Illinois Economy

Business and economic news

It's not just a dorm, it's their first home

Aug 24, 2018

As new college students across the country start moving in, we're taking a look at the booming dorm-in-a-bag business. Turns out there's a lot of money in making a 170-square-foot cinder-block box feel like home. But first: It's been a wild week for political news, but the economic news was no slouch either. We'll break it all down in the Weekly Wrap. Plus, how more intense and frequent wildfires are changing firefighters' jobs.  

Aug. 25 marks the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey dumping trillions of gallons of water on southeast Texas. It’s also when voters in Harris County — the Greater Houston area — will head to the polls to vote on a $2.5 billion bond package for flood-risk reduction projects across the county. Some residents never saw Harvey coming, and officials are trying to remedy that before another storm hits.

Parents lugged hand trucks across the University of Central Florida’s residential parking lot, braving the morning heat to get boxes of bedding into the nearby freshman dormitory.

For Gabrielle Staffiero and more than 4,000 other first-year students, move-in day marked the start of a new and scary chapter. It was the 18-year-old’s first time away from Westchester, New York. But her mother, Bell, made sure her daughter had everything to make her 170-square-foot dorm room feel like home.

Amna Hafez will never forget her first day at her first real job. As a 34-year-old Syrian refugee in a new country, she insisted that her mom come with her, and immediately things went south.  

“We got lost on the way there,” she said in Arabic.

As newcomers in Turkey, Hafez and her mom didn’t understand the bus system, so they walked instead. Hafez was an hour late and her boss, also a Syrian refugee, was not sympathetic.

Mothers in the workforce face many barriers. In the U.S., maternity leave is not guaranteed and childcare can cost anywhere from 25 percent to 52 percent of a family's income, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation.

Another challenge: travelling while breastfeeding. How do you pump, freeze and transport milk from a hotel room to hungry babies at home amid back-to-back business meetings?

The World Health Organization recommends babies be exclusively breast-fed for the first six months of life.

What's a pharmacy benefit manger, anyway?

Aug 24, 2018

The Trump administration says pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) perpetuate high drug prices. In Ohio, the state's Medicaid program tore up its contracts with PBMs, saying the companies need to change their business models if they want back in.

PBMs play a big role in how much we pay for prescription drugs, but what, exactly, is a PBM? And why are they taking so much heat?

Do "superstar" companies hold down wages?

Aug 24, 2018

This week, central bankers, finance ministers and economists from the around the world flew to the mountain resort of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. They’re there for an annual economic symposium hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. One focus of this year’s event is on so-called "superstar" firms like Amazon, which is a half-million employees strong, and whether these giant companies are partly responsible for holding down wages. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

A career civil servant with little banking industry experience, Kathy Kraninger, tapped by the Trump administration to lead the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection won the approval of the Senate Banking Committee in a party line split vote. Next, the full Senate will vote to approve her.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Hurricane Lane and the cost of natural disasters

Aug 24, 2018

Hurricane Lane is currently a Category 3 storm with 120 miles an hour winds. The slow pace of the storm means it's dumping a lot of rain according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center. There's extreme flooding on the Big Island of Hawaii and it expects up to 40 inches of rain in some places causing life-threatening flash flooding and landslides into the weekend. The last major hurricane to hit Hawaii was Hurricane Iniki in 1992.

Do giant companies hold down wages?

Aug 24, 2018

Remember how the Republican tax overhaul put a $10,000 limit on state and local tax deductions? And several, mostly blue states, have been trying to find shall we say "innovative" ways around that. Well the Treasury Department is saying no to those efforts, not today. Then, central bankers, finance ministers and economists from the around the world flew to the mountain resort of Jackson Hole, Wyoming this week. They’re there for an annual economic symposium hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service… After a bruising week in Australian politics, the country’s treasurer, Scott Morrison, has been sworn in today as the new prime minister. Then, controversy this week over President Trump’s attention on South Africa – we’ll dissect what’s happening with the country’s land-reform efforts and what impact it all has on the economy. Afterwards, Goldman Sachs introduced new benefits for working mothers breast feeding their children this week, it’s a trend that’s gaining momentum across the world.

This week, the European Commission said it's drafting new rules to get companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter to take any terrorist content off their platforms within an hour. And while this plan has a long way to go to become law, it's part of a broader move to increase tech regulation in Europe where many countries have strict hate-speech laws.

This week, the European Commission said it's drafting new rules to get companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter to take any terrorist content off their platforms within an hour. And while this plan has a long way to go to become law, it's part of a broader move to increase tech regulation in Europe, where many countries have strict hate-speech laws. Politico’s chief technology correspondent Mark Scott says taking down terrorist threats is actually the easiest part when it comes to regulating speech online. (08/24/18)

Forum organizers on stage for photo
Lizzie Roehrs / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

Panelists in Rockford discuss the challenges faced by small businesses - including economic growth and workforce needs. 

The president is not the economy

Aug 23, 2018

The word “impeachment”  has been getting a lot of play over the last few days, including by President Donald Trump, who said this during an interview on "Fox and Friends": “I tell you what, if I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash. I think everybody would be very poor.” Setting aside whether or not the president is likely to be impeached, his statement raises an interesting question about his influence over the economy. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Reruns can still mean revenue for canceled shows

Aug 23, 2018

After 14 billion years and 11 television seasons, CBS has announced that the next season of its long-running sitcom "The Big Bang Theory" will be its last. But the end of production doesn't mean Sheldon and the gang will disappear from the small screen. The show's already been in syndication for eight years and will likely continue in reruns for a very long time.

Tariffs come for fleece, send Jo-Ann CEO to Washington

Aug 23, 2018

Jo-Ann arts and crafts stores customers got an unexpected email on Aug. 21:

Every day, we are inspired by the creativity and ingenuity of you, our customers.

Whether the things you make are created to enjoy a hobby, sold to sustain a passion, or given to support a charitable cause, the items you create are an important part of America's culture.

Would impeachment really tank the stock market?

Aug 23, 2018

In a week that's seen the looming threat of impeachment and the longest bull market ever, President Donald Trump has said the former would crash the latter. We'll kick off today's show by examining whether presidential scandals can really affect markets. Then, a conversation with Jo-Ann Stores CEO Jill Soltau, who's rallying customers to speak out against tariffs. Plus, what it's like to be black in the fashion industry and why "The Big Bang Theory" will likely be a big moneymaker for years after it goes off air.

Hundreds testify on impact of looming tariffs

Aug 23, 2018

U.S. businesses are focusing on the next batch of proposed tariffs from the Trump administration, covering $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, which would be the largest round of tariffs so far.

Here's why there's a shortage of EpiPens

Aug 23, 2018

The Food and Drug Administration is trying to help mitigate the shortage of EpiPens, those auto-injecting devices used to treat allergic reactions to things like peanuts and bee stings. It's extended by four months the expiration date for some EpiPen products. The FDA got data from EpiPen maker Mylan that convinced them some of the devices already on the market will work a bit longer.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Don't have a will? You're not alone.

Aug 23, 2018

When the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin died last week at the age of 76, she left an extensive catalog of music for the world to enjoy for years to come. What she didn't leave was a will, which means her family — with the help of lawyers — will now go through the courts to figure out how her assets will be distributed. 

What counts as breaking campaign finance law?

Aug 23, 2018

(Markets Edition) Michael Cohen, the president's former lawyer, has admitted to arranging for the parent company of the National Enquirer to pay $150,000 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal. This was to essentially buy her silence over her account that she had had an affair with President Donald Trump which Trump denies. The idea was American Media Inc. would buy the rights to the story and then just sit on it. But prosecutors say this coordinated effort wasn't just about stopping stories from getting out. Paying hush money and sitting on stories isn't necessarily illegal.

(U.S. Edition) The latest round of tariffs on imports China went into effect overnight, covering $16 billion worth of imports. China immediately retaliated with their own tariffs, but businesses in the U.S. are focused on the next round of tariffs covering $200 billion worth of imports. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is in the middle of six days of hearings on tariffs. We hear from some business owners who testified in those hearings. In China, state media commentaries suggest people in China will be able to weather the trade tariffs for the sake of national pride.

The hailing options for Uber aren't just sedan, SUV and pool. The company has a trucking business as well called Uber Freight. Instead of pairing riders with cars, Uber has built a separate platform to pair shipments with trucks that can deliver them. Tracey Samuelson spoke with Deborah Lockridge, editor-in-chief of Heavy Duty Trucking and Truckinginfo.com.

The hailing options for Uber aren't just sedan, SUV and pool. The company has a trucking business as well called Uber Freight. Instead of pairing riders with cars, Uber has built a separate platform to pair shipments with trucks that can deliver them. Deborah Lockridge, editor-in-chief of Heavy Duty Trucking and Truckinginfo.com, says Uber sees opportunity in what is called the "spot freight" market, linking shippers and truckers, typically for one-off shipments. (08/23/18)

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service… Business leaders have been banging the drums about the rising risks of a no-deal Brexit when the UK leaves the European Union next spring. But the British government today is publishing a series of papers about what to do in exactly that kind of situation. We’ll hear from the Brexit secretary himself, and a Welsh farmer who does business with EU nations. Then, tariffs on $16 billion worth of Chinese imports to the U.S. go into effect today as a new round of talks between the two countries kicks off in Washington.

Pepsi catches up to SodaStream’s success

Aug 22, 2018

This week, PepsiCo announced that it’s spending $3.2 billion to buy SodaStream, the Israeli company behind the make-your-own carbonated water machines that live on kitchen countertops or hidden in a cabinet somewhere.

This week, U.S. election officials came out with new data showing how states plan to use $380 million in federal grants released this year. While the money was initially aimed at modernizing state voting systems after the Bush v. Gore "hanging chad" debacle of 2000, these days states are spending mostly on cyber security and equipment.  Intelligence officials have warned that foreign hackers could once again target state voting systems in the November elections, as they did in 2016. 

Click on the audio player above to hear more. 

 

 

How to start resolving U.S.-China trade tensions

Aug 22, 2018

Trade talks between the U.S. and China resumed Wednesday, even as both sides planned to put more tariffs in place this week.

The United States will levy an additional $16 billion of tariffs on Chinese imports beginning Thursday, bringing the total in effect to $50 billion. The U.S. Trade Representative is also holding hearings this week on its proposed list for another $200 billion in tariffs.

Shares in Target hit an all-time high after the retailer reported second-quarter profits, revenue and sales that beat analysts’ projections — and an unprecedented increase in foot traffic through its stores. Target CEO Brian Cornell is so optimistic that he isn’t even worried about the effect of increased tariffs. The retailer has “a lot of levers to pull to make sure we are still price competitive,” Cornell told CNBC. Those levers include stocking up before the tariffs hit hard and shifting supply chains in an effort to insulate consumers from higher prices.

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