New homebuilding reached a 4 1/2 year high in December, welcome news for an industry that lost 2 million jobs during the downturn. Despite those job losses, the sector is experiencing a labor shortage in some parts of the U.S.
The construction industry in the U.S. is staging a comeback. In one indicator, the Commerce Department announced Thursday that new homebuilding has reached its highest level in 4 1/2 years.
While that's a promising sign for the industry, more than 2 million construction jobs have been lost in the sector since employment hit its peak. While some might expect that means plenty of people are ready to fill the new jobs, many markets around the country are actually experiencing a shortage of construction workers.
Credit Darlyne A. Murawski / Getty Images/National Geographic Creative
Researchers in Massachusetts and Wisconsin are comparing modern flower blooming data with notes made by Henry David Thoreau and Aldo Leopold. The sight of irises blooming during a Boston winter helped spur the research.
Modern scientists trying to understand climate change are engaged in an unlikely collaboration — with two beloved but long-dead nature writers: Henry David Thoreau and Aldo Leopold.
The authors of Walden and A Sand County Almanac and last spring's bizarrely warm weather have helped today's scientists understand that the first flowers of spring can continue to bloom earlier, as temperatures rise to unprecedented levels.
The federal government hit its debt limit at the end of last year. Since then, the Treasury Department has been taking what it calls "extraordinary measures" to keep the government funded and avoid defaulting on U.S. obligations.
But those measures will run out sometime between the middle of February and early March. Then it's up to Congress to raise the debt limit.
House Republicans are wrestling with the best strategy at a retreat Thursday and Friday in Virginia. And some have been denying that there is a risk of default if the debt ceiling isn't raised.
This image from video provided by the SITE Intel Group made available Thursday Jan. 17, 2013, purports to show militant militia leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar. News reports say he may have been responsible for the Western hostages' being taken at a gas plant in Algeria.
Mokhtar Belmokhtar has had a few skirmishes in his day.
The former Algerian soldier went to Afghanistan to join Islamist fighters battling the Soviets in the 1980s. He returned home and rose to prominence among the Islamist rebels who waged a nasty war with the Algerian government in the 1990s.
For the past decade, he's remained an elusive figure. He's believed to have spent most of his time in Algeria's Sahara and has been regarded as one of the top figures in al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
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Here's something we haven't bee able to report for a while: State budgets are looking better. Thanks to an improving economy, spending cuts and some tax increases, more than 33 states and the District of Columbia report their financial condition is stabilizing. Even California, the poster child for the budget mess, is looking OK, at least in the short run.
The economy has been growing in Kansas, but the state's budget is still projected to be in the red next fiscal year. A tax cut passed last year is aimed at growing the economy, but it's predicted that there will be a significant shortfall first.
Workers dismantle the fence around the remodeled Century theater in Aurora, Colo., in preparation for the cinema's reopening Thursday. The theater's owner sent 2,000 invitations to the private event, being held for victims' families and first responders.
The Aurora, Colo., theater where 12 people were killed in a mass shooting last summer reopens Thursday, with a private event for victims' families and first responders.
But some families are giving the event a pass, arguing that the decision to reopen is insensitive. Jessica Watts lives just a few miles from the theater where her cousin, Jonathan Blunk, and 11 others were killed and dozens more wounded.
We couldn't leave Memphis without a taste of the blues from gospel-blues singer and preacher Rev. John Wilkins. He's the son of Rev. Robert Wilkins, who wrote "Prodigal Son," a song famously covered by The Rolling Stones on Beggars Banquet.
Here, we've got a performance by Rev. John Wilkins with his band — and his daughters on backing vocals. During our interview, Wilkins spoke about his faith and his father, and even sings a version of "Prodigal Son" himself.
Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 4:27 pm
As part of our "Sense of Place" tour of Memphis, we're on to Royal Studio, where Al Green, Ann Peebles and others made some of the 1970s' most important soul music for Hi Records.
Most of that music was produced by the late Willie Mitchell. Here, we've dug up a 2005 interview with Al Green wherein he tells the story of how Mitchell helped him find his voice. We also talk with Mitchell's son, Boo, who grew up at Royal. His dad told him, "Don't turn Royal into a museum when I die." Don't worry; he hasn't.