Illinois Economy

Business and economic news

The housing crisis hits America’s heartland

Oct 2, 2018

When you think of high rents and overcrowding, you probably don’t think of farmland. However, according to a new report by the Urban Institute, rural communities are facing a lack of affordable housing, just like more densely populated urban areas. One hundred fifty-two rural counties throughout California, Texas and several southeastern states, among others, were classified as “most severe” — that’s approximately 8 million people in need of more affordable rentals.

Exemptions for steel tariffs are still in limbo

Oct 2, 2018

Remember those steel and aluminum tariffs that set off this whole trade war? The Department of Commerce is still sifting through companies' applications for exclusions from them. As of Oct. 1, 35,872 steel and 4,711 aluminum exclusion requests have been filed. Overall, 9,057 steel exclusion decisions have been posted (5,954 were approved), while 508 aluminum decisions have been posted (385 approved). The odds aren't great for an exclusion application to be processed, let alone accepted.

Amazon announced today that it's raising the minimum wage it pays U.S. employees to $15 an hour. The company said more than 250,000 Amazon employees and 100,000 seasonal employees will benefit from the wage hike. Amazon’s new, higher pay will take effect on Nov. 1. We called Abigail Wozniak, a professor of economics at the University of Notre Dame who works primarily in the field of labor economics, to talk us through the news.

The newly inked trade agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico resolves issues regarding pharmaceuticals and dairy — but that still the leaves the separate, unresolved feuds around steel and aluminum tariffs. How will the three countries use the NAFTA negotiations to influence how they figure out a metal tariff deal?

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

The new NAFTA — or as it's officially known, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement — is already raising some complaints from north of the border. Canadians are worried their drug prices will go up.

That's because one piece of the deal gives years of extended patent protection to high-end, expensive drugs known as biologics. That means the trade deal could delay the time it takes for cheaper generics to get to market.

Biologic drugs are complex medicines made in living cells. Examples of biologics include AbbVie's Humira and Johnson & Johnson's Remicade.

Monopsony: When there's only one employer in town

Oct 2, 2018

Amazon is raising the minimum wage for all its U.S. workers to $15 per hour, a decision that follows backlash from labor rights groups over the company’s pay and working conditions.

Is a raise at Amazon a raise for the country?

Oct 2, 2018

Amazon will pay its American employees at least $15 an hour, the company announced today. With 250,000 employees and another 100,000 seasonal workers set to benefit all over the country, can the retail giant pressure its competitors to give out raises, too? We'll look at the potential macroeconomic effects, and what it's like to live on $15 an hour anyway. Then: The cosmetics industry is booming thanks to Instagram and YouTube, but makeup counters at department stores aren’t seeing more customers. How the new guard in makeup is replacing the old.

As more communities across the country face flooding, wildfires and other natural disasters, some are starting to ask questions about new development. In Bastrop, Texas, a small city outside of Austin that has seen rapid growth, officials have paused new construction. The city wants to use this time to update its regulations to try to prevent damage from flooding.

(Markets Edition) Affordable housing isn’t just an issue in packed, urban areas. A new study has found that half of rural counties are also in dire need of it. Then, we look at the markets in light of the new NAFTA agreement as well as a monthly index of the manufacturing sector.

Amazon, which has faced political and economic pressure to raise pay for thousands of employees, is boosting its minimum wage for all U.S. workers to $15 per hour starting next month.

The wage hike will benefit more than 350,000 workers, which includes full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal positions. Employees at Whole Foods, which Amazon now owns, will get the same pay hike. Amazon's hourly operations and customer service employees, some who already make $15 per hour, will also see a wage increase, the Seattle company said.

TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline, is pressing forward with plans to build an oil pipeline between Alberta and Nebraska. Many landowners along Nebraska’s portion of the company’s planned route have joined the Nebraska Easement Action Team to help them resist the pipeline by refusing to sign easements or negotiate with the company. Others have even raised constitutional issues that will be argued in Nebraska’s Supreme Court in November. Other landowners who haven’t joined are trying to negotiate a better deal themselves. 

(U.S. Edition) While the new USMCA (formerly known as NAFTA) agreement addresses a variety of issues, one thing that’s still left unattended are the U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum. Meanwhile, Italy and the European Union are on the verge of a budget battle, as Italy’s proposed budget has more deficit spending than the EU prefers.

Auto chiefs cautiously welcome new NAFTA

Oct 2, 2018

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service ... Car bosses have gathered at the Paris Auto Show and the hot topic is the new NAFTA. Chiefs of BMW and Toyota tell us their thoughts. British Prime Minister Theresa May tells us once again that businesses can be reassured in the face of Brexit, despite what some firms are saying about its aftermath. In the midst of London's concrete jungle, in its first commercial vineyard since the Middle Ages, we visit a social enterprise with a unique purpose.

In the insanely popular video game "Fortnite," players can spend about $5 to unlock dances called emotes for their characters to perform. And these dances are everywhere. You see them on playgrounds, in pro sports, and there are "Fortnite" dance classes. But are these really "Fortnite" dances? Most of them appear borrowed, like the dance called “Ride the Pony,” which is pretty clearly “Gangnam Style.” There's the one called “Fresh” which is a dead ringer for the “Carlton Dance” from the "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air."

In the insanely popular video game "Fortnite," players can spend about five bucks to unlock dances called emotes for their characters to perform. And these dances are everywhere. You see them on playgrounds, in pro sports, and there are "Fortnite" dance classes.  But are they really "Fortnite" dances?

General Electric told investors today it has ousted CEO John Flannery after only about a year in the job. The company said it's also going to miss profit forecasts this year. These are tough times at one of America's most iconic businesses, which raises the question: What is the role of an industrial conglomerate like GE in today's economy?

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

In the growing cities of the early 20th century, rent strikes were a common tool to protest conditions in crowded tenements. But the practice is making a modern-day comeback in cities faced with a housing shortage and rising rents. 

Take Los Angeles, for example. 

It was bad news when Joana Ochoa's landlord told her back in January that her monthly rent would go up by $100 in her 200-unit apartment complex west of downtown. But the alarm bells really started going off in April, when the rent went up again another $250.

For farmers in central Washington, the USMCA is "a big relief"

Oct 1, 2018

This weekend, Canada agreed to join the United States and Mexico in a new trade deal.

California law says corporate boards must include women

Oct 1, 2018

Publicly held corporations in California must include women on their boards, thanks to a bill signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, Sunday.

The winners and losers of NAFTA 2.0

Oct 1, 2018

The United States, Canada and Mexico have just struck a new trade deal after several months and rounds of tense negotiations.

The pact, now called the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, will give American farmers greater access to Canada's dairy market and require automakers to make more of their vehicle's parts in North America (if they don't want to pay tariffs). 

SEC agreement puts the brakes on Elon Musk

Oct 1, 2018

Elon Musk is giving up a bit of control over Tesla. That’s the upshot of a settlement the electric carmaker reached over the weekend with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The agreement settles fraud charges the SEC brought against Musk, after he tweeted in August that he had “funding secured” for a deal to take Tesla private. Turns out he didn’t. The agreement with the SEC is aimed at reining in Musk.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

NAFTA is dead, long live NAFTA

Oct 1, 2018

The Trump administration has struck a deal with Mexico and Canada to revise NAFTA, now called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. We'll bring you the details and see how the deal is playing down on the farm. Plus: Elon Musk stepped down from Tesla's board this weekend to settle fraud charges, but he'll stay on as CEO of the electric car company. We'll talk about the reasoning behind that move. Plus: In the 20th century, rent strikes were a common tactic to protest living conditions. In 2018's crowded housing market, they might make a comeback.

Baseball fans, this one is for you. Regular season is done, and the post season is about to begin, but over the course of a little more than 30 years, the makeup of a Major League Baseball team's pitching staff has changed dramatically. What does this mean for a team's payroll - and players?

Two long-time baseball writers weigh in on the change.

Tim Kurkjian, senior writer and analyst at "ESPN"

He believes the approach started with the Oakland A's in the late '80s with manager Tony La Russa and late-inning specialist, Dennis Eckersley:

Emerging economies have had a tough time in the global economy recently. We’re talking about countries like India, Turkey, South Africa and Argentina. They’re deeply engaged in the world economy, and, in some ways, very vulnerable to its ups and downs.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Major League Baseball and its pitcher economy

Oct 1, 2018

(Markets Edition) Canada joined the U.S. and Mexico to overhaul NAFTA. One of the sticking points that was resolved was that Canada would remove some of the protections on its dairy farms. Then, we talk about emerging economies, and how countries like India and South Africa are navigating life in the world economy.

BP's CEO outlines the issues surrounding the oil and gas industry

Oct 1, 2018

Two years ago oil prices collapsed. What followed was a recession, of sorts, in the oil and gas industry, along with communities tied directly to it. Today, the price of crude has bounced back from around $30 a barrel to roughly $70. While it appears that life for the energy industry is going well, there are still complications. Bob Dudley, the CEO of BP, talked with Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio about the looming obstacles still facing the oil and gas industries. 

Below is an edited transcript of their conversation.

(U.S. Edition) The U.S. and Canada have managed to iron out new terms for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) right before the U.S. imposed deadline, so now we have to learn about the letters USMCA. What do they mean? Then, we look back at the collapse of oil prices from two years ago, which led to a recession in the oil and gas industry.

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service ... A new trade deal to replace NAFTA is about to be sealed, with the U.S., Canada and Mexico all involved. We hear what concessions Canada has made to see it through. Macedonia can clear its way to join the European Union if it changes its name, but Greece, plus a botched referendum, are standing in the way. We look at if #foodporn changed the restaurant industry for better or worse. Finally, it could soon become enshrined in British law: restaurant owners must pass on all tips to waiting staff.

Elon Musk must resign from Tesla's board of directors after a settlement on Saturday with the Securities and Exchange Commission over his tweets about taking the company private. He will stay on as CEO. It's tough to separate the conversation about Tesla from the conversation about Elon Musk. But let's talk about cars for a minute. Because it feels like electric car announcements are fast and furious lately. Ford is promising an electric crossover that's the size of a Tesla Model X but inspired by the Mustang. There are rumors of a $30,000 electric Volkswagen.

Elon Musk must resign from Tesla's board of directors after a settlement on Saturday with the Securities and Exchange Commission over his tweets about taking the company private. He will stay on as CEO. It's tough to separate the conversation about Tesla from the conversation about Elon Musk. But let's talk about cars for a minute. Because it feels like electric car announcements are fast and furious lately. Ford is promising an electric crossover that's the size of a Tesla Model X but inspired by the Mustang. There are rumors of a $30,000 electric Volkswagen.

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