Illinois Economy

Business and economic news

Facial recognition software has made huge advancements in accuracy, but it has a long way to go — specifically when it comes to recognizing people of color. Commercially available software can tell the gender of a person using a photograph. According to researcher Joy Buolamwini, of the MIT Media Lab, that software is correct 99 percent of the time when it’s looking at a white male but is less than half as accurate when looking at a darker-skinned female. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood spoke with Buolamwini about her research and the human biases that creep into machine learning.

WASHINGTON — Chances look slim for ending the partial government shutdown any time soon.

House lawmakers are being told not to expect further votes this week, all but ensuring the shutdown will enter a second week and stretch toward the new year.

Lawmakers are away from Washington for the holidays and have been told they will get 24 hours’ notice before having to return for a vote. And although both the House the Senate were slated to come into session briefly Thursday afternoon, few senators or representatives were expected to be around for it.

How the shutdown is impacting federal workers

Dec 27, 2018

As the government shutdown continues into its sixth day, federal workers remain unsure as to when their next paycheck will come. 

Closed indefinitely

Dec 27, 2018

The federal government is still shut down and is set to remain that way until the new year. For hundreds of thousands of federal workers, that means more time without pay. On today's show, government employees and contractors share stories about how the shutdown has affected them. Then: A federal climate change report predicts dire consequences for American farmers if steps aren’t taken now. We check in with farmers who are weighing their options for the future. Plus, we'll talk with Curbed’s Patrick Sisson about how online shopping is increasing pollution.  

The path left by your online purchases

Dec 27, 2018

You might have done a lot of online shopping this holiday season, and you're not alone — more than 1 billion items were shipped for free in the United States this holiday with Amazon Prime, the company reported. And with the rise of online shopping comes a lot more warehouses popping up in rural communities throughout the country storing the products sold by Amazon, Target, Walmart and many other online stores. Bloomington, California, is one such community. It's embroiled in a lawsuit about what a potential warehouse will bring in — jobs, yes, but also a lot of traffic and air pollution.

In a far corner of northeast Kansas, Donn Teske looks out at golden red rolling meadows covered with native bluestem prairie grass, never touched by a plow. Teske’s family has owned this land for 150 years and he still feeds his cattle on this land.

How to be a dog photographer

Dec 27, 2018

Everyone has a dream job growing up: doctor, vet, ice cream taste tester. But how do you actually get the gig? Marketplace is looking into how with the occasional series "How to Be a ..."

Remember those days when you'd be on a road trip and all of a sudden a house would drive by in the other lane? Or more accurately, one half of a house, followed by the other half? You don't see those double-wides much anymore. But with affordable housing harder to come by, manufactured homes are throwing off their stigma as unattractive, flimsy and tornado-prone and making a bit of a comeback.

Five things to watch in trade in 2019

Dec 27, 2018

What a year to cover trade. There’s been no shortage of news, much of it quite dramatic. Here’s five things we’ll be watching in 2019. 

1) Steel and aluminum tariffs 

"Toyeries"— like book lending libraries but for toys —  were at one time more common, especially in big cities. After a decline in the 1970s and 1980s, they are starting to come back. There are an estimated 350-400 toy libraries in the country now, with about three more launching per month.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Digital Day discounts draw in consumers

Dec 27, 2018

Amazon’s third annual Digital Day officially launches on Friday — though some discounts have already been spotted on the website. The company is offering deep discounts on content — digital books movies and games — the sort of thing you can use on its Kindle, Fire TV and Echo devices. The race to get you to buy proprietary content after the holidays is in full swing.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Toy-lending libraries are making their return

Dec 27, 2018

(Markets Edition) We start out with unpacking the down-and-up market activity this week, with U.S. markets opening down Thursday. This comes after a week of swings, where we witnessed the worst Christmas Eve since the recession, only for a 1,000-point Dow rebound on Wednesday. Economist Diane Swonk joined us to help sort out what this all means. Then, Amazon's third annual Digital Day is approaching, where the company offers huge discounts on its content. It's also a signal that the race to get people propriety content is in full swing. Also, we take a look at toy-lending libraries ...

(U.S. Edition) New data out of China on Thursday morning took note of an apparent lesser demand for Chinese goods from both consumers and foreign buyers. Chinese officials are also stating that face-to-face meetings with the U.S. regarding the ongoing trade dispute will be happening in January. We look at what the data means. We then check out the Ford F-150, the top selling vehicle in the U.S. that shows no signs of slowing down during the holidays.

Amazon and Walmart face tough new rules in India

Dec 27, 2018

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service ... India has unveiled a new law aimed at protecting local retailers from e-commerce giants like Amazon and Walmart. The U.K.'s second-largest airport, London Gatwick, has been bought by a French infrastructure firm. And Japan's birth rate falls to its lowest since records began over a century ago.

Fake news is enemy No. 1 right now. Companies and governments are trying to figure out who should be in charge of spotting misinformation and getting rid of it. MIT researcher Sinan Aral has found that the not-true stuff, what he calls “false news,” is not only hard to stop, but also really effective. A study published last spring found that false news travels way more efficiently and much farther than the truth. In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, Aral said misinformation can come at a real cost. (This interview originally aired Aug. 27.)

Five things to look for in the 2019 tech industry

Dec 26, 2018

It's been a long year for the tech industry, with data breaches, privacy scandals and new regulations in Europe and California. So what's in store for 2019? Marketplace Tech's Molly Wood told host Adriene Hill that stakes are getting raised for trust, data and devices in the new year. Here are five things Wood is looking for:

1. More big data breaches

We’re now five days into the partial government shutdown. While the Senate is expected to reconvene Thursday and resume negotiations over how to end the shutdown, odds are that it’ll continue into January. The impasse is already cutting into the supply of something that is essential to just about every market out there: federal economic data. That could have an impact on markets going forward and also what the Federal Reserve decides to do with interest rates in 2019.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Japan to resume commercial whaling, but not in Antarctic

Dec 26, 2018

Japan announced Wednesday that it is leaving the International Whaling Commission to resume commercial hunts for the animals for the first time in 30 years, but said it would no longer go to the Antarctic for its much-criticized annual killings.

Japan switched to what it calls research whaling after the IWC imposed a moratorium on commercial whaling in the 1980s, and now says stocks have recovered enough to resume commercial hunts.

*cues "We're in the Money"*

Dec 26, 2018

Our retirement savings are looking a little healthier today. The markets rebounded, and after weeks of losses and volatility, we'll have the latest on what's happening on Wall Street. Meanwhile, the partial government shutdown drama continues. We'll talk about the way government data affects the markets and what happens when agencies stop gathering that data. Then: This was a long year for tech. In 2018, we saw security breaches, privacy scandals and congressional hearings. We'll look back at the year’s tech news with Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood.

How to be a music supervisor

Dec 26, 2018

Everyone has a dream job growing up: doctor, vet, ice cream taste tester. But how do you actually get the gig? Marketplace is looking into how with the occasional series "How to be a ..."

An iconic TV or movie moment is often more than great acting or direction: the right music at just the right moment can heighten emotions, reveal what the dialogue doesn't, and push the story forward. 

Holidays brought to you by: cardboard

Dec 26, 2018

Holidays, Brought to You By is our series about all the stuff that’s become part of the culture and of the economy. Where did they come from and who thought of them?

'Tis the season for checking your doorstep every day for Amazon boxes. With so much of our gift purchases happening online these days, how well is the cardboard industry doing?

Can you copyright another group's language?

Dec 26, 2018

There is a large body of law in the U.S. geared toward protecting the commercial value of ideas, brands and phrases. Think patents and trademarks. But that law was, for the most part, not designed to protect cultural value. And sometimes the two clash.

When the markets are down, but the economy is up

Dec 26, 2018

Today is the first day of trading after a very sharp fall in markets — it was the worst Christmas Eve ever for several indices. But several economic indicators related to consumer spending and unemployment are still strong. We'll explore why there's such a disconnect. Afterwards, we'll discuss why Japan has decided to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission, and then we'll look at how the Trump administration's move to loosen methane rules will affect the methane-reduction market.

Texas is of course a big oil state, but it’s also home to a growing industry focused on reducing emissions of oil field methane, a climate change causing gas.

Rising costs will continue to hit homebuilders

Dec 26, 2018

When it comes to building new homes, there’s very little builders can do about higher interest rates, rising labor costs or tariffs. What they can control is the materials they use. This is leading to more homebuilders keeping costs down by switching things up. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

So far, the economic impact of the partial government shutdown has been felt mainly by the 800,000 federal workers who are furloughed. But as the shutdown drags on, its effects will ripple through the economy, and could contribute to more uncertainty on Wall Street. 

Click the above audio player to hear the full story.

Trump has yet to reach a compromise with Congress over his border wall plans, leaving the government in a partial shutdown. We'll discuss what the shutdown means for both workers and Wall Street. Afterwards, with tariffs and rising interest rates, we'll look at what homebuilders are doing to keep costs down.

Self-driving cars will probably save a lot of lives in the future. But right now the tech is new, and most of it requires human intervention. Experts refer to several levels, one through five, of automation in cars. A fifth-level car would have no steering wheel or gas pedal. Several cars on the market now fit into the middle category, requiring human intervention with some autonomous features. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood spoke with Missy Cummings, director of the Humans and Autonomy Lab at Duke University, about the risks of having humans only partly in control.

Japan to restart commercial whaling

Dec 26, 2018

From the BBC World Service … Japan will restart commercial whaling next summer. It was banned in 1986 after some species were driven close to extinction. As the move draws international criticism, we get reaction from around the world. Also, nearly 1 million Indian bank employees are on strike today over a proposed merger of three of the country's lenders. We bring you the latest. Then, in France the yellow-vest movement has radically altered the balance of power within the country. One expression of anger has come in the form of music.

U.S. markets are closed for Christmas, which means that investors can take a deep breath from this month's volatility. We'll zoom out and talk about the disconnect between plummeting stock prices and what's keeping our economy strong. Then: Consumer confidence is high, meaning stores are banking on a great holiday retail season. So why do retailers offer steeper discounts online than in-store? We'll do the numbers. Also on the show today: avocados. We've all heard tired jokes about millennials and avocados, but some are betting on the fruit to be more than just a food trend.