Hosted by Kai Ryssdal, our leading business news radio program and podcast is about providing context on the economic news of the day. Through stories, conversations and newsworthy developments, we help listeners understand the economic world around them. Marketplace makes sense of the economy for everyone, no econ degree or finance background required. Marketplace doesn’t just report on the numbers, we take it deeper, adding context to what’s happening in the stock market and how macroeconomic ...more


  • About China’s “poverty alleviation slow trains”

    Apr 20 2021

    The Biden administration’s push to upgrade American infrastructure is partly motivated by seeing China’s sleek infrastructure, including bullet trains that go more than 185 mph. These speedy trains have gradually replaced the slower, green-colored carriages. However, in recent years, the Chinese government has designated 81 routes remaining from the Mao era for the poor. On today’s show: A look inside those trains. Plus, commercial construction faces a rocky year, Apple bets that users wil...more

  • Not having paid time off can be a barrier to getting vaccinated

    Apr 19 2021

    As of today, all adults are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. The vaccine is free to the public, regardless of insurance. About half of all adults have received at least one dose in the U.S., and more than 200 million shots have been administered. But there are still challenges to getting more people vaccinated, including workers getting paid time off to make an appointment or deal with vaccine side effects. Also on today’s show: how businesses that have made it ...more

  • Community pharmacists face challenges in vaccine rollout

    Apr 16 2021

    Across the country, pharmacies are struggling with insufficient staffing and endless phone calls from people trying to make appointments. They run into other problems, too, like patients who think one dose of a two-dose vaccine is enough. Health care workers are feeling pressure to get this right — to make sure the vaccines are stored correctly, that no one is having an allergic reaction and that everyone’s questions are answered. On today’s show: We hear from three community pharmacists a...more

  • How walk-in clinics could help achieve vaccination equity

    Apr 15 2021

    More than 123 million people have now received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and around 3 million doses are being administered every day. Four months into the vaccination campaign, however, there are still significant disparities by race and ethnicity. In nearly every state that’s reporting data, white residents are being vaccinated at higher rates than Black and Hispanic residents. On today’s show: In Philadelphia, there’s evidence walk-in clinics can help reduce those ...more

  • Will company culture come back after the pandemic?

    Apr 14 2021

    The concept of “company culture” is saddled with certain imagery in the imaginations of Americans: The trust exercises of decades gone by, the freewheeling indoor playground layout of Google offices, the oppressive pressure to produce at any given law firm. A company’s culture is intangible — and often privately derided as an invention of PR — but it is very real. Has that survived a year of Zoom and Slack communication? Also on today’s show: Retailers are trying to hire tens of thousands ...more

  • Welcome to Zoom Town, USA

    Apr 13 2021

    Over the past pandemic year, small, rural towns across the U.S. have been inundated with remote workers seeking beautiful landscapes and bigger houses. So common is the trend, the towns in question are being referred to as “Zoom towns.” On today’s show, we visit what may well be the Zoom town capital of California. Plus, why inflation numbers are gonna be wonky for a while, what’s behind the recent surge in retail investors and what happened to America’s public toilets.

  • Surging anti-Asian violence is taking a toll on Asian-owned businesses

    Apr 12 2021

    It’s been a tough year for small businesses, as many were forced to alter business models and implement extreme safety precautions for employees and customers alike. While most businesses reported declines in revenue and employment, Asian-owned businesses in the U.S. were among the hardest hit. Now, with violence against Asian Americans on the rise, there’s an added economic and emotional toll. On today’s show, we hear from one business owner in Oakland, California, about her e...more

  • Amazon workers vote against unionization

    Apr 09 2021

    Amazon employees at a warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, voted against forming a union today. For months, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union has been trying to organize the approximately 5,800 Bessemer workers. It looked like the union could win, but the “no” vote was no surprise to a couple of experts we talked to, who said U.S. labor law benefits employers. Also on today’s show: Why more countries are scrutinizing foreign acquisitions of homegrown companies, Texas plumbers are...more

  • How Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan could affect GDP

    Apr 08 2021

    The Biden administration says its $2 trillion American Jobs Plan will provide jobs and move the country into a greener, better-connected economy. But there’s more to spending on infrastructure, and economists are starting to dig into how the plan could affect U.S. economic growth. On today’s show: the pros and cons of spending on infrastructure. Also, 2 in 5 Americans delayed a financial milestone due to the pandemic, Uber and Lyft are trying to get drivers back on the road, and wres...more

  • The race to vaccinate Latinx agricultural workers before the growing season

    Apr 07 2021

    The COVID-19 hospitalization rate among Latinx Americans is three times the rate for whites. And when it comes to vaccinations, disparity persists: 21.3% of the U.S. white population has been vaccinated while only 11.3% of the Latinx population has. Many Latinx Americans perform essential jobs — in agriculture and food processing, for instance, where there have been big COVID outbreaks. On today’s show: a new federal effort to vaccinate essential ag workers in a farming region of Washingto...more

  • Small businesses take on Amazon

    Apr 06 2021

    A new coalition of small business advocacy groups wants lawmakers to rein in the behemoth that is Amazon. The group, Small Business Rising, argues that Amazon’s size and market power — which has only grown during the pandemic — effectively block small businesses from competing. One of the ways it does that, the group argues, is by selling its own products alongside those from smaller, third-party retailers. Also on today’s show: The pandemic is making people rethink their careers, “transmi...more

  • An uneven vaccine rollout means an uneven economic recovery

    Apr 05 2021

    The International Monetary Fund is expected to deliver good news Tuesday: Global economic expansion will be higher than the IMF formerly predicted, at somewhere north of 5.5%. But the global financial institution also has a word of caution: The headline number is hiding a lot of unequal growth. On today’s show: We’re not all getting out of the pandemic at the same time, and that may leave lasting damage. Plus, a new rule is giving patients access to all of their medical records for free, a...more

  • Black business leaders confront restrictive voting laws

    Apr 02 2021

    In the wake of the fraught 2020 presidential election, as many as 47 states are considering stricter voting laws. Georgia, which went Democratic in 2020, passed a law that imposes new voter ID requirements and limits ballot drop boxes, among other provisions that advocates say disproportionately curtail ballot access for Black voters. In response to these laws, a group of more than 70 Black business executives, led by Kenneth Frazier and Kenneth Chenault, is calling on companies to publicly oppo...more

  • Making up for lost time

    Apr 01 2021

    Newly vaccinated Americans are ready for a sense of control, and their spending habits reflect it. For some, it means buying new lipstick to be seen in. For others, buying big-ticket menu items at an in-person meal. On today’s show: How consumers are shopping post-vaccination. Also, jobless claims are up but so are job listings, landlords and tenants continue to be at odds over evictions and legality, and many remote workers are advocating for the option to keep working from home.

  • The Biden administration’s expansive view of “infrastructure”

    Mar 31 2021

    The Biden administration rolled out a $2 trillion infrastructure proposal today. The American Jobs Plan calls for investment in roads and bridges, the electric grid, green energy infrastructure — and home health care. On today’s show: Why the Biden administration is taking such a broad view on infrastructure. Also: how infrastructure money could be used to relieve port backlogs, Apple is contributing to a platform for musicians to keep their own copyrights, and how the pandemic made high-f...more

  • Inflation is about more than a number

    Mar 30 2021

    There’s been a lot of talk about inflation recently. Mostly, about if it’s going to go up with all the relief money floating around the economy. Notably, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is not too worried about it. Inflation can be a major focus for policymakers, but most consumers probably won’t pay it too much attention — until it starts to affect their wallets. On today’s show: Inflation isn’t just about higher prices. Plus, home prices have been rising at th...more

  • Not out of the COVID-19 woods just yet

    Mar 29 2021

    We’re in a weird spot in this pandemic right now. It feels like things are getting better, more and more people getting vaccinated, more businesses opening — but people are still getting sick and dying. That puts health officials and policymakers in a tough spot. On today’s show: Two decisions by the Centers for Disease Control remind us the pandemic is not over. Also, the future of the U.S.-China trade war, how workers who started jobs remotely are adapting a year on and President J...more

  • The future of co-working

    Mar 26 2021

    When the COVID pandemic hit a year ago, co-anything became risky. Especially co-working spaces: Shared tables and communal kombucha taps weren’t exactly appealing. But the tide may be turning as the pandemic winds down. Whether they accommodate parents escaping kids, travelers working their way around the world or companies holding brainstorming sessions, co-working spaces are making a comeback. Also on today’s show: Co-working company WeWork is using a SPAC to go public, Democrats a...more

  • Coming to a living room near you

    Mar 25 2021

    After being postponed many times, the Marvel film “Black Widow” is finally going to premiere. And just as movie theaters are starting to reopen, Disney has announced that the film will open in July — both in cinemas and on Disney Plus. It’s a pretty big blow to struggling theaters and a sign of how we’ll likely be watching movies from now on. Also on today’s show: restaurants struggle to recruit enough staff to reopen, why Slack was quick to walk back a new DM feature and we check in...more

  • Nothing like a blocked Suez Canal to show the global supply chain’s fragility

    Mar 24 2021

    A 1,300-foot-long, 200-foot-wide cargo ship blocked the Suez Canal this week, shutting down traffic in both directions. And it could take several days to move the ship and unblock the canal, a key route for global trade. One expert told us each additional delay of shipping is equivalent to a tariff of between 0.5% and 2%. On today’s show: the fragility of the global supply chain. Also, orders for U.S. durable goods dipped for the first time in nearly a year, why businesses are pushing Cong...more

  • Achieving “herd immunity” and returning to the workplace is pretty complicated

    Mar 23 2021

    There’s been a lot of talk about the need to achieve herd immunity, the point at which so many people are immune to a disease that it can no longer easily spread and the whole population is protected. If we can just hit that number, the thinking is, the country will be safe to reopen. But there is no one magic number. On today’s show: the challenges of reaching herd immunity and reopening. Plus, appliance shortages are holding up home improvement and construction, why retailers are opening...more

  • Why consumer confidence is surging

    Mar 22 2021

    The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment survey shot up more than 8% in March to the highest level in a year (it’s still about 7% below pre-pandemic levels). Given that consumer spending makes up about 70% of the economy, it’s key to the economic recovery from COVID-19. On today’s show: American consumerism is back. Plus, movie theaters are reopening without their biggest moneymaker, the consequences of maintaining vaccine borders and how the pandemic changed our perception of...more

  • Turning an economic corner?

    Mar 19 2021

    As $1,400 stimulus payments make their way into people’s pockets and vaccine distribution continues, things are looking up. Economists predict that consumers will be ready to release pent-up demand and spend some money in the second half of this year. On today’s show: wrapping up the relief-planning stage and moving into the relief-spending stage. Plus, Disney is facing a complaint of pay secrecy, Amazon and the NFL have finalized a billion dollar streaming deal and we check in with ...more

  • What ever happened to the U.S.-China trade war?

    Mar 18 2021

    Remember that trade war the Trump administration started with China? All those tariffs? Well, it doesn’t seem like things will change all that much under President Joe Biden. One expert expects the Biden administration to continue a hard line against what it considers Chinese protectionism, hacking and siphoning of American technology. On today’s show: the future of the U.S.-China trade relationship. Plus, Google will spend $7 billion on offices and data centers across the U.S., what...more

  • We know what Jay Powell is thinking

    Mar 17 2021

    The Federal Open Market Committee wrapped up its two-day March meeting today, and, like always, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell held a press conference after. Powell had two main messages. First, “talking about inflation is one thing, actually having inflation run about 2% is the real thing,” he said. Also, the outlook for the economy in the next two to three years is “highly uncertain.” Also on the show: small businesses are having trouble finding workers, why there&...more

  • A look at post-pandemic travel

    Mar 16 2021

    After being at home for a year, a lot of people are itching to travel — even if it’s for work. The number of people passing through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints and booking flights for the coming months is on the rise. And as vaccinations ramp up, some countries are debating whether to require vaccination passports for entry. On today’s show: a look at the post-pandemic travel industry. Plus, Asian Americans are experiencing especially high levels of long-term u...more

  • What “full employment” means in a pandemic-ravaged economy

    Mar 15 2021

    “I’m hopeful that, if we defeat the pandemic, that we can have the economy back near full employment next year,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said over the weekend. “Full employment” is a sweet spot for the economy in which the jobless rate is as low as possible without employers bidding wages through the roof to get the workers they need, everyone who wants a job can get one and inflation doesn’t soar out of control. So what might full employment look like to Federal Reserve and Treasu...more

  • Goldman Sachs to invest $10 billion in Black women

    Mar 12 2021

    Black women have borne the brunt of the pandemic, dying from COVID-19 and losing jobs at disproportionate rates. And according to Goldman Sachs, Black women’s wealth is 90% lower than white men’s. The financial firm said it will commit $10 billion over the next decade toward economic opportunities for Black women. But, one expert said, it’s important to remember that money is not the only thing women need. Also on today’s show: how restaurant relief money will be distributed, w...more

  • A year into the pandemic, a look back at unemployment numbers

    Mar 11 2021

    One year ago, the coronavirus pandemic became real for many Americans. Workplaces went remote, schools shut down and Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks announced that he and his wife had contracted the virus. Then, millions of Americans were furloughed or laid off from their jobs, and 20 million people are still receiving unemployment benefits. On today’s show: We try to get a sense of the scale and severity of joblessness over the past year. Plus, some of the biggest companies in the U.S. are ...more

  • How fast can the federal government get $1.9 trillion out the door?

    Mar 10 2021

    Congress finally passed President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, and businesses, communities and individuals are getting ready for their slices of the nearly $2 trillion pie. But moving that much money through the federal government will take a while. Also on today’s show: the complications of resuming in-person learning, a look at a bill that would extend union protections and a conversation with “Minari” writer-director Lee Isaac Chung.

  • Will an expanded child tax credit solve the “she-cession”?

    Mar 09 2021

    More than 2 million women have left the workforce since the start of 2020, and, as we’ve been reporting, many did so to care for children. The American Rescue Plan, poised to be passed this week, is offering an expanded child tax credit that could provide up to $300 a month per child under the age of 6. It also includes nearly $15 billion to support child care facilities. But will that be enough to get women back to work? Plus, a virtual SXSW festival, why Unilever will stop using the word...more

  • A different kind of traffic jam in Los Angeles

    Mar 08 2021

    Sure, Los Angeles is famous for bad traffic on its roads. But what about its waterways? Dozens of massive container ships — carrying everything from furniture and appliances to building materials — are waiting to be unloaded at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. On today’s show: How that port backup could affect businesses’ hiring decisions. Plus, crude oil prices rose today, Coursera’s IPO reflects the demand for online learning and President Joe Biden has his hands full rebui...more

  • Long-term unemployment hits highest level in 9 years

    Mar 05 2021

    Despite a solid bump of 379,000 new jobs in February, today’s employment report shows a continued rise in one closely watched category: Americans who have been jobless for over half a year. More than 4 million workers are currently considered long-term unemployed. And the longer people are away from the workforce, the longer it takes to return. Also on today’s show: an update on the COVID-19 relief package, why full retail recovery hinges on women getting back to work and Chipotle makes mo...more

  • What it’s like to run a microbusiness in the pandemic economy

    Mar 04 2021

    Microbusinesses, defined as having nine or fewer employees, are the most common kind of employer in the U.S. But they might have a hard time getting the financial aid meant for small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. On today’s show: a microbusiness owner shares what it’s been like this past year. Plus: Some manufacturers are having difficulty filling jobs despite high unemployment; food commodities are at their most expensive since 2014; and what it’s like to look fo...more

  • The jobs recovery might be running out of gas

    Mar 03 2021

    We got private-sector payroll numbers from the processing firm ADP today showing 170,000 new jobs — well below expectations and another indicator that this recovery may be sputtering. Which is, of course, why Congress is working on the next COVID-19 relief bill at this very moment. On today’s show: a look at the pandemic labor market. Plus, Texas is reopening, a check-in with people rebuilding after a deadly Tennessee tornado and why people are spending big bucks on “nonfungible toke...more

  • A seat at the table for workers

    Mar 03 2021

    The Biden administration released its trade policy agenda today, and it’s hefty, with goals including the advancement of racial equity, fighting against climate change and taking on what it calls China’s “coercive and unfair economic trade practices.” At the center of it all, though? A more worker-centric approach to trade. On today’s show: What does it mean for workers to have a seat at the table when it comes to trade policy? Plus, schools need funding to reopen s...more

  • The pandemic is affecting states unequally, too

    Mar 01 2021

    The story of the coronavirus economy has been one of inequality — for people, businesses and even states. Many state governments have been taking in less tax revenue ever since the pandemic closed businesses and schools, and millions lost their jobs. But in 22 states, tax revenue has actually increased during the pandemic. On today’s show: How high-income taxpayers are helping some states make it through the COVID-19 pandemic. Plus, Texas’ largest electricity co-op is filing for bankruptcy...more

  • A return to the service economy?

    Feb 26 2021

    Stuck at home during the pandemic and unable to spend on restaurants or travel, Americans have been trying fulfill emotional needs by buying stuff. But you can only buy so many backyard trampolines, and economists are predicting a big shift back to spending on services as COVID-19 cases decline. That’s good news for the United States’ service economy. Also on today’s show: Some credit card limits are going up and a look at challenges health care disruptors face.

  • Ready to release some pent-up demand

    Feb 25 2021

    The unemployment rate is still high at 10%, and the economic recovery from COVID-19 is going to take a while. But as coronavirus cases begin to trend downward and vaccine distribution continues, people are getting ready for things to open up. On today’ show: Some economists think there will be a whole lot of pent-up demand let loose as things start to look up. Plus, New York’s plans for reopening, the challenges in winterizing Texas’ power grid and an update on how pandemic lea...more

  • The future of this country’s competitive edge

    Feb 24 2021

    President Joe Biden signed an executive order today designed to make U.S. supply chains more resilient and secure. The pandemic exposed problems with the current system, including shortages of personal protective equipment and semiconductors. But the order is about more than face masks and electronics; it’s about the future of U.S. competitiveness. Also on today’s show: what it might take to get back to full employment, the child tax credit proposal explained and a conversation with ...more

  • How new PPP eligibility requirements are hurting some small businesses

    Feb 23 2021

    The second round of the Paycheck Protection Program started about a month ago. It’s supposed to help small businesses survive the COVID-19 pandemic, but this round has stricter eligibility requirements, including that businesses can only apply if revenue dropped by at least 25%. On today’s show: Those restrictions are barring some small businesses that could really use the support. Plus, what the bond market is signaling about recovery, an update on the vaccine supply chain and how s...more

  • How making federal jobless benefits automatic would work

    Feb 22 2021

    Lawmakers are taking up President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan this week, and this third round of support is expected to face hurdles. But what if additional federal unemployment benefits didn’t need congressional approval? On today’s show: Some policymakers want to make benefits an “automatic stabilizer,” meaning they would be tied to economic data, similar to how your tax rate is tied to your income. Plus, the impact of a $15 hourly minimum wage, mo...more

  • Where did hazard pay go?

    Feb 20 2021

      At the beginning of the pandemic, essential workers like those in grocery and retail stores were receiving hazard pay for toiling under hazardous conditions, aka the pandemic. Since then, for many workers, it has quietly disappeared. Today, we’ll look at how efforts to grant or replace hazard pay have been going. Plus: inflation in energy, shelter and food, Chinese students are reconsidering coming to the U.S. for college and Joe Biden makes his first international appearance as U.S. pres...more

  • What you need to know about Biden’s immigration bill

    Feb 19 2021

    The Biden administration is unveiling a sweeping immigration bill, which includes a path to citizenship that could grant legal status to an estimated 11 million undocumented people. Today, we’ll look at what joining the formal labor force could mean for them and the economy. Plus: the proposed $350 billion aid package for state and local governments, mom and pop landlords facing a COVID crunch and why looks matter in economics.

  • How short selling works (and what it does to the economy)

    Feb 17 2021

    The House Financial Services Committee will meet Thursday about the market volatility caused by the short selling of stocks like GameStop. Today, we’ll catch you up on what you need to know. Plus, more fallout from the freeze in Texas, Puerto Rico’s coffee industry and the latest in our ongoing series “United States of Work.”

  • Why Texas’ power grids couldn’t meet demand

    Feb 16 2021

    Thousands of people in the South are without power as electric grids strain to keep up with heating needs. Today, we’ll look at why power grids weren’t up to the task and how it’s affecting people trying to work from home. Plus: Life in North Dakota’s oil fields, “Young Rock” and this thing we used to call “employment.”

  • Biden administration reopens ACA exchange

    Feb 15 2021

    The federally run Obamacare exchange reopened Monday for a three-month special enrollment period. President Joe Biden ordered the move to get more people signed up for health care during the pandemic, especially those who have lost jobs and health insurance. The administration is planning to spend $50 million on a marketing campaign to get more people to sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. Plus, LGBTQ people are now protected under the Fair Housing Act and how racism le...more

  • The especially stressful tax season ahead

    Feb 12 2021

    Today is the delayed start of the tax-filing season, and it’s likely to be an especially stressful one for IRS employees and filers alike. Processing two rounds of COVID-19 relief has put a strain on the already short-staffed tax agency. And a lot of filers might not realize they have to pay taxes on unemployment benefits. On today’s show: how to manage the crazy tax season ahead. Plus, Maryland is set to become the first state to tax digital ad revenue, online alcohol sales are way ...more

  • Making a career change in the middle of a pandemic

    Feb 11 2021

    Another 793,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, and more than 20 million are currently claiming unemployment benefits. A new Pew Research study shows that 66% of unemployed adults in the U.S. have seriously considered changing their occupation or field of work. On today’s show: We hear from people who are trying to make that switch. Plus, how COVID-19 is affecting Mardi Gras in New Orleans, new federal guidance on workers’ right to refuse work that isn’t sa...more

  • The plan to close the output gap

    Feb 10 2021

    This week’s big news is happening in the Senate, but the what-happens-next-with-this-economy? news is happening over in the House, where committees are hammering out details of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. The goal is to close the gap between the current state of the economy and its condition if there hadn’t been a pandemic. On today’s show: Where the economy might be when the relief money starts getting out. Plus, how mothers are particularly...more