The boats are owned by Americans. They fly American flags and work in American waters. The fish they catch — like premium ahi tuna and swordfish — is sold at American grocery stores, on shelves at Whole Foods and Costco.

But the men who catch those fish can't set foot on American soil, The Associated Press reports — and they aren't protected by American labor laws.

At 4.9 percent, the nation's unemployment rate is half of what it was at the height of the Great Recession. But that number hides a big problem: Millions of men in their prime working years have dropped out of the workforce — meaning they aren't working or even looking for a job.

It's a trend that's held true for decades and has economists puzzled.

Productivity, a key measure of the economy's health, has been growing more slowly in recent years — and it has dropped for the past three quarters. Can Facebook and other social media distractions on the job be partly to blame?

Growth in the U.S. economy has been frustratingly slow during the recovery from the Great Recession. And it has fueled a lot of political discussion this year. One characteristic of that slow growth has some economists scratching their heads and others promoting grand theories to explain it.

The city of Seattle has hired a private investigator to find out who leaked a proposed police labor agreement to the press.

Seattle City Hall
Flickr Photo/Daniel X. O'Neil (CC-BY-NC-ND)/

Seattle leaders are pushing for a new level of worker's rights, on top of the city's $15 minimum wage law. The next proposal: predictable scheduling. The City Council will discuss the topic next week and vote on the legislation later in September.

Unionized Washington state employees want a pay raise. They plan to rally Wednesday at the state Capitol.

Washington state's above-average unemployment rate hasn't budged since last December. For July, the state’s Department of Employment Security Wednesday again pegged it at 5.8 percent.

Rebecca Crimmins, 61, spent two years trying to find a job. During that time, her mother died and she got cancer. She must continue working to pay off her medical bills.
KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

Eight years have passed since the Great Recession. It almost seems like a distant event. But older workers haven’t completely recovered despite signs of boom times. 

Bill Radke speaks with Dylan Orr, director of Seattle's Office of Labor Standards, about the new secure scheduling rules proposed by the city and what they would mean for local businesses and workers. 

The road that winds around Sea-Tac Airport.
Flickr Photo/Ping Li (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Last month, the Port of Seattle chose a new taxi company to serve Sea-Tac Airport. East Side For Hire won the exclusive contract.

The change happened quietly in the middle of last month. But the Port Commission meeting yesterday was anything but quiet.

Uber provided drivers like Suzy Harrison with shirts that say, 'I Drive, I Vote.'
KUOW Photo/Amy Radil

Seattle’s attempt to offer collective bargaining to the city’s Uber and Lyft drivers is facing delays.

The ordinance allowing those drivers to unionize was scheduled to take effect in September. But city officials say they aren’t ready to implement it yet. And they still need to settle a divisive issue: which drivers will get to vote on the union when the time comes.    

Local Wonder bill radke
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

Chris P. works full-time for Uber in Seattle, including long shifts on the weekends. The rest of the week, he’s a stay-at-home dad. He likes the job, but he hopes a union could get him more stability. 

Stress has long been shown to increase the risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes and a number of mental health problems.

REI's famous flagship store in downtown Seattle.
Flickr Photo/brewbooks (CC BY SA 2.0)/

REI workers are demanding better schedules and higher wages.

Monday night, employees from the outdoor equipment company shared their concerns publicly in a forum at Seattle's City Hall. City Councilmember Kshama Sawant helped organize the event.

A majority of working adults say they still go to work when they have a cold or the flu. There are some jobs where doing that can have a big effect on health.

At least half of people who work in very public places, like hospitals and restaurants, report going to work when they have a cold or the flu. Those were among the findings of a poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.