Marketplace - American Public Media
Update: Misty Copeland was promoted Tuesday, June 30 to principal dancer for the American Ballet Theater. She's the first-ever African-American woman to hold that title.
Age starting dance: 13
Height: 5 feet 2 inches
Bust: "Bigger than most"
At least, that's how ballerina Misty Copeland describes her numbers-defying career in dance. A soloist with the American Ballet Theater in New York, Copeland recently explained how she doesn't really fit into the traditional model for ballet, but still made it work.
“All of those numbers, they just don’t add up to create a classical dancer,” she says. "No matter what, I'm going to be who I am."
Listen to the full conversation from our live show in New York City in the audio player above.
Tesla Motors is building the world's biggest battery factory just outside of Reno, Nevada. The company is calling it the “gigafactory,” and when it’s up and running in 2016 it’s expected to make Tesla’s electric cars much more affordable.
“In a single factory we're doubling the worldwide capacity to manufacture lithium-ion batteries,” says J.B. Straubel, Tesla's chief technology officer.
That's significant enough. But the company also plans to develop batteries for use with solar-power generation – giving Tesla a shot at challenging public utilities as an energy source, Straubel says.
“At the price points that we're expecting to achieve with the gigafactory ... we see a market that is well in excess of the production capability of the factory,” says Straubel.
The market for batteries is an offshoot of the booming business for solar panels, particularly in states such as California, where solar is becoming commonplace.
“We sign up approximately one new customer every minute of the workday," says Will Craven, director of public affairs at California-based SolarCity.
Much of the excess energy harnessed by solar panels is returned to the power grid, Cravens says. This means homeowners and businesses may earn a credit from their power companies, but have no say over when and how that energy is used.
The partnership with SolarCity will use rooftop solar panels fitted with Tesla’s battery packs to allow customers to keep that energy in-house. That means they can use it however, and whenever, they want. The concept puts Tesla in direct competition with utility companies.
“Stationary storage, or backup storage, is really being considered the ‘Holy Grail’ of renewable electricity generation,” says Ben Kallo, an analyst with the Robert W. Baird financial services firm.
Kallo points out that the intermittent nature of renewable energy sources makes them less reliable because the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine. But with the ability to store that energy, renewable energy sources can compete head-to-head with utility companies for customers.
“There are still many utilities out there who kind of have their head stuck in the sand and just hope that this goes away. What we're seeing is really building momentum,” Kallo says.
Forward-minded utilities might look at Tesla’s business model as an opportunity, he says. Energy-storage technology could be used to build capacity in their existing grids, and also build new infrastructure for battery-powered cars and homes.
Most people aren't paying for things with their phones just yet. If you are, maybe you're just getting used to using your fingerprint to authorize a transaction.
MasterCard is blazing right ahead with an app that will let you pay for items with your face.
Technically, you pay using your MasterCard, obviously. But to authorize your mobile payment, you look at your camera's selfie cam and blink once to prove you're a human.
This story has everything America loves: Buying stuff, cell phones and selfies.
Happy Fourth of July, everyone!
The Federal Communications Commission has now been in the business of enforcing net neutrality for a little less than a month and it's been busy. The FCC promptly fined AT&T $100 million for throttling some users unlimited data access. Sprint said it would stop doing the same thing now that the new rules are in effect.
One formal net neutrality complaint has already been filed, and businesses and the government are trying to figure out what the Internet service game looks like now.
FCC Chair Tom Wheeler explains how the government agency suddenly has a lot more going on:
“Let’s face it, the Internet is redefining all of our lives. It’s an incredibly personal experience for all of us. When you put rules in place that say that there’ll be no blocking, there’ll be no throttling and there will be no paying for some kind of special priority treatment, we’ve established the rules for the road. We’re not going to tell the players how to play the game. We’re not going to get in there and micromanage like old time regulation used to, but we’re going to be on the field ready to throw a flag if there’s a foul.”
It’s a holiday weekend, but there's still news to unpack before the Fourth of July barbecues can get started. Catherine Rampell from the Washington Post and Sudeep Reddy from the Wall Street Journal join Molly for this installment of the Weekly Wrap.
In the headlines:
The University of Washington lowers its tuition
Whole Foods is sorry for overcharging (some of its) customers
Uber is getting a lot of funding … but not turning much of a profit
Greeks head to the polls on Sunday in a referendum that could have major repercussions for Greece and for the rest of the Eurozone.
The Greeks will vote on whether their heavily indebted country should accept the latest proposed deal put forward by its creditors. Since that would mean more austerity and reform in return for more loans , but with no debt relief, the government in Athens is urging the country to vote no.
For such an apparently critical poll, you would expect a fairly stark and straightforward question in the referendum:
Should the plan of agreement be accepted, which was submitted by the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund in the Eurogroup of the 25th of June and comprises of two parts, which constitute their unified proposal?
The first document is entitled "Reforms For The Completion Of the Current Program and Beyond." And the second "Preliminary Debt Sustainability Analysis."
YES? or NO?
Not exactly snappy, is it?
This ponderous, dull and baffling paragraph has nevertheless galvanized Greece into two clearly defined camps: YES and NO, or in Greek: NE and OXI .
According to the opinion polls, each side commands roughly the same level of public support; the referendum is too close to call.
Thousands attend a pro-NO rally in front of the Greek parliament in Athens on Friday.LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images
"I'm going to vote yes," says telecom engineer Efrosyni Pavlakoudi. "A no vote would be saying 'no' to any further help from our European partners. Our banks – which are closed and running out of cash – would collapse. It's a matter of life and death for us and our country."
Pavlakoudi also believes that after a "no" vote, Greece would be forced out of the Eurozone which would be "disastrous".
But the word "no" or "oxi" has a special resonance in Greece, and does not have as negative of a connotation as elsewhere. It carries powerful overtones of national pride and defiance. There is even Oxi Day, which commemorates the resounding answer that Greece delivered to an ultimatum from the Italian dictator Mussolini in 1940. Greece's radical Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has even tried to appeal to the same spirit of wartime resistance.
"No" voters, like Elena Christidi, a psychologist, believe that the referendum is about national survival and the cohesion of Greek society. Christidi regards austerity as a dangerously corrosive force that must be combatted— and by voting "no," she says Greece can strengthen the government's hand in the negotiations with the creditors, get a better deal and uphold Greek social values.
"We cannot just forget our values and the human factor," she says, "I'm voting no because I want to tell the rest of Europe that we reject austerity and the unemployment, the poverty and the misery it brings. We cannot go on cutting our social payments. We cannot go on thinking only about numbers."
But in the end, it's numbers that will determine Greece's fate. The country's shuttered banks are reported to be down to their last half billion euro. If there's a "yes" vote on Sunday – they could get the cash injection they need. If it's a "no," the banks could run dry; Greece may be forced to launch its own currency and the country could face a very perilous future.
Nike founder Phil Knight announced this week that he'll be stepping down from his position as chairman of the company's board. Knight, 77, says he would like current CEO Mark Parker to take his place.
Knight founded the company in 1964 with Bill Bowerman, his running coach from the University of Oregon. Each man put in $500 dollars; Nike recently reported that its annual revenue rose 10 percent to $30.6 billion.
Over the past half-century, Nike has outrun many formerly globe-dominating sportswear companies like Adidas. Paul Swangard at the Warsaw Center for Sports Marketing at the University of Oregon says Phil Knight has baked his personal business ethos into the company he's passing on, "the idea of always pursuing innovation, and always pursuing that extra edge that would provide an athlete the ability to perform at his or her best."
Nike's sophisticated global supply chain helps — with high-priced designers and marketing-types working primarily in the U.S., and low-cost contract-shoe-making workers overseas, mostly in Asia.
Sports-business professor Patrick Rishe at Washington University says he doesn't believe Nike has outpaced its main rivals, companies like Adidas and Reebok, in innovation and technology. Rather, the company has kept ahead with its marketing.
"Look at the Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods effects," says Rishe. "That makes it very difficult for other competitors. Nike has that first-mover advantage."
Rishe says the company has kept up that advantage by continuing to sign top athletes, like LeBron James and Rory McIlroy.
Women's marketing expert Mary Lou Quinlan says Nike's competitors are being smart, too.
"Under Armour is the one I'd be worried about if I were Nike," says Quinlan, "because they seem to have struck that strong-woman place with their unique choice of celebrities, like Misty Copeland, the new principal dancer of the American Ballet Theatre."
On the other hand, Quinlan says Nike still remains at the forefront of marketing athletic styles to women.
"Even if we're wearing it to run to the office, yoga pants are pants, and sneakers are fashion."
What can $37 billion dollars you these days? One health insurance company. Aetna purchase of Humana is the nation’s third-biggest insurer buying the fourth-biggest, in terms of revenue.
And there’s chatters of other mergers afoot.
The need for scale is one driver of this, as insurers negotiate how much they pay to hospitals and doctors.
“In a local market, it’s a matter of who has the greater market power,” says Ana Gupte of the investment bank Leerink Partners. “So Humana combined with Aetna has a lot more market power in any market with a hospital or a physician group.”
Insurance firms have to be big and nimble at the same time. Gupte says the Affordable Care Act caps overhead and profitability for insurers. At the same time, competition is more fierce than ever for corporate customers.
“The old days where you had a broker, who was cozy with a particular employer and could direct the traffic, that kind of a business-to-business market has eroded,” says J.B. Silvers, a former insurance CEO now teaching business at Case Western Reserve.
One growing section of the market is the part of Medicare run by private insurers is growing. Baby boomers are aging into it, and Humana is a large player in that space.
The question is, if this tie-up makes sense for Aetna and Humana — as it does for doctors and hospitals to merge — do patients benefit? That answer may not be clear.
“Consolidation in both sectors has led to increases in provider prices and health insurance premiums,” says Leemore Dafny, health economist at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.
Others argue large insurers negotiate discounted payments to medical providers, and pass the savings on to consumers.
On today's show, more on the shrinking stock market in Shanghai, which took a tumble today. Plus, we're headed into the thick of theme park season, and around the country-parks are adding new attractions, scarier rollar coasters, and wilder rides. We take a closer look at the role of a new ride in driving theme park traffic.
Personal health and wellness technologies are projected to be a $5 billion business this year, according to the Consumer Electronics Association.
Even President Barack Obama wears a wearable wellness device — a Fitbit — on occasion.
But, as it turns out, wearable technologies have a big obstacle to overcome: sensors — the miniaturized devices that measure things like speed and motion.
They are technically called MEMS, or microelectromechanical systems. We are most familiar with them in the forms of the accelerometers and gyroscopes that help smartphones and tablets keep track of motion. This is how we play games on our smartphones by just tilting and moving them, and how wearable wrist trackers count up our steps.
"The sensor market today is being driven by mobile technology," Charlene Marini, vice president of marketing of embedded segments at ARM, said earlier this year, in an interview with Marketplace at the Consumer Electronics Show. "There's a huge volume, of course, in mobile. And so mobile technology is being reused in things like wearables."
That reuse has had its limits. In wearable devices, current MEMS sensors have not been able to keep up with some of the rigors imposed on them. For example, they have not been as power efficient as needed.
They also do not perform all the functions that wearable device designers dream up.
"A lot of these wearables end up in a sock drawer," says Karen Lightman, executive director of the MEMS Industry Group. "After you watch your steps for one week you're like, 'Yeah, I get it. I understand. I need to walk more. OK, that's not helpful.'"
But what if you could track more than just your steps or your heart rate? There are efforts to do that by addressing the shortcomings of current MEMS sensors in key ways: building new sensors, creating software that better operates those sensors in more rigorous conditions, and better understanding the data coming out of current sensors.
The Chicago-based startup Rithmio is taking the latter approach. You can see the function of a program they've created in the video below:
Rithmio co-founder Adam Tilton is working on a program that can track all exercises by learning the unique patterns of movement from each exercise, as performed by each individual user. In a demonstration, he showed how Rithmio's program could recognize a new weight-training exercise within four repetitions, consistently, in multiple attempts.
"So, if you give me 10 seconds of motion-sensing data, I'll tell you whether the user did 10 jumping-jacks, or five bicep curls or whatever," Tilton says.
Tilton could make his program even more accurate, if he had more sensors — ones embedded in clothes. But put those clothes in a washing machine, and the sensors would be ruined. Current sensors can't be washed.
"There's still issues with respect to interoperability. There's still issues with respect to energy and ... power management," says Lightman. "And for wearables that's a big deal." That's because consumers will want wearable devices (even smart shoes and T-shirts) that don't need recharging too often.
There's a race to overcome these limits. Recently, Samsung came out with a new all-in-one chip that's more energy-efficient and has better communication. Intel has announced a similar chip.
Merini says sensors for wearables are quickly evolving, and within a few years there will be a "greater use of new types of sensors, that might not be applicable to phones. For instance, body type sensors, heart rate sensors, etc."
Mehran Mehregany, an engineering professor at Case Western Reserve University, is keeping track of technological advancements in wearable sensors. He says there are efforts to improve sensor technology so that they can measure not just our external activities and surroundings, but also what's happening inside our bodies.
"For example, it would be fantastic to do long-term, non-intrusive blood glucose monitoring," Mehregany says. "The sensor technology is not there to be able to do that type of measurement reliably."
Mehregany also points to accurate, reliable blood pressure monitoring, which he says is the "Holy Grail" for wearable sensors. Right now, MEMS sensors for consumer-grade wearable gadgets still can't reliably perform that measurement either, Mehregany says.
But, he predicts that in 25 years, sensors will measure many vital signs and will be embedded in us, acting like a biological black box. Just as black boxes today keep track of the mechanics of an airplane.
Philadelphia has legalized Airbnb and agreed to tax rentals booked through the site. The city is preparing itself for two huge events — The 2016 Democratic National Convention a year from now. But first up, the pope’s visit.
According to Philadelphia’s tourism bureau, more than 1.5 million visitors are expected to descend on the city for the Papal event.
Philadelphia has 15,849 hotel rooms. That might not be enough. And when there aren’t enough hotel rooms, prices go way up. Georgios Zervas, marketing professor at Boston University, has studied this. “If people want to be in Philly when the pope is visiting, and prices are extremely high,” Zervas says. "Then they might decide not to visit the city at all.”
Which would explain why the city would legalize and tax Airbnb rentals. But how many people even know that in a lot of cities, Airbnb still isn’t legal? Well, if you’re someone wanting to rent out your place you could look at Airbnb’s “Terms of Service."
It clearly states it’s up to you to check. But if you’re like most people: “We scroll to the bottom, click on agree, and move on,” says Cait Lamberton, who teaches marketing at the University of Pittsburgh. Usually at this point in the transaction, people intending to rent out some space are going to do it, Lamberton says.
“You know they’ve probably taken some pictures, they’ve probably written a description, they’re probably thinking about the rate they should charge,” she says.
In other words the legality of the transaction is kind of an afterthought.
It's time for Silicon Tally! How well have you kept up with the week in tech news?
If you’re planning on shopping at a Wal-Mart on this holiday, you may encounter a throwback from the company’s past. The Wal-Mart greeter is making a comeback at the front of some stores. In about 300 of its 4,500 stores, the company is testing a new program to cut down on theft.
“A few years ago, greeters were moved from the front door entrance to what’s called ‘action alley,’ which is over by the self-checkout area,” says Wal-Mart spokesman Brian Nick. Now the company is experimenting with moving them back, to greet customers as they walk in and let would-be shoplifters know someone is watching.
“They serve a twofold function,” says Paula Rosenblum, managing partner at Retail Systems Research. “Ideally they make you feel welcome and, theoretically, they nip a few basis points off of shrink.”
“Shrink” is the industry term for merchandise lost to shoplifting, employee theft, and vendor fraud. It cost retailers an estimated $44 billion last year, according to a new survey by University of Florida criminology professor Richard Hollinger.
Wal-Mart greeters will sometimes check receipts at the door. In other stores, the company is adding “asset protection” specialists in bright yellow vests.
That's how much analysts say Digitour, a traveling show featuring teen social media celebrities, is set to make this year. Buzzfeed embedded a reporter on the tour, which has been packing sold-out theaters with centennial girls who want to catch a glimpse their favorite Vine and YouTube personalities. It's unlikely you've heard of them, but Digitour's acts together boast tens of millions of followers, and a sponsored six-second video from them costs six figures. It's big business, big enough to potentially blur the line between "internet famous" and just "famous."2
That's how many black-owned banks are in Chicago -- half as many as there were just a few years ago -- and one is on the brink of shutting down. That's a pretty major loss; during segregation those banks would give out loans to black homeowners and entrepreneurs when no one else would, and today community banks still diffuse racial prejudice in loan applications.300 stores
That's how many of Wal-Mart's stores will be testing out greeters at the front entrance as an anti-theft measure. After having been moved to the self-checkout area for the past couple years, the greeters will be returned to their spot front and center — the idea being potential thieves will be deterred by the knowledge that someone is watching. Last year, theft cost retailers an estimated $44 billion.
That's how far ratings dropped from last year at Viacom's cable networks, Bloomberg reported. The company at MTV in particular, all part of Sumner Redstone's media empire, is having trouble adjusting to disruption in the industry, but the reason why is divisive. Executives blame poor audience measurement, while others blame Redstone's alleged health problems and an unwillingness to take risks on programming.10 percent
That's the percentage drop in digital music sales in the first half of 2015, according to a report on Nielsen stats by Billboard. But as the Verge reports, even more startling is the fact that people are streaming music twice as much as they did during the same period of time last year.
Nobody includes Richard Nixon on their list of the country’s best presidents, but Nixon had a lasting impact both politically and economically. Author Evan Thomas looks at the psyche of this anxious introvert and takes readers deep into Nixon’s mind in his latest book "Being Nixon: A Man Divided."
“Nixon's become kind of a cartoon to us. We think he's wicked and evil. I just didn't believe that,” says Thomas. “He wanted to be a good person. Late at night, he would take his yellow pad — his aides called his yellow pad his best friend, because he liked being alone with his yellow pad — and he would write notes to himself about who he wanted to be.”
Nixon aimed to be compassionate, joyful, generous … all of which he was not, or at least not often.
“Nixon was an intellectual, he really was. He read deeply and widely, but mostly about international affairs," he says. “For some reason, he neglected economics to his grief, and actually to the grief of all of us, because the stupidest thing he did was wage and price controls, which had a real cost.”
Nixon may have failed as a president in many ways, especially for breaking the Constitution, Thomas says, but he did make a lasting impact in other regards, such as opening up China, expanding Social Security benefits for the disabled, the Clean Air Act, arms control of the Soviets. Nixon was an activist … clever and Machiavellian.
“Machiavelli wanted to be a good prince. Nixon wanted to be a good prince. He wasn’t always a good prince, but he wanted to be.”
Read an excerpt from "Being Nixon":
Just three years ago, Chicago had four black-owned banks. Now there are two, and regulators have told one of them — Illinois Service Federal Savings and Loan— to raise more capital or risk a shutdown. The decline is part of a national trend. Unlike the more-segregated days when these banks were founded, African-American customers can now take their business elsewhere.
However, black-owned banks provide a link to a proud history— and, research says, they may do something a lot more important.
At its height, in the 1920s, '30s and '40s, the South Side’s Bronzeville neighborhood was Chicago’s version of Harlem.
“Bronzeville used to be known as the Black Metropolis,” says chef and entrepreneur Clifford Rome at his new restaurant, Peach’s, across the street from Illinois Service.
“You had all these pioneers who put their businesses on the South Side of Chicago. So you could go to the butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker, right?” he says. “You had these great banks, you had all these entertainers.”
For example, pianist Earl Hines — who started playing in Bronzeville with Louis Armstrong in the 1920s — spent the '30s playing national broadcasts from 39th Street. By the middle of that decade, a local teenager named Nat Cole — later nicknamed “King” — started getting some notice.
“Having all that meant you didn’t have to go anywhere else,” Rome says.
Nor did Bronzeville residents have the opportunity to go anywhere else. Segregation was in full force, and white-owned banks did not cross the color line to make loans.
That’s where Illinois Service Federal came in. As the bank’s CEO, Norman Williams, tells the story: “We were started in 1934 by 13 African-American men with $7,000.”
One of those 13 founders was his father.
“The bank grew very slowly,” Williams says. “Its mission was simply to provide home loans and help people open savings accounts.”
Today, with around $110 million in assets, the bank still has deeply loyal customers— like Clifford Rome. In addition to Peach’s, he runs a catering business, an art gallery and another restaurant on King Drive — and Rome says he has kept multiple accounts with Illinois Service for years.
He recalls his first visit to the bank. “Once I walked in the doors, it’s like a throwback,” he says, laughing. The bank’s current headquarters looked ultra-modern when it was built almost 50 years ago. “But it has this unique quality. It feels community.”
Rome says he banks with Illinois Service for the same reason he uses the dry cleaner next door and the bakery down the street: to support neighborhood institutions.
“You need a community bank — you do,” he says. “Even if that community bank doesn’t have the bandwidth to do everything larger banks do. It’s here.”
However, the financial crisis and the recession hit banks like Illinois Service especially hard. African-Americans, like Norman Williams’s borrowers, were more likely than others to lose their jobs. And miss mortgage payments.
“People didn’t abandon their home — they just got behind,” he says. “Good, decent people, but…” thanks in part to new banking regulations, their problems became Illinois Service’s problems. And that’s why regulators have the bank in their sights.
John Taylor, who runs the Community Reinvestment Coalition, sees community banks like Illinois Service disappearing all over the country.
“That’s really the challenge,” he says. “Disappearing with them is the personal commitment of boards of directors to make sure that those communities, those neighborhoods, prosper."
Taylor believes the issue here is not losing black banks but losing community banks. “The local is more key than the race of the bank president,” he says.
However, research shows that race plays a role too.
For a study published last year in a journal from Oxford University Press, a team of researchers from Rutgers, Brigham Young and Utah State universities sent “mystery shoppers” into about 80 banks. They posed as small business owners looking for a loan. They all had the same story and the same outfit — and were even selected to be equally tall and good looking — but some were black, some were white and some were Latino.
As one of the researchers, Rutgers business professor Jerome Williams, puts it: “We found significant differences.”
The study found bank officers asked tougher questions of minority applicants. For instance, they wanted to see more years of financial records.
The mystery shoppers also used hidden cameras. According to the study, everybody who saw the tapes agreed: bank officers were just nicer to white applicants.
With white applicants, Williams says, “There was a lot of bantering, interaction, jokes — being very, very friendly.”
With the black and Latino mystery shoppers, not so much.
It led to a simple conclusion. For black and Latino entrepreneurs looking for a bank loan, “The playing field is not level,” Williams says. “There’s already a mark against you in terms of your background in applying for a loan.”
In that context, banks like Illinois Service seem even more important.
CEO Norman Williams says he is looking for community-minded investors, and thinks he’ll make it. “But it’s certainly something that does keep me up at night,” he says. “I do think how much good we could do, how much work needs to be done on the South Side of Chicago.”
Right now, he needs about $7 million in new capital to keep Illinois Service doing that work.
We direct your attention now to Securities and Exchange Commission form S-1, officially titled a Registration Statement Under the Securities Act of 1933, filed today by Univision Holdings. The country's biggest Spanish-language broadcaster is going public. No word yet on how many shares it'll offer or what those shares might cost.
But experts say Univision is at the top of its game. It's often beating the big networks during prime time among the coveted 18- to 34-year-old demographic. It's got local television stations at the top of their markets.
"Their numbers are up, their advertising rates are up, they're just doing a great job with the Latino community," says Alex Nogales, CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition.
And the Latino community is a community that advertisers want. Moody's analyst Carl Salas says Univision viewers are in "the perfect demographic." It's a demographic that's growing, that's young. And, Salas says, "the consumer spending represented by Hispanics is only increasing over time."
By some estimates, the spending power of the Latino community in the United States is around $1.5 trillion.
Angeline Close Scheinbaum, at marketing professor at the University of Texas at Austin, thinks the very public fight between Donald Trump and Univision could be an important part of the IPO story.
The decision by Univision to sever ties with Trump after he insulted Mexican immigrants, Scheinbaum says, allowed Univision to show potential investors its values. "From a consumer psychology lens, I think this couldn't have been better."
It's the sort of brand awareness that would be tough to buy.
The economy added a couple hundred thousand jobs in June — 223,000 if you’re counting — and the employment rate dropped slightly, to 5.3 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Even so, “disappointing” was the word of the day, in part because the labor force participation rate, or the share of working-age people who have a job or are looking for one, fell to its lowest level since the late 1970s.
Teens looking for a summer job may have a slightly better outlook than last year, but there are a lot of “missing workers” in prime-age range of 25 to 54, says Elise Gould, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute. She says these are potential workers who, because of weak job opportunities, are neither employed nor seeking a job.
Gould believes the fact that over two-thirds of missing workers are prime age is a “sign that economy is not that strong, and they don’t see a place for themselves in it right now.”
Turning to baby boomers: even though it’s well documented that many older workers are staying on the job longer than before, Gary Burtless, a labor economist at the Brookings Institution, says it’s not enough to make up for the large number of boomers who are retiring.
“At age 65, more and more people are participants, and more and more of them are employed," he says. "Well, that might be a surprise, but nonetheless, it’s a small offset.”
Moving from age to gender: men left the labor force in June in big numbers, the continuation of a multidecade trend.
But after steady increases in the participation rate of women toward the end of the last century, they’ve also fallen off in recent years, says John Silvia, the chief economist at Wells Fargo.
"It may be that oftentimes the female is the second bread winner,” he says. “And the cost of her going to work, taking care of the kids, the marginal tax rates just don’t provide the incentives for the second bread winner, whether male or female, to go out there and get the job.”
Take a moment to mourn the simplest of childhood pleasures: popping bubble wrap.
The Wall Street Journal reports that there's a new version set to hit the market.
It's called — for some completely indecipherable reason — iBubble Wrap.
And sadly, it won't pop.
The final tab for BP — five years after the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history — just got a whole lot more clear. The company settled with the federal government and five Gulf Coast states for $18.7 billion dollars on Thursday. That money will go towards environmental damage, legal penalties and state economic claims.
In all, BP’s total liability will exceed $40 billion dollars. So the question is, is the oil industry safer today?
"In a lot of ways, yes," says Marketplace’s Scott Tong. "The rules have changed. There are more audits of safety protocols than existed before. There is now a federal agency that exclusively does offshore oil safety, which did not exist before."
Click on the media player above to hear more.