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When the Affordable Care Act was unveiled, business groups railed against the provision that requires companies with 50 or more employees to provide health insurance for their full-time workers.

The Obama administration responded by pushing back the deadline for the coverage, so it hasn't yet taken effect. Now support for this so-called employer mandate is eroding in some surprising quarters.

Income inequality is a big problem, many economists agree. But they also say some level of inequality is necessary for capitalism to work.

Inequality in the U.S. has risen to levels not seen since the 1920s. The top 1 percent pocket more than 20 percent of the nation's income, and the 400 richest people in the country own more wealth than everyone in the bottom 50 percent.

University of Chicago economist Gary Becker died Saturday at the age of 83. He won the Nobel Prize in 1992 for broadening the horizons of economics, using economic analysis to explore social issues like crime, racial discrimination and drug addiction.

Becker was a giant in the field of economics, and his pioneering application of economic theory to social questions extended to the marriage market. In an NPR interview on the day he was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics, Becker explained:

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And I'm Robert Siegel. U.S. employers were in a hiring mood in April. That's the takeaway from the government's monthly jobs report released today. It shows 288,000 jobs added to payrolls. That's the biggest monthly job growth in nearly two and a half years. NPR's John Ydstie has more on the report, which also included a big drop in the unemployment rate.

The economy slowed sharply in the first quarter, with data released Wednesday showing that growth was barely positive. Federal Reserve policymakers wrapped up a meeting Wednesday with a statement saying the economy had actually picked up a bit in recent weeks. They voted unanimously to continue winding down their stimulus program.

The U.S. economy added 192,000 jobs in March, according to data released this morning. The unemployment rate refused to budge, though, holding steady at 6.7 percent.

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And I'm Robert Siegel in Washington, where President Obama cheered the Affordable Care Act today.

The Affordable Care Act — which many see creating challenges for businesses — could benefit a particular group of business people: entrepreneurs.

Joshua Simonson was reluctant to give up his job at a Portland, Ore., area grocery store, New Seasons Market, which he says had provided excellent health care for him and his family. He had a pre-existing condition that has prevented him from getting insurance in the private market, but one key development helped convince him to quit and start a farm.

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It was pretty clear that the recent bout of winter weather that many of us have seen was going to have an effect on job growth in February. The question was how much. And it turns out less than expected. That's the message from the government's monthly employment report that's out today. It found that U.S. employers added 175,000 jobs to their payrolls last month. As NPR's John Ydstie reports, it's more than expected.

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The recent bout of winter weather that many of us have felt has hit the U.S. economy. Winter storms cooled job growth in February. The only question is by how much. Economists, investors and job seekers are looking to today's employment report from the government for an answer. NPR's John Ydstie says their predictions have been dampened by the weather too.

JOHN YDSTIE, BYLINE: John Sylvia is the top economist for Wells Fargo. His forecast for job growth in February has been pounded down by the weather.

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The Federal Reserve today released transcripts of its meetings in 2008, back when the financial crisis was unfolding. The documents show Fed policymakers struggling to understand and respond to failing Wall Street banks and the global financial system in turmoil. NPR's John Ydstie has been reading through the transcripts and joins us now. Hey there, John.

JOHN YDSTIE, BYLINE: Hi, Audie.

CORNISH: So we've had these minutes, at least, right, from most of these meetings for years. What do we learn from the transcripts?

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Janet Yellen made her first appearance on Capitol Hill today as the new leader of the Federal Reserve. Her message was clear. There will be no sudden changes in Fed policy. As NPR's John Ydstie reports, Yellen said the central bank is likely to keep pulling back its big stimulus program despite concerns about the economy.

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I'm Renee Montagne. And this morning brought another surprisingly weak jobs report. The government says the U.S. economy added just 113,000 jobs in January. That follows just 75,000 jobs in December. Those numbers are way below the average monthly job creation for most of 2013 and it has lots of people worried the economy may be losing steam. NPR's John Ydstie joins us again to talk about it. Good morning.

JOHN YDSTIE, BYLINE: Hi, Renee.

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And I'm Renee Montagne. There's lots of anticipation about the government's monthly jobs report that will be released later this morning. Last month's job creation numbers were very disappointing - just 74,000 jobs added to the payroll - far below the recent monthly averages. NPR's John Ydstie joined us to talk about job creation and what it's telling us about the economy. Good morning.

JOHN YDSTIE, BYLINE: Hi, Renee.

The Congressional Budget Office earlier this week said this year's deficit is likely to be about one-third the size it was in 2009, when the Great Recession bottomed out. A recovering economy is the main reason for the deficit's improvement, but moderating health care costs have also contributed.

Harvard economist and health policy specialist David Cutler says getting the federal government's finances under control is all about health care.

A new front has opened in the political battle over the Affordable Care Act, with Tuesday's release of the Congressional Budget Office's annual budget and economic outlook. The economists updated an earlier estimate about how many workers would leave the workforce because they no longer needed a job to have health care coverage — revising upward from 800,000 people to over 2 million people. Republicans pounced on the higher number, and President Obama now finds himself playing defense.

Ben Bernanke hands over the reins at the Federal Reserve to Janet Yellen on Friday. The Fed's vice chairwoman will be the first female ever to lead the nation's central bank. It's a position many view as the second most powerful in the country.

The world of central banking is largely a man's world. But Yellen has been undeterred by such barriers since she was in high school in Brooklyn. Charlie Saydah, a former classmate, says she was probably the smartest kid in the class. Yellen was "clearly smart, and she was smart among a lot of smart kids," he says.

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Ben Bernanke steps down this week as chairman of the Federal Reserve. The new chair, Janet Yellen, will take over on Saturday. After a two-day meeting, the message today from Fed policymakers was simple: Stay the course. The Fed released a statement saying it will continue dialing-back its stimulus.

NPR's John Ydstie has more on that decision and Bernanke's legacy.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will preside over his last Fed policy-making meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Saturday morning, the first woman ever to lead the nation's central bank, Janet Yellen, will take over.

There's no doubt that during his two terms as chairman, Bernanke faced a challenge unlike any Fed chairman since the Great Depression: a global financial crisis that threatened to become financial Armageddon and followed by a deep recession.

Bernanke talked about how he survived it all during an appearance at the Brookings Institution recently.

Many economists and investors think there's a good chance that at the end of their two-day meeting that begins Tuesday, Federal Reserve policymakers will announce that they'll begin reducing their $85 billion monthly stimulus, their third round of quantitative easing, or QE3.

The analysts think recent economic data, like a drop in the unemployment rate to 7 percent and a budget deal in Washington, have brightened the outlook for the economy enough that the Fed can pull back.

This week the Fed's influential Open Market Committee meets to discuss some unfinished business. With Chairman Ben Bernanke getting ready to turn things over to Janet Yellen, Fed policymakers must decide whether it's time to start winding down the "quantitative easing" program put in place years ago to protect the recovery.

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Major stock indexes have shot to record highs in the U.S. this year, gaining more than 20 percent, and yet economic growth remains at disappointing levels. A lot of analysts believe the stimulus efforts by the Federal Reserve are behind the stock boom and a possible bubble.

The first woman to be nominated to head the Federal Reserve takes the witness chair on Capitol Hill Thursday morning for her confirmation hearing. Janet Yellen's challenge will be to reassure her Democratic supporters that she's focused on job creation, while convincing at least a few Republicans that she'll keep inflation in check.

The new health care law will provide around $1 trillion in subsidies to low- and middle-income Americans over the next decade to help them pay for health insurance.

Johanna Humbert of Galien, Mich., was pleasantly surprised to discover that she qualifies for an insurance subsidy, since her current plan is being canceled. Humbert makes about $30,000 a year, so she'll get a subsidy of about $300 a month. The new plan is similar to her current one, but it will cost $250 — about half of what she pays now.

But where will the money come from to pay for subsidies like these?

President Obama repeated this line or a variation of it many times during the campaign to pass his landmark health care bill: "If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period."

But while that might be true for people who get health insurance through their employer, it's not true for many people who buy their policies in the individual market — about 5 percent of the nation's policyholders.

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