Sonari Glinton

Sonari Glinton is a NPR Business Desk reporter based at our NPR West bureau. He covers the auto industry, consumer goods and consumer behavior, as well as marketing and advertising.

In this position, which he has held since late 2010, Glinton has tackled big stories including GM's road back to profitability and Toyota's continuing struggles. Glinton has traveled throughout the Midwest covering important stories such as the tornado in Joplin, Missouri, and the 2012 presidential race. He has also covered the U.S. Senate and House for NPR.

Glinton came to NPR in August 2007 and worked as a producer for All Things Considered. During that time he produced interviews with everyone from UN Ambassador Susan Rice to Joan Rivers. The highlight for Glinton came when he produced Robert Siegel's 50 Great Voices piece on Nat King Cole.

Glinton began his public radio career as an intern at member station WBEZ in Chicago. He went on to produce and report for WBEZ. While in Chicago he focused on juvenile justice and the Cook County Board of Commissioners. Prior to journalism Glinton had a career in finance.

Glinton attended Boston University.

The labor market continues its recovery; the economy added 162,000 jobs in July and pushed the unemployment rate to a 4.5-year low. After a string of bad news, things seem to be to turning around for African-American workers, too.

"The operative word is growth," says Bill Rodgers, an economist at Rutgers University.

The reigning king in the truck world is the Ford F-150, and it's been that way for a couple of decades. But staying on top is getting harder.

With new, tougher fuel standards looming there is a lot of emphasis on efficiency and innovation. On Wednesday, Ford is announcing its flagship truck is taking a step into the alternative fuel world with a vehicle that can run on natural gas.

When you look at their bottom lines and their advertising you realize that the Detroit Three make cars, but they're really truck companies, especially Ford.

The debt-laden city of Detroit has been an incubator for new strategies in urban revitalization, including a downtown People Mover, casinos, urban farms, artist colonies and large scale down-sizing.

In the wake of the city's bankruptcy, many in the community are thinking small.

Just outside of downtown Detroit is a neighborhood called Midtown. Like many hip, urban neighborhoods, it's got hipsters on fixed geared bikes, yoga studios, boutiques for dogs.

The news out of Detroit has been grim of late, but there are some bright spots coming from one corner of the Motor City. On Thursday, General Motors posted its 14th straight profitable quarter since emerging from bankruptcy. Ford announced its 16th consecutive profitable quarter Wednesday, and Chrysler is expected to offer good news soon as well.

Morning Edition has reported that the Toyota Camry is the best-selling car in the U.S., and the Ford Focus is the world's best-seller.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

OK. Well, here's some better news for automakers. In June, cars and trucks sold at a rate close to pre-recession levels. The Detroit automakers all saw gains, as did the big Japanese firms.

Here's NPR's Sonari Glinton.

SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: There is one number that's important to auto executives, and that number is...

JESSICA CALDWELL: The SAAR.

GLINTON: Come Again?

CALDWELL: The SAAR, the Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate.

There is one basic question that keeps being asked about the U.S. auto industry: Is it on the rebound?

"People ask a lot, is the auto industry back?" says Kristin Dziczek, a director at the Center for Automotive Research. "And it depends on what scale you want to look at."

So if we're looking at scales, let's start with productivity. In this case, how many work hours it takes to build a car. Productivity in U.S. plants is 39 percent higher than it was in 2000. "Productivity has never been this high," Dziczek says.

In Los Angeles, the business of fashion is big. The apparel business employs as many as 45,000 workers in L.A. County, many of them immigrants.

Consequently, the garment industry is worried about the outcome of the immigration debate and watching closely to see what happens.

'You Don't Have Another Choice'

One of the heavyweights is American Apparel, which makes more than 40 million articles of clothing each year out of its factory near downtown L.A.

Los Angeles is the world leader in the most American of clothing items: bluejeans. High-end, hand-stitched, designer bluejeans that will you run well over $100 a pair.

But as the U.S. apparel industry continues to shrink, LA's bluejeans business faces a threat: a nearly 40 percent tariff, imposed by the European Union, that could cripple the city's jean business.

When people talk about Ilse Metchek they use phrases like "she's a piece of work," "a force of nature," "she's something else." If you want to talk fashion, she's your lady.

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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. The economy added 165,000 jobs in April. That exceeded the expectations of economists. It also drove down the unemployment rate to a four-year low, 7.5 percent. Unfortunately, the biggest gains were in lower-paying fields like hospitality and temp agencies. And as the school year comes to a close and young people start looking, the question is will there be enough work for them. NPR's Sonari Glinton reports.

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The Atlantic Coast of the U.S. took an economic hit six months ago from Hurricane Sandy. It left behind damaged businesses, homes and hundreds of thousands of waterlogged vehicles.

NPR's Sonari Glinton reports that it's still affecting the auto industry.

SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: Much of the physical damage of Sandy has been cleaned up, but if you didn't live in the storm's path, it's hard to contemplate the scope of destruction - especially when it comes to cars.

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NPR's business news starts with an appetite for oil.

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WERTHEIMER: Researchers say they see a plateau in the demand for oil. A new report says demand could level off by the end of this decade, and that's a lot sooner than expected, as NPR's Sonari Glinton reports.

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And out next business story fits in the category of what were they thinking? Ford Motor Company is apologizing for ads sketched up by an agency in India - ads that have been decried as demeaning to women. They are cartoon drawings showing off how spacious a Ford trunk can be. One spoofs Italy's former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi. He's at the wheel, and in the trunk, three women, tied up.

NPR's Sonari Glinton reports.

Both housing and the stock market have been on the upswing in recent months. But a full recovery in the housing market would be more significant to the overall economy. That's because more Americans have something at stake in home values than in stock prices.

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NPR's business news starts with charges of pension fraud.

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MONTAGNE: A federal grand jury has indicted the former CEO of the California Public Employees' Retirement System.

NPR's Sonari Glinton has more on the bribery and influence-peddling case.

SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: Let's start with the characters. There's Calpers - or the California Public Employees Retirement Systems. As pensions systems, go you can't get bigger.

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Let's consider a company, now, that's had lots of ups and downs - General Motors. Most of GM's history is in the form of cars, and that history is housed in a nondescript warehouse in a suburb of Detroit. It's called the GM Heritage Center. Not open to the public, it's an automotive archive.

NPR's Sonari Glinton got a tour.

SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: There's probably no better job for a car nut than to be in charge of a vast auto archive for one of the biggest and oldest car companies.

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So a Web site has posted what is purported to be the financial information of celebrities and political figures. The apparent victim include among others: First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Beyoncé.

As NPR's Sonari Glinton reports, this was not a traditional hack.

SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: There is probably no celebrity more able to control the flow of information about her life than Beyoncé.

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Economists look at many tea leaves as they try to determine the health of the economy. One of the most important surrounds vehicle sales, and more specifically pickup truck sales, which are tied to the construction industry. And as last month's sales rose 18 percent, the auto industry is betting big on a real estate rebound.

It's arguable that the Ford F-150 is the most important vehicle to come out of Detroit since the Model-T. It's also built where many parts for the old Model-T were made in Dearborn, Mich.

"Buying a car sucks," Scott Painter says. "It's something that most consumers fear."

Back in the '90s, Painter started a company to try to change this. "The name of the company was Cars Direct," he says. "The mission was to sell cars directly."

Painter wanted his company to build virtual dealerships that would let people go online and buy cars. But after talking with a few car execs, he realized nobody would even consider his idea.

The car market in the U.S. is at its most competitive. Not only are big companies like General Motors and Toyota slugging it out, but in order to survive, small-niche players like Subaru also are trying to push into the mainstream.

The Japanese carmaker is popular in Denver, the Pacific Northwest and the Northeast. Now Subaru has its sights on Texas and Tennessee.

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During every inauguration, there's some degree of hometown pride on display, and President Obama's swearing-in yesterday was no different. Thousands of inauguration-goers made their way from the president's adopted hometown of Chicago. And it wasn't just seasoned politicians. Many were young people.

NPR's Sonari Glinton reports.

For President Obama's first inauguration, Rep. Danny Davis of Illinois organized a group of more than 700 people — on 10 buses — to make the journey from Chicago to Washington, D.C.

Last time, one of those buses broke down. This time, however, the group decided to take an 18-hour Amtrak ride to see the second presidential inauguration of their hometown hero.

Davis staffer Tumia Romero, who organized the trip, says she did not want to deal with the nightmare of a bus having issues again.

When you watch science fiction movies, you notice there are two things that seem like we will get in the future — a silver jumpsuit and driverless cars.

This week, the sleek, speedy Chevy Corvette turns 60 years old. In the increasingly competitive auto business, where few cars make it past their teens, that makes it nearly ancient.

General Motors, however, is not retiring one of America's oldest sports cars just yet, and is embarking on the perilous path of updating the beloved brand. The auto company unveiled the new 2014 Corvette at the Detroit Auto Show on Sunday, a model that also revives the long-dormant Stingray name.

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NPR's business news starts with a roundup of auto sales.

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INSKEEP: We mentioned the other day that auto sales numbers for 2012 were looking like they were going to be very good. Now we have the numbers. For the auto industry, sales increased by 13 percent in 2012 and the major carmakers were profitable.

NPR's Sonari Glinton tells us why.

SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: 2012 brought with it the third straight year of double digit growth for the auto industry.

The "fiscal cliff" deal leaves in place tax subsidies for the wind power industry for at least one more year. Windmills have dramatically changed the picture of the Midwest. Wind has also changed the landscape economically and politically.

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We are in a great season to buy a car. Automakers and dealers are offering lots of incentives. And those incentives are just one of the factors in what may end up as the best year for the auto industry since 2007, before the height of the financial crisis. So why has it been a good year? Well, when millions of people hold off on their car purchases for years, that pent up demand, along with cheap credit, will eventually drive stronger sales.

Here's NPR's Sonari Glinton.

Owners of Toyota vehicles that experienced sudden and unintended acceleration have reached a settlement requiring the carmaker to pay as much as $1.4 billion in claims. A judge will review the proposal Friday.

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Companies that make firearms are facing some tough choices, in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy. Yesterday, the private equity group Cerberus Capital Management said it's getting out of the gun business. And one of the largest outlets for firearms, Dick's Sporting Goods, said it is suspending sales of certain kinds of rifles. Wal-Mart has removed a website listing for a rifle similar to the one used by the gunman in Connecticut.

NPR's Sonari Glinton looks at what the gun debate could mean for big business and big retail.

Michigan's Legislature is expected to pass legislation Tuesday that would bar contracts requiring employees to pay union dues as a condition of employment. The proposed right-to-work law has infuriated union leaders in a state considered the heart of the union movement.

Republican leaders pushing the bill closely watched the fights over labor rights going on across the Midwest, but it wasn't Ohio or Wisconsin that prompted them into action. Many leaders in the public and private sector looked to their neighbor to the immediate south.

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