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Marketplace on WVTF, RADIO IQ & RADIO IQ w/BBC News
Marketplace with host Kai Ryssdal produced and distributed by American Public Media focuses on the latest business news both nationally and internationally, the global economy, and wider events linked to the financial markets.
The only national daily business news program originating from the West Coast, Marketplace is noted for its timely, relevant and accessible coverage of business, economics and personal finance.
Friday, December 6, 2013 10:51am
The U.S. unemployment rate has fallen to 7 percent, its lowest point in 5 years. Employees added 203,000 jobs to payrolls in November, a bit better than economists' predictions of 180,000. But Julia Coronado, chief economist, North America for BNP Paribas in New York, says that like a lot of good economic news lately, this one comes with an asterisk.
"You need to be careful here. The government shutdown impacted the numbers. There's been a lot of volatility," Coronado says. "If we smooth over the last few months, the picture is still one of the labor force is declining. The participation rate has been dropping quite rapidly, and that combined with decent job gains is driving a fairly rapid decline in the unemployment rate."
But while many different kinds of employers are adding jobs on paper, out in the real world, searching for a job is still tough for too many Americans. Maureen Cunningham is one of them. The 51-year-old recently moved to Venice, Florida from Philadelphia with her retired husband. She was working for a company from home until October, when her employer eliminated her position. So far, Cunningham is having a difficult time finding a replacement.
"I'm finding that the wages here are quite a bit less than what I currently make, so I'm thinking I might need to go into something else," Cunningham says.
While Cunningham says her husband is happy to have her at home with him all day "making pancakes," she says being out of work is taking a psychological toll on her.
"I feel like I need to work," she says. "It gives me a sense of fulfillment to have a job, have a place to go to and be at. I don't do well when I don't have a job, so it's a little bit depressing."
Also of concern to Cunningham is how she will deal with health insurance. Since she was insured through her previous employer, Cunningham says she hasn't paid much attention to recent news about how to sign up for the Affordable Care Act, and now she's playing catch up.
"Now, all the sudden, I'm in a panic, and I'm trying to figure out what my options are and what I should do. And I guess my hope is I'll find something right away and won't have to worry about it. As it is, I'm in a high deductible plan, so getting sick wasn't an option either. But to have nothing and have to find something, I just don't know. It's scary."
Friday, December 6, 2013 10:05am
For the first time the federal government has tallied up the arts and culture contribution to the nation’s economy. It turns out that sector, movies, painting, publishing, cable and more, was worth half a trillion dollars -- 3 percent to the gross domestic product in 2011. That’s more than the travel and tourism industry.
“Here you have for the first time, comprehensive empirical evidence from the point of view of economists that the arts play a substantial role in the nation’s economy,” says Sunil Iyengar who runs the Office of Research and Analysis for the National Endowment for the Arts.
In an instant, writers, app designers, publishers and painters just got a bunch of "street cred." Nearly two million people work in the arts and culture industry which exported about $40 billion in goods and services in 2011. Some economists say ideas, innovation, and creativity are essential to growing the United States economy.
University of Minnesota culture economist Ann Markusen says putting a dollar value to the sector could lead to policies that promote it. “The recognition of the significance of art skills, is going to really be a big boost for artists and also for encouraging young people to go into the arts,” she says.
Who knows, maybe that whole starving artist thing will finally be on its way out.
Friday, December 6, 2013 8:33am
Nelson Mandela, the man who lead South Africa to end apartheid before becoming its first black president, died yesterday at 95. Mandela spent 27 years in prison before being elected president after his release in 1990. Admired for his personal sacrifice, and celebrated around the globe as an emancipator and uniting figure, Mandela leaves many legacies behind. Credited with bringing together a nation deeply divided by apartheid, Mandela was able to temper the anger of South Africa's black majority while ameliorating the fears of the white minority who had been their oppressors. But besides a story of peace and reconciliation, Mandela's death is also a reminder of how economics can be a tool of oppression as well as a tool of liberation.
The structure of an economy is also a human rights story. And Mandela's economic legacy will be remembered as his fight against a system of social engineering that enforced the unconscionable gap between rich and poor. But the work didn't end with Mandela, says the BBC's Matthew Davies, who lived in South Africa at the end of apartheid. In fact, its dismantling is really an ongoing story.
"What Mr. Mandela really did was to create an atmosphere of stability in the post-apartheid economy," Davies says. "Now, the apartheid economy itself, it was hit by sanctions in a big way. What he did was create political stability, which was then able to build the economy from there on in."
Mandela was able to insure that proceeds from South Africa's post-apartheid economic growth were distributed more equally among the country's black majority only to a certain extent. While Davies says Mandela "planted the seeds" for a more inclusionary economy, issues of economic inequality along both racial and class lines continue to dog South Africa to this day.
"There has been a certain amount of inclusion in the economy that was certainly missing under the apartheid days, but there is still this massive wealth gap between the rich and the poor in South Africa," he says. "I mean, the average white household actually makes 6 times more in income than a black household. So there are these huge gaps between the rich and the poor, and they remain to this day."
In a time where the role of Twitter, Facebook, and other social media was (perhaps inaccurately) trumpeted as being the driving force behind the Arab Spring, and other social upheavals, it's notable how a pre-internet grassroots movement, made of up largely college students, was able to pressure governments around the globe to impose economic sanctions on South Africa that were crucial in cracking the back of apartheid. Davies says that he observed the consequences of sanctions first hand while living in South Africa.
"I was living in South Africa towards the end of apartheid, and the sanctions really started to bite," he says. "There were all sorts of companies who announced that they'd leave South Africa. Others left as well. The sanctions themselves did actually make a great deal of difference in bringing down the apartheid regime.”
Friday, December 6, 2013 7:05am
With unemployment still above 7 percent, and new jobs now being created at a steady clip month after month, there are a lot of people applying for virtually every position that’s advertised.
At most employers, this tsunami of job applicants hits an electronic gatekeeper first -- a computerized "applicant tracking system." It’s an automated software program that requires an applicant to enter basic information and submit their application online, before they have ever a chance of speaking to, or meeting, a live human recruiter at the company.
These systems first came into use at big companies in the 1990s, as a way to systematize the HR process, track candidates and recruiting results, and in some cases comply with state and federal employment regulations. By the late 2000s these systems were all but ubiquitous for job applicants at all but the smallest companies, and for all but the highest-level headhunted corporate positions.
Peter Cappelli, director of the Center for Human Resources at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, says applicant tracking systems were initially deployed to do basic tasks -- gather names and contact information for candidates, names and dates of previous employers. Then in the Great Recession, HR departments downsized drastically, and the number of job applicants soared as unemployment skyrocketed. Now, Cappelli says, these automated systems have replaced much of the subjective evaluation -- both of written resumes and cover letters, and of in-person or over-the-phone interviews -- that used to be done by human recruiters.
Christina Bauske is looking for a senior-level position in health care management or IT. She was laid off in a corporate reorganization, and has been assiduously filling out online job applications.
She says she likes the challenge of trying to figure out exactly what the software is looking And she tries to follow up by phone with someone in HR at the potential employer, to double-check that her online application has actually arrived and displays properly.
“In some systems you can’t even tell that it actually has been received,” she says. “You don’t get any kind of email confirmation. So it’s like going into the dark hole.”
Another dark hole that an online application can fall into -- it can be rejected if the job titles, educational and training credentials, or requested salary that a candidate enters don’t precisely match what the software is programmed to look for. Or, if fonts and formats in an attached resume or cover letter aren’t compatible with the software program.
Career consultant Barbara Barde counsels both job applicants and corporate recruiters. She says some firms she works with are abandoning applicant tracking systems altogether, in favor of peer-recruiting (in which current employees are incentivized to identify potential job candidates), or networks such as LinkedIn and volunteer groups for professionals.
“They were finding that they weren't identifying the top talent they needed to truly fit into their organizations,” says Barde. “Because one of the things that the applicant tracking software cannot do, is it can’t look at the emotional side to things at all, it can only see on paper what someone may be worth in terms of their skills and expertise. It can’t see them in action.”
In fact, recruiters can now see a candidate in action -- through new video-interviewing platforms that can complement the now-ubiquitous applicant tracking systems.
The web-based service offered by HireVue.com, a fast-growing HR-tech company in Utah, lets candidates answer customized questions from an employer -- say, how they dealt with a demanding customer or an intolerant boss. Interviews can be pre-recorded, or conducted live in real-time in front of one or several hiring managers, located anywhere in the world.
“We believe that people aren’t represented by profiles and resumes or anything like that,” says HireVue CEO Mark Newman. “That’s kind of a travesty of HR technology. We ultimately think that people are voices and experiences and ideas for the future and stories.
“A lot of organizations, what they’ll do now is open interviews," says Newman. "Add your resume, answer some preliminary questions and introduce yourself, because we really want to have a much fuller view of who you are and what you’re about before we make a decision.”
Newman says, consider the potential inadequacies of electronic job-screening for former military members now looking for civilian work after deployment.
“Your resume may talk through how you made battlefield decisions and led teams,” says Newman. “But if you apply online for a job, you don’t have two years of hospitality experience helping people address the problem of -- do they have a cold cup of coffee?”
Hilton Hotels now invites people who haven’t even applied for a specific job yet, to submit an introductory video, says VP of Recruitment, Rodney Moses. The company is also focused on bringing former military members into the candidate pool even though their resumes might not show specific job experience in hotel or restaurant management.
“We can do pop-ups, scenarios," says Moses, "real-life job situations and they can answer and you can actually see their response, versus someone typing something into a computer."
Moses says this adds some of the human element back into electronic job-search.
Friday, December 6, 2013 6:56am
June 24, 2013