Yuki Noguchi

Yuki Noguchi is a correspondent on the Business Desk based out of NPR's headquarters in Washington D.C. Since joining NPR in 2008, she's covered business and economic news, and has a special interest in workplace issues — everything from abusive working environments, to the idiosyncratic cubicle culture. In recent years she has covered the housing market meltdown, unemployment during the Great Recession, and covered the aftermath of the tsunami in Japan in 2011. As in her personal life, however, her coverage interests are wide-ranging, and have included things like entomophagy and the St. Louis Cardinals.

Prior to joining NPR, Yuki started her career as a reporter for The Washington Post. She reported on stories mostly about business and technology, and later became an editor.

Yuki grew up with a younger brother speaking her parents' native Japanese at home. She has a degree in history from Yale.

Business groups have long been active players in the nation's immigration debate. They represent employers who need to recruit workers, after all — employers who are sometimes investigated, even prosecuted, for hiring workers who are not approved to work in the U.S. legally.

Many big employers have been pushing for reforms that would allow them to keep more science and technology workers and skilled laborers in the country. But the executive action President Obama announced Thursday leaves out much of what the business lobby has been advocating for.

Valerie McMorris has served drinks at the Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, N.J., since it opened 24 years ago.

Casinos have sustained McMorris most of her life; both of her parents worked in casinos, she says. "It just allowed so many people a middle class status."

But McMorris says that's changing. Her pay and benefits have been cut. Her husband lost his job at the Revel, a gleaming $2.4 billion casino that went bust this year.

In gambling, they say, the house always wins. But that hasn't been the case in Atlantic City this year. By year's end, the city that once had an East Coast monopoly on gaming may lose its fifth casino.

The city is reeling from the closures. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Thursday that the first order of business is to "stop the bleeding." So city and state officials are trying to reposition Atlantic City by literally building it up.

Performance review season is nearing, and if that makes you break out into a cold sweat, you're not alone. Studies show between 60 percent and 90 percent of employees, including managers, dislike the performance evaluation.

Some companies are starting to look at alternatives, but the performance review is pretty entrenched.

"They're fraudulent, bogus and dishonest," says Samuel Culbert, a management professor at UCLA who does research in dysfunctional management practice. "And second, they're indicative of and they support bad management."

Reynolds American, the country's second-largest cigarette-maker, is changing its policy on smoking in the office. Until now, Reynolds employees have been able to light up at their desks, but come January, workers will have to either go outside or use specially equipped smoking rooms.

"We allowed smoking of cigarettes, cigars, pipes, traditional tobacco products throughout our facilities," says David Howard, a spokesman for Reynolds American. He says it's not as though his co-workers chain-smoke at work.

The first time I meet Lynn Good, she's tucked behind a set of doors with her bags, calmly waiting for the hotel's fire alarms to stop bleating.

She's at Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit in California to speak, even though, she says, "I don't think of myself as a powerful woman."

It occurs to me later that the unexpected run-in is a fitting introduction to a woman whose corporate ascent has been marked by some emergency detours.

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In the power business, it's all about managing the peaks.

During the hottest days of summer, electric utilities run at full capacity to keep giant cities comfortably cool. But most of the rest of the year, half that capacity goes unused — and that's highly inefficient.

Arthur Andersen is back. Or at least the old accounting firm's name will be, for the first time since its association with accounting scandals at Enron more than a decade ago.

The firm was criminally convicted — a decision that was later overturned, although that came too late to save the company.

As of Monday, a company called WTAS is adopting the Andersen name and, in doing so, hopes clients will have forgotten the bad associations.

'That Was The End'

VF Corp. is one of the biggest clothing companies you might not have heard of. But its brands include Lee and Wrangler jeans, Timberland shoes and The North Face, and it also makes uniforms for police and major league sports teams.

It's also a large purchaser of cotton. "We buy roughly 1 percent of the cotton available in the world," says Letitia Webster, VF's senior director of sustainability. Her job is to both reduce the company's greenhouse gas footprint and reduce its risks from climate change.

A car accident crushed Brandon Coats' upper spine when he was 16, leaving him unable to walk. His muscles still spasm, disrupting sleep and causing pain.

"If I'm out in public it's embarrassing," Coats says. "It's always uncomfortable. If I smoke marijuana, it almost completely alleviates it" — more, he says, than other prescriptions.

Coats smokes at night, and says he was never high when answering customer calls at Dish Network. "I was really good at my job," he says.

Robin Koval is making a career of her changed tobacco habit.

"I'm a child of a smoker — my father was a heavy smoker," Koval says. "Really typical to the way the story goes, I started smoking when I was 15."

Now she is president and CEO of Legacy, a foundation devoted to preventing tobacco use.



A federal grand jury indicted FedEx last week on charges the company knowingly shipped drugs from illegal online pharmacies. NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports the disputes over shippers' responsibilities in the illegal drug trade go back many years.

It's summer. It's sweaty. And sometimes that means people are trailing some pungent body odors that their colleagues can't help but smell. But how do you tactfully inform co-workers that they stink and need to address it? As Cath Ludeman-Hall will tell you, it isn't easy.

She was just out of college and a newbie at a staffing firm when she was asked to gently talk to an older worker in a retail warehouse after his colleagues complained that he stank.

Employers say obesity is a top health concern for their workers. But health is a sensitive and personal issue. Some employees say these wellness initiatives can go too far.

From the water's edge in Norfolk, Va., the U.S. naval base spans the whole horizon. Aircraft carriers, supply centers, barracks and admirals' homes fill a vast expanse.

But Ray Toll, a retired naval oceanographer, says the "majority of [the naval base], if not all of it" is at risk of flooding "because it's so low and it's flat."



From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.


And I'm Robert Siegel. There are a lot of open job slots in the top ranks of retail companies these days. J.C. Penney, American Eagle Outfitters and Target are all looking for new CEOs. As NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports, executive recruiters say it's harder these days to fill those positions.

YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: Once upon a time, retail wasn't so big or so complicated. And talent was as plentiful as the competition.

The issue of cost comes up repeatedly in the debate over climate change.

With the Obama administration's proposed rules for limiting greenhouse gases out Monday, critics and proponents alike claim they know how the plan will affect consumers' monthly budgets. The draft proposal aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 30 percent by 2030.

Bullying is a behavioral problem often associated with children in grade school, but according to a recent Zogby poll commissioned by the Workplace Bullying Institute more than a quarter of American workers say they've experienced abusive conduct at work.

Now, many states are considering laws that would give workers legal protections against workplace abuse.

If the students at Stanford University believe they sent the coal industry a strong message this week, they should think again. The school's decision to eliminate coal from its portfolio did not send shock waves through the industry. In fact, representatives say it will have no financial impact on the industry at all. Nor will it curb the growing demand around the world for coal-generated electricity.

Technically, consumers are supposed to pay taxes on things they buy online. In fact, few do.

Congress is considering a bill called the Marketplace Fairness Act that would force many online sellers to collect sales taxes for the first time.

In the meantime, some states have already enacted so-called Amazon taxes, forcing the giant online retailer to collect sales taxes the same way traditional brick-and-mortar stores do.

The workplace has become a more understanding place for pregnant women or new moms these days. Many companies now have lactation rooms and offer more liberal maternity and paternity leave policies than in years past.

But for some women, pregnancy can still be a career liability.

Heather Myers was fresh out of high school and working at a Wal-Mart in Salina, Kan., in 2006 when she found out she was pregnant. She kept a water bottle with her on the sales floor, as her doctor recommended. Then, her supervisor intervened.

Many of Don Kluemper's management students at the University of Illinois at Chicago have had this experience: After going on a job interview, they sometimes receive "friend" requests from their interviewers.

It puts the students in a bind, he says. They fear that not accepting the request might hurt their job chances, but they also feel compelled to scrub their profiles before accepting.

"They didn't know why they were being friended," Kluemper says. "If it was some personal request or if the person was going to be screening their profile."

As a wedding planner, Jeanne Hamilton saw her share of very bad manners — people who made her think, "There should be an etiquette hell for people like you."

And bingo! That was the beginning of her website, Etiquette Hell, a repository of more than 6,000 firsthand accounts of bad behavior people witness in their fellow peers.

And the most frequent complaint? Fridge theft. It's rampant, apparently, in offices all over the world.

As the job market improves and people are trying to get back to work, more older workers in their 40s and 50s are signing on for internships. It could pay off, but it can come with some difficult trade-offs.

For Renee Killian, 47, it has meant working an unpaid stint alongside fellow interns who are less than half her age. Killian's dayside duties at the Red Cross in Washington, D.C., often involve making sure the response trucks are properly stocked with blankets, water bottles and cleaning kits. At night, she is a volunteer on call. And she's not earning a dime.

E-cigarettes aren't yet federally regulated as tobacco products, but many cities and some states are already moving to include the devices in their smoking bans. Such bans are raising a debate about whether e-cigarettes should be permitted to be used in smoke-free workplaces.

Gary Nolan was a two-pack-a-day cigarette smoker until he switched to e-cigs. Now Nolan, who hosts a libertarian talk show based in Columbia, Mo., freely puffs — or vapes, as it's come to be called — at work.



From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.


And I'm Robert Siegel.

Federal Reserve policymakers say it's not your imagination, there has been an economic slowdown over the past few months. The pullback was partly due to the harsh winter weather. And today was Fed chair Janet Yellen's first opportunity to face the Washington press corps at the end of a two-day meeting.

So far this year, retail chains have announced some heavy cuts. J.C. Penney said it would close 33 stores. Macy's said it would lay off 2,500 workers. Sears will close its flagship Chicago store in April.

That's creating a glut of excess space. But that's just one of several forces changing the face of retail.

The pharmacy giant CVS plans to eliminate cigarettes and other tobacco products from its stores by October. The company says it made the decision because the drug store business is changing and that selling cigarettes is no longer consistent with its mission. Medical experts and the White House hailed the move. NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports.



This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rene Montagne.


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