Yuki Noguchi

Yuki Noguchi is a correspondent on the Business Desk based out of NPR's headquarters in Washington D.C. Since joining NPR in 2008, she's covered business and economic news, and has a special interest in workplace issues — everything from abusive working environments, to the idiosyncratic cubicle culture. In recent years she has covered the housing market meltdown, unemployment during the Great Recession, and covered the aftermath of the tsunami in Japan in 2011. As in her personal life, however, her coverage interests are wide-ranging, and have included things like entomophagy and the St. Louis Cardinals.

Prior to joining NPR, Yuki started her career as a reporter for The Washington Post. She reported on stories mostly about business and technology, and later became an editor.

Yuki grew up with a younger brother speaking her parents' native Japanese at home. She has a degree in history from Yale.

When I started my career at The Washington Post in the late 1990s, the newsroom wore a dusty, outdated look as if it were paying homage to its legendary past. The Post of today occupies an updated building on D.C.'s renowned K Street, in modern, glass-walled offices with a Silicon Valley aesthetic.

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Fox News star Bill O'Reilly has been ousted from the network after fresh allegations of sexual harassment surfaced last month, and the TV franchise again faces scrutiny over whether its culture perpetuates such behavior. Fox already ousted its CEO, Roger Ailes, over claims of sexual harassment, and The New York Times reported the network has already paid out $13 million to settle five claims against O'Reilly since 2002.

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President Trump's nominee to be the next Labor secretary, Andrew Puzder, runs a fast-food empire. Now, as he awaits his confirmation hearings, current and former workers of CKE Restaurants — which operates chains like Carl's Jr. and Hardee's — are filing complaints alleging employment-law violations at his company.

Ceatana Cardona says she was sexually harassed by her shift manager when she worked nights as a cashier at a Hardee's in Tampa, Fla.

Rarely has a U.S. president been so willing to use his platform as both bullhorn and cudgel to exert public pressure on individual companies.

But one of the hallmarks of President Trump's approach to economic policy since his election has been his willingness to publicly endorse — and shame — companies in order to advance his message.

President-elect Donald Trump rode to electoral victory in part on discontent with Washington. He promised to "drain the swamp" — referring to the nation's capital. And No. 2 on his "Contract With The American Voter," listing activities for his first 100 days, is a hiring freeze on all civilian federal jobs that aren't involved in public safety or public health.

It's once again time for the annual ritual of fear and loathing, also known as the performance review — at least for the companies that still do them.

Many have abandoned the old way of evaluating their employees in recent years. Last year, even General Electric — whose former CEO Jack Welch championed the system often known as "rank and yank" — did away with its annual review.

What's taking the old system's place? A hodgepodge of experiments, essentially.

At 4.9 percent, the nation's unemployment rate is half of what it was at the height of the Great Recession. But that number hides a big problem: Millions of men in their prime working years have dropped out of the workforce — meaning they aren't working or even looking for a job.

It's a trend that's held true for decades and has economists puzzled.

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Trevor Burbank is single, 27 years old, and has been house hunting in Nashville for the last year.

"My rent's going up in August, so I have to figure out what I'm doing," he says.

The last time Burbank looked for a place was five years ago. He decided to use his down payment to start a business instead.

"There was a house that I really liked that was going for $60,000, and I saw the house being sold in the past few months for just shy of $300,000," Burbank says.

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A handful of companies are offering parental benefits that go way beyond just paid leave, to include things like surrogacy reimbursement, egg freezing or breast milk shipping for traveling mothers.

As competition for talent heats up, companies see it as a relatively cheap way to recruit, retain and motivate their employee base.

Many of the department stores that once anchored bustling shopping malls continue to close. Macy's will shutter 36 additional stores this year; 78 Kmart and Sears locations will also close. What to do with that vast, vacant space?

There is no traffic, and no problem finding parking at Owings Mills Mall in Maryland. The 5,000 or so parking spaces are all vacant. A J.C. Penney closed last month and a Macy's closed last year.

When it opened in 1986, it was anchored by a Saks Fifth Avenue and catered to well-to-do Baltimore suburbanites.

It's been a good week for employees of Chobani. They learned that they could eventually own about 10 percent of the rapidly expanding Greek yogurt company. That could potentially make millionaires of some workers, if the privately held company is sold or goes public.

It's a grand gesture, and reflects a rising trend in employee ownership.

In coming weeks, the White House is expected to finalize key new rules on overtime pay that could benefit an estimated 6 million lower-paid salaried workers. Workers' advocates say it's a long-awaited change. Most employer groups vocally oppose the new rules, because they might have to raise their minimum salaries, pay overtime — or limit their workers' hours.

Much of the debate has pitted workers against employers.

The Civil Rights Act bans sex discrimination, but does it cover sexual orientation?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says it does — and it wants this position validated by federal courts. This month, the EEOC filed its first-ever lawsuits charging employers with discrimination against gay and lesbian employees.

In a relatively rare victory for abused workers, Vail Run Resort in Colorado recently agreed to pay more than $1 million to settle a sexual harassment case. The case was brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of members of the hotel's housekeeping employees.

The company failed to address attempted rapes of its housekeeping staff. As part of the settlement, the company will have a monitor for five years and will be required to do extensive sexual-harassment training of its managers.

A string of attacks on cities, schools and workplaces has prompted many employers to turn to a new area of security for their employees: active-shooter training.

Until about a decade ago, workplace security focused mostly on preventing theft. Now, businesses are trying to give their employees guidelines on how to escape or handle armed intruders.

Last November, Amazon did the unthinkable for an online retailer known for undercutting brick-and-mortar bookstores: It opened a walk-in store in Seattle. Now, there's talk that Amazon plans hundreds of them.

On an investor call Tuesday, Sandeep Mathrani, CEO of mall operator General Growth Properties, said: "You've got Amazon opening bricks and mortar bookstores, and their goal is to open, as I understand, 300 to 400 bookstores."

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Transcript

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We shop, watch TV and read news on our phones, so why not apply for jobs from one? Increasingly, we do. Some recruiters say half or more of their applicants apply for jobs using their smartphones.

"I probably applied for 90 percent of my positions on my mobile device," says Kirk Coleman of Plano, Texas.

Coleman says he was fine letting his thumbs do the talking, filling out forms and connecting to his LinkedIn profile.

Complaints about unwanted calls are up. Why can't somebody make them stop?

Regulators say telemarketing and robocalling top their list of consumer complaints. Nearly a dozen years since the federal Do Not Call Registry took effect, automated calling systems have exploded.

David Allred of Waynesville, N.C., says he gets a half-dozen robocalls every day.

He memorizes the numbers of the companies that are annoying him so that he knows not to answer the calls.

Sheena Calliham is all too aware of statistics showing that millennials have less job security and more student debt than their parents.

"Student loan debt is a primary financial stressor and concern for my generation," she says, "and we've also faced a challenging job market."

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Transcript

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American culture has long held a soft spot for Volkswagen. There was Herbie in the 1968 comedy The Love Bug. And, more recently, the chronically honking, classic VW bus featured in Little Miss Sunshine.

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