National / International News

Adriano drug charges thrown out

BBC - Fri, 2014-11-07 08:05
A judge in Rio de Janeiro rejects charges of drug trafficking against Brazilian footballer Adriano, saying there is not enough evidence.

Your cell phone bill isn't as high as it used to be

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-11-07 07:56

As part of our program's 25th anniversary, we've been tracking the odd ways prices have changed over that period. According to a cellular phone industry group, the average monthly cell phone bill has dropped from an inflation adjusted $151 back in 1989, to $47 today.

A 69 percent drop? How is that possible? 

Michael Grubb is an economics professor at Boston College who has studied the cell phone market. 

Listen to the full conversation in the audio player above.

Go Figure: The week in numbers

BBC - Fri, 2014-11-07 07:51
The week in numbers with our Go Figure images.

PODCAST: Jobs up; wages... well...

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-11-07 07:48

As part of our program's 25th anniversary, we've been tracking the odd ways prices have changed over that period. According to a cellular phone industry group, the average monthly cell phone bill has dropped from an inflation adjusted 151 dollars back in 1989 to 47 dollars now. Plus: Chris Low of FTN Financial gives us some perspective on the 214,000 jobs added to payrolls this month.

Split between Catalonia and Spain

BBC - Fri, 2014-11-07 07:29
Catalonia's dream of independence from Spain collides with some harsh realities on the streets of Santa Coloma, on the edge of Barcelona, Patrick Jackson reports.

Can England defy logic and beat NZ?

BBC - Fri, 2014-11-07 07:28
Concentration, belief, confidence, fitness & instinct – England know they must summon all these and more to tame the world champions.

Mexico cancels China bid for train

BBC - Fri, 2014-11-07 07:21
Mexico cancels a $3.75bn contract awarded this week to a Chinese-led consortium to build a high-speed passenger rail link.

Three to stand trial over murder

BBC - Fri, 2014-11-07 07:13
Two men and a woman are to stand trial next year charged in connection with the murder of a man in County Down.

Hunger Games to become stage show

BBC - Fri, 2014-11-07 07:06
Best-selling trilogy and blockbuster film franchise The Hunger Games is set to be made into a stage show in 2016, it is announced.

The labor force participation rate is at a low point (updated)

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-11-07 07:00

UPDATE: October's numbers are in from the Bureau of Labor Statistics: 214,000 jobs added, and the unemployment rate "edged down" to 5.8 percent. 

The monthly employment report from the Department of Labor will likely show the economy added approximately 240,000 jobs in October, and unemployment held steady at 5.9 percent, after falling below 6.0 percent in September for the first time since mid-2008.

Economists can point to steady improvement over the past several years in those two statistics—job creation, and the unemployment rate (which was 7.2 percent in September 2013, and 9 percent two years earlier).

Yet, this ‘official’ unemployment rate doesn’t accurately characterize many aspects of the labor market right now—in particular, how hard it still is to land a middle-income job; how easy it is for employers to find qualified candidates; and how little those employers have to compete with each other over wage and benefit offers, in order to hire the workers they want.

The ‘official’ unemployment rate—called the U-3 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics—only counts how many people are actively unemployed. They’re looking for work and actually applied for a job in the past four weeks.

But right now, the number of people who are not working, but would like to work, is unprecedentedly high. These people have given up looking—possibly because they don’t think any jobs are available for them, or perhaps to attend school and upgrade their skills, or to go into semi-retirement. They’ve pushed down the labor force participation rate to its lowest level (62.7 percent in September) since the late 1970s.

Combine these discouraged and marginally attached workers with the ‘underemployed’—people who would like to find better-paying full-time jobs but can only find part-time jobs—and total unemployment (the U-6 rate), as measured by the BLS, is averaging well over 12 percent in 2014 (it was 11.8 percent in September).

Economists have anticipated that some attrition in the labor market would occur when the Baby Boomers began retiring earlier this decade. But in fact, after the recession, older workers have stayed on the job longer than was predicted, on average. With retirement savings and home equity depleted by the recession, older Americans are holding on to jobs if they can.

“Where we’re seeing large declines in labor force participation is actually among prime-age workers,” explains University of California-Berkeley economist Jesse Rothstein, “especially among people in their early twenties. It’s hard for me to believe that there’s this enormous group of people in their early twenties who have decided that they’re never going to work.”

Rothstein and many other economists believe the economy hasn’t changed structurally so that fewer people want to work or feel the financial need to work. Rather, they think the labor market is simply too weak, and demand in the economy too anemic, to employ all the potential workers who want and need jobs. They believe if the economy strengthens significantly, many of those potential workers will come out of the woodwork and begin job-hunting again.

Absent such improvement, the labor market is likely to remain slack, even if the official unemployment rate continues to decline steadily and eventually dips below the Federal Reserve’s target of 5.5 percent. Fed policymakers, led by chair Janet Yellen, have said they are looking at other labor market indicators in addition to the unemployment rate, to make sure they don’t withdraw economic stimulus and kill the nascent recovery before it’s helped the hard-core and long-term unemployed, the underemployed, and discouraged workers.

Rising wages are now considered a key harbinger of labor-market tightening by market participants and Fed policymakers, explains economist John Canally at LPL Financial.

“I think that’s the ultimate indicator—to get wage growth back to normal, back to the 3.5-percent-to-4.5-percent gains we saw prior to the Great Recession,” said Canally. “Then I think there’ll be confidence that businesses are finding it more and more difficult to fill jobs.”

In recent years, average hourly earnings have been rising in the 2-percent-per-year range, just keeping pace with inflation.

Another indicator of a tightening labor market would be a reverse in recent declines in labor force participation, especially among prime-age workers. If more people who have dropped out of the workforce, or never entered it after high school or college,  started looking for work again, that might raise the unemployment rate temporarily. But it would be another sign the economy is truly on the mend.

Week in pictures: 1-7 November 2014

BBC - Fri, 2014-11-07 06:48
The best news photos from around the world

Weekendish: The best of the week's reads

BBC - Fri, 2014-11-07 06:27
A cycling trio, the French X-files, and how to land on a comet.

VIDEO: Prince Charles's spoof video tribute

BBC - Fri, 2014-11-07 05:10
Prince Charles has recorded a tribute to Molly Meldrum, responsible for one of the most disastrous interviews in Australian television history,

Fraudster jailed over £40k con

BBC - Fri, 2014-11-07 04:50
A fraudster, who pretended to be a quadriplegic and in a coma for two years to allegedly evade justice, is jailed for four and a half years for fraud and theft.

VIDEO: 25 years since the fall of the wall

BBC - Fri, 2014-11-07 04:47
German political journalist Thomas Kielinger and Gisela Stuart, now a British MP, on the fall of the Berlin Wall.

China and Japan smooth islands row

BBC - Fri, 2014-11-07 04:44
China and Japan agree to acknowledge differences over a disputed chain of islands in the East China Sea, setting up mechanisms to manage the crisis.

VIDEO: Classic F1 deciders: Senna v Prost 1989

BBC - Fri, 2014-11-07 04:28
Watch highlights of the infamous fight between McLaren team-mates Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost at the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix.

AUDIO: FA invests £1m in blind football

BBC - Fri, 2014-11-07 04:24
Rob Bonnet reports on two new FA initiatives for blind and partially-sighted footballers.

AUDIO: Mild winter 'behind fruit fly plague'

BBC - Fri, 2014-11-07 03:59
An unseasonal plague of fruit flies, being experienced by some parts of the UK, is down to an "exceptionally mild winter", according to Dr Michelle Fountain, an entomologist specialising in fruit crops at the East Malling Research Station in Kent.

Mark Easton's devolution road trip

BBC - Fri, 2014-11-07 03:48
Mark Easton's devolution road trip