosure that a large trove of customer information was stolen from Target, and now also from Neiman Marcus, points to growing vulnerabilities in cybersecurity. And experts say the problem is becoming more difficult to combat.

The size of the data breach at Target Co. stores late last year took a sharp rise Friday when the retailer said it now estimates that up to 70 million individuals may have had information that includes their "names, mailing addresses, phone numbers or email addresses" stolen.

We'll be posting updates after the report's 8:30 a.m. ET release.

There were only 74,000 jobs added to public and private payrolls in December, but the unemployment rate fell to a 5-year low 6.7 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday morning.

Bitcoin Takes Stage In Texas Senate Campaign

Jan 10, 2014

When Texas Rep. Steve Stockman announced recently that he'll accept donations in bitcoins, he raised some eyebrows.

A Financial Checklist For 2014

Jan 1, 2014
Chornyak Assoc.

A new year is upon us and we think that this month's newsletter will help you get off to a good start.

For example, Commonwealth Financial Network gives you a useful monthly plan to remind you of different financial issues that need to be taken care of during the year. Read the full article here.

Update at 8:20 p.m. ET. Amazon, UPS, Offer Refunds:

The Washington Post reports:

"Amazon and UPS said Thursday they would offer refunds to customers who did not receive their Christmas orders on time, after a surge in last-minute online shopping caught the shipping giant off guard."

Target Corp. acknowledged early Thursday that there was a massive security breach of its customers' credit and debit card accounts starting the day before Thanksgiving and extending at least to Dec. 15 — the heart of the holiday shopping season.

This week, we're exploring the San Francisco Bay Area and the way income inequality is affecting the region. Check out the other pieces of the week, aggregated on this page.

The brown marmorated stink bug doesn't just smell bad. It's also been causing trouble for homeowners and farmers from New Hampshire to California for the past three years.

No predators are eating the invasive species fast enough to keep it under control, but researchers think they may have found a solution to the stink-bug menace.

Photo: Where Cars Go After A Flood

Dec 12, 2013

In the days, weeks and months after Superstorm Sandy, we editors got used to seeing lots of similar types of images of devastation, destruction and loss. Beaches. Houses. Taxis.

A French court has sentenced the head of a company that sold tens of thousands of defective breast implants to four years in prison for aggravated fraud. Poly Implant Prothese was once among the world's leaders in supplying implants. But its product was found to have a high rupture rate.

From Paris, NPR's Eleanor Beardsely reports:

"The Marseilles court convicted Jean-Claude Mas, the founder of the company, and three colleagues.

Oil giant BP is challenging hundreds of millions of dollars in claims that were filed by businesses after the company's 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The total price tag for BP's oil spill is huge — $42.5 billion. At issue here is a fraction of that — but still a lot of money. BP says $540 million has been awarded to businesses for losses that "are either nonexistent, exaggerated or have nothing to do with the Deepwater Horizon accident."

Tips & Tricks for Smart Holiday Shopping

Dec 9, 2013

For many people, one of the joys of the holiday season is shopping.  For others it's a chore that brings on stress.  In either case, our post this month provides lots of information that will make you a more informed consumer.  

New York's health insurance marketplace has been running relatively smoothly, compared with, the site the federal government is running for 36 states.

But that's a low bar, and even though about 50,000 New Yorkers had signed up in the first two months, almost every day still brings complaints and glitches. Donna Frescatore, the head of the New York State Of Health, says there are no serious patterns of trouble, just individual issues that the state and its contractors address one by one.

Is Mining On The Moon's Horizon?

Dec 8, 2013

A U.S. company is taking what it hopes to be a small step toward eventually mining the moon.

Moon Express, based in Mountain View, Calif., just unveiled the design for a small robot spacecraft about the size of a coffee table that it says could move about the moon's surface powered only by solar panels and hydrogen peroxide.