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.

Years into the economic recovery, hiring remains slow. Many businesses learned to do more with less during the recession, so they don't need to bring on as many people now.

These new efficiencies have led to what economists call "labor displacement," which is taking place around the country. One business in Rockville, Md., is doing the same amount of work with half its original staff.

Two things are noticeably absent from the offices of Mid-Atlantic Builders: people and paper.

Sticking to a diet is a challenge for many people, but starting next year, Americans may have an even bigger, financial incentive to keep their weight in check. The new health care law includes a provision that would allow employers with more than 50 employees to require overweight workers who do not exercise to pay more to cover their insurance costs.

Some employers, inspired in part by the success of shows like The Biggest Loser, are already designing weight-loss programs that use money to succeed where willpower has failed.

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Among the things President Obama proposed last night in his State of the Union Address, an increase in the minimum wage.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Tonight, let's declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty...

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OBAMA: ...and raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour.

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The U.S. Postal Service announced Wednesday that it plans to end Saturday delivery later this year. The Postal Service lost more than $15 billion in fiscal year 2012 and it is under great pressure to reduce those losses.

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NPR's business news begins with an ending.

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GREENE: The U.S. Postal Service has just announced the end of first class mail deliveries on Saturday. It is part of an effort to slow enormous financial losses. And NPR's Yuki Noguchi has come into the studio to tell us what all this means for customers and the Postal Service. And Yuki, so when will my Saturday deliveries stop?

Boeing generated more cash than expected last year and reclaimed the top spot over rival Airbus as the world's biggest airplane maker.

But all that was overshadowed by the fact that its entire fleet of 787s is grounded after batteries on two of its planes either overheated or caught fire.

"For 2013, our first order of business, obviously, is getting the 787 back into service," Boeing CEO James McNerney says.

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And we're in the midst of year-end earnings announcements. This week, companies including Apple, Lockheed-Martin, Microsoft and Starbucks will announce their final 2012 results. NPR's Yuki Noguchi has a preview of the corporate earnings season.

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.

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The Consumer Protection Financial Bureau is unveiling today the second half of its new mortgage rules. It will outline how the mortgage industry must manage loans that are delinquent or in the process of being foreclosed.

NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports that these rules, among other things, aim to make it easier for borrowers to communicate with the people handling their mortgages.

Throughout the fiscal cliff drama, business leaders pressed Washington for a deal. But the limited nature of the bill that passed is unlikely to make many business leaders happy.

For the first time in five years, the U.S. housing sector contributed to economic growth in 2012. The foreclosure crisis is evolving and working its way through the system, although there are still lingering concerns.

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7.7 percent, that's the current unemployment rate. It's a full percentage point lower than this time last year. That sounds like progress, a modest number of new jobs are being added every month. But labor force participation, a measure of both people who are working and those who are actively looking for work, is at its lowest point in three decades.

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The popular website Intrade allows its users to bet on the odds of almost anything — like whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will get ousted by a certain date, or whether the movie Argo will win best picture at the Oscars.

This week, Ireland-based Intrade announced that U.S. users will have to unwind their bets and shut down their accounts by the end of the year. That's after the Commodity Futures Trading Commission sued Intrade for operating an unregistered exchange.

Buyers are coming back into the housing market after losing their homes during the financial crisis — returning to homeownership more quickly than lenders have typically allowed.

With millions of families with recent foreclosures on their records, some report that they are having luck buying a house — in some cases within three years.

Many veterans aren't just looking for a job; they're looking for a career, a calling and, of course, financial stability. Those recently separated from the military have to confront what is still a fairly weak civilian job market.

Both candidates seized on Friday's jobs report to make the case for why they should be elected next Tuesday. Employers added a better than expected 171,000 jobs in October. But the unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9 percent as more Americans entered the labor force to look for work.

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Homeowners, businesses, and insurance companies are still assessing the damage from the storm in much of the eastern U.S. But some early estimates are in.

And as NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports, Hurricane Sandy inflicted heavy economic damage.

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While federal prosecutors sue Bank of America for its alleged role in the housing crisis, things are looking up for the housing industry. Government numbers out today show that new home sales rose almost 6 percent in September, and that comes on the heels of other promising data out last week on construction activity.

Joining me now to discuss what appears to be a housing recovery is NPR's Yuki Noguchi.

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Presidential campaigns have a way of conferring instant popularity on certain people and phrases.

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Big Bird.

BLOCK: Joe the Plumber.

SIEGEL: The economy, stupid.

BLOCK: You didn't build that.

SIEGEL: Well now, add another. During last night's debate, it came from Mitt Romney talking about recruiting women to his cabinet when he was governor of Massachusetts.

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And four major manufacturers say they will start offering financial support for the training of military veterans. The corporations are taking part in a program called Get Skills to Work Coalition. It has said its initial goal at training 15,000 vets.

NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports.

YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: Unemployment among veterans has been falling, as it has for everyone else. The jobless rate among vets serving after 2001 now stands at 9.7 percent, but that's still about 2 percentage points higher than the general population.

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The housing market may well play a role in tonight's debate and we got word today that foreclosure activity declined to a five-year low in September. The website RealtyTrac says the national average for the number of default notices, auctions and repossessions declined 7 percent month over month. Still, as NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports, that does not mean the entire country is seeing declines.

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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. The jobless rate fell sharply to 7.8 percent in September, which happens to be exactly where it was when President Obama took office. That's according to the U.S. Labor Department's latest monthly jobs report. But even though the unemployment rate dropped, the Labor Department's payroll survey reveals that businesses did not significantly hire new people. NPR's Yuki Noguchi has this report on how experts are interpreting the numbers.

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The new jobs report, out today, shows a sharp drop in the unemployment rate. But millions of Americans are, of course, still looking for work. Often, the bridge between them and a good job is a training program to help give them a new set of skills. Programs to retrain America's workforce got quite a bit of attention in Wednesday's presidential debate, and NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports on one of them here in Washington.

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Housing continues to be a big issue for the economy, and for many voters. But so far it hasn't been a major issue in the presidential campaign. Perhaps that's because both sides agree that there's no easy fix for the problem of millions of troubled mortgages.

The Problem:

Cathy Busby and her husband co-owned a realty office in Denver when they bought their house in 2006. The next year, the market for houses dried up, leaving them with little income as their house lost value.

Now, she says, she considers herself "poverty level."

The report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers says hiring for the upcoming class of graduates will jump 13 percent from a year ago. But the improvement won't get the job market for new grads back to where it was before the recession.

The U.S. population is growing. In normal times, the labor force — working or not — would be growing too. But these are not normal times, and the labor force is actually smaller than it was four years ago, meaning millions of people who should be there aren't.

The reasons people drop out of the workforce are myriad. People go back to school. Others have health issues or family priorities that keep them from looking for work. But some stop looking because they are discouraged.

Charlotte, N.C., host of the 2012 Democratic National Convention, is the nation's biggest financial center outside of New York. But Charlotte and surrounding Mecklenburg County have the highest foreclosure rates in the state, and many thousands of homeowners owe more on their homes than the properties are worth.

As thousands of Democrats converge in Charlotte for the convention, some troubled homeowners have also gathered, lamenting that the foreclosure crisis has not been sufficiently front and center in the presidential campaign.

Elizabeth Warren takes the podium during prime time at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday. A new poll has Warren trailing in her bid to unseat Republican Scott Brown for Ted Kennedy's Senate seat.

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