Jim Zarroli

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Ames, Iowa, has the lowest unemployment rate in the country. That's great for workers — but a challenge for those looking for them.

Tanisha Cortez is one of those benefiting from this tight labor market. The restaurant where Cortez worked closed in late November, so she went looking for a new job. She submitted applications to about half a dozen companies.

Almost right away, she got offers from every one of them. And she was working again at a new restaurant two weeks later. She will earn $2,000 more a year than she made at her old job.

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One morning a year ago, federal immigration agents swept into the Midwest Precast Concrete plant in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, and arrested 32 men who were working there illegally.

"I was in the car eating when all of a sudden they all arrived," one worker tells NPR. "They took me out of the car and put handcuffs on me and on everyone else too. They even had a dog." The worker did not want his name used because his case is being heard by a judge.

Bob Best enthusiastically supports President Trump's tough policies against China and other countries.

"I'm not a big tariff guy. I'm a free trade guy," says Best, who manages a heating and air conditioning company in Kennesaw, Ga.

"But sometimes when the bully just doesn't listen, you've got to punch him in the mouth. And that's what he's doing."

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Updated at 12:01 a.m. ET Friday

U.S. and Chinese negotiators will resume their high-stakes trade negotiations in Washington on Friday, hours after a scheduled increase in U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods took effect.

The Trump administration raised tariffs on $200 billion in imported products from China at 12:01 a.m. ET Friday, significantly raising the stakes in the ongoing trade dispute with Beijing.

Updated at 10:00 p.m. ET

In a significant escalation of rhetoric, senior Trump administration officials accused Beijing of reneging on commitments it had already made in its on-going trade dispute with China, and they said they plan to increase tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports from 10% to 25% starting on Friday.

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New numbers came out today showing unemployment last month fell to 3.6%. Or as President Trump put it...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The economy is unbelievable.

Updated at 3:49 p.m. ET

President Trump has filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to keep two banks from responding to congressional subpoenas, setting up a legal showdown with Democrats eager to investigate his finances.

The president, his three oldest children and his business, The Trump Organization, say the investigations by the House intelligence and Financial Services committees are overbroad and serve no purpose beyond harassment.

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Updated at 2:23 p.m. ET

The heads of some of the nation's biggest banks faced tough questions from Democrats on Wednesday about overdraft fees, the stability of the banking system and their own multimillion-dollar compensation.

The House Financial Services Committee hearing was titled, "Holding Megabanks Accountable: A Review of Global Systemically Important Banks 10 years after the Financial Crisis."

Updated at 3:29 p.m. ET

Bank of America will raise the minimum wage for its employees to $20 an hour in the next two years and freeze health care cost increases for lower-paid workers, the company said Tuesday.

The hourly pay will rise to $17 starting May 1 and then increase to the higher rate by 2021, CEO Brian Moynihan said.

Updated at 8:30 P.M. ET

The acting head of the Federal Aviation Administration defended his agency against criticism that it waited too long to ground Boeing 737 Max planes after a pair of deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

Daniel Elwell told a Senate subcommittee that the FAA waited longer than other countries to order the move earlier this month because it wanted to see flight data that might help explain how the Ethiopian Airlines crash happened.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The head of the Federal Aviation Administration is expected to get some tough questions today from members of the U.S. Senate.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Updated at 10:45 p.m. ET

President Trump said Friday he will nominate conservative TV commentator and former Trump campaign adviser Stephen Moore to one of two vacant seats on the Federal Reserve Board.

Moore, 59, has joined the president in criticizing the central bank, led by Chairman Jerome Powell, for raising interest rates.

"I have known Steve for a long time — and have no doubt he will be an outstanding choice!" Trump said in a tweet.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The U.S. trade deficit soared to a 10-year high in 2018 on the heels of a strong economy, despite President Trump's ongoing efforts to bring it down through tariffs on imported goods.

For 2018 as a whole, the deficit grew to $621 billion — the highest since 2008, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. When the service sector is excluded, the gap was even greater, rising to a record $891.3 billion.

In the 1980s, China was beginning a long economic boom that would transform the global trading system, and Michael Korchmar decided to go there to launch a joint venture.

He quickly soured on the country.

"It didn't feel right," recalls Korchmar, whose family runs a 102-year-old Florida-based company that makes briefcases and travel bags. The Chinese government maintained a heavy hand in his staffing and factory decisions, and its minders followed him everywhere.

Updated at 11:33 a.m. ET

The U.S. economy expanded at a solid 2.6 percent rate during the last three months of 2018, but growth was significantly lower than it had been earlier in the year, the government said Thursday.

For 2018 as a whole, the economy grew 2.9 percent, a touch below the Trump administration's projected target of 3 percent.

When U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer was growing up in Ashtabula, Ohio, in the 1950s, it was a thriving port town on Lake Erie where everyone who wanted one found a job. Ships brought in iron ore destined for the steel mills of Pennsylvania, and left with coal from the mines of Appalachia.

But as steel and coal have declined, the Ashtabula of Lighthizer's childhood has disappeared, taking a lot of jobs with it.

President Trump has nominated Treasury Department official David Malpass, a vocal critic of the World Bank, to head the international financial institution.

Malpass, 62, is a conservative with longstanding ties to Trump. He once worked as chief economist at investment bank Bear Stearns, which collapsed in 2008 in the midst of the financial crisis. He also served in the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations. At Treasury, Malpass is currently involved in tense trade negotiations with China.

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When U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer was growing up in Ashtabula, Ohio, in the 1950s, it was a thriving factory town with a busy port where freighters brought iron ore to be used in the steel mills of Pennsylvania.

Today, many of the biggest factories have long since left the region for low-wage places — taking a lot of jobs with them — and the port ships a fraction of the freight it once did.

Updated at 5 p.m. ET

The partial shutdown of the government reduced federal spending by about $3 billion and cut into overall U.S. economic growth, according to a report released Monday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

The report says that because of the shutdown, which lasted from Dec. 22 through last Friday, about $18 billion in discretionary government spending was delayed. Most of the money will be spent later, now that the shutdown has ended.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

President Trump used his first prime-time address from the Oval Office to make the case for his controversial border wall. The president's demand for $5.7 billion in wall funding — and Democrats' opposition — has led to a partial shutdown of the federal government.

Here we check some of the arguments made by the president and top Democrats in their response.

Trump's Speech

Claim 1: Humanitarian and security crisis

"There is a growing humanitarian and security crisis at our Southern border."

As President Trump describes it, a steel wall along the Mexican border isn't just about protecting the country from terrorists and drug dealers. It would also be a boon for big steel, an industry he says is essential for American identity.

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