Professor Robert Reich at Town Hall Seattle on Oct. 19, 2015.
Flickr Photo/Al Garman (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/

Robert Reich says he’s often stopped by strangers at airports. People walk right up to him, forego any niceties, and get straight to the question: “What are we going to do?”

Reich says that makes him optimistic, because it’s not just liberals asking.

When you drive the new expressway to the airport in the Chinese city of Luliang, you are as likely to come across a stray dog as another vehicle. When I recently drove it, a farmer was riding in a three-wheel flatbed truck and heading in the wrong direction. But it didn't matter. There was no oncoming traffic.

Taking on Wall Street makes for good politics in the Democratic Party. And several of the candidates at Tuesday night's debate had tough words about big banks. That was particularly true of former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Although he didn't say so directly, O'Malley suggested several times that consolidation in the banking business was a big factor in the 2008 financial crash and that the U.S. economy remains vulnerable because of it.

People form a greeting line as Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife step out of a Boeing 747 at Everett's Paine Field.
KUOW Photo/Carolyn Adolph

Ross Reynolds speaks with Seattle Times economics columnist Jon Talton about Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit.

Many workers' prospects have improved as the unemployment rate has slipped down to 5.1 percent. But not all are seeing better days in the economic recovery. Recent studies show most jobs are going to workers either in the top third or the bottom third of income.

A study by Georgetown University found that middle-wage jobs haven't fully recovered from the Great Recession. They represent nearly a third of the jobs gained in the recovery but are still 900,000 jobs short of pre-recession levels, the study said.

Updated at 9:50 a.m. ET

The Labor Department says the U.S. economy added 173,000 jobs in August, a figure that fell short of expectations but nonetheless appeared to shrug off turmoil in overseas markets, particularly China.

In a separate survey, the department's Bureau of Labor Statistics said the unemployment rate had dipped to 5.1 percent — a seven-year low.

People apply for jobs at Coca-Cola at a jobs fair hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus in Miami, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011.
AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

Blacks – especially black women – working in the public sector were disproportionately laid off during the recession, according to a new study by the University of Washington.

The study is being presented this week at a conference of the American Sociological Association. It found that white workers appear to have been better protected from financial shocks to government budgets.

Student loans have become an issue in the presidential campaign, especially on the Democratic side. And it's no wonder. There are more than 40 million Americans with some $1.3 trillion in outstanding student loan debt.

But people who study education finance say one widely popular proposal to help lessen the debt load may not be as good as it seems.

The first problem: the debt load

Flickr Photo/Wonderlane (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Former and current employees are getting a letter from Microsoft this week.

It says no more Microsoft stock will be bought for the company’s 401k plan. The question is why.

Michael McCabe knows what it's like to be surrounded by zombies.

Zombie houses, that is.

McCabe still lives in the neighborhood where he grew up, Woodbury Heights, N.J., a middle-class suburb of Philadelphia. He knows which houses are in foreclosure and which have been abandoned. The latest seems to be right behind his own.

For the second-straight day, China has allowed its currency to take a sharp drop, sparking another round of falling stock prices internationally. The decision to devalue the yuan has shaken investors who fear a currency war and question the health of China's economy, the second-largest in the world.

A wave of wage increases in cities across the country, as well as at several major businesses, continued on Wednesday.

Ann Dornfeld / KUOW

Nearly 2,000 Seattle young people have jobs this summer as part of the city's Youth Employment Initiative, Mayor Ed Murray said Wednesday.

Murray said the program has more than doubled in size from last year -- but still there were nearly twice as many applications as there were internships. The goal is to expand the program into the school year to meet the demand.

Theo Polizos, right, prepares bougatsa at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Seattle.
Seattle Globalist Photo/Venice Buhain

As Theo Polizos and about a half dozen other women at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church on Capitol Hill prepared dozens of trays of bougatsa last week for the parish’s upcoming Greek Festival, their families in Greece were not far from their minds.

USA flag, China flag
Flickr Photo/USDA (CC BY 2.0)

David Hyde speaks with Jon Talton, economics columnist for the Seattle Times, about the recent volatility in the Chinese stock markets and what that means for Washington state.