Illinois Economy

Business and economic news

Once confined to gyms and studios, yoga pants are now widely accepted attire in many social settings, from the office to the classroom. And this rise in yoga pants as everyday clothing is contributing to a decline in the price of cotton.

“We’re seeing athleisure wear infiltrate the American wardrobe. And I think that that infiltration has only just begun,” University of Nevada, Las Vegas fashion historian Deirdre Clemente said.

Massive cultural changes are sweeping through American workplaces since news broke about the predatory behavior of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. It's not an exaggeration to say we are in the middle of a reckoning, but how to puzzle through it and what comes next are harder questions to answer. So Marketplace Weekend brought together a panel of experts: Lili Loofbourow, culture critic for The Week, Susan L. Marquis, dean of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, and David Lewis, CEO of OperationsInc and a human resources consultant.

(Markets Edition) The GOP tax overhaul will decrease the corporate tax rate, which proponents of the bill have argued is much lower in other countries. But China recently announced foreign firms will not have to pay taxes on their earnings. We'll examine whether this move will make U.S. companies want to stay in China. Afterwards, we'll discuss the tax bill's effects on Puerto Rico — now income from patents and other intellectual property on the island will be considered foreign income.

Holidays, Brought to You By is our series about all the stuff that’s become part of the culture and of the economy. Where did they come from and who thought of them? 

For many people, gathering around the TV and watching college football is as much a part of New Year as watching the ball descend in Times Square or eating black-eyed peas in the South.

The new U.S. tax law will put an end to Puerto Rico’s longtime status as a tax shelter for U.S. multinational companies. Companies will now have to pay 12.5 percent on what they make on the island. One-third of Puerto Rico’s tax base now comes from medical manufacturers. If they flee, it would mean more damage for the island’s fragile economy.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Stocks in the for-profit prison sector skyrocketed after the election of President Donald Trump. The Obama administration and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had both pledged to phase out their use by federal authorities — an approach Trump rejected. But the industry hasn’t seen the sustained boost many investors expected. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

For decades, jobs in textile and apparel manufacturing have been on the decline across the U.S. Texas is no exception, but one Dallas nonprofit is training people to work with textiles … people who are visually impaired.

(U.S. Edition) South Korea says it's seized a Hong Kong-registered ship suspected of supplying oil to North Korea. On today's show, we'll recap the details of the incident. Afterwards, we'll look at the state of the for-profit prison sector after President Trump rejected the Obama administration's pledge to phase out their use by federal authorities. Plus: We end our week-long series on how different five American cities and territories have been coping with natural disasters that occurred this year.

What recovery looks like for a small, historic Puerto Rico town

Dec 29, 2017

2017 was full of natural disasters. They didn’t seem to let up — fires in California, floods in Texas, hurricane after hurricane in the Caribbean and on the Gulf Coast. The media moved on quickly, but recovery efforts are long from over. We talked to local officials in five American cities about their hopes and objectives in the coming year. Check out our entire series.

12/29/17: Will Cape Town run out of water?

Dec 29, 2017

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service ... A consortium led by Japan’s Softbank has finalized an agreement to buy 17 percent of the ride-hailing company Uber. What does it mean for the beleaguered firm’s future? Afterwards, the South African city of Cape Town is currently suffering from its worst drought in 100 years. The mayor of the city has warned that if residents, tourists and businesses don't keep their water consumption down, the taps could run dry by the end of April. What are Cape Townians doing to try and save water — and how much does it cost?

This week we’re bringing you our favorite episodes of the year.

As we get closer to sending humans to Mars, there’s been more talk about the technology and money it will take to colonize the planet. But science fiction writers have been pondering this for some time. Andy Weir is author of “The Martian,” which showed us how to survive on Mars. His new book, called “Artemis,” is about a colony on the moon. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talked with Weir about the real research that went into his science fiction.

12/28/2017: A cashless China

Dec 28, 2017

Trillions of dollars in payments each year occur via mobile apps like Alipay in China, where the cashless society of the future is here. You can even pay for your fried chicken with facial recognition technology. We’re eschewing conventional finance rules in the U.S., too, or at least Chelsea Fagan is. She talks to Adrienne Hill about her new book, “The Financial Diet,” which offers personal finance advice a little differently than we’re used to.

Inside what looks like a nondescript office building on the sprawling campus of Texas Biomedical Research Institute is a hub for  some of the most cutting-edge disease research in the U.S.

Robert Davey is zipping up a suit his scientists wear when studying deadly pathogens. Davey is the director of the biosafety level 4 lab at Texas Biomedical. He said he never realized a zipper could be water and air tight before starting in this field.

Helping millennials have a balanced "Financial Diet"

Dec 28, 2017

Learning to be smart with money isn't easy. And when you're a 20-something who hasn't been financially independent for very long, it can seem pretty intimidating. That transition into adulthood is where Chelsea Fagan is finding her financial advice niche.

(Markets Edition) With homeowners in high-tax states and counties rushing to pre-pay their 2018 property taxes, we'll take a look at which areas are actually encouraging this behavior. Afterwards, we'll talk to Diane Swonk , CEO of DS Economics in Chicago, about consumer confidence levels and how retailers have been doing this holiday season, and then we'll cap off today's show by discussing news that the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement is proposing to roll back some of the safety rules it created.

Special report: How one sentence helped set off the opioid crisis

Dec 28, 2017

When OxyContin went to market in 1996, sales reps from Purdue Pharma hit one point particularly hard: Compared to other prescription opioids, this new painkiller was believed to be less likely to be addictive or abused.

But recently unsealed documents in this investigative episode shed light on how the maker of OxyContin seems to have relied more on focus groups than on scientific studies to create an aggressive and misleading marketing campaign that helped fuel the national opioid crisis.

Amazon has another holiday for you

Dec 28, 2017

Amazon hopes for more spending and subscribers on “Digital Day.”

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

After the BP oil spill in 2010, a new federal oversight agency was created: the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. Now, according to the Wall Street Journal, it’s proposing to roll back some of the safety rules it created. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

You must have an assessment if you want to pay your 2018 taxes early, says IRS

Dec 28, 2017

Thousands of homeowners are rushing to prepay their 2018 property taxes before the end of the year, hoping to take advantage of the state and local tax (SALT) deduction before it shrinks when the new tax reform bill goes into effect.

(U.S. Edition) People have been rushing to pre-pay property taxes in some states before the GOP's new tax bill goes into effect. But the IRS is saying not so fast. We'll chat with Roberton Williams from the Tax Policy Center about what you actually need in order to prepay your taxes. Afterwards, we'll talk with Kenneth Mapp, governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, about how the territory has been doing in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. He tells us which services are now available, and the work left to repair the power grid, schools and hospitals.

Rebuilding plays a major role in economic recovery of the U.S. Virgin Islands

Dec 28, 2017

2017 was full of natural disasters. They didn’t seem to let up — fires in California, floods in Texas, hurricane after hurricane in the Caribbean and on the Gulf Coast. The media moved on quickly, but recovery efforts are long from over. We talked to local officials in five American cities about their hopes and objectives in the coming year. Check out the rest of our series here.

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service ... South Korea makes up just 2 percent of the global economy – but South Koreans account for 20 percent of all bitcoin transactions. The country’s obsession with the crypto-currency has led government authorities to threaten that they might shut down bitcoin exchanges – leading to yet another price swing in an already volatile year. Then, nearly a decade on from the financial crisis, countries around the world are rebounding.

This week we’re bringing you our favorite episodes of the year.

From data breaches to global cyberwarfare, it’s clear cybersecurity isn’t really working. And not even a newly minted MacArthur fellow can tell us why. What he can tell us: advice like creating long, complicated passwords might not make a big difference in the end. Marketplace Tech’s Molly Wood talks with Stefan Savage about what we can do to make cybersecurity better.


12/27/2017: Good time to be a tax lawyer

Dec 27, 2017

But not the easiest time to be a taxpayer. Should you prepay for 2018 to avoid an impending deduction cap? Is it time to incorporate? How can you get the maximum benefit? We ask experts to help navigate these questions. And during his campaign, President Donald Trump made reviving the coal industry a signature goal. We go to coal country and talk to miners taking this promise to heart. Plus, man versus machine: Every medical office has one, but should fax machines be outlawed? And why is the McDonald’s McFlurry machine such a disappointment?

The race is on to prepay some 2018 taxes

Dec 27, 2017

Do you hear that sound? That is the sound of tax professionals across the country fluttering through the pages of the tax bill trying to figure out how to extract the maximum gain for their clients. That’s the question on the minds homeowners across the country, especially those in states with the highest property taxes. They’re looking to prepay 2018 bills ahead of a $10,000 cap on the deduction for state and local taxes, which include those on property. Taxpayers are also scrambling to find loopholes buried in the new tax code.

Subprime loans give money to borrowers with less-than-stellar credit ratings. In return, lenders collect higher interest. But the shine is off lending to riskier borrowers these days. There's word this week that Uber is selling off its subprime car-leasing division. That's according to the Wall Street Journal, although Uber would not comment. The company originally offered such leases in an effort to get more drivers, and it looks like the move may not be paying off. But it isn't just Uber that's having trouble with sub-prime lending. Defaults are rising in the auto industry.

At a gymnasium in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, Trenton Phillips is looking for a job as a coal miner. Phillips already works at a company that fixes beltlines at coal mines. He’s at a county job fair today where there are booths for jobs in industries like health care and trucking — but Phillips is only stopping at a booth for a coal mine contractor. He wants a job as a mine foreman or supervisor.

“I'm currently looking for something where I can advance maybe one day, be somewhere higher up, not have to break my back and use my head a little more,” Phillips said.

Why your doctor still relies on fax machines

Dec 27, 2017

Fax machines have all but disappeared from most of our lives, except for one industry that's pretty tough to avoid: health care. If the rest of the working world has since moved on to digital messaging, why can't medical professionals?

That's the question that Vox's Sarah Kliff tried to answer in an episode of "The Impact," a podcast that takes a closer look at the way policies affect our daily lives. And in her investigation, Kliff found that it was a combination of culture and well-intended policy that's lead to the fax machine being a staple in doctors' offices.

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — Homeowners are lining up in droves at local tax collection offices, hoping for one last chance to take advantage of a major tax deduction before it is wiped out in the new year.

In Hempstead, town Tax Receiver Donald Clavin said “thousands” of people packed his office Tuesday trying to pay their 2018 property and school taxes a year in advance.

The problem with McFlurry machines

Dec 27, 2017

This is just one of the stories from our "I've Always Wondered" series, where we tackle all of your questions about the world of business, no matter how big or small. Ever wondered if recycling is worth it? Or how store brands stack up against name brands? What do you wonder?