Illinois Economy

Business and economic news

We are finally starting to see some signs that the tight labor market is pushing up wages. New numbers out today from the Department of Labor show wages and salaries in the private sector are up 2.8 percent from this time last year. That doesn’t leave too much extra cash for workers once you factor in inflation, but it’s the best number we’ve seen on this since early 2015. It does have some wondering, with such low unemployment, what took so long?

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In the wake of a mass shooting, victim needs can range from intensive medical care to figuring out how to reclaim personal items, like a wallet and car keys, from the crime scene. Supporting victims through their short- and long-term recovery can be an ongoing challenge for communities, many of which have never had to deal with a tragedy of this nature.  

Donations: Who gets what?

Warren Buffett, of Berkshire Hathaway; Jeff Bezos, of Amazon; and Jamie Dimon, of JPMorgan Chase, announced they would form a health care company together. We thought it was a perfect time to revisit this interview.

We talked with Buffett back in 2012 about Dimon, the business decisions he regrets, and yes, eating Oreos for breakfast. Buffett had recently released a book with Carol Loomis, a longtime financial journalist who had covered Buffett's career. She joined him for this interview. 

CDC director resigns over financial conflicts

Jan 31, 2018

NEW YORK  (AP) — U.S. officials have announced that the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has resigned because of financial conflicts of interest.

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald had been in the job since July.

A statement Wednesday from the Department of Health and Human Services said Fitzgerald’s complex financial interests had caused conflicts of interest that made it difficult to do her job. Alex Azar, who was sworn in as head of the department Monday, accepted her resignation.

01/31/2018: Trump's tone softens on trade

Jan 31, 2018

(Markets Edition) We're continuing our debrief of Trump's State of the Union speech by chatting with Ian Bremmer, founder of the Eurasia Group. He's here to explain why President Trump's trade rhetoric wasn't as heated as it usually is. Afterwards, we'll look at how the budding health care alliance between Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan Chase could control costs for companies. 

President Donald Trump's trade rhetoric during his State of the Union speech last night wasn't as heated as you might have expected. 

While he took a hard line on issues like immigration (he said we have a broken system where single immigrants can bring "virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives"), his tone toward trade was a bit more muted compared to previous statements he's made on the subject.  

GOP donors are revitalized by Republican successes

Jan 31, 2018

Today is the deadline for congressional candidates to file year-end finance reports with the Federal Elections Commission. So far, it’s been a record-breaking fundraising year for Republicans.

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The Waymo vs. Uber driverless car war lands in court

Jan 31, 2018

Waymo claims a former employee took trade secrets to rival Uber. The intellectual property dispute could have implications for a range of industries.

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(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service… President Trump’s first State of the Union might have been light on details around his calls for fair and reciprocal trade deals. But the lack of specificity or talk of a trade war with China was relief for the business community in Asia. Then, although the Federal Reserve isn’t expected to raise rates at the end of its two-day policy meeting today, Wall Street is closely watching for signs more than three rate increases will come by the end of the year.

01/31/2018: The promising drug for Alzheimer's

Jan 31, 2018

(U.S. Edition) President Trump spent part of his State of the Union speech last night talking about the need for infrastructure funding, saying he needs at least $1.5 trillion. On today's show, we'll look at where this money might come from and when his official plan will be released. Afterwards, we'll look at how researchers see promise in some anti-diabetes drugs that could reduce memory loss and improve cognitive ability for those suffering from Alzheimer's. 

Could antenna fatigue be holding up 5G technology?

Jan 31, 2018

Earlier this week there was a brief kerfuffle over whether the American government should pay to build the next generation of wireless, known as 5G, so that China doesn't beat us to the punch. The Federal Communications Commission came forward and said, no, the government would not nationalize 5G. But it made us wonder: Is the U.S.

The next generation of wireless infrastructure is known as 5G. And it could have implications for not just how fast our phones get data, but also for driverless car infrastructure, and our ability to communicate in virtual reality. How close are we to having the 5G infrastructure in place, and what are the hold ups? Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talks with Sundeep Rangan, director of the research center NYU WIRELESS, and a professor of electrical engineering.

Another topic expected to come up in tonight’s State of the Union speech is immigration. The Trump administration has put out a framework for resolving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program question. Undocumented immigrants who arrived as children would get a path to citizenship over 10 to 12 years. In exchange for $25 billion for the border wall … and a significant reduction in legal immigration. By one estimate the plan would cut the number of green cards by 22 million over the next five decades. What that could mean for the economy?

Inside social media's black market

Jan 30, 2018

If you want to gain thousands of followers on Twitter overnight, it is not that hard. A company called Devumi can do just that for you — you just have to pay for it.

One of the biggest puzzles for public transit organizations usually isn’t how to get people from one bus stop or train station to the next — it’s how to get them all the way home. This is called the last mile problem and it turns out it’s a big challenge for package delivery too. Working separately to solve the problem, the two industries are coming up with similar solutions.  

... and walk out running a health care company. Together they employ about a million people, and it appears health care was driving them nuts. They're starting their own company that will give coverage "free from profit-making incentives and constraints." We'll start today by trying to make sense of it all. Then: Janet Yellen is presiding over her last Federal Open Market Committee meeting this week, so we'll take a look at her economic legacy. Plus: inside the black market for Twitter followers.

Adrian Henderson was out buying shoes for his daughter when he spotted a white RV in the mall parking lot marked “mobile job center.” It’s run by the public library — picture a bookmobile for jobs. Inside, there’s a bank of computers for printing resumes and applying for openings online.

Henderson, 49, lost his job in December and was looking for work in security.

“The market is certainly there,” he said. “But I guess sometimes it’s who you know and not what you know, so it’s just been tough for me right about now.”

Pittsburgh's influential but brief role in the Black Renaissance

Jan 30, 2018

For a handful of decades in the middle of the 20th century, Pittsburgh — yes, Pittsburgh — was a nexus for the Black Renaissance. Influential musicians like Lena Horne and Billy Strayhorn passed through, so did sports figures like Joe Louis and Jackie Robinson. And the Pittsburgh Courier, the local black newspaper, was read across the country.

Trump's State of the Union: Our predictions

Jan 30, 2018

As we await President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union tonight, the Marketplace team has been thinking about what the president might say — and what he might not say. From the economy to immigration, jobs to education, here are some of the things that we’ll be listening for tonight.

Nancy Marshall-Genzer, senior reporter, D.C. bureau

(Markets Edition) Warren Buffett is teaming up with Amazon and JPMorgan to create a company aimed at tackling the issue of health care costs. We'll look at what they want to offer to their employees, and how insurance and pharmacy stocks are faring amid the news. Afterwards, we'll discuss why bond yields have been rising for the past several months, and then talk about the new method some workplaces are using to concentrate (hint: it actually involves noise).

Amazon, Warren Buffett and JPMorgan Chase are forming a new company to address the health care costs of their employees, sending shares of health care companies down sharply across the entire sector despite the vague nature of the announcement.

On Tuesday Amazon's Jeff Bezos said that he, along with Buffet and JPMorgan, would attempt to make health care better for hundreds of thousands of their employees, and perhaps, eventually, the country.

There were few details and those involved said the project is in the early planning stage.

Yellen leads her last Fed meeting

Jan 30, 2018

Chair of the Federal Reserve Janet Yellen ends a cautious four-year run.

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President Donald Trump is expected to talk about his infrastructure plan in tonight’s State of the Union speech. The president has lots of big ideas. But it’s not clear how they would be paid for.  

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White noise is the new soundtrack of work

Jan 30, 2018

Jonah Lopin, CEO of Crayon, a software developing startup, works in a trendy open office space in downtown Boston. Even though he’s CEO, he doesn’t have an office where he can shut the door. There’s a lot of noise from his co-workers. When he needs to concentrate, he puts on noise canceling headphones and plays the recording of a fan.

“Somehow when the fan is going, it clicks off that part of the brain that’s anticipating interruptions and I’m able to focus,” Lopin said. 

(U.S. Edition) President Trump is slated to give his first State of the Union speech tonight, where he's expected to bring up his goal of revamping the country's infrastructure. But how's he going to pay for it? We'll look at where the funds could come from. Afterwards, we'll discuss the wide gulf between the black unemployment rate — even though it's at its lowest level since the government began tracking it in 1972 — and the white unemployment rate, along with the job barriers that exist for African-Americans. 

More than 100 million people are expected to tune in this coming Sunday when the Patriots face off against the Eagles. While the two teams compete for the championship title in the Super Bowl LII, millions of chicken wings and beers will be consumed, making getting up for work the next day more difficult than on an average Monday.

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service … Worries over the U.K.’s economic health were stoked Monday night after a leaked Brexit report … but data Tuesday morning showed the Eurozone economy saw its fastest growth rate in a decade last year. We break down trends in two important regions. Then, Hollywood might portray artificial intelligence as taking over the world, but it just might be the solution to freeing up teachers to focus on delivering quality educations. 

Five reasons for a self-driving car slowdown

Jan 30, 2018

Carmakers and tech companies are predicting that self-driving cars will hit the road as soon as 2020 and presumably transform our entire society in just a few short years after that. But as we collect stories about the tech, the talent and the unintended consequences of autonomous vehicles, I’m putting my money on a slightly longer timeline. In fact, in some cases, like cybersecurity and the safety of the tech in play, we consumers might want to insist on a slightly longer timeline. Here are five reasons why.

Jury selection starts tomorrow in the Uber and Waymo case. (Reminder: Waymo is the child company of Alphabet; the little sister company of Google.) That’s the lawsuit over whether a former Waymo engineer stole self-driving car technology from Google and then took it to Uber.  Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talks with Stanford law professor Mark Lemley, who says that lawsuits like this cost money, time — and can make companies more cautious. 

Let's do a thought experiment: for every dollar that you make, how much do you save? According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, it's probably a lot less than you have in the past. Last week, the department released data showing that the personal savings rate was its lowest point since before the great recession. And that has some people worried.