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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.

For Tom Hansen and his family, the past few weeks have been a time of feast or famine.

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.

Housing costs contribute dramatically to the high basic cost of living in Seattle.
KUOW photo/Megan Farmer

Rents have been declining in the Seattle area. Compared with the previous quarter, rents in December dropped an average of $50.

Boxed items are shown on conveyer belts leading to docks where they will be loaded onto trucks at an Amazon fulfillment center on Friday, November 3, 2017, in Kent.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Bill Radke talks to Peter Goodman, the European economics correspondent for The New York Times, about why workers in Sweden are not worried about robots replacing their jobs. And we hear from Carolyn Adolph and Joshua McNichols about how robots are changing the way humans work at Amazon and what the economic future of our country might be as more jobs are replaced by artificial intelligence and automation.

Alaska Airlines is following the lead of American Airlines, Southwest and dozens of other large companies in awarding $1,000 bonuses to its workers tied to the recently passed corporate tax cut.

It's New Year's Day, so it's time for football, hangovers, resolutions — and forecasts.

With the first three, you're on your own. But for forecasts, we have economists to help. They get paid to peer into the future, and in general, they are seeing good times ahead, thanks to an upbeat business cycle.

"The stage is set for continued solid growth in 2018," Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Markit, said in his annual forecast. "While economic risks remain, most are low-level threats to the overall picture for 2018."

Census Data Highlights Pacific Northwest Population Growth

Dec 27, 2017

States in the Pacific Northwest are among the fastest growing in the country. And according to the latest census figures,  it’s gaining people more than twice as fast as the national average.

Migration to the region—rather than births—made up the bulk of population growth.

Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C.
Flickr Photo/Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/cVEJJh

Jeannie Yandel talks to Gary Grimstad, local accountant and part time lecturer in the University of Washington Foster School of Business about how the new GOP tax plan will impact Washington residents. 

Updated on Dec. 20 at 3:50 p.m. ET

The Republican tax bill, which Congress sent to President Trump on Wednesday, would give most Americans a tax cut next year, according to a new analysis. However, it would by far benefit the richest Americans the most. Meanwhile, many lower- and middle-class Americans would have higher taxes a decade from now ... unless a future Congress extends the cuts.

If you usually ring in the holiday with a freshly cut evergreen, your reality this Christmas could very well be a scrawny Charlie Brown tree instead — or you may wind up paying more for a lush Fraser fir.

This year, there is a tree shortage. Most growers blame the tightened supply on the Great Recession, says Valerie Bauerlein, who covered the story for The Wall Street Journal.

Seattle is at the top of the list of major U.S. cities that are seeing the highest increases in home prices. That’s according to the real estate firm Zillow, which released a new report Wednesday.

The statewide unemployment rate in Washington again touched a record low of 4.5 percent in October. That's according to the Washington Employment Security Department, which has been tracking the number since the mid-1970s.

One of the paradoxes of racial discrimination is the way it can remain obscured even to the people to whom it's happening. Here's an example: In an ambitious, novel study conducted by the Urban Institute a few years ago, researchers sent actors with similar financial credentials to the same real estate or rental offices to ask about buying or renting a home or apartment.

Amazon confirmed a second and 'full equal' headquarters somewhere other than in the Puget Sound region.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Bill Radke talks with KUOW reporters Joshua McNichols and Carolyn Adolph about the implications for cities hoping to land Amazon's second headquarters. McNichols and Adolph are co-hosts of KUOW's new podcast Prime(d).

Radke also talks with listeners about their advice to other cities hoping to reel in Amazon.

Tamarind Tree employees from left, Tin Dang, Loan Luong, and Mui Tang work in the kitchen on Thursday, October 12, 2017, at the restaurant in Seattle's Little Saigon neighborhood.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Tam Nguyen owns the Tamarind Tree restaurant in Seattle’s Little Saigon neighborhood. The menu features dishes like crispy coconut rice cakes with shrimp, and of course pho, which has been part of the fabric of Seattle culture since the 1980s.

Author Raj Patel said that, among other things, we don't pay enough for our food.
Flick Photo/Jo Ann Deasy (CC BY ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/7E5ZEP


Seattle (or Amazon-town, if you prefer) is ground zero for cheap things. Amazon has built a world-altering business out of discounting products online.

 

And author Raj Patel says that’s not a good thing.

Amazon.com logo
Flickr Photo/Guillermo Esteves (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Bill Radke talks to Casey Coombs, reporter at the Puget Sound Business Journal, about Amazon's rapid growth over the last decade and what the company's playbook is for getting cities to offer incentives and deals to open fulfillment and data centers in their region. Coombs' reporting is a part of a series The Business Journals' have published called "The Amazon Effect: How taxpayers are funding the disruption of the U.S. economy."

Housing costs contribute dramatically to the high basic cost of living in Seattle.
KUOW photo/Megan Farmer

A family of four now needs annual income of nearly $76,000 just for basics to live in Seattle – up $30,000 from 2006.

That’s according to researchers at the University of Washington School of Social Work.

Washington’s economic climate is the fourth best in the nation. That’s according to a new report by produced by Washington’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council.

Amazon confirmed a second and 'full equal' headquarters somewhere other than in the Puget Sound region.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Regional politicians have been assembling a multi-county strategy to keep Amazon’s growth here.

The company’s announcement last month that it will pick a second headquarters has sent cities scurrying to meet an October 19 deadline.

Americans owe more than ever before, with household debt hitting a record of nearly $13 trillion. And auto loans, home loans and credit card debt are all still on the rise, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

That has some economists saying the lessons of the bubble of borrowing in the run-up to the Great Recession have already been forgotten.

Updated at 11:30 a.m. ET

President Trump says he has a fix to the deep racial divide in America, blatantly exposed in the clashes between white supremacists and counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Va.

"I think if we continue to create jobs at levels that I'm creating jobs, I think that's going to have a tremendously positive impact on race relations. I do. I do," he said in Phoenix on Aug. 22, adding that he thinks bigger paychecks will also help improve race relations.

Gentrification of neighborhoods can wreak havoc for those most vulnerable to change.

Sure, access to services and amenities rise in a gentrifying neighborhood. That is a good thing. But those amenities won't do you much good if you're forced to move because of skyrocketing housing costs.

That is why neighborhood and housing advocacy groups have spent decades searching for ways to protect longtime residents from the negative effects of gentrification.

At a campaign rally in Phoenix on Tuesday, President Trump made news by slamming Republican senators, praising controversial former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and blasting the news media.

He also defended his initial, controversial remarks on recent violent protests in Charlottesville, Va. But in doing so, he left out the parts of the remarks that inflamed people's tempers the most, like his comment that there was violence "on many sides."

If you pull a fire alarm in any large U.S. city, it's likely that paid firefighters waiting at a nearby station will quickly respond. But seven out of 10 American firefighters are actually volunteers. They cover vast sections of the country, making up an aging network that is increasingly understaffed and overworked.

On a blazing hot day recently in western Kansas, two men have rushed from their jobs to douse a grass fire, for free.

"If somebody wasn't here to do it, this could get out of hand real quick," says Jason Lonnberg, with the Jetmore Volunteer Fire Department.

If you ever have to travel a long distance — say, Washington, D.C., to Atlanta, Detroit to Chicago, San Francisco to Los Angeles — you might be stuck with only bad options: a flight from an airport with chronic delays that's hard to get to, or an Amtrak train ride that costs three times as much as a flight.

Well, now there's a new option on the horizon: a double-decker bus with pods for sleeping. It's called, simply, Cabin. It's an overnight service — like a red-eye — designed for people who love going places, but hate being in transit.

Reusing (@AndreaReusing) is the James Beard award-winning chef at Lantern in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Novel and thrilling in earlier days, today's farm-to-table restaurant menus have scaled new heights of supposed transparency. The specificity can be weirdly opaque, much like an actual menu item that recently made the rounds: Quail Egg Coated in the Ashes of Dried Sheep's S***. Farm-to-table fatigue is most evident in those of us who cook in farm-to-table restaurants — Even We Are Sick of Us.

World Faces Global Sand Shortage

Jul 21, 2017

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The statewide unemployment rate for Washington is holding at its record low in the latest jobs report out Wednesday. The state's Employment Security Department pegged the jobless rate in June at 4.5 percent, the same as in May.


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Courtesy of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.whattookyousolong.org/">What took you so long</a>

Nasra Hussain Ibrahim was 11 when she realized she’d have to do something drastic if her family was to survive.  

They lived in Hiiraan, a rough region in south-central Somalia where al-Shabaab, a hard-line, al-Qaeda-linked group, and local clans clash. The militants force children to fight, they take over and shutter schools and rape and force girls to marry fighters, while imposing a warped, violent version of Islam. Those who don’t obey face execution by stoning.  

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