Business news

D Gorenstein

Some concerning news out Wednesday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — the death rate among all Americans rose for the first time in a decade.

The age adjusted-death rate for all causes jumped from 723.2 deaths per 100,000 people in 2014, to 729.5 deaths in 2015. 

Researchers note this is one of just a few times in the past 25 years the death rate has gone up.

JaeRan Kim

The members of OPEC are gathering Thursday for their biannual meeting, which could be a happier one now that oil prices are about double what they were at their lows earlier this year.

It has been a rough couple years for the oil market, with a vast reserve growing and prices tumbling. Oil prices started tumbling 18 months ago when OPEC decided not to cut production. Saudi Arabia was playing a long game to drive out U.S. shale oil by keeping prices low, experts said.

Google's Magenta wants to teach machines to be creative

Jun 1, 2016
Bruce Johnson and Levi Sharpe

We might have to start calling it “art-ificial intelligence.” 

Magenta is an open-source Google Brain project exploring the intersection of music and machine learning. The project aims to teach artificial intelligence to be creative.  

“Magenta asks the questions, ‘Can we use this technology to create art or music, or help artists and musicians create cooler art or cooler music?’” said Douglas Eck, research scientist working on the Magenta project. 

Hundreds of thousands lose food stamps in Florida

Jun 1, 2016
Wilson Sayre

During the recession, it was easier to get food stamps if you needed them. But now that the economy is improving, it's becoming harder because certain states like Florida, Alabama and South Carolina are again requiring people to show that they’re working.

In Florida, the rollout of those requirements has caused hardship for a lot of people like Lucy Perry, who sleeps every night on the sidewalks of downtown Miami.

“Now under this bridge, “ Perry said, pointing to the towering I-95 overpass, “we’ve been here about a year under this bridge.”

Marketplace for Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May 31, 2016

Today's episode goes inside Verizon's American call centers and inside the heads of American consumers. Plus: Only about half of welfare funding actually goes to cash assistance, work or child care. What happens to the rest?

Kim Adams

Verizon employees are headed back to work Wednesday, ending a strike that’s lasted almost seven weeks. As part of the tentative deal between Verizon and the unions, workers will get a pay raise, and there will be about 1,400 new jobs at East Coast call centers, according to the company.

On today's show, we'll talk about the spike in consumer spending and personal income last month; what climate change means for the built environment; and an auction for a first edition "Alice in Wonderland."

Why we're in the mood to spend a little more

May 31, 2016
Adrienne Hill

The Commerce Department just announced a 1 percent increase in personal spending and a 0.4 percent increase in income for the month of April.

You wouldn’t know it by listening to the rhetoric of some political candidates, but...

"Consumers are very confident about the current state of the economy," said Richard Curtin, an economist at the University of Michigan who directs their monthly consumer sentiment surveys.

Immigration a concern amid looming Brexit vote

May 31, 2016
Sam Beard

Immigration is a key issue in next month’s referendum in Britain on whether to stay in or pull out of the European Union. The EU guarantees the free movement of people between the 28 member states, and that’s been worrying many Brits concerned about the record influx of migrants. Last year, there was a net inflow into the U.K. of more than 330,000 settlers – half of them from elsewhere in the EU.      

A Dutch company is training birds to take down drones

May 30, 2016
Adrienne Hill

A Dutch Company is training eagles and other birds of pray to attack and bring down drones.

Law enforcement officials say drones could pose threats to public safety, from spying to endangering aircraft. One advantage to using eagles over shooting or jamming the drones is that birds can carry the drones to the ground without making them crash.

How to build a business on another company's old gear

May 30, 2016
Adrienne Hill

Ask any audio engineer working at Marketplace who Wes Dooley is, and you’ll quickly get an answer along the lines of “Oh yeah he’s famous.”

Now in his 70s, Dooley is the co-founder of Audio Engineering Associates — AEA for short — and he sells a range of handmade ribbon microphones, some costing upwards of $5,000. Dooley’s mics are used by musicians like Dolly Parton and Pete Townsend and younger artists such as Leon Bridges and the Alabama Shakes.

Military spouses are often underemployed

May 30, 2016
Kim Adams

A new study commissioned by Blue Star Families looks at the economic toll military life can take on family members, especially military spouses. According to a new study commissioned by Blue Star Families, military spouses are about one and half times more likely to be unemployed than other civilians.

Military spouses often have to take jobs below their skill level due to frequent moves.

Lane Wallace

Home prices are on the rebound these days, and new Case-Shiller home price numbers out Tuesday are expected to confirm that.

China's bumpy path toward market reform

May 30, 2016

On today's show, we'll talk about China's reforms aimed at giving markets more say in its domestic economy; new labeling requirements from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for packages of steak; and end-of-life care for your pets.

Todd Bookman

Paul Rozin has seen lots of dogs come and go during his 79 years. Suki, you get the sense, wouldn’t make his Hall of Fame.

“Among the dogs I’ve had,” Rozin said, “I would say she’s less than average in intelligence.”

But it seems what she lacks in brains, the shaggy white Cairn terrier more than makes up for in loyalty.

“She’s been a good companion and she’s surprisingly young. I mean, if you look at her, you wouldn’t think she was 15 years old. She’s pretty active,” he said.

Grilling beef today? Read this.

May 30, 2016
Kim Adams

There are new labeling requirements from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that might show up on your package of steak. Producers now have to give you a heads up if your meat has been “mechanically tenderized.”

Meat producers know people like their meat tender, and so sometimes, they tenderize it for you. Tiny needles or blades pierce the meat so it is more tender after cooking.

Jessica Placzek

One sign of the tech boom: If you could code and had a pulse, you had a job. That’s changed, said Steven Bryan, an IT specialist who is unemployed.

“I actually never went looking for a job. Normally when something would disappear another door would open up,” Bryan said.

Bryan was at the NOVA Job Center in Sunnyvale, California. It provides career advice mostly to tech workers.

“The hiring itself has slowed down,” said Kris Stadelman, director of NOVA. But she adds that we ought to put that slowdown in perspective.

That Trump vs. Sanders debate is already off

May 27, 2016
Kai Ryssdal

I called it a political fever dream yesterday — the idea that Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders were eventually gonna wind up on a debate stage.

What do ya know? I was right.

Here's the press release out of the Trump camp today:

Social media censorship from around the world

May 27, 2016
Donna Tam

The Vietnamese government blocked its citizens from accessing Facebook this week during President Barack Obama’s visit to the country. The reason? The country wanted to quiet human rights activists, according to Reuters.

Marketplace for Friday, May 27, 2016

May 27, 2016
Donna Tam

Microsoft and Facebook — the social network you can't escape — are teaming up to build a fiber optics cable under the mid-Atlantic. Plus: what, me worry (about a trade war)?

A battle between two tech giants

May 27, 2016

On today's show, we'll talk about Google's court victory against Oracle over a Java code dispute; the end of price-matching at 500 Wal-Mart stores; and the influence of undocumented immigrants on political elections, despite their inability to vote or donate. 

Lane Wallace

Google has won an important legal victory over whether it violated copyright rules when it developed the Android operating system. Jurors in San Francisco on Thursday ruled in favor of the tech giant in a $9 billion case brought by software company Oracle.

The dispute, which dates back to 2010, is about Google’s use of Java, a popular programming language that Oracle acquired when it bought Java creator Sun in January 2010.

The days are numbered for price-matching

May 27, 2016
Ashley Milne-Tyte

Price-matching has been in the news this week: Amazon customers criticized the retail giant for ending its practice of matching cheaper prices. Amazon soon shot back it never had such a policy, except for TVs.

Now Wal-Mart is ending price-matching in 500 of its stores. Customers have traditionally been able to come in brandishing a cheaper rival’s ad – and get refunded the difference. As of June 9, they’ll be able to price check on an app and get a gift card back instead of cash.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

A St. Louis jury ordered Monsanto and three other companies to pay more than $46 million to three people in a suit alleging negligence in the production of PCBs.

Kimojis, Sheenojis...Kaimojis?

May 26, 2016
Kai Ryssdal

Charlie Sheen's back in it — he's the latest celeb to jump on the personalized emoji bandwagon.

They're called Sheenojis, which does have a certain ring to it. He's not the only one. When Kim Kardashian released her line of Kimojis, she broke the app store.

Which gets me to part two of this final note: I'm totally doing my own line of emojis.

Marketplace for Thursday, May 26, 2016

May 26, 2016
Nancy Marshall-Genzer

Trump vs. Sanders. Peter Thiel vs. Gawker. Georgia's "HERO" vs. Traffic. Plus: This election season is already breaking fundraising records.

What Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have in common

May 26, 2016
Nancy Marshall-Genzer

Donald Trump  and Bernie Sanders appear to have agreed to a debate.   So what would that debate look like?

Would they take the gloves off?  Yeah.  But think about what they have in common.  And  not just their, shall we say, unique and sometimes uncooperative hair, and the way they both wave their arms and yell.  They’re yelling about some of the same stuff. 

Would anyone take a Trump vs. Sanders debate seriously?

May 26, 2016
Marketplace staff

In the latest twist to an unconventional election season, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump could be debating all-but-mathematically-eliminated Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders.

Hillary Clinton, Sander's rival and the presumptive Democratic nominee, declined to debate Sanders before next month's California primary. During his appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" Wednesday night, Trump said he'd be willing to step in the ring instead.

The key economic issues on the G7 summit agenda

May 26, 2016

On today's show, we'll talk about the key economic issues world leaders are discussing at the G7 summit; the shrinking number of banking jobs; and the possible danger of "Finding Dory" for the world's reefs. 

Single women’s homes are worth less than men’s

May 26, 2016
Lane Wallace

Single women are at a disadvantage in the housing market: not only are their homes less valuable than men’s, but that gap widens over time.

That’s the finding of a new analysis by the firm RealtyTrac, which looked at more than 2 million homes for which owner information was available.

The data showed a 10 percent disparity between the values of single men’s and single women’s homes.