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Kevin Butt's job is to find cleaner ways to power Toyota. One of the hardest places to do that is at the automaker's sprawling plant in central Kentucky, a state where nearly 90 percent of electricity still comes from coal.

Butt points out a new engine assembly line, where a conveyor belt moves in a slow circle. He says it was specially designed with a more efficient motor. There are also enormous fans overhead and LED lights, all changes that save millions.

The Trump administration is lifting a federal hiring freeze as of Wednesday morning.

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney announced the policy change in a briefing to reporters Tuesday.

Cautioning "this does not mean agencies will be free to hire willy-nilly," Mulvaney said the across-the-board hiring freeze the president imposed by executive order three days after taking office in January is being replaced with a "smarter plan, a more strategic plan, a more surgical plan."

President Trump's updated executive order, the one restricting travel from six Muslim-majority countries, is blocked for now.

But administrators at Northeastern University in Boston aren't taking any chances.

"We're in a state of limbo," says Mike Armini, who oversees government relations. "We don't quite know what's going to happen next, so we've advised them to stay here," he says, talking about the 250 Northeastern students from those six countries.

The U.S. women's national soccer team has agreed to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement with U.S. Soccer, concluding a protracted dispute over their union contract.

File photo of Uber driver near the San Francisco International Airport.
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

The city of Seattle's law to let Lyft, Uber and taxi drivers form a union has been halted in federal court. The law is the first of its kind in the nation.

There's a compelling question at the heart of a report released this week by the Metropolitan Planning Council: If more people — especially educated professional white Americans — knew exactly how they are harmed by the country's pervasive racial segregation, would they be moved to try to decrease it?

At the very southernmost tip of Illinois, the pancake flat cornfields give way to the rolling, forested hills of the Delta.

Here, at the windy confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, it feels more southern than Midwest when you arrive at the old river port and factory town of Cairo, once made famous in Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

But Twain might not recognize Cairo today.

Bill Radke talks to Jon Talton, Seattle Times economics columnist, about what it would mean for the Northwest if the proposed cuts to the National Institutes of Health funding were enacted.

Photo courtesy of Nikki Barron

What difference can a day make? For half of the world’s population who struggle with social, economic, and political inequity, a day honoring women may be only symbolic, but could be life changing.

Farm in Skagit Valley, WA
Flickr Photo/liquid crash (CC BY-SA-2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/pkebdP

As the Trump administration rolls out new rules on immigration enforcement this week, a bipartisan coalition of business leaders and mayors has launched a new data project that highlights the economic impact of immigrants in the United States.

What's in a name? A lot, according to a new study from researchers at Ryerson University and the University of Toronto, both in Canada.

Will Vancouver continue to be a stand-in for Seattle in film and television.
Flickr Photo/Alex Costin (CC BY ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/rTJE31

The Trump presidency is dampening some Canadians’ enthusiasm for travel to the United States.

That’s according to the Conference Board of Canada, a not-for-profit group that tracks economic trends.

Gary Locke is former U.S. ambassador to China and former Governor of Washington State
KUOW Photos / David Hyde

Gary Locke worries the Trump administration is lurching toward a twofold disaster in its China policy.

But he's also hopeful that disaster can be avoided.

Flickr photo/Bill Holmes (CC BY-ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/tujYE

Political scientist Mark Smith says President Donald Trump's tweet against Seattle-based retailer Nordstrom is one form of corruption.

"It's using public office to enrich yourself or your family members," Smith told KUOW's Kim Malcolm.

"We've been able to avoid that for most of our history."


Since its founding in the 1950s, the Indian Health Service has provided medical care for many Native Americans. But the service has been chronically underfunded, so often pays for care only if someone is in immediate danger of losing life or limb.

 David Rolf, president of SEIU 775, which represents home care and nursing home workers in Washington state and Montana.
KUOW Photos / David Hyde

What if you got paid $1,000 month ... for doing nothing? That’s a serious proposal that one prominent Washington state labor leader wants President Donald Trump to consider.


The Dow Jones industrial average cruised past another milestone Wednesday — the 20,000 level, further evidence of the long bull market that has lifted share prices since the depths of the financial crisis.

The index closed at a record 20,068. Since the November elections, the Dow and the broader S&P 500 are up 9.5 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively.

For several years, Oxfam International has released an annual report on global wealth inequity. The numbers were startling: In the 2016 report, Oxfam said the world's richest 62 people owned as much wealth as the poorest 3.6 billion.

Britain's prime minister said Tuesday that the United Kingdom will walk away from the European Union's single market and unified court system, making a sharp break with its largest trading partner.

In a speech delivered about six months after voters passed a referendum requiring Britain to leave the EU, Prime Minister Theresa May laid out a plan for what that split would look like, emphasizing limits on migration into the country.

Amazon announced on Thursday that it’s adding 100,000 jobs nationwide by the middle of 2018.

It's a huge growth spurt for the Seattle-based company. The hiring will boost Amazon's U.S. workforce from 180,000 to 280,000 people in just 18 months time. The company had just 30,000 workers back in 2010.

One of the most stressful questions a new parent confronts is, "Who's going to take care of my baby when I go back to work?"

Figuring out the answer to that question is often not easy. When NPR, along with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, surveyed more than 1,000 parents nationwide about their child care experiences, a third reported difficulty finding care.

After years of requests from drivers, Uber has added a tipping function on its app
Flickr photo/Jason Tester Guerrilla Futures (CC BY-ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/kAYh8Z

Uber and Lyft drivers will decide this spring on whether to form a union. This week, the city of Seattle finalized which drivers will get to voice their opinion.

Uber officials aren't happy.

The Great Recession ended 7 1/2 years ago, and job gains have been steady since, but greater demand for workers is only starting to increase pay.

The increases are still relatively modest, and the data are still mixed. In October, for example, the Labor Department reported average hourly earnings increased at a 2.8 percent rate — the highest since mid-2009, but wage growth slowed in November. A separate report this month showed the cost of labor — another measure of wage growth — increased especially during the spring of this year.

Patricia Murphy speaks with Seattle Times economics columnist John Talton about how President-elect Donald Trump's economic polices will affect the Puget Sound region. 

The widening gap between rich and poor Americans has pushed the chances of children earning more money than their parents down to around 50 percent, economic researchers say. That's a sharp fall from 1940, when 90 percent of kids were destined to move up the income ladder.

Unemployment dropped by 0.3 percentage points, to 4.6 percent, last month — the lowest rate since 2007 — according to the monthly jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump, pictured here 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference.
Flickr Photo/Gage Skidmore (CC BY SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/e41ELr

Deb Wang speaks with Seattle Times economics columnist Jon Talton about the economic promises President-elect Trump made during the campaign and how local businesses like Boeing and Amazon might be affected by them.

President-elect Donald Trump has pledged a $1 trillion infrastructure spending program to help jump-start an economy that he said during the campaign was in terrible shape.

Speaking on Capitol Hill Thursday, Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen warned lawmakers that as they consider such spending, they should keep an eye on the national debt. Yellen also said that while the economy needed a big boost with fiscal stimulus after the financial crisis, that's not the case now.

Brian Wahlberg gives daughter Luciena a good view of the proceedings as the crowd sings at Cal Anderson Park in Seattle.
KUOW photo/Gil Aegerter

In the liberal bastion that is Seattle, the response to the election was acute. People cried openly on buses and in cafes. Some took time off work to mourn in bed. It wasn't that their candidate had lost, we heard again and again, it was that they feared for the future.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up more than 1 percent Thursday at an all-time high of 18,807.88, as investors bet that the Donald Trump presidency will mean less regulation and more potential stimulus spending.

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