Scott Horsley | WGLT

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.

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With millions of American workers suddenly idled in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the United States appears poised to go from the lowest unemployment rate in half a century to the highest since World War II.

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The toll of the coronavirus pandemic is steep - hundreds of thousands of confirmed infections around the world, tens of thousands of lives lost.

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Toilet tissue isn't the only paper product that Americans are hoarding these days. Paper money is also in high demand.

Banks are seeing more cash withdrawals as nervous customers try to protect themselves from the uncertainty of the coronavirus clampdown.

The U.S. economy has never hit the brakes quite like this before.

While the course of the coronavirus pandemic is unpredictable, forecasters are using their economic models and making some educated guesses about just how bad the damage will be. The forecasts are not pretty:

  • Oxford Economics expects the U.S. economy to shrink at an annual rate of 12% between April and June.
  • JPMorgan Chase sees a second-quarter contraction of 14%.

Updated at 11:15 a.m. ET Thursday

The Trump administration wants to give Americans an emergency shot of spending money, even as it's closing many of the places they would ordinarily spend it.

As part of its $1 trillion proposal to address the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, the administration has proposed sending up to $500 billion directly to U.S. households.

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This is just becoming all too familiar - the stock market opens and then quickly begins to fall. This is despite several efforts announced by the Trump administration aimed at bolstering the U.S. economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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Stocks fell deeper into the red this morning as investors tried to grapple with the economic cost of the coronavirus pandemic. Trading was briefly halted just minutes after the opening bell, when the S&P 500 index plunged by seven percent. Last night, President Trump announced new measures to try to contain the virus and shore up the economy.

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An 11-year bull market that survived hurricanes, a trade war and political upheaval was finally brought to an end today by the coronavirus. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 1,400 points.

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Six minutes after trading began on the New York Stock Exchange on Monday, it was suddenly halted. That's when the S&P 500 index had plummeted 7% and marketwide circuit breakers kicked in. Trading resumed about 15 minutes later.

The marketwide halt was the first since the stock market crash of Oct. 27, 1997, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 554 points, or 7.2%.

Under market rules, circuit breakers kick in at three thresholds:

Updated at 10:31 a.m. ET

Fear of the coronavirus doesn't appear to have infected the U.S. job market yet, despite sending shivers through Wall Street.

A new report from the Labor Department says employers added 273,000 jobs in February — the same as in January. The February increase was about 100,000 more than private analysts had forecast. The unemployment rate dipped to 3.5%, matching a 50-year low.

Job gains for December and January were revised up by a total of 85,000.

Updated at 4:05 p.m. ET

Stocks continued their free-fall on Thursday, with major indexes falling into correction territory. The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled nearly 1,200 points as worries mounted about the economic toll of a widening coronavirus epidemic.

The Dow ended the day down 4.4%, and nearly 13% below its recent peak on Feb. 12. A drop of 10% from a recent high is the technical definition of a "correction."

Stocks fell sharply for a second day in a row. The Dow dropped 879 points on Tuesday, after tumbling more than 1,000 points on Monday.

While the coronavirus outbreak in China appears to have peaked, investors are worried by the growing number of cases in other countries, as well as a warning from U.S. health officials that the virus could hit closer to home.

Just last week, the S&P 500 stock index was hitting record highs. Now it's fallen more than 6% in just the last two days.

Updated at 5:05 p.m. ET

The coronavirus contagion has spread to Wall Street.

U.S. markets fell sharply Monday amid widening concern that the continuing spread of cases could lead to a global pandemic. The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled nearly 1032 points, or 3.56% All of the major market indexes were down more than 3%.

Stock markets in Europe and Asia were also down sharply.

"This is not a health pandemic yet, but it's rapidly becoming an economic pandemic," said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton.

Wells Fargo has agreed to pay $3 billion to settle charges that the bank engaged in fraudulent sales practices for more than a decade.

The company acknowledged collecting millions of dollars in fees for bank accounts, debit cards and other products that customers neither asked for nor needed. The illegal practices were carried out by thousands of Wells Fargo employees in order to meet unrealistic sales targets.

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Updated at 11:23 a.m. ET

The U.S. labor market revved up in January, with employers adding 225,000 jobs. That's well above the number forecasters were expecting. The unemployment rate inched up to 3.6%, near a 50-year low, according to a new report from the Labor Department.

Employment growth for November and December was also revised upwards by a total of 7,000 jobs.

Updated at 10:05 a.m. ET

The U.S. economy grew 2.3% last year, the Commerce Department said Thursday. That's a slowdown from the previous year, when the economy grew 2.9%. And it's well short of the 3% growth target set by the White House.

The "Phase 1" trade deal with China that President Trump signed this week is unlike any previous free trade agreement. From Trump's point of view, that's the whole point.

"We are righting the wrongs of the past," Trump said Wednesday during a White House signing ceremony, "and delivering a future of economic justice and security for American workers, farmers and families."

Updated at 2:07 p.m. ET

A year and a half after launching his trade war against China, President Trump signed a partial truce on Wednesday.

"We mark more than just an agreement. We mark a sea change in international trade," Trump said during a White House signing ceremony. "At long last, Americans have a government that puts them first."

China is light-years ahead of the United States in doing away with old-fashioned paper money. Now China's central bank is preparing to test a digital currency. And some observers say it could mark the beginning of a new economic arms race, challenging the supremacy of the U.S. dollar.

Already, hundreds of millions of consumers in China have grown used to paying for purchases without cash, using popular smartphone apps such as WeChat and Alipay.

Job growth slowed last month as U.S. employers added just 145,000 jobs. But there was an interesting milestone in Friday's report from the Labor Department. Ninety-five percent of the net jobs added in December went to women.

Updated at 10:53 a.m. ET

Hiring slowed somewhat in December, as U.S. employers added 145,000 jobs. According to the Labor Department, that's down slightly from the three previous months, when employers added an average of 200,000 jobs. But the unemployment rate held steady at 3.5%, matching its lowest level in 50 years.

Kecia Jolley is getting a pay raise this week. But she's still making minimum wage.

Jolley works as a grocery store cashier in Missouri — one of nearly two dozen states that increased their minimum wages on Jan. 1. Economists say those mandatory wage hikes are an important factor boosting pay for workers at the bottom of the income ladder.

Jolley's Friday paycheck will be the first to reflect Missouri's 2020 minimum of $9.45 an hour, up from $8.60 last year.

"I think that I'll be better off," she says. "But I think that it's going to still be a struggle."

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