Alina Selyukh

Alina Selyukh is a business correspondent at NPR, where she follows the path of the retail and tech industries, tracking how America's biggest companies are influencing the way we spend our time, money, and energy.

Before joining NPR in October 2015, Selyukh spent five years at Reuters, where she covered tech, telecom and cybersecurity policy, campaign finance during the 2012 election cycle, health care policy and the Food and Drug Administration, and a bit of financial markets and IPOs.

Selyukh began her career in journalism at age 13, freelancing for a local television station and several newspapers in her home town of Samara in Russia. She has since reported for CNN in Moscow, ABC News in Nebraska, and NationalJournal.com in Washington, D.C. At her alma mater, Selyukh also helped in the production of a documentary for NET Television, Nebraska's PBS station.

She received a bachelor's degree in broadcasting, news-editorial and political science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Searching for work right out of college is always hard. Now try doing that in the middle of a worldwide pandemic and an economic meltdown.

Many students have lost income: jobs on campus or around town. They've lost internships, which help them build resumes. Now they are entering the workforce at a time when 22 million are filing for unemployment.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says "vastly more" COVID-19 testing is needed for the U.S. economy to reopen, while his company is building its own lab to potentially begin its own testing of all workers.

"We have begun assembling the equipment we need to build our first lab and hope to start testing small numbers of our frontline employees soon," Bezos wrote in a letter Thursday to the shareholders.

Updated at 2 p.m. ET

Retail spending is in a free fall — nosediving a record 8.7% last month — as more companies continue to furlough workers and stores, malls and restaurants remain shuttered across the country during the coronavirus pandemic.

The March drop was the largest monthly fall since the Commerce Department began tracking retail sales three decades ago. The previous record was a 3.9% drop in November 2008, during the Great Recession.

Kroger, the largest U.S. grocery chain, has teamed up with the largest U.S. retail and food workers union in urging national and state officials to designate grocery employees as "extended first responders" or "emergency personnel."

The goal is for grocery workers to get a higher priority for COVID-19 testing and access to safety gear like masks and gloves and other protections. Stores have struggled particularly to access a steady supply of masks, which are in shortage. Health workers and other first responders are also desperate to get them.

Amazon is putting new grocery-delivery customers on a waitlist — among several new measures the retailer is trying to keep up with a crush of demand for food deliveries during the coronavirus pandemic.

The company also announced plans to expand its hiring by 75,000 full- and part-time jobs. That's in addition to the 100,000 workers Amazon added in recent weeks.

Some runners are are still jogging outside, while others are posting joke videos about sprinting in place on soapy floors. Weightlifters are filling bags with canned goods and shoulder-pressing milk jugs. But what's a swimmer to do?

"Yeah, it's difficult. They call them dryland exercises," says Lauren Anneberg, a volunteer coach at the Capital YTri triathlon team in Washington, D.C.

Walmart on Saturday will begin limiting how many people are allowed inside its stores at one time, reducing its capacity to roughly 20%, as a way to enforce social distancing.

The retail giant joins Target, Costo and other supermarket chains in deciding to count and restrict the number of visitors to keep shoppers at least six feet apart — from each other and from the workers — hoping to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Updated at 3:24 p.m. ET

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has ordered the city's human rights commissioner to investigate Amazon over the firing of a warehouse employee who helped organize a worker walkout on Monday. The order, announced on Tuesday, follows the call from New York state's attorney general for a federal labor investigation into the firing.

Walmart plans to start checking workers' temperatures as they clock in and to offer them gloves and masks, the company said on Tuesday as it announced a series of new measures to safeguard against the coronavirus.

Updated at 6:01 p.m. ET

Some Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island, N.Y., and Instacart's grocery delivery workers nationwide walked off their jobs on Monday. They are demanding stepped-up protection and pay as they continue to work while much of the country is asked to isolate as a safeguard against the coronavirus.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Amazon has closed a warehouse in Shepherdsville, Ky., until April 1, after several workers there tested positive for the coronavirus — the first prolonged closure of a facility confirmed by the company.

Workers in at least 10 other warehouses across the country have tested positive for COVID-19, prompting shorter temporary closures for sanitation and cleaning.

Online platforms have "an ethical obligation" to root out price gouging on hand sanitizer and other high-demand products during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond, top law enforcement officials from across the country say.

At a time when millions of Americans are losing jobs at restaurants, hotels and airlines because of the coronavirus pandemic, a few large companies are on a hiring spree.

That's because despite mass shutdowns and lockdowns, Americans still need food and medicine. And that means a new hiring push at supermarkets such as Kroger and Albertsons, pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens, convenience and discount stores like Dollar General and 7-Eleven, and retail giants like Amazon and Walmart.

NOEL KING, HOST:

Many industries are furloughing or firing workers, but some are hiring. NPR's Alina Selyukh has the story.

ALINA SELYUKH, BYLINE: Despite all the shutdowns and lockdowns, Americans still need food and medicine, and that means some companies are actually hiring, at least temporarily - supermarkets like Kroger and Albertsons, pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens and retail giants like Amazon and Walmart.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Special hours for seniors to shop are just one of the ways grocery stores across the U.S. are adjusting their operations during the coronavirus pandemic.

Supermarkets are restricting their opening hours to give workers time for cleaning and restocking. They're also limiting how many items people are allowed to buy. And they're adding special designated hours when only seniors and others most vulnerable to the coronavirus are invited to shop.

When Kary Wayson walked through empty Seattle streets last week, she didn't realize she was heading to her last shift at work.

"It seemed like all of a sudden Seattle itself took a nosedive," she says.

Her city had become an epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. Parking lots, typically jammed, were deserted. Shop fronts had handwritten "Closed" signs on their windows.

The restaurant where Wayson had been a waitress for almost 16 years tried limiting the menu and cutting back hours.

Amazon says it plans to hire 100,000 new workers for warehouses and delivery service in the U.S. as more people turn to online shopping for supplies as they're isolated at home during the coronavirus outbreak.

Shelly Hughes says three things are required to do her job: a strong back, a strong stomach and a big heart.

She's a certified nurse's aide at a nursing home in Washington state, which also means another requirement: To get her work done, she has to physically be there.

"You're helping residents that may not be able to dress themselves, feed themselves, toilet themselves," Hughes says. "The great stuff is that you get to know wonderful people. I have so many grandmas and grandpas now, let me tell you."

Kim Thomas felt drawn to being a home health aide after caring for her own ailing mother. Human dignity, she says, can be simple, like a bath and a favorite snack.

When Thomas first started visiting homes to care for patients, she made $7 an hour. That was in North Carolina about 16 years ago. Her pay inched up over time, to $10.50. To try to make ends meet, she sometimes would work through the night, dozing in patients' homes.

Updated at 1:05 p.m. ET

Amazon wants President Trump and Defense Secretary Mark Esper to testify about a massive military tech contract that the company lost to Microsoft, according to court documents unsealed Monday.

Amazon has taken the Pentagon to court, alleging "unmistakable bias" on the government's part in awarding to rival Microsoft the $10 billion cloud-computing contract, known as JEDI.

Kubilay Kahveci's flight was supposed to be in the air for more than six hours — an overnight voyage from New York City to London. But British Airways Flight 112 made the trek in under five hours, setting a new record for the fastest subsonic commercial flight across the Atlantic Ocean.

After almost 10 minutes of standing in line at a coffee shop, Ritchie Torres realized he only had cash in his pocket — a form of payment no longer accepted by this store.

"It was a humiliating experience," he said. "I remember wondering aloud, how could a business refuse to accept cash, which is legal tender?"

Updated at 8:20 p.m. ET

Starbucks has temporarily closed more than half of its stores in mainland China as an outbreak of coronavirus has surged through the country, affecting thousands of people.

Starbucks executives on Tuesday called the viral outbreak a "very complex situation," adding that the company closed its locations in China at the direction of local government officials as well as "proactively," to limit the spread of the virus among workers and customers.

There's no free lunch, economists will say. So when a company says, sleep on a mattress for a few months and return it for free — that actually costs money.

Just how much?

That question is now in the spotlight as online mattress seller Casper plans to go public. The decision forced Casper to disclose eye-popping losses: more than $92 million in 2018.

Georgie Williamson's first scrunchie moment came the day she was born. In 1989 her mother was in labor, wearing a black velvet scrunchie with a bow. And the daughter grew up a believer — "a scrunchie gal," as she puts it.

McDonald's should not be held responsible for the labor practices of its franchisees, the National Labor Relations Board ruled on Thursday.

Black Friday isn't what it used to be. Just ask Chris Ott.

He married into a family that never missed the occasion. And let's just say, he really got into it.

After Thanksgiving dinner, they'd peruse Black Friday ads, developing a "really fun strategic plan — pick the store that we were going to wait outside of, we would divide and conquer," says Ott, 42, a cybersecurity engineer and youth pastor in the Denver area.

McDonald's has agreed to pay $26 million to settle a years-long legal battle with California cooks and cashiers who have accused the company of failing to properly pay them for their work and expenses.

The class-action lawsuit, representing tens of thousands of McDonald's workers, accused the fast-food chain of structuring shifts in a way that denied workers overtime pay. The lawsuit also said the company denied workers timely breaks, which were allowed only at the start and end of a shift instead of the middle when the restaurant got busy.

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