Scott Horsley

Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.

Horsley spent a decade on the White House beat, covering both the Trump and Obama administrations. Before that, he was a San Diego-based business reporter for NPR, covering fast food, gasoline prices, and the California electricity crunch of 2000. He also reported from the Pentagon during the early phases of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Before joining NPR in 2001, Horsley worked for NPR Member stations in San Diego and Tampa, as well as commercial radio stations in Boston and Concord, New Hampshire. Horsley began his professional career as a production assistant for NPR's Morning Edition.

Horsley earned a bachelor's degree from Harvard University and an MBA from San Diego State University. He lives in Washington, D.C.

For President Biden, it's a $1.9 trillion gamble.

If successful, his "American Rescue Plan" will help struggling families and businesses weather an unprecedented pandemic and provide a boost to a badly dented economy. It's also broadly popular with voters.

Critics, however, worry it will be end up being a poorly targeted plan that squanders trillions in borrowed money in ways that will do little to improve the nation's long-term economic outlook.

When the school district in Pima, Ariz., got its first round of federal pandemic relief last summer, Superintendent Sean Rickert put it toward the expenses incurred while suddenly shifting classes online at the start of the pandemic.

Now, as some Republicans in Congress question why COVID-19 aid for schools has not yet been spent, Rickert is just learning how much his district will get from a second relief bill approved in December.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell warned on Tuesday the United States has a "long way" to go to return to full employment, even as he expressed cautious optimism that the economy will recover from the pandemic this year.

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Congressional forecasters are projecting a federal deficit of $2.3 trillion this fiscal year, even without the additional $1.9 trillion in spending that President Biden has proposed.

That would mean a smaller deficit than the record $3.1 trillion in 2020, according to the forecast issued by the Congressional Budget Office on Thursday. But at $2.3 trillion, the budget gap in 2021 would still top 10% of the overall U.S. economy — making it the second-largest deficit since World War II.

When Black business owner Jennifer Kelly applied for an emergency loan for small businesses through a major bank last spring, she found herself shut out.

Kelly, who runs a clinical psychology practice outside Atlanta, was not the only one. Businesses owned by Blacks and Latinos were often at the back of the line last year as the government rushed out hundreds of billions of dollars in Paycheck Protection Program loans. The money was intended to help small businesses keep their workers on the payroll during the pandemic.

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It was an apology tour of sorts.

Neera Tanden instantly became one of President Biden's most polarizing Cabinet nominees when she was selected to head the Office of Management and Budget because of sharp-elbowed comments she had made about Republicans while running a left-leaning think tank.

So at her confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Tanden was contrite, apologizing for her remarks. She also promised to work in a bipartisan manner if she's confirmed.

Updated at 9 a.m. ET

Hiring resumed just tepidly last month after a slump in December, as the labor market faces a long climb to recover the millions of jobs lost during the pandemic.

U.S. employers added 49,000 jobs in January, after a revised drop of 227,000 the month before. Unemployment fell to 6.3%, from 6.7% in December, as hundreds of thousands of people left the workforce.

Industries that saw notable job gains in January include business and professional services and finance, but bars and restaurants continued to lose jobs.

Updated at 1:12 p.m. ET

The nation's economic engine slowed considerably in recent months, as it faced off against a winter wave of coronavirus infections.

The Commerce Department reported Thursday that the nation's gross domestic product grew just under 1% in October, November and December — a marked downshift from the three previous months. On an annualized basis, the economy grew 4% in the fourth quarter.

The resurgence in the pandemic likely dealt a major blow to the U.S. economy in the last three months of the year, though it is not expected to have delivered a knockout punch.

Most economists expect fourth-quarter gross domestic product data on Thursday will show a significant slowdown compared to the July to September quarter, when the economy staged a sharp recovery from the early days of the pandemic.

Karen Butcher's son Matthew struggled for years with an addiction to opioids. She's convinced the pandemic made it worse.

The restaurant in Scott County, Ky., where Matthew worked as a bartender closed before the pandemic, and soon other establishments, from restaurants to stores, followed suit as states imposed lockdowns.

"One day you're a bartender and you're serving people and having a great time at it, and then the next day the doors are closed," Butcher recalls. "Then COVID hits. It was the perfect storm."

The Senate quickly confirmed Janet Yellen to be Treasury secretary on Monday, days after she won unanimous backing from both Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee.

Yellen will be the first woman to lead the Treasury Department and will spearhead the Biden administration's response to the coronavirus recession. The Senate confirmed her with an 84-15 vote.

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President Biden promises an aggressive federal effort to get control of the coronavirus.

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President Biden plans to sign an executive order on Friday that would increase food stamp benefits to help people going hungry amid the financial downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, his top economic adviser, Brian Deese, told reporters.

Biden has already proposed a $1.9 trillion relief package to Congress that includes direct payments and other types of aid for people who have lost their jobs because of the pandemic. In the meantime, he is directing his administration to take steps to tweak programs to try to provide some assistance.

The number of Americans filing for new state unemployment benefits dipped to 900,000 — down from the previous week but still high by historical standards, signaling the economic challenges facing the Biden administration.

The latest weekly data from the Labor Department was likely distorted somewhat by the ebb and flow of government relief programs, but the overall picture continues to show a struggling U.S. job market as President Biden takes office.

Janet Yellen, President-elect Joe Biden's nominee to lead the Treasury Department, made the case for aggressive economic relief, urging lawmakers to "act big" to fight the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

At her confirmation hearing Tuesday before the Senate Finance Committee, Yellen pressed lawmakers to pass the $1.9 trillion spending package that the incoming administration has proposed to keep families and businesses afloat as well as to accelerate vaccinations against COVID-19.

Updated at 8 pm ET

President-elect Joe Biden has long pledged he would deliver an aggressive plan to address the raging coronavirus pandemic and the painful recession it spawned.

On Thursday, he did just that, proposing an ambitious $1.9 trillion relief plan that includes $1,400 stimulus checks, additional benefits for the unemployed, as well hundreds of billions of dollars for struggling businesses and local governments.

U.S. employers cut 140,000 jobs in December as the runaway coronavirus pandemic continued to weigh on the U.S. labor market.

It was the first monthly job loss in eight months. The unemployment rate held steady at 6.7%.

With thousands of Americans dying from COVID-19 each day, businesses that depend on in-person contact have struggled.

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If you're looking to buy a new handbag, some cognac or a lipstick, you could be looking at higher prices. That's because the Trump administration is putting new tariffs on goods from Europe.

NPR's Scott Horsley explains why.

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We have a brand-new year, which begins with the very same economy that we had yesterday. But what are the trend lines for 2021? NPR chief economic correspondent Scott Horsley joins us. Scott, Happy New Year.

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The wheels on the nation's buses aren't going round and round very much these days.

Demand for bus travel has fallen by more than 80% during the pandemic as public health authorities urge people to avoid travel where possible.

That is raising concerns about the potential long-term damage to an essential transport method for millions of lower-income Americans even as air travel has shown signs of picking up since the Thanksgiving holiday period.

And those who have to take the bus, for whatever reason, are finding fewer options, and often higher prices as a result.

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Unemployment claims jumped sharply last week as a surge in coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths put new pressure on the U.S. economy just before critical coronavirus aid programs are set to expire.

The Labor Department said 853,000 people filed new claims for state unemployment benefits during the week that ended on Dec. 5 — a sharp increase of 137,000 from the previous week.

Claims for a special federal program for gig workers and the self-employed, who ordinarily are not eligible for unemployment relief, also jumped, by 48%.

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China's economy is roaring back as Americans gobble up everything from its cellphones to its health masks, raising the stakes for trade relations with the United States as President-elect Joe Biden gets set to take over.

Data on Monday showed China notched a record $75.4 billion trade surplus in November after exports from China to the rest of the world jumped 21.1% compared to a year ago.

Updated at 9:24 a.m. ET

U.S. employers sharply scaled back their hiring last month as the coronavirus pandemic put new pressure on restaurants, retailers and other businesses.

The Labor Department said Friday that employers added just 245,000 jobs in November, down from a revised 610,000 in October.

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