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Scott Horsley

Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.

Horsley spent a decade on the White House beat, covering both the Trump and Obama administrations. Before that, he was a San Diego-based business reporter for NPR, covering fast food, gasoline prices, and the California electricity crunch of 2000. He also reported from the Pentagon during the early phases of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Before joining NPR in 2001, Horsley worked for NPR Member stations in San Diego and Tampa, as well as commercial radio stations in Boston and Concord, New Hampshire. Horsley began his professional career as a production assistant for NPR's Morning Edition.

Horsley earned a bachelor's degree from Harvard University and an MBA from San Diego State University. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Karen Butcher's son Matthew struggled for years with an addiction to opioids. She's convinced the pandemic made it worse.

The restaurant in Scott County, Ky., where Matthew worked as a bartender closed before the pandemic, and soon other establishments, from restaurants to stores, followed suit as states imposed lockdowns.

"One day you're a bartender and you're serving people and having a great time at it, and then the next day the doors are closed," Butcher recalls. "Then COVID hits. It was the perfect storm."

The Senate quickly confirmed Janet Yellen to be Treasury secretary on Monday, days after she won unanimous backing from both Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee.

Yellen will be the first woman to lead the Treasury Department and will spearhead the Biden administration's response to the coronavirus recession. The Senate confirmed her with an 84-15 vote.

President Biden plans to sign an executive order on Friday that would increase food stamp benefits to help people going hungry amid the financial downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, his top economic adviser, Brian Deese, told reporters.

Biden has already proposed a $1.9 trillion relief package to Congress that includes direct payments and other types of aid for people who have lost their jobs because of the pandemic. In the meantime, he is directing his administration to take steps to tweak programs to try to provide some assistance.

The number of Americans filing for new state unemployment benefits dipped to 900,000 — down from the previous week but still high by historical standards, signaling the economic challenges facing the Biden administration.

The latest weekly data from the Labor Department was likely distorted somewhat by the ebb and flow of government relief programs, but the overall picture continues to show a struggling U.S. job market as President Biden takes office.

Janet Yellen, President-elect Joe Biden's nominee to lead the Treasury Department, made the case for aggressive economic relief, urging lawmakers to "act big" to fight the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

At her confirmation hearing Tuesday before the Senate Finance Committee, Yellen pressed lawmakers to pass the $1.9 trillion spending package that the incoming administration has proposed to keep families and businesses afloat as well as to accelerate vaccinations against COVID-19.

Updated at 8 pm ET

President-elect Joe Biden has long pledged he would deliver an aggressive plan to address the raging coronavirus pandemic and the painful recession it spawned.

On Thursday, he did just that, proposing an ambitious $1.9 trillion relief plan that includes $1,400 stimulus checks, additional benefits for the unemployed, as well hundreds of billions of dollars for struggling businesses and local governments.

U.S. employers cut 140,000 jobs in December as the runaway coronavirus pandemic continued to weigh on the U.S. labor market.

It was the first monthly job loss in eight months. The unemployment rate held steady at 6.7%.

With thousands of Americans dying from COVID-19 each day, businesses that depend on in-person contact have struggled.

The wheels on the nation's buses aren't going round and round very much these days.

Demand for bus travel has fallen by more than 80% during the pandemic as public health authorities urge people to avoid travel where possible.

That is raising concerns about the potential long-term damage to an essential transport method for millions of lower-income Americans even as air travel has shown signs of picking up since the Thanksgiving holiday period.

And those who have to take the bus, for whatever reason, are finding fewer options, and often higher prices as a result.

Unemployment claims jumped sharply last week as a surge in coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths put new pressure on the U.S. economy just before critical coronavirus aid programs are set to expire.

The Labor Department said 853,000 people filed new claims for state unemployment benefits during the week that ended on Dec. 5 — a sharp increase of 137,000 from the previous week.

Claims for a special federal program for gig workers and the self-employed, who ordinarily are not eligible for unemployment relief, also jumped, by 48%.

China's economy is roaring back as Americans gobble up everything from its cellphones to its health masks, raising the stakes for trade relations with the United States as President-elect Joe Biden gets set to take over.

Data on Monday showed China notched a record $75.4 billion trade surplus in November after exports from China to the rest of the world jumped 21.1% compared to a year ago.

Updated at 9:24 a.m. ET

U.S. employers sharply scaled back their hiring last month as the coronavirus pandemic put new pressure on restaurants, retailers and other businesses.

The Labor Department said Friday that employers added just 245,000 jobs in November, down from a revised 610,000 in October.

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Get ready for one of the most unpredictable monthly jobs reports in a while.

The pandemic has come roaring back, filling hospitals with coronavirus patients, while restaurants and retail shops empty out.

That is expected to put a squeeze on job gains: Forecasters expect a report Friday from the Labor Department will show that U.S. employers added fewer workers in November than the 638,000 created a month earlier.

How much less is uncertain as the pandemic makes it hard to forecast economic indicators.

The pandemic rages on. More than 180,000 people tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday. States and cities are closing businesses. Nearly 800,000 people are applying for unemployment every week.

Despite all this, Congress has not passed an economic relief package since late April — and a set of vital relief measures helping millions of Americans avoid financial ruin and eviction are all set to expire this month.

New claims for unemployment benefits jumped last week for the second week in a row, signaling ongoing weakness in the job market as coronavirus infections continue to soar.

The Labor Department reported 778,000 people applied for state benefits in the week ending Saturday, an increase of 30,000 from the previous week.

Updated at 6:15 p.m. ET

The United States has had 77 Treasury secretaries in the last 231 years. So far, they've all been men.

That's about to change.

President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen to head the Treasury Department, a source close to the transition told NPR on Monday

If confirmed, Yellen would play a leading role in shaping economic policy as the United States continues to dig its way out of the deep hole caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Updated at 4:07 p.m. ET

After languishing for more than a year, Judy Shelton's controversial nomination to the Federal Reserve's board of governors appears poised for Senate confirmation in what is likely to be a narrow vote.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moved to hold a vote sometime this week after Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, signaled her support for the nominee.

Shelton has attracted great scrutiny over views that place her well outside the economic mainstream.

What Brandon Fritze misses most this year is belting out Coldplay's "Yellow" at karaoke sessions with his friends.

"I was a big karaoke guy," said Fritze. "I'd be going to the karaoke bar pretty much every night. But since the pandemic started, the bar's been shut down and that wasn't an option. I don't think I've sung in eight months now."

Updated at 9:02 a.m. ET

U.S. employers added 638,000 jobs last month as the economy continued its slow recovery from the coronavirus recession. Job growth slowed for the fourth month in a row.

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When it comes to how the economy is emerging from the pandemic, voters couldn't be further apart.

A massive survey conducted by The Associated Press showed more than 4 in 10 Americans describe the economy as "good" or "excellent." And they voted overwhelmingly for President Trump.

Those who see the economy as "poor" or "not so good," on the other hand, were much more likely to cast their ballots for Joe Biden.

The U.S. economy grew at a record pace during the last three months, according to the last major economic report before the election.

Not many people are popping champagne corks, though, because GDP also shrank at a record pace during the previous three months. Despite the strong rebound in July, August and September, the economy has not yet recovered from the damage done by the coronavirus pandemic.

On its surface, economic growth data out this week will look like one for the record books. But dig in, and the picture is not as bright.

The Commerce Department is expected to report on Thursday record-setting growth in gross domestic product during the most recent quarter, reflecting pent-up demand as businesses reopened and consumers streamed back into the marketplace.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit this spring, government relief payments provided a life raft to millions of people who had been thrown out of work.

That life raft, however, is now losing air, threatening to leave the unemployed in a perilous situation just as Washington leaders struggle to clinch a new package of aid ahead of the November election.

Going once. Going twice.

Auctions are at the heart of this year's Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. The winners — Stanford University professors Paul Milgrom and Robert Wilson — were recognized "for improvements to auction theory and inventions of new auction formats."

They designed the auction the FCC used to sell radio spectrum to wireless telephone companies, raising more than $120 billion for something the government used to give away for free.

Updated at 4:08 p.m. ET

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell urged Congress to provide another round of pandemic relief Tuesday, saying it's better to do too much than too little.

However, hours later, President Trump dashed hopes for any quick deal with lawmakers, saying he'd called a halt to negotiations until after the November election.

Here's a stunning stat: Women are leaving the workforce at four times the rate as men.

The burden of parenting and running a household while also working a job during the pandemic has created a pressure cooker environment in many households, and women are bearing the brunt of it.

Updated at 10:05 a.m. ET

Job growth slowed sharply in September, as U.S. employers added just 661,000 new workers.

The report from the Labor Department is the last snapshot of the job market before the November election, and it comes hours after President Trump and the first lady tested positive for the coronavirus.

Updated at 4:26 p.m. ET

Stock prices fell after President Trump revealed he had tested positive for the coronavirus, but recovered somewhat on hopes Congress would clinch a deal for a new round of stimulus.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 134 points, or nearly 0.5%. The S&P 500 finished almost 1% lower, while the Nasdaq composite index lost 2.2%.

The coronavirus pandemic is taking a heavy economic toll on Asian Americans.

From Vietnamese nail salons to Cambodian donut shops, Asian-owned businesses have struggled. And Asian American workers have gone from having the lowest unemployment rate in the country to one of the highest.

Jerry Raburn lost his job at a mortgage servicing company in Southern California in March, just six months after he started.

"The business decreased dramatically, and based on seniority, I was let go," said Raburn, who came to the U.S. from Thailand when he was 8 years old.

Updated at 8:35 a.m. ET

Kris Snyder didn't set out to be a professional musician. She began her working life as a corporate trainer for a big retail company. But after churning through seven managers in five years, she got fed up. She gave up a regular paycheck and corporate benefits and started looking for music gigs.

"Weddings, funerals, parties — that sort of thing," says Snyder, a fourth-generation harpist.

Updated at 4:45 p.m. ET

The Federal Reserve left interest rates near zero as expected Wednesday and pledged to keep supporting an economic recovery that appears to be losing steam.

Most members of the Fed's rate-setting committee said they expect interest rates to remain near zero through at least 2023 as the economy slowly digs its way out of the coronavirus recession.

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