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As 2011 was winding down, consumer spirits were starting to rise. Now the momentum has carried into the new year, with polls showing consumer sentiment continuing to improve.

Economists say that negative factors, such as falling home values or rising meat prices, are nowhere near as important as the growth in jobs.

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Detroit automakers are creating thousands of new jobs amid a sales boom. And as they expand, their suppliers are racing to keep up, adding tens of thousands of new jobs.

At Bridgewater Interiors in Warren, Mich., for example, the pace is intense. Hundreds of union employees scurry to fill a growing list of orders. The factory floor is packed with stacks of foam cushions, seat covers and headrests.

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During the worst of the Great Recession, U.S. factory jobs were disappearing at a furious pace. As 2007 began, about 14 million Americans were working in manufacturing.

Three years and one frightful recession later, only 11.5 million were.

But since 2010, employment has been ticking back up, with companies adding about 400,000 jobs.

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Economists say many industries are looking up this year. But perhaps none has a better outlook than the energy sector.

New drilling technologies and rising fuel prices have generated a boom in drilling — and lots of high-paying jobs for people with the skills to work in the oil patch. On some college campuses, companies are so eager to find petroleum engineers that they are offering jobs to students even before they have graduated.

Meet Willow Tufano, age 14: Lady Gaga fan, animal lover, landlord.

In 2005, when Willow was 7, the housing market was booming. Home prices in some Florida neighborhoods nearly doubled from one month to the next. Her family moved into a big house; her mom became a real estate agent.

But as Willow moved from childhood to adolescence, the market turned, and the neighborhood emptied out. "Everyone is getting foreclosed on here," she says.

Photo by Charles McCain via Flickr Creative Commons

Remember the so-called Man-cession? That was the gloomy prophesy made early in the global economic downturn when construction, manufacturing, and other male-dominated industries collapsed. Some, including Hanna Rosin speaking on this program, projected a sign of sea change in America’s gender inequality. A 2010 study showing unmarried, childless, urban female workers earning more than their male counterparts reinforced the possibility that women could dominate in the new economy. 

Stock prices rebounded somewhat Wednesday, one day after their biggest sell-off of the year. What caused prices to plunge Tuesday was an all-too-familiar problem: the Greek debt crisis.

European officials have cobbled together a deal to keep Greece from defaulting, and investors all over the world who hold Greek bonds are weighing their options. They're worried about what could happen if they reject the deal.

The agricultural port city of Stockton, Calif., has made national and international news in recent years — for all the wrong reasons. In a new record, the city recently marked its 56th homicide in one year. And the BBC recently reported that a greater proportion of Stockton residents face the loss of their homes to foreclosure or repossession than anywhere else in America. If that's not enough, it ranked No.

Photo by Wouter Kiel, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

The average American vehicle spends a whopping 95% of its life parked.  And yet, for all of the engineers and urban planners who study how humans and cars interact on the road, one man stands out as an authority how our lives, towns and experiences are affected once those cars stop.

Spain's austerity measures have begun to spark clashes, and a high school in Valencia — Spain's most indebted province — has become a flash point for nationwide rallies.

Last month, police arrested 25 demonstrators there, where cellphones captured video of heavy-handed beatings and parents were shocked to see their children on TV, pinned down by police.

The skirmish was a possible sign of what's to come as the conservative government pushes through more spending cuts and people settle into a period of sacrifice in hopes of economic recovery.

We explore the economic philosophy of John Maynard Keynes. His ideas of government spending “priming the pump” during bad times have  been applied by American leaders from FDR to Obama. But Keynsian  theory continue to spark fierce debate – some feel it’s still the best way out of a slump – but others believe this distorts the free-market and that these ideas have run their course.


Despite some green shoots in the economy, the housing sector remains weak. With 11 million Americans still underwater on their mortgages, some housing experts believe it's time for more dramatic solutions.

The idea of reducing the principal on the loans of underwater homeowners used to be a fringe concept, embraced by a few outliers. Today, many policymakers believe principal reduction is necessary to keep some troubled homeowners afloat.

But so far, the nation's biggest mortgage holders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, haven't embraced the idea.

Record Low Interest Rates Raise Inflation Concerns

Feb 29, 2012

The goal of the Federal Reserve's low interest rate policy is to juice the economic recovery. The low rates should make it easier for people to borrow money, which they'll hopefully spend; the increased demand for goods and services is then supposed to translate into more hiring.

That's what the Fed is banking on. It hopes low interest rates will help with its mandate of achieving maximum employment, but it also has another mandate: to keep prices stable.

"In many cases, those two conflict," says economist Joe Gagnon of the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Portugal is burdened with such big debts that some are calling it "the next Greece." Unemployment is soaring, and the debt continues to rise, despite draconian austerity measures.

But Portugal has something Greece doesn't have: former colonies, rich in natural resources and in need of labor, both skilled and unskilled. And in a type of role reversal, some Portuguese are now traveling to those places in hopes of improving their lives.

Antonio Valerio, who is studying pharmaceutical science at a university, is among those who see no future in Portugal.

In a down economy, most folks are happy to find a crumpled five in a pair of old jeans, or turn in their saved quarters for a dinner out.  Not David Wolman David is a contributing editor at Wired Magazine, and author of the new book, The End of Money, which explores the notion that everyone might benefit from a cash-free world. 


We talk to the author of a new book who says that Americans spend too much, save too little and borrow excessively and that we might look to countries in Europe and East Asia, where governments encourage thrift and saving rates are much higher.  We’ll examine the financial habits of people on three continents over two centuries and what we might learn from it. 


  • Sheldon Garon - Professor of History at Princeton University and author of “Beyond Our Means: Why America Spends While the World Saves”

How State Budget Cuts Affect Your Property Taxes

Feb 14, 2012

A new report finds that Granite State communities are leaning more and more heavily on property taxes. Examining data from 2007–2010, the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies found:

Many say upward mobility isn't what it used to be in America, especially for those at the bottom of the economic ladder, and that the U. S. has become a less mobile society than other advanced nations. Still, skeptics point out that the country has grown wealthier overall, leading to higher incomes for new generations, even if they don’t move up in the class system. 


Flikr Creative Commons / Sean Dreilinger

A report shows that home foreclosures spiked at the end of last year, up 35% from November.

Jane Law of New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority says foreclosures have been declining since their peak in 2010, and December’s jump might be an anomaly.

Law says, "The biggest factor is just mortgage companies are kind of clearing out some inventory before the end of the year, which is the end of their tax year usually" 

After years of speculation on a "jobless recovery," finally, things could be looking up–at least for the moment. This week, the Bureau of Labor statistics reported some serious gains on the national jobs front for January, with the creation of 243,000 jobs.

One of the key consequences of the economic collapse a few years ago was the passage of a massive piece of legislation called the "Dodd-Frank Act." The bill was co-sponsored by (now-retired) Democratic Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut and (soon-to-be-retired) Democratic Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank.

Brady Carlson, NHPR

Last week the Green Launching Pad made its latest round of grants to New Hampshire businesses. The idea is to provide support to companies that are or want to be eco-friendly, while also developing jobs.

Tonight, President Obama is set to deliver the final state of the union address of his first term. Morning Edition's Renee Montagne spoke to White House Senior Adviser David Plouffe for a preview of the president's speech.

One of the main questions that lingers over Northern Pass is: Will it create jobs, especially in the struggling North Country?

And, befitting the layers of controversy surrounding the project, the simplest answer won out.

It depends on who you ask.

Governor John Lynch announced Wednesday that three manufacturing companies will participate in the latest round of the Green Launching Pad.

The stimulus-funded Green Launching Pad is a partnership between UNH and the state designed to develop businesses, bring new products to market, and create jobs.

Raising Keynes

Jan 18, 2012

We explore the economic philosophy of John Maynard Keynes. His ideas of government spending “priming the pump” during bad times have  been applied by American leaders from FDR to Obama. But Keynsian  theory continue to spark fierce debate – some feel it’s still the best way out of a slump – but others believe this distorts the free-market and that these ideas have run their course.


The widening gulf between the rich and everyone else is a growing source of tension in America.

A new survey from the Pew Research Center finds the income gap is now seen as a bigger source of conflict in the U.S. than race, age or national origin. That's why some believe the issue could matter in the presidential campaign, and others worry it could warp the national debate.

Two out of three Americans now perceive strong social conflicts over the income gap — up sharply from two years ago. Paul Taylor of the Pew Research Center has an idea what's behind the increase.

The last of the U-S troops are now returning from Iraq.

Once home they’re likely to end up joining thousands of other veterans looking for work in a bleak job market.

Despite government incentives to get companies to hire vets, unemployment among vets is still higher than civilians.

The youngest veterans struggle the most.

Twenty-two year old Courtney Selig went into the military to better herself.

Jon Greenberg, NHPR

The New Hampshire primary is about politics – obviously – but it’s also about economics, albeit in a much smaller way. While the rest of the state was watching vote totals and checking on the mood at campaign headquarters, reporter Amanda Loder of StateImpact New Hampshire was looking at the economic effects of the first in the nation primary. She tells All Things Considered host Brady Carlson about what she learned. 


How NH Counties Voted (Based Economic Demos)

Jan 11, 2012

This year, NHPR's GOP primary coverage took on a strong national flavor, broadcasting to listeners all over the country. Among the network's expanded audience were WNYC listeners in, well...NYC.