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.

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The Treasury and Justice Departments today sought to clarify for banks how they might navigate the murky legal waters of the marijuana business. Murky because pot is legal in a growing number of states but remains illegal under federal law. NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports on these new terms under which a bank must operate if it wants to offer financial services to this emerging industry.

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And I'm Audie Cornish. And we'll begin the hour with the latest snapshot of the American economy. Once again, the news is mostly disappointing. Employers added a scant 113,000 jobs to payrolls last month. That's the second straight month where hiring fell far below expectations. On the other hand, the unemployment rate fell slightly and a good number of people who've been out of work for a long time found jobs.

The pharmacy giant CVS plans to eliminate cigarettes and other tobacco products from its stores by October. The company says it made the decision because the drug store business is changing and that selling cigarettes is no longer consistent with its mission. Medical experts and the White House hailed the move. NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports.

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In the debate over income inequality, the right and left seem to agree on one point: The U.S. is more the land of equal opportunity than the land of equal outcomes.

But what's the real relationship between the growing income gap and opportunity? A new report out last week has triggered more debate about the haves and the have-nots.

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Supporters of a minimum wage say it can be especially important at a time of relatively high unemployment, when workers have little bargaining power. This morning we'll get a fresh snapshot of unemployment in the U.S. when the government releases new jobs numbers. NPR's Yuki Noguchi came by to talk about what to expect. Yuki, good morning.

YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: Good morning, David.

GREENE: So where does the job market seem to be going right now?

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Today, one of the biggest drug companies in the world announced changes to its marketing practices. GlaxoSmithKline says the idea is to be more transparent about how it sells its drugs. Among the changes, the company will stop paying doctors to tout its products to other doctors.

As NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports, the public interest community says this is a step in the right direction for an industry that's faced many legal problems.

Democrats in Congress are promising to try to retroactively extend emergency unemployment benefits after the new year. With the House already in recess, the benefits are expected to expire at the end of the month.

The Senate is still in Washington working on a bipartisan budget agreement passed by the House before it left town last week, but the bill does not include a benefits extension.

On Thursday, Twitter introduced — and later in the day, withdrew — a change to its "blocking" policy.

Thursday afternoon, the microblogging site started allowing users who had been blocked to continue to follow, respond to or retweet posts from people who had blocked them.

User response came swiftly. Many were outraged that the change allowed stalkers and abusers open access to their posts.

Longtime General Electric CEO and management icon Jack Welch popularized a management style in the 1980s that critics dubbed "rank and yank." The system ranks employees — with under-performers getting yanked from their jobs or the company. This old practice is in the news again. Microsoft recently did away with it. But other companies are embracing it.

Crowdfunding is popular among musicians, filmmakers and artists looking for a way to finance their next project.

Now the Securities and Exchange Commission is considering rules that, for the first time, would allow small companies to solicit investments over the Internet and sell shares to the general public.

For some small firms, these new rules come as welcome news.

Amazon's business is built on three basic concepts: faster delivery, greater selection, and cheaper prices.

In service of that, it has built enormous warehouses staffed largely by robots that shuttle around, pulling goods out of bins at remarkable speed. It can take just a matter of minutes to go from order to shipment.

And lately it's pursuing a program where Amazon goes directly into manufacturers and manages their logistics and online retailing.

The Obama administration's hopes ran high that millions would flock to enroll for health insurance on state and federal exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act.

Those exchanges went online Oct. 1. The administration projected that half a million individuals or families would enroll within 30 days, according to The Associated Press.

But three weeks in, the data suggest the actual number of enrollments is lagging far behind that number.

First in a series about small businesses in America.

Small businesses are celebrated and exalted as the hard-working, most deserving members of the political economy. They get tax breaks, and they're touted as the engines of job creation.

But a basic question: What is a small business? It turns out there is no one definition.

Classifications Of Small

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For a long time, investors aiming for city profits have maintained that the smart money was on emerging markets. Economic growth in Brazil, Russia, India and China, the BRIC countries as they're known, has outstripped opportunities in the U.S. But in recent months, there is evidence that trend is starting to change. NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports investors are turning back to markets in the U.S. and other developed economies.

Starting this fall, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, will begin rolling out 20 new suffixes, or top-level domains, every week. This will create new entrepreneurial opportunities, says ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade.

"Diversity to the domain name system is coming," he says.

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NPR's business news starts begins with some surprising economic growth.

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GREENE: The U.S. Commerce Department says the economy grew at an unexpectedly swift pace during the second quarter of the year. The Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, grew at an annual rate of 1.7 percent. That compares to the first quarter, when it grew at 1.1 percent. As NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports, this might mean the economy has not been hit hard by the automatic government spending cuts known as sequestration.

Wal-Mart's long-standing plans to come to Washington, D.C., are now up in the air. The City Council passed a living wage law that would require the world's largest retailer to pay $12.50 an hour, more than the city's current $8.25 minimum wage.

A recent spike in mortgage rates has created a new predicament for potential homebuyers: Forge ahead and try to lock in now? Or hold off?

Dhruv Gupta was quoted a 3.5 percent rate in May while searching for a place to buy in the San Francisco area. Less than two months later, he's looking at 5.2 percent for the same loan. But this trend has not deterred Gupta.

"It's a fact of life," he says. "I mean I can't control them, so what do you do?"

Mortgage rates have seen a relatively sharp rise this month. The average 30-year fixed-rate loan hit 4 percent earlier in June — a big jump from the record lows of recent years. Some investors are now concerned that the housing recovery could be stifled if rates continue to rise quickly.

The Federal Reserve has two main missions: to maximize employment and minimize inflation. Right now, there are few, if any, signs that prices for goods are spiking, and the job market is still crawling out of its long, deep slump.

On this day 50 years ago, President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act in an effort to abolish wage discrimination based on gender. Half a century later, the Obama administration is pushing Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, designed to make wage differences more transparent.

Some dispute the frequently cited figure that women are paid 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. But even those who argue the gap is narrower agree it's most prominent when a woman enters her childbearing years.

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JPMorgan Chase holds its annual shareholder meeting today in Tampa, Florida, and the shareholders will vote on a key measure: a proposal to strip the CEO, Jamie Dimon, of his other title, chairman of the board. A growing number of companies have split the CEO and chairman roles.

Shareholder activists and corporate governance experts say having a balance of power at the top helps to reduce risk. The bank and its supporters disagree. NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports.

Four years ago, 21 men with intellectual disabilities were emancipated from a bright blue, century-old schoolhouse in Atalissa, Iowa. They ranged in age from their 40s to their 60s, and for most of their adult lives they had worked for next to nothing and lived in dangerously unsanitary conditions.

Earlier this month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission won a massive judgment against the turkey-processing company at which the men worked. The civil suit involved severe physical and emotional abuse of men with intellectual disabilities.

Federal workers say they don't have much to celebrate these days.

Furloughs began in April, exacerbating already low morale for many government agencies as budgets have tightened. Downsizing has meant more work for those who remain, and talk of further cuts has many worried about job security. This year is also the third that federal workers haven't received a pay increase, contributing to discontent.

Congress is considering a bill that would allow states to collect sales taxes from online retailers. Proponents say a law is necessary to level the playing field with brick-and-mortar stores and to raise revenue for states.

Even when people think they're buckling down, studies show the average office worker wastes over a third of the day. There's Facebook, of course, and the email from a friend with a YouTube link. After all that, is it time to go get coffee?

Worker pay is the most expensive line item in the budget for most businesses, which means billions of dollars are going to waste.

But here's the silver lining: It turns out lack of productivity presents a big business opportunity.

Joe Hruska is pretty blunt about how much work anyone does in a typical day.

The U.S. Senate may vote this week on the Marketplace Fairness Act, a bill that would allow states to collect sales tax from more online retailers. And as the political and retail landscape has shifted from the last time around, the Senate is expected to approve the measure.

The proposal to require online sellers to collect out-of-state sales tax has been kicked around for many years. For a decade, Amazon was a fierce opponent.

A year and a half ago, J.C. Penney's then-brand new CEO Ron Johnson undertook what was supposed to be a transformation of the 110-year-old department store. Yesterday, the retailer cut his tenure short.

J.C. Penney lost nearly $1 billion last year as customer traffic dropped off.

Now, it's bringing back former Chief Executive Officer Myron Ullman to try to stanch the bleeding.

When fortunes rise in the housing industry — as they currently are — it tends to lift sales for other businesses, too. Home construction, sales and prices are all improving. And according to many analysts, the market is gaining steam.

For nearly two decades, Scott Gillis has owned his own moving company, Great Scott Moving in Hyattsville, Md. Moving high season is just around the corner, which means Gillis is hiring.

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