Yuki Noguchi | KBIA

Yuki Noguchi

Yuki Noguchi is a correspondent on the Business Desk based out of NPR's headquarters in Washington, DC. Since joining NPR in 2008, she's covered a range of business and economic news, with a special focus on the workplace — anything that affects how and why we work. In recent years she has covered the rise of the contract workforce, the #MeToo movement, the Great Recession, and the subprime housing crisis. In 2011, she covered the earthquake and tsunami in her parents' native Japan. Her coverage of the impact of opioids on workers and their families won a 2019 Gracie Award and received First Place and Best In Show in the radio category from the National Headliner Awards. She also loves featuring offbeat topics, and has eaten insects in service of journalism.

Yuki started her career as a reporter, then an editor, for The Washington Post. She reported on stories mostly about business and technology.

Yuki grew up in St. Louis, inflicts her cooking on her two boys, and has a degree in history from Yale.

It's the last workweek of the year, and just about half of American workers have been in the office.

If that sounds like a drag, well, meet Louise Tucker-Mitchell.

She works for Enterprise Rent-A-Car at Washington, D.C.'s Reagan National Airport. For her, at least, being stuck at work between the holidays is a secret pleasure.

Things are unusually quiet. Traffic is uncharacteristically light. "This is the free time when you can sort everything out and get it done," she says.

This week marks the busiest time of the year for shipping services like UPS, FedEx and the Postal Service. The post office handled 600 million cards and letters alone on Tuesday, and UPS says it is delivering 300 packages per second, on average.

At one FedEx facility in Washington, D.C., the logistics of last-minute shipping are on full display.

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The jobless rate has declined a bit in the past year, but among veterans who have served in conflict since 2003, it is increasing. The unemployment rate for vets serving since the Iraq war began has risen 1.5 percentage points to more than 12 percent in the past year.

Many veterans say they face a tougher job market than civilians. Tom Tarantino spent a decade in the military, where he served in Iraq and led a platoon. But when he separated from the military in 2007, he spent nearly a year looking for a job.

Second in a two-part series

Businesses keep vast troves of data about things like online shopping behavior, or millions of changes in weather patterns, or trillions of financial transactions — information that goes by the generic name of big data.

First of a two-part report

What do Facebook, Groupon and biotech firm Human Genome Sciences have in common? They all rely on massive amounts of data to design their products. Terabytes and even zettabytes of information about consumers or about genetic sequences can be harnessed and crunched.

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By the time it opened at 9 p.m. Thursday night for Black Friday, the Toys R Us in New York City's Times Square had a line snaking around the corner from its entrance on 44th Street. It went on for two blocks.

Angela Jenkins was there with two of her girlfriends and no kids. "I left my boyfriend with all of our kids ... by himself," she says with a laugh.

"You gotta do what you gotta do," Jenkins says.

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When Energy Secretary Steven Chu appears on Capitol Hill on Thursday to defend the Obama administration's solar energy subsidy program, he will face questions about the solar panel firm Solyndra, which went belly up this summer.

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NPR's business news starts with Jon Corzine out of a job.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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As details of the Greek debt deal passed by the European Union Wednesday are worked out, some businesses in the U.S. continue to grapple with the ripple effects of the prolonged debt crisis.

The EU hopes the debt deal will contain Europe's debt problems, and the problem countries will now start their work of implementing fiscal reforms — which has proved troublesome, especially in Greece.

Existing home sales and home prices declined last month, indicating the market remains in a slump. Now there's a proposal in Congress to try to change that. Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., introduced a bill Thursday that would grant U.S. tourist visas to foreign homebuyers paying with cash.

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For months now, Europe's debt crisis has hung ominously over the U.S. markets and economy. But even as U.S. banks begin lessening their investments in Europe, it remains difficult to quantify the threat they face.

Long-term joblessness is one of the unfortunate legacies of the recession. Earlier this year, the Labor Department started tracking longer periods of unemployment. According to that data, there are now more than 2 million people who have been jobless for at least two years, and 700,000 of those have been looking for work for at least three years.

Joblessness can be particularly tough for those in middle age. The recession hit this age group hard, and they aren't getting rehired as quickly during the sluggish recovery.

Middle-aged workers face more financial demands than other age groups and are too young to retire, yet they also don't have as much time to work their way up again from the bottom rung like younger workers.

Networking For A New Job

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Congress is asking questions about Google today. The company's chairman, Eric Schmidt, will testify before a Senate subcommittee on whether the Internet company is too powerful. NPR's Yuki Noguchi has more.

A congressional hearing on Wednesday over a company called Solyndra became a politically charged referendum on the administration's effort to promote green energy.

Until recently, Solyndra made solar panels. It received more than half a billion dollars in government loan guarantees back in 2009. Now, the company is in bankruptcy and is being investigated by the FBI.

President Obama called on legislators on Thursday to pass his American Jobs Act, which proposes billions of dollars in new spending on infrastructure.

"Building a world-class transportation system is part of what made us an economic superpower," Obama told a joint session of Congress.

It's difficult to say exactly how much additional infrastructure spending would take place if the president's plan is approved by Congress. But experts say examining how — and if — previous stimulus projects created jobs can help maximize results for this round.

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