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economy

Updated 10:28 a.m. ET

On Tuesday night, as the presidential election's outcome headed toward an unexpected Trump victory, stock futures plunged. Investors had bet heavily Monday on Democrat Hillary Clinton. As Republican Donald Trump picked up many more votes than polls had predicted, markets reacted violently to the change in expectations.

The last time Zimbabwe went into economic freefall, in 2009, inflation was a mind-boggling 200 million percent. Shoppers had to carry the colorful bank notes, in billion- and trillion-dollar denominations, in bags to pay for basics.

To address the crisis, President Robert Mugabe's government abandoned Zimbabwe's own currency and adopted the U.S. dollar as legal tender. That helped end hyperinflation and helped stabilize Zimbabwe's economy.

Bill Radke speaks with Seattle Times economics columnist Jon Talton about why the World Trade Organization is calling Airbus subsidies "unfair," and why it won't have much effect on Washington's Boeing employees.

Steady job growth means Oregon's economy will continue to do well in the short term. But storm clouds are on the horizon. That was the prediction Wednesday from state economists.

Bill Radke speaks with Seattle Times economics columnist Jon Talton about the economic pictures painted by incumbent Washington  Governor Jay Inslee and challenger Bill Bryant in their first gubernatorial debate.

In so many ways, 1968 was a great year for middle-class Americans' wallets — and terrible for politics.

On the one hand, gasoline was cheap and unemployment was low. Real estate values were rising, helping average homeowners build wealth. Good times!

Still, many people were not feeling good — at all. In 1968, the tumultuous presidential-election year brought strident clashes at political events, third-party disruptions, calls for "law and order," racial discord and worries about foreign enemies.

Sound familiar?

This Capitol Hill, Seattle home could be bought on a single middle class income for a family of six for $16,000 in 1957.
KUOW Photo/Emily Fox

When I thought about moving to Seattle a few months ago, I was shocked at how expensive everything was.

I grew up in a Michigan town where the average house is worth about $125,000 today, and rent goes for about half of what it is in Seattle.

Knowing the lifestyle that my middle class grandparents were able to have here 60 years ago, I wondered if that Seattle will ever be able to be achievable again for middle class folks like me.

"The middle class is disappearing" has been a standard line during this election cycle. As it turns out, it's not wrong.

The Great Recession killed a third of construction jobs in the Seattle metro. Despite our current boom, not all those jobs are back. CLICK ON THIS IMAGE for more graphs.
WA Employment Security Department: Anneliese Vance-Sherman

The last recession is long gone, but jobs still haven’t recovered in two major sectors. Both are tied to that last big bust: construction and financial services. 

The financial services sector isn’t back because lending is a much tighter business than it was during the run-up to the economic collapse in 2008.


Men between the ages of 25 and 54 are considered to be in their prime working years. But in the United States, the share of prime-age men who are neither working nor looking for work has doubled since the 1970s. Roughly one in six prime-age men in the U.S. are either unemployed or out of the workforce altogether.

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump traveled to the small city of Monessen, Pa., on Tuesday to speak about the impact of international trade on U.S. manufacturing jobs.

As he has before, Trump launched a full-throated attack on globalization, pinning the blame on politicians he says have allowed the U.S. manufacturing base to get hollowed out.

"We allowed foreign countries to subsidize their goods, devalue their currencies, violate their agreements and cheat in every way imaginable. And our politicians did nothing about it," he told the crowd.

Demand is soaring for Seattle-area homes. Buyers who want to succeed are bidding up prices. This Seattle house recently sold for $100,000 over the asking price.
Courtesy of Seattle MLS

House prices in Washington state are rising faster than in any other state in the country.

Rents are also rising, and it’s all because Seattle companies are hiring. It’s an unusual predicament for people looking for a foothold in this real estate market.

Hillary Clinton delivered a stinging indictment Tuesday of both Donald Trump's business record and his economic policy prescriptions, an early effort to undermine what the business mogul has billed as one of his chief qualifications for the White House.

"We can't let him bankrupt America like we are one of his failed casinos," Clinton told supporters at an alternative high school in Columbus, Ohio. "We can't let him roll the dice with our children's futures."

The U.S. Department of Energy is considering the future of a public asset worth tens of billions of dollars: the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Seattle skyline
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

Bill Radke talks to Seattle Times economics columnist Jon Talton about whether or not Seattle can be affordable and have a booming economy. 

Sure, the U.S. economy has problems: income inequality, aging infrastructure and slowing entrepreneurship.

But cheer up, Americans. The latest figures on developed economies show the United States is in far better shape than other countries.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, an international group that tracks global growth, said Thursday that the United States is making one of the strongest comebacks in the developed world.

British voters on June 23 will cast what some have called the most important ballot of their lives — whether the U.K. should remain in the European Union or pull out, in what's become popularly known as a "Brexit."

There's been a blizzard of claims from both supporters and opponents of exiting the union, and while most polls show a neck-and-neck race at the moment, the number of undecided voters is high.

Bill Radke, second from left, said he was sick of frozen smiles. And Melanie McFarland, next to him, pointed out that crazy bouquet that's been sitting in our green room. Far left, former Mayor Mike McGinn. And far left, Seattle Channel's Joni Balter.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

Yeah, those flowers are amazing. But this week!

Seattle city Councilmember Tim Burgess is proposing new regulation on short-term rentals that would affect how people rent on sites like Airbnb and VRBO. He sees it as one the fixes to the affordable housing crisis in the city. Is it fair to fix Seattle’s housing crisis at the expense of short term renters?

We often associate climate change with too much water — the melting ice caps triggering a rise in sea levels. Now a new World Bank report says we also need to think about too little water — the potable sort.

Dow Constantine
KUOW Photo/Jason Pagano

There is more evidence that the middle class is shrinking in metropolitan Seattle. A report from the Pew Research Center says the middle class has slipped by 7 percent since 2000 to just over half the region’s households. 

Here’s where our region is different from the overall trend: the households replacing those in the middle class here are mostly richer, not poorer. 

Economy reporter Carolyn Adolph discusses this issue with King County Executive Dow Constantine.

Studies have been showing for years that this country's middle class is shrinking.

Now, the nonpartisan Pew Research Center has added another dimension to the story: Its examination of government data shows the problem is not confined to the Rust Belt or Appalachia.

In fact, the middle is shrinking from coast to coast.

This week, NPR and some member stations will be talking about trade on the campaign trail and in communities around the country.

Economists for decades have agreed that more open international trade is good for the U.S. economy. But recent research finds that while that's still true, when it comes to China, the downside for American workers has been much more painful than the experts predicted.

And that's playing out on the presidential campaign trail in a big way.

'Disastrous' Trade Agreements?

Martha Guise is the principal of Century High School in Hillsboro, a Portland suburb. She says class sizes at her school are around 34 — much higher than desired.
KUOW Photo/Carolyn Adolph

For all Washington's fretting over state funding for education, there are people in Oregon who would love to have Washington's problems.

Bill Radke speaks with Seattle Times economics columnist Jon Talton about neoliberalism, what it means for the 2016 election cycle and the consequences for the American middle class.

Oregon's economy continues to flourish, but the long-term outlook isn't as rosy. That was the message to lawmakers Wednesday from state economists, who released their quarterly revenue forecast.

Emily Martin created a state-by-state map of the gender wage gap in the United States. She calculated: Washington, D.C., has the smallest wage gap where women average nearly 90 cents to a man's dollar; Louisiana has the largest gap — women there earn just 65 percent of what men do.

Nationally, women earn an average 79 cents for every dollar men do. The gender wage gap is even wider for black and Hispanic women.

Ebrahim Pourfaraj wants to build the biggest hotel in all of Iran.

He's already started his project in the far north Tehran, a wealthy zone where the city climbs up the slopes of the snow-capped Alborz Mountains.

You get out of the car, carefully stepping over the little mountain stream that flows in a channel beside the curb. After stepping through a construction trailer, you emerge on a steel-mesh platform looking over the edge of an enormous hole.

A construction crane working on a building is shown with Port of Seattle cranes in the background on a foggy summer day, Monday, July 15, 2014, in Seattle.
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Bill Radke speaks with Seattle Times economics columnist Jon Talton about why some people see a recession coming our way and what that could mean for the Seattle boom.

Guadalupe Rangel scoops up hearty servings of homemade pulled pork, rice and coleslaw for her two teenage sons. 

This simple plate of food is not something Rangel and her sons take for granted. There was a time when she didn’t have enough money to even buy eggs, she says, her eyes welling up with tears. She was devastated to see her children hungry and losing focus in school.

“We were desperate, and it was very difficult,” she says. “I felt a lot of depression just knowing that I couldn’t give them the basics.”

Once upon a time, the Northwest was home to ten massive aluminum smelters. As of today, just one still operates. And the Alcoa company plans to idle that smelter near Ferndale, Washington, indefinitely in June.

Is it the end for a one-time pillar of the Northwest economy or merely a pause?

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