National News

Yogurt: Not just for breakfast anymore

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-02 06:39

Greek yogurt is, to most members of the general public, solely a healthy breakfast option. But a new line of products from Chobani seems to say that breakfast isn't the only time to eat yogurt.

Greek yogurt sales have slowed in recent years by as much as six percent, which is why Chobani is experimenting with desserts and cooking ingredients that use Greek yogurt in new ways.

"Yogurt for breakfast totally makes sense, but it's become so old-school now," says Bloomberg Business reporter Venessa Wong. "It's still the exciting growth area in the yogurt market."

Wong visited the cafe in New York City that Chobani runs as a testing ground for new savory yogurt concoctions. The smoked salmon bagel she ordered, for example, was topped with a cream cheese spread made from Greek yogurt.

"I didn't know yogurt could be used as a cream cheese substitute," Wong said.

Chobani has found that its cafe's busiest hours are the lunch hours from 1-3 p.m. Its least busiest time of the day: 7:30-9:30 a.m.

Marijuana Banking Bill Is Snuffed Out In Colorado

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-02 06:06

The legislation would have created a financial framework for revenue from legal pot sales. It was put on hold by lawmakers.

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Manufacturing -- grassroots style

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-02 05:42
Friday, May 2, 2014 - 08:41 Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Friday's jobs report shows that there were 12,000 extra manufacturing jobs last month.

Friday's jobs report shows that there were 12,000 extra manufacturing jobs last month. This may evoke an image of people working in big factories. But what about an emerging grassroots style of making things that's about craftsmanship, tinkering and innovation involving things you can actually touch?

Jules Pieri, founder and CEO of a product launch platform called The Grommet, joins Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio to discuss a status report on what's called the "Maker Movement in America."

Marketplace Morning Report for Friday May 2, 2014Interview by David BrancaccioPodcast Title Manufacturing -- grassroots styleStory Type News StorySyndication Flipboard BusinessSlackerSoundcloudStitcherBusiness InsiderSwellPMPApp Respond No

Manufacturing -- grassroots style

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-02 05:41

Friday's jobs report shows that there were 12,000 extra manufacturing jobs last month. This may evoke an image of people working in big factories. But what about an emerging grassroots style of making things that's about craftsmanship, tinkering and innovation involving things you can actually touch?

Jules Pieri, founder and CEO of a product launch platform called The Grommet, joins Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio to discuss a status report on what's called the "Maker Movement in America."

PODCAST: Strong jobs report undercut by shrinking labor force

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-02 05:23

The April 2014 jobs report from the Department of Labor shows much stronger employment growth than economists expected, and a significantly lower unemployment rate. The unemployment rate fell 0.4 percent to 6.3 percent in April.

Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, or Arizona? There can be only one home for the Gigafactory. Or possibly two... if two are built. The Gigafactory is a massive battery plant, built by the electric car maker Tesla, that will take up to 1,000 acres and will include its own on-site wind and solar energy plants. Tesla has narrowed down its choice of location to four states, but rather than pick one now, it will prepare to build in two or three (or potentially all four), CEO Elon Musk announced on Wednesday.

Technically, Cinco de Mayo falls on a Monday this year. But beer companies want people to get an early start, celebrating over the weekend. But celebrating what, exactly? What does Cinco de Mayo mean for marketers and consumers?

Unemployment Drops To 6.3 Percent, Lowest In 5 Years

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-02 04:37

U.S. employers added far more jobs than expected — 288,000 — in April, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. In a separate survey, the unemployment rate dipped by 0.4 percentage points.

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Toll Rises From Deadly Car Bomb In Nigerian Capital

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-02 03:58

At least 19 people died in the blast Thursday in Abuja, according to officials. Separately, the government says more girls were taken in a mass kidnapping earlier this month than previously believed.

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'Wassup, Sheep?' He Asked

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-02 03:37

How come so many species of domesticated animals — dogs, pigs, cows, ducks, geese, rats, horses — have smaller brains than their wild ancestors? Oh, and humans too!

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Ukraine Launches Military Operation Against Separatists In The East

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-02 03:08

Two Ukrainian copters were shot down in the fighting, which Kiev calls an "anti-terror" operation against pro-Russia rebels. Russia says the push "killed the last hope" for a deal to ease the crisis.

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Death Penalty Fades As Hot-Button Issue

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-02 03:03

With murders down dramatically, death penalty support has fallen far from its peak 20 years ago. Problems with executions, meanwhile, have made many Democrats, at least, skeptical about the practice.

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Time to mourn the minibar

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-02 02:58

Good-bye, midnight Snickers bar. Adios, Pringles cylinder. Sayonara, bourbon nightcap.

They may never go away completely, but the hotel minibar can certainly be considered a rare and endangered species.

Why are minibars vanishing?

"In Las Vegas, a little bottle of vodka can cost you more than $14. And in Washington D.C., if you want a bag of peanuts, be prepared to pay over $7," says Kevin Carter with the travel planning website TripAdvisor.

A recent TripAdvisor survey found just 7 percent of U.S. travelers even remotely care about a minibar in the room. Not surprisingly, PKF Hospitality found that between 2007–2012 minibar revenue fell by nearly 30 percent.

Disappearing minibars is just one of several changes in modern-day U.S. hotel rooms. Woodworth says what hotels lose in certain antiquated amenities, companies hope to make up in room rates.

"If I can get you to pay an extra dollar for your room tonight, about 90 cents of that is pure profit," says Woodworth. "The energies and management focus has been really optimizing room revenues."

TripAdvisor found travelers want a lot of stuff that starts with the word "free": Free wifi. Free breakfast. Free parking.

Oh, and we want outlets – lots and lots of electrical outlets.     

5 more "amenities" disappearing from your hotel room

PKF Hospitality President Mark Woodworth says hotels are recalculating what makes them money. Here are five services on the chopping block: 

1. Dry cleaning.

There will still be ironing boards, but you'll have to push them yourself.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

2. Telephone services. 

Perhaps wake up calls will be rerouted to cell phones.

Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

3. Renting movies on hotel TVs. 

Enough guests prefer their own screens. 

Jimmy Sime/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

4. Room size.

The smaller the room, the bigger the hotel's profit. And the closer you are to your cell phone, which is what you care about anyway. 

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

5. Coffee makers.

For now, the coffee makers are still there -- but you have to pay for anything you brew

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Elon Musk, Tesla plan 'Gigafactory' site

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-02 02:48

Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, or Arizona? There can be only one home for the Gigafactory

Or possibly two... if two are built.

The Gigafactory is a massive battery plant, built by the electric car maker Tesla, that will take up to 1,000 acres and will include its own on-site wind and solar energy plants. Tesla has narrowed down its choice of location to four states, but rather than pick one now, it will prepare to build in two or three (or potentially all four), CEO Elon Musk announced on Wednesday.

Replicating engineering work, design work, site selection, connection to power and utilities, and permitting is a costly strategy, says Ben Kallo, senior equity analyst with Robert W. Baird.

"You can talk about millions and even tens of millions [of dollars] to do this" for just one extra site, according to Kallo.

But the cost of not doing it could be much greater. Tesla plans to have 500,000 electric cars on the road by 2020. This would include more of its Model S sedans, a new SUV, and a more affordable car (at $35,000, it might be described as 'less unaffordable'). Tesla also plans to expand into electricity storage to the wind and solar industries, says Kallo. And the gigafactory is the foundation of that plan. A delay could damage Tesla's competitive advantage as a first mover, and could damage investor confidence. Aside from its own share holders, Tesla needs investors to finance the $5 billion behemoth project.

Jakki Mohr teaches marketing at the University of Montana and has followed Tesla closely. She says having multiple possibilities to site the gigafactory is a savvy negotiating move.

"States give huge incentives to get this kind of business in their regions," says Mohr, and this is a way of "playing one state against another to receive better incentives to locate there."

There's also one critical but underappreciated concession Tesla wants, according to Charles Hill, professor of management at the University of Washington's Foster School of Business. Tesla wants to sell cars itself, not through dealerships.

"It may be that Tesla picks a state that's initially hostile to that – Texas would be an example – as a way of getting leverage for them to change that policy as well," says Hill.

"The political issue around whether Tesla should have a direct sales model as opposed to selling through dealers is almost as big of an issue as the battery plant, and I don't think the two are totally separable."

The more back up plans you have, the more arms you can twist.

Despite strong jobs report, wages still flat

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-02 02:19

[UPDATED: FRIDAY, MAY 2, 2014, 9:58am ET]: The April 2014 jobs report from the Department of Labor shows much stronger employment growth than economists expected, and a significantly lower unemployment rate. The unemployment rate fell 0.4 percent to 6.3 percent in April.

Nonfarm private- and public-sector payroll jobs rose by 288,000 in April. The consensus expectation was 215,000. Job gains came across the board, in white- and blue-collar jobs: Professional and business services (+75,000), temporary employment (+24,000), retail trade (+35,000) with car dealerships particularly strong. Bars and restaurants added 33,000 jobs and construction added 32,000 jobs, a welcome recovery for a housing sector that has seemed weak in recent months. Health care and mining also rose strongly. Manufacturing and government jobs were both essentially unchanged.

The unemployment rate decline appears very favorable on its face -- 6.3 percent is the lowest unemployment rate since September 2008, as the financial crisis was raging. It hit a peak of 10 percent in October 2009, before beginning its painstakingly slow, steady decline to April 2014’s level.

One force driving the unemployment rate down is a decline in the labor force participation rate -- to 62.8 percent in April. The number of people in the civilian labor force -- those either working, or unemployed and actively looking for work -- declined by 806,000, after increasing by 503,000 in March. Data from the household survey -- the source of labor force measures -- is considered more volatile than the job-creation numbers derived from the Establishment Survey, and it might be a few months before these trends settle out more clearly.

Job gains turn out to have been better than previously reported during the winter, when the economy slowed dramatically amid severe weather events. February’s figure was revised up from +197,000 to +222,000, and March was revised from +192,000 to +203,000. That puts the three-month average at 238,000. That could signal a moderate, but significant, acceleration of job-creation in the economy. At some point, faster wage growth could even follow.

Finally, April was a 'pretty good' month for jobs

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-02 02:19

[UPDATED: FRIDAY, MAY 2, 2014, 8:35am ET]: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported domestic employers added 288,000 to non-farm payrolls in the month of April, bringing the current unemployment rate down to 6.3 percent. 

Chances are, today's Employment Situation Summary for April from the Labor Department will be a pretty good report.

Job growth is expected to have improved compared to mid-winter's labor-market polar vortex. The consensus among economists (Bloomberg) is 215,000 new jobs created in April, and unemployment falling 0.1 percent to 6.6 percent. Job growth has come in around 175,000 non-farm payroll jobs per month since February (3-month average).

For the past six months, economists have had a hard time determining underlying labor-market strength. Nearly every monthly report has been skewed by anomalous or seasonal effects: the partial government shutdown in the fall; expiration of long-term federal unemployment benefits after the New Year (maybe people stopped looking, and getting counted?); severe winter weather in the Northeast and Midwest and Southeast and Northwest that suppressed consumer spending, travel, and hiring nationwide.

In recent weeks, economic signals have been mixed: a strong April private-sector jobs report from payroll processing firm ADP; higher first-time claims for state unemployment benefits (rising to a nine-week high in May 1 report); consumer spending up 0.9 percent in March to a four-year high. Meanwhile, GDP barely cleared the flatline in the first quarter (+0.1 percent preliminary, compared to 2.6 percent in Q4/2013). Home sales and building construction have all but stalled.

Mark Hamrich, who tracks the economy for personal finance website Bankrate.com, says the labor market hasn't changed very much in the past two years. Job creation has averaged , just below 200,000 every month and the unemployment rate has fallen gradually to below 7 percent. That represents slow, steady improvement—without, however, much acceleration in job creation.

"I call it a 'more, please' job market," says Hamrich. He says that's stressful for middle-income Americans--suffering from the lingering effects of the financial crisis, and the precipitous fall in assets such as retirement savings and home values.

Hamrick says income has largely stagnated. "Even for those who have been employed," he says, "many have had to put up with sub-standard wage gains on an annual basis. That leaves people feeling like they aren't making much progress."

Finally, April was probably a 'pretty good' month for jobs

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-02 02:19

Chances are, today's Employment Situation Summary for April from the Labor Department will be a pretty good report.

Job growth is expected to have improved compared to mid-winter's labor-market polar vortex. The consensus among economists (Bloomberg) is 215,000 new jobs created in April, and unemployment falling 0.1 percent to 6.6 percent. Job growth has come in around 175,000 non-farm payroll jobs per month since February (3-month average).

For the past six months, economists have had a hard time determining underlying labor-market strength. Nearly every monthly report has been skewed by anomalous or seasonal effects: the partial government shutdown in the fall; expiration of long-term federal unemployment benefits after the New Year (maybe people stopped looking, and getting counted?); severe winter weather in the Northeast and Midwest and Southeast and Northwest that suppressed consumer spending, travel, and hiring nationwide.

In recent weeks, economic signals have been mixed: a strong April private-sector jobs report from payroll processing firm ADP; higher first-time claims for state unemployment benefits (rising to a nine-week high in May 1 report); consumer spending up 0.9 percent in March to a four-year high. Meanwhile, GDP barely cleared the flatline in the first quarter (+0.1 percent preliminary, compared to 2.6 percent in Q4/2013). Home sales and building construction have all but stalled.

Mark Hamrich, who tracks the economy for personal finance website Bankrate.com, says the labor market hasn't changed very much in the past two years. Job creation has averaged , just below 200,000 every month and the unemployment rate has fallen gradually to below 7 percent. That represents slow, steady improvement—without, however, much acceleration in job creation.

"I call it a 'more, please' job market," says Hamrich. He says that's stressful for middle-income Americans--suffering from the lingering effects of the financial crisis, and the precipitous fall in assets such as retirement savings and home values.

Hamrick says income has largely stagnated. "Even for those who have been employed," he says, "many have had to put up with sub-standard wage gains on an annual basis. That leaves people feeling like they aren't making much progress."

Many Seniors Accepted To First-Choice Colleges Go Elsewhere

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-02 01:16

Almost half of college freshmen surveyed last year had enrolled in schools that weren't at the top of their list — not because they didn't get in, but because of costs.

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Agribusiness Funds 'Farmland' To Counter Hollywood Message

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-02 01:16

Films like Food Inc. and King Corn highlight the evils of big agriculture. Now farmers are hitting back with their own movie, Farmland. It was funded by the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance.

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Obamacare Sign-Ups Show Wide Variation By State, Ethnicity

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-02 01:09

Nearly half the 8 million people who bought health insurance through the state and federal exchanges signed up in the last six weeks. Florida enrolled 39 percent of those eligible, despite opposition.

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The history of the marketing of Cinco de Mayo

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-02 01:05

Technically, Cinco de Mayo falls on a Monday this year. But beer companies want people to get an early start, celebrating over the weekend.

But celebrating what, exactly? What does Cinco de Mayo mean for marketers and consumers?

Many in Los Angeles celebrated Cinco de Mayo last weekend. Tens of thousands of Latinos attended a street fair that big corporations saw as a marketing opportunity, even if their message was a little fuzzy.

At the Ford booth, I spoke with Marie, a 'brand ambassador.' I asked her to make the connection between the car company and Cinco de Mayo.

"Ford, to me, is about the people. And people need to drive to get around this city and Ford is a great way to do that," said Marie.

She struggled to make the connection. But, to be fair, it is sort of a hazy holiday.

After all, May 5 commemorates an obscure battle where the Mexican underdogs defeated the French.

"In Mexico, we don't really do Cinco de Mayo," said Marie. "It's more of an American-ized holiday."

In this case, 'American-ized' meant commercialized. Festival goers moved from line to line, waiting for free samples and gift bags. A fiesta of freebies from McDonald's and Palmolive and Colgate.

"The consumer products companies have been the early-adopters of understanding that this is the market that is going to move the needle, and they've really fought hard to create brand recognition," said Xavier Gutierrez with Meruelo Group, one of the event's sponsors.

While some companies try to connect with Latinos, beer companies try to get everyone to party.

According to Nielsen, the market research company, Americans bought more than $600 million worth of beer last year for Cinco de Mayo. That's more beer than was sold for the Super Bowl or St. Patrick's Day.

"Beer companies have been largely responsible for the commodification of Cinco de Mayo. I mean, they spend millions and millions of dollar in Spanish-language advertising," said Jose Alamillo, a professor of Chicano studies at California State University Channel Islands.

Alamillo said the beer industry ignores alcohol related health issues that affect the Latino community.

He'd like to see Cinco de Mayo promoted as a history lesson, instead of -- as critics allege -- an excuse to sell booze.

Ukraine Forces Seek To Retake Slovyansk

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-02 01:05

Ukraine launched what appeared to be its first major assault against pro-Russian forces who have seized government buildings in the country's east.

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