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Every weekday, host Kai Ryssdal helps you make sense of the day’s business and economic news — no econ degree or finance background required. “Marketplace” takes you beyond the numbers, bringing you context. Our team of reporters all over the world speak with CEOs, policymakers and regular people just trying to get by.

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December’s jobs report is a head-scratcher

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Unemployment fell in December close to a pre-pandemic low. But the economy added far fewer jobs than economists expected. So what gives? It has to do with the two different surveys that make up the monthly jobs report and how they define “employment.” Plus: App-based payments come out from “under the table,” higher fees come for second homes and people shift how they do their ‘dos in the pandemic.

What happens to our economy if we’re not a democracy?

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One year ago, supporters of Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol in a violent and deadly attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Today, we revisit the economic ripples of the Jan. 6 insurrection and examine how political instability continues to hamper the economic recovery. We’ll also hear how utility infrastructure plays into wildfire prevention, what a festival cancellation means for surrounding businesses and why consumers have a gloomier outlook than the economy does.

Brexit’s impact, one year on

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Though the United Kingdom formally ended its European Union membership at the start of 2020, last week marked the one-year anniversary of the U.K. severing remaining ties with the EU. Today, we hear about the hopes, frustrations and economic outlooks of five small U.K.-based companies 12 months on. Plus: hints of an easing supply chain, a growing industry to manage office downsizing and a high-tech tractor that could curb a shortage of agriculture workers.

Corporate boards are finally starting to keep their diversity promises

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While a group of GOP-led states is currently pushing against NASDAQ board diversity requirements, some corporations have already ramped up their diversification efforts. The number of directors from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups jumped by 25% in 2021, and women now make up almost 30% of directors among Russell 3000 Index companies. The shift, while slow, hints at the changing values of companies and their investors. We’ll also hear from recruiters experiencing a boom in business, head to Albuquerque as it pilots a zero-fare bus program and check in with small retailers catching a breath after holiday shopping.

A look at Sacramento’s “right to housing” proposal

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California is home to nearly one-quarter of the country’s homeless population, a count that has likely grown during the pandemic. Last year, the mayor of Sacramento — home to 11,000 people without homes — proposed a radical solution to the city’s homelessness crisis: treat housing as a legal right. Housing advocates largely support the proposal, except for a controversial part requiring homeless residents to move to a temporary shelter or be removed from their current locations. Also on today’s program, big banks delay their back-to-office plans, the strategies behind some brands’ familiar chimes and why energy companies are racing to liquefy natural gas.

New year, same pandemic

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Even if it may not feel like it amid spiking COVID-19 cases, we are in a very different world — and economy — than the one we were in a year ago. Today, we’re taking a look back at 12 months of inflation, supply chain headaches and child care issues. We’ll also look at what interest rates and consumer spending might be like as we continue to redefine “going back to normal” in 2022. Plus: an argument for ethical AI, examining a piece of “must-pass” legislation and the reflections of a parade organizer.

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While renters face eviction, a Texas county returns unspent relief aid

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In late November, commissioners in Montgomery County — located north of Houston — voted to return $7 million in unused federal rent relief. But some renters there are still facing eviction, and many have found it difficult to access county- and state-level COVID relief funds. As the federal government works to reallocate rent relief, we pay a visit to Montgomery County to see how officials, activists and renters are responding. But first, a look at what 2022 might bring for the job market, how restaurants and bars are planning for a second New Year’s Eve with COVID and why a big-ticket bailout for the U.K.’s hospitality industry still might only be a drop in the bucket.

How pandemic grief is rippling into the economy

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A little over a year ago, the first American received a COVID-19 vaccine. Now, we’re averaging more than 250,000 positive COVID cases per day. This year has been … a lot. Consumers and workers are more resilient but are tired or burned out. Counselors and clinicians are overwhelmed with the scale of grief they’ve been tasked with addressing. Today, we’ll talk about the psychological toll the pandemic has taken, how to grieve the lives we once knew and how to live with this continued uncertainty. Plus: The huge price tag of returning those unwanted holiday gifts, a new holistic approach to preventive care coming to California and a look at Japan’s hydrogen-focused plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

In California, a blueprint for addressing the opioid crisis

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The pandemic has exacerbated the country’s opioid crisis. More than 100,000 people in the United States died from drug overdoses last year in the highest one-year death toll on record. Today, we take a look at a recently expanded program in California, one that utilizes medically assisted treatment in emergency rooms and is becoming a model for other programs around the nation. We’ll also hear about the questions Moderna’s shareholders are raising regarding global vaccine equity, take a look at the future of streaming services and examine Brexit’s impact on the United Kingdom’s role as a hub for plundered antiquities.

Will shorter CDC isolation guidelines help COVID staffing issues?

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On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reduced the recommended isolation period for people who get COVID-19 from 10 days to five. Still, COVID cases are surging with the spread of the omicron variant. Now airline, health care and service industries are facing yet another wave of staffing disruptions without the government support they had at the beginning of the pandemic. Also on today’s show: How the pandemic has shifted the gaming console industry, an early look at holiday shopping stats and identifying the impact of the next Great Migration.

A 2022 New Year’s gift for many workers? An increased minimum wage

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At the start of 2022, more than 50 jurisdictions are slated to raise their minimum wage rates, many to $15 an hour or more. Despite widespread support for increased minimum wages and years-long activism, efforts to boost the minimum wage at the federal level have largely stalled. But even as many employers independently raise pay amid a tight labor market, inflation continues to chip away at the gains made by many workers. Also on today’s program: A look back at the week, what consumer spending looks like amid the arrival of omicron, how the surge in electric vehicle demand impacts the Democratic Republic of the Congo and a festive take on The Numbers.

COVID-19 mitigations are straining school nurses

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Before the pandemic, roughly a quarter of schools in the United States didn’t employ a school nurse at all, and less than half employed nurses full time. Now, many of those nurses are adding contract tracing and COVID-19 testing to their already lengthy list of duties to keep kids healthy. These stressors are pushing some school nurses to their breaking point and highlight the issue of understaffing, which can be detrimental in communities where the school nurse’s office may be the only access to health care some students have. Also on today’s program: Americans are returning to their pre-COVID saving habits, airlines are pushing for reduced CDC quarantine guidelines and some indie musicians are turning to indie revenue streams.

Why being single is costly in the U.S.

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It won’t appear as an additional tax or fee on a receipt, but if you’re single in the U.S., you’re paying more than your married peers. That’s because policies and programs, from Social Security to the tax code, were written when it was assumed that Americans would get and stay married. Today, we’ll hear from journalist Anne Helen Petersen about how your relationship status can dictate your economic outlook and whether policies are likely to change with the changing population. Plus: Consumer confidence creeps up despite omicron, a historically Black college gives students a generous gift with no strings attached, and how hard-to-find COVID tests illustrate the challenges of relying on a private industry during a public health crisis.

In tourist communities, short-term rentals are pricing out locals

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When you head to an outdoorsy town or resort community to get away from it all, it can be easy to forget the people who live and work there full time, ensuring that the place runs smoothly. The tourism that many of those towns rely on can also produce housing pressures. Marketplace’s Amanda Peacher takes us to Joshua Tree, California, where short-term vacation rentals make up more than one-quarter of the housing stock. As she points out, the affordable-housing shortage is becoming more common around the Western U.S. Also: What the holiday spending habits of four families tell us about the economy, what hurdles await President Joe Biden’s plan for distributing at-home COVID tests and what 20% inflation looks like in Turkey.

What Manchin’s derailing of Build Back Better could mean for the economy

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How much pull on the economy can one man have? Quite a bit, it turns out. On Sunday, Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, announced that he would not be supporting the Build Back Better Act, citing inflation concerns. The bill, a foundational part of President Joe Biden’s agenda, has billions slated for social spending programs and addressing the climate crisis. Today, we’ll see where that leaves climate scientists and take a closer look at the impact government spending has on inflation. Plus, we’ll hear about a new lender for native farmers and ranchers, see what loan payment pauses have meant for students and look at the art and imperfect science of economic forecasting.

Omicron on the mind

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Remember just a few weeks back, when we didn’t know whether this new COVID-19 variant was pronounced ah-micron or oh-micron? However you say it, it’s at the doorstep and ready to barge into the economy. Today, we’ll tackle omicron in the Weekly Wrap, hear how businesses are reacting to it with little new guidance and see why the hottest item this holiday season — a rapid COVID test — is becoming hard to find. Also: Why private equity investments are booming and how a Nashville record store is trying to survive a scorching real estate market.

COVID-19 has made inflation a global problem

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In case you haven’t heard … prices? They’re higher these days. That’s not terribly surprising, given the global supply chain debacle, but it turns out a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic has an impact, too. Dozens of countries have experienced inflation since the onset of the pandemic, and the United States has one highest rates. Today, we look at how the U.S. approach to addressing inflation differs from other countries around the globe. We’ll also take a trip to a warehouse to see its role in the global supply chain, hear how the Great Resignation isn’t necessarily benefitting everyone and celebrate jobless claims that haven’t been this low since the Beatles were together.

The child tax credit has given stability to many families. Today’s payment could be the last.

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As part of a COVID-19 relief package last spring, Congress expanded the federal child tax credit and started sending it out in monthly installments. For many families, the extra couple of hundred dollars each month has provided a cushion for emergencies or has been spent on essentials, like rent and utilities. But the expansion is temporary, and unless Congress passes President Joe Biden’s social spending plan, the decline in childhood poverty we’ve seen could be temporary, too. Inflation is also on today’s agenda, including how it was discussed at today’s Fed meeting, where it might linger in the economy and whether wage growth will be able to keep up with it.

So what can the Fed actually do about inflation?

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The producer price index came out today and — no surprise — inflation is hitting the folks who make the products we buy, too. The Federal Reserve is meeting today, but what exactly can it do to address rising prices? Though the central bank can taper bond buying, raise interest rates and communicate its plans more, it still has little control over issues dominating the economy right now, like COVID-19 and supply chain woes. Plus: How the pandemic reinvigorated DIY home renovations, why buying a new car is likely to remain troublesome for a while, and why officials are concerned that there might not be enough water to go around in rural West Texas.

How the Kentucky tornadoes are compounding an existing housing crisis

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After devastating tornadoes swept through Kentucky last week, killing dozens and destroying thousands of homes, displaced residents are left wondering where to go. Kentucky already had a shortage of affordable housing, with 30% of the state’s renters at or below the poverty line. On today’s show, we hear from Adrienne Bush, executive director of the Homeless & Housing Coalition of Kentucky, about the need for investment and policy changes to ensure short- and long-term recoveries. We’ll also hear how American consumer demand is adding to supply chain disruptions, why holiday shipping is on a smoother track than last year and what a mistletoe auction in small-town Britain tells us about the U.K.’s economic recovery.

More than just a number

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Odds are, you’ve heard the figure by now: 6.8%. That’s what the consumer price index clocked for year-over-year inflation today. Those rising prices, especially for essentials like food and housing, are squeezing folks on low or fixed incomes. Though the federal government uses the CPI to adjust things like food aid and Social Security, economists are increasingly concerned that additional changes may be needed so benefits can keep up with inflation. But first, the Weekly Wrap, followed by a look at FEMA’s climate resilience plans and a dive into how a classic ballet performance is becoming more inclusive.

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Where will this economy be in December 2022?

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While both chewing on the lowest number of initial unemployment claims since the late 1960s and bracing for tomorrow’s inflation data for November, we decided to cast our minds ahead to December 2022. What’s the labor market going to look like in 365 days? Can we expect inflation to continue roaring ahead? We asked some experts to peer into the crystal ball. Also: Sabri Ben-Achour reports on China’s state-sponsored industrial espionage and an explainer on the significance of waning worker productivity.

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For some small businesses, the wonky supply chain is an opportunity

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If you’ve set foot inside any chain or big-box store in the past couple of months, odds are you’ve spotted an empty shelf or two. While it’s been difficult for lots of major retailers to get the products and supplies they’ve ordered, smaller businesses have found themselves nimble enough to fill those gaps. Today, we’ll hear from three small businesses about how they’ve been able to maneuver and flourish. Plus: the Great Resignation is still in full swing; COVID gives rise to a more lively freelance economy; and why inflation can benefit borrowers (complete with a history lesson).

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How this investor became the “slumdoge millionaire”

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In February, Glauber Contessoto invested his life savings in dogecoin, a cryptocurrency that started as a joke. But his gains are for real. He now owns more than $800,000 in dogecoin. Marketplace’s Matt Levin chats with Contessoto about the HODL — or “hold on for dear life” — mentality that keeps him and other investors in the crypto game despite incredible volatility. Also on today’s program: Why exports surged in October, what’s behind the battle for speedy grocery deliveries and the transition away from fossil fuels takes center stage at the World Petroleum Congress.

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A jobs report full of mixed signals

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If the U.S. economy had a Facebook profile, its relationship status with jobs would be set to … well … “It’s complicated.” The Bureau of Labor Statistics released a muddled job report last week, with a little over 200,000 jobs added to the economy. Data from other sources also shows a tumultuous recovery: Wages are up, though they’re not keeping up with inflation; upper-income professionals feel strong job security, but the service sector tells a different story. We’ll also hear how restaurants are prepping for a winter with omicron, see how hybrid and remote work could hold women back, and discuss why home equity lines of credit could be making a return.

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How the gas boom transformed a small town in Louisiana

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Natural gas prices have skyrocketed in recent months thanks to strong global demand. Today, Marketplace’s Andy Uhler takes us to a village in northwest Louisiana where many landowners signed away their mineral rights to drillers. The resulting infusion of cash revived the local economy but has come at an environmental cost for some in the area. We’ll also digest a muddled jobs report in the Weekly Wrap, discuss whether job growth in the warehouse sector is here to stay and tackle the frustrations of on-and-off return-to-office plans.

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Omicron could keep older workers on the sidelines

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Workers over 65 were the fastest-growing segment of the labor force before the pandemic. But as the pandemic persists and new coronavirus variants spread, older adults have been slow to return to the workforce, and many have simply retired early. In a tight labor market, that shrunken labor pool could persist for years to come. We’ll also hear how bond buying could translate into higher mortgage rates, how omicron could further complicate the global supply chain and how stock images play a role in reinforcing whiteness.

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Shipping logjams are polluting portside communities

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California’s portside neighborhoods, which are home to many low-income residents and communities of color, have long suffered from polluted air. But supply chain bottlenecks have worsened that pollution, which has been linked to cancer, heart disease and asthma. Though community advocates have pushed for emissions reductions, demand for goods that filter through the port is still at a record high. Also on the show today: A chat with Visa’s CEO about the future of digital payments; economists weigh in on how omicron could affect the market; and why it can be hard to find a public bathroom.

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Food banks are being squeezed by inflation too

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Food banks saw increased demand at the height of the pandemic. Now, as inflation limits what your buck can buy at grocery stores, demand is rising yet again. But food banks are dealing with those higher costs too, as well as supply chain issues that mean longer wait times for their orders and fewer donations. Also on today’s program, how Substack has changed the media landscape, what the omicron variant might mean for consumer confidence and why the U.K. aspires to be a green hydrogen powerhouse.

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In case you forgot: COVID still runs this economy

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The coronavirus omicron variant caused stock market jitters on Friday. While the strain’s impact on global health remains to be seen, if omicron is similar to the delta wave, we can expect travel and consumer spending to take a big hit. How it might affect inflation is unclear. Plus: Black Friday spending is up but still below pre-pandemic levels; millennials are sidelined in the homebuying market; and schools prepare to use federal pandemic relief.

Next-day delivery is so pre-pandemic. Cue ultra-fast delivery.

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Whereas next- or same-day delivery services transformed the way people shopped at the height of the pandemic, there’s a new kid in town: companies that will deliver an order in under 20 minutes. While the services have made it to densely populated urban areas in the United States, the market is particularly booming in the United Kingdom. Victoria Craig takes us to London, where — for super-fast delivery apps — competition is fierce, investment is booming and pathways to long-lasting profit are uncertain. Plus: The Weekly Wrap, a sky-high battle for 5G and a Black Friday look at consumer spending.

Bemidji, Minnesota has paid teleworkers to move there. How is it playing out?

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At the height of the pandemic, dozens of small communities saw an opportunity to recruit people who could work from anywhere — by paying them to move. Today, Dan Kraker takes us to Bemidji, Minnesota, where a program offers people $2,500 to telework there. The solution has proved mutually beneficial, offering newcomers a slower, more budget-friendly pace of life while helping a smaller town grow. Plus: The glass bottle shortage comes to a liquor store near you, the 30th anniversary of a major economic database and the young engineer behind an operations-friendly headscarf.

Inflation and unemployment stats tell a complicated story

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We got a feast of economic figures the day before Thanksgiving: First-time unemployment claims are at a 52-year low. But a key index shows inflation is at a 31-year high. Consumer spending is up too, yet consumer sentiment is at its lowest point in a decade. What the heck is going on? On today’s show, we’ll tell you how the economic recovery can look anything but linear. We’ll also hear about the big number of small-scale labor actions, the infrastructure bill’s potential impact on holiday travel routes and a new initiative by the Department of Labor aimed at assisting home care workers.

Biden’s release of oil reserves is unlikely to ease gas prices

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Gas prices are high ahead of holiday travel. To address oil costs, President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that he would tap into oil reserves and release 50 million barrels. But energy analysts say consumers likely won’t feel relief at the pump. Also on today’s show: Luxury stores keep malls afloat; how the shipping container came to be; and residents of Boquillas, Mexico, get creative to survive pandemic border closures.

What Jerome Powell’s renomination means for Fed policy

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President Joe Biden announced today that he will nominate Jerome Powell for a second term as Federal Reserve chair. Progressive Democrats were hoping Biden would nominate board member Lael Brainard, whom he instead picked for vice chair. The decision indicates a “business as usual” stance amid the economic recovery and spiking inflation. Also: We examine why Target’s nearly 2,000 stores will no longer stay open on Thanksgiving Day, unpack the Deere strike and its impact on farmers and look at businesses filling the void in China’s mental health care sector.