Yuki Noguchi | WYPR

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.

After working at a call center for two decades, Linda Bradley's job came to an end about a year and a half ago. Since her layoff, she has combed online job sites every day looking for work — without much luck.

Bradley, who is 45 and lives near Columbus, Ohio, began suspecting age discrimination after someone at her union mentioned how recruiters often target online ads at younger candidates. "I thought to myself, 'Oh, that's why I wasn't seeing some of the ads that my daughter has seen on her Facebook,' " she says.

A basic tenet of economics is that when demand for something goes up, so does its cost. So, many economists wonder why today's high demand for workers hasn't translated into bigger increases in pay.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has called this a puzzle that defies a single or easy explanation. It isn't just, for example, that productivity has slowed, making it harder for businesses to justify paying more — though that is certainly a factor.

A federal appeals court handed workers in Birmingham, Ala., a significant win this week. The city is in a battle against state lawmakers over whether it has the right to raise its minimum wage.

The Birmingham workers and the Alabama legislature have been fighting in court since the city voted to increase its minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, from $7.25, in February 2016. That hike never took effect. The state legislature swiftly passed a law barring municipalities like Birmingham from setting their own minimum wage.

It's hard enough for employers to find workers to fill open jobs these days, but on top of it, many prospective hires are failing drug tests.

The Belden electric wire factory in Richmond, Ind., is taking a novel approach to both problems: It now offers drug treatment, paid for by the company, to job applicants who fail the drug screen. Those who complete treatment are also promised a job.

Seven national fast-food chains have agreed, under pressure, to eliminate a practice that limits their workers' ability to take jobs at other restaurants in the same chain, the Washington state attorney general announced Thursday.

Fast-food workers may be stuck in jobs for various reasons. In many cases, their employers prevent them from leaving to work for other restaurants within the same chain.

Now, 10 state attorneys general and the District of Columbia are taking on the issue with an investigation into eight national fast-food chains. At issue are "noncompete" clauses that limit where employees can work after they leave.

Updated 8:45 a.m. ET

The Labor Department on Friday reported another big month for job growth, with a larger than expected addition of 213,000 jobs for June.

The unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 4 percent as some people who had been on the sidelines moved back into the labor force.

The report underscores a familiar refrain: There are lots of jobs being created, but not enough people to fill them. That continues as employers consistently hire at robust rates and the unemployment rate keeps falling.

Updated at 4:41 p.m. ET

For years, various reports have indicated that the contract workforce is growing rapidly in the U.S.

On Thursday, the Labor Department poured a bucket of cold water on that notion. It released a report showing contract workers make up a slightly smaller share of the workforce than the last time the survey was done 13 years ago.

Fallen media mogul Harvey Weinstein's recent indictment on rape charges comes nearly eight months after allegations against him first surfaced. His case touched off a global #MeToo movement to speak out against workplace sexual harassment. And that, in turn, has created a deluge of complaints to human resources departments everywhere.

"It created this HR level of activity like nothing we've ever seen," says Johnny Taylor, CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management.

Updated at 8:18 p.m. ET

The Trump administration's latest move to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the U.S.'s biggest strategic and trade partners has touched off a barrage of criticism and retaliation.

Starbucks has an ambitious plan to try to address discrimination and unconscious bias by training nearly 175,000 of its workers one afternoon later this month.

Editor's note: Since this story was first posted, we have received word that Destini Johnson is regaining consciousness and is out of intensive care.

Last August, Destini Johnson practically danced out of jail, after landing there for two months on drug charges. She bubbled with excitement about her new freedom and returning home to her parents in Muncie, Ind. She even talked about plans to find a job.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Facebook responded to intensifying criticism over its mishandling of user data Wednesday by announcing new features to its site that will give users more visibility and control over how their information is shared. The changes, rolling out in coming weeks, will also enable users to prevent the social network from sharing that information with advertisers and other third parties.

The turmoil for Facebook isn't letting up. The social media giant is facing more blowback from users, regulators and investors following reports that its user data was misused by Cambridge Analytica, a firm that worked for the 2016 Trump presidential campaign.

That has spurred a user boycott, as angry former Facebook users started turning to Twitter over the weekend to express their discontent. David Chartier, a freelance writer in Chicago, was one of them:

Freelancers and contract workers make up the fastest-growing segment of the American workforce, and are expected to surpass half of all workers within a decade. But, under current employment law, these workers are ineligible for most of the rights and benefits of traditional employees.

Paid time off to care for a new child or a sick family member used to be a part of the Democratic Party platform. Now, Republicans are making paid family leave a legislative policy.

"Let's support working families by supporting paid family leave," President Trump urged Congress in his State of the Union address last month.

Since the mass killing at a Parkland, Fla., high school earlier this month, many teachers have called on their state pension funds to sell their stakes in gun-makers. Private investment firms including BlackRock and Blackstone are reviewing their firearms investments in response to clients' demands.

But even those sympathetic to their position say divesting from those companies doesn't lead to industry change.

Updated on Feb. 23 at 10:22 a.m. ET

When Congress passed a sweeping tax overhaul last December, it lowered the corporate tax rate, and dozens of companies promised to share the good fortune with employees by offering raises or bonuses.

The Walt Disney Co. was among them, having logged a one-time windfall of $1.6 billion during its latest quarter, largely because of tax cuts. It announced to its workers in January that nonmanagement employees — about 125,000 workers in all — would receive a $1,000 bonus.

A new NPR/Marist poll finds that 1 in 5 jobs in America is held by a worker under contract. Within a decade, contractors and freelancers could make up half of the American workforce. In a weeklong series, NPR explores many aspects of this change.

A new NPR/Marist poll finds that 1 in 5 jobs in America is held by a worker under contract. Within a decade, contractors and freelancers could make up half of the American workforce. In a weeklong series, NPR explores many aspects of this change.

A new NPR/Marist poll finds that 1 in 5 jobs in America is held by a worker under contract. Within a decade, contractors and freelancers could make up half of the American workforce. Workers across all industries and at all professional levels will be touched by the movement toward independent work — one without the constraints, or benefits, of full-time employment. Policymakers are just starting to talk about the implications.

The sexual harassment scandals over the past couple of months are causing some workers to rethink some of their office behaviors. Is it still OK to compliment a colleague on the way he or she looks? What about a congratulatory hug? Acceptable, or too risky in this new environment?

Navigating those distinctions isn't always clear.

At a recent office meeting, Bela Gandhi received a compliment from a man who told her, "you look great." Moments later, the man paused, reconsidered his comment, then wondered aloud whether Gandhi found it inappropriately sexual.

Office holiday parties have always posed a liability for employers, as coworkers mix with one another with plenty of company-supplied alcohol. Sensitivity is running particularly high this year, though, as new sexual harassment allegations emerge against high-profile figures every day.

Office holiday functions do serve a legitimate business purpose: They can boost morale and reward workers for jobs well done.

The Trump administration has been eliminating some protections that allow more than 300,000 people to live and work in the U.S. under what is known as temporary protected status. Many could face deportation when their status expires.

An estimated 50,000 of them work in the construction industry, concentrated in areas like Texas, Florida and California that are recovering from hurricanes and wildfires and where labor shortages in construction are especially acute.

Many actors, politicians and executives, including at NPR, are now facing sexual-harassment allegations in the court of public opinion.

But in actual courts, such cases filed by workers against their employers are very often dismissed by judges. The standard for harassment under the law is high, and only an estimated 3 percent to 6 percent of the cases ever make it to trial.

Suing one's employer can be scary enough, but it's even scarier doing it alone.

Many employers are increasingly requiring workers to sign agreements requiring them to resolve workplace disputes about anything from harassment to discrimination to wage theft through individual arbitration. In other words, the language does not permit them to join forces with colleagues who might have similar complaints.

Roughly half of Florida's homes and businesses remained without electricity on Tuesday, two days after Hurricane Irma plowed through the state. A lot of the business recovery efforts there will depend on how quickly power can be restored.

On her way to work Tuesday morning, Carol McDaniel, vice president of human resources for the Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, made her way through darkened neighborhoods.

Jonathan Guffey has chiseled youthful looks and, at 32, does not have the haggard bearing of someone who has spent more than half his life hooked on opioids. That stint with the drug started at 15 and ended — he says for good — 22 months ago. He has a job working with his family in construction, but his work history is pockmarked by addiction.

"I've worked in a couple of factories for a short amount of time, probably just long enough to get the first check to get high off of," Guffey says.

Driving down the main commercial artery in Muncie, Ind., it seems the job market is doing well. The local unemployment rate stands at 3.8 percent, and there are hiring signs posted outside the McDonald's, a pizza joint and at stop lights.

Around 2007 — the last time the market was so tight — job applicants came streaming through the offices of Express Employment Professionals, a staffing agency that screens and places about 120 workers a month, mostly at the local manufacturing firms.

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