Scott Horsley

Updated December 3, 2021 at 12:02 PM ET

Hiring slowed dramatically last month as COVID-19 cases rose, even before the arrival of a new and and even more worrisome coronavirus variant, which could put another speed bump on the road to labor market recovery.

Updated November 30, 2021 at 4:08 PM ET

Stocks took a big tumble on Tuesday as investors weighed the potential economic fallout from the new omicron coronavirus variant.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 652 points.

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President Biden has tapped Jerome Powell to serve a second term as chairman of the Federal Reserve. Fed governor Lael Brainard will serve as vice chairman.

President Biden has chosen to keep Jerome Powell in place for a second term as Federal Reserve chairman — a move that signals continuity with the central bank's policies at a time when the economy faces critical challenges, including surging inflation

Biden nominated current Fed governor Lael Brainard to serve as vice chair. Brainard had been seen as a leading contender to replace Powell.

Bernice Rink didn't need to see this week's eye-popping inflation report to know that prices are getting painfully high. She can see it every time she goes to the supermarket.

"Oh my God," says Rink, "you can hardly buy groceries."

Prices of everyday items have surged during the pandemic, thanks to a toxic combination of staffing shortages and supply chain woes. The rising prices are souring the national mood and taking a political toll on President Biden.

The busy Christmas shopping season is almost here. Unfortunately, a lot of holiday merchandise is tied up in traffic, and Bonnie Ross is starting to sweat.

"We're at the point where if you don't ship now, it's not going," says Ross, sales manager for the California-based clothing company Nothin' But Net. "The buyers are saying, 'If it's not here, I can't take it.'"

For months now, Ross has been anxiously tracking the progress of her company's Christmas clothing orders from factories in Asia to cargo terminals on the West Coast.

Updated November 10, 2021 at 9:48 AM ET

Surging prices are steadily chipping away at Americans' buying power – as well as President Biden's approval rating.

The Labor Department reported Wednesday that consumer prices were 6.2% higher in October than a year ago. That's the sharpest increase since November of 1990.

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Updated November 5, 2021 at 11:46 AM ET

A strong rebound in job growth in October is raising hopes for a long-awaited recovery in the labor market. But millions of workers remain on the sidelines — and the economy needs them back.

The Labor Department reported Friday that U.S. employers added 531,000 jobs last month. Job gains for August and September were also revised upward. The unemployment rate fell to 4.6% from 4.8% in September.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Wednesday she expects inflation to come down from its three-decade highs in the second half of next year as pandemic pressures on the economy ease.

The Commerce Department reported Friday that consumer prices in September, as measured by the Federal Reserve's preferred yardstick, were 4.4% higher than a year ago. That was the steepest increase since 1991.

Updated November 3, 2021 at 5:23 PM ET

The Federal Reserve is caught in a delicate balancing act as it tries to steer the country out of an unprecedented pandemic.

On one side, the Fed feels the economy still needs help given that the U.S. has yet to recover nearly 5 million jobs that were lost during the pandemic.

But the Fed is also facing another opposing problem: Inflation has climbed to its highest level in three decades as Americans have gone on a spending spree that has sparked widespread shortages.

Updated October 28, 2021 at 8:39 AM ET

On the Fourth of July, the U.S. economy looked ready to skyrocket.

"We're seeing record job creation and record economic growth," President Biden said then as he encouraged Americans to celebrate their newfound independence from the coronavirus pandemic.

By Labor Day, however, the economy looked more like a dud, its midsummer sparkle smothered by a wave of delta variant infections and persistent supply chain problems.

A new fight is brewing over taxes.

The Biden administration wants to require banks to provide the Internal Revenue Service with information about how much money flows in and out of individual accounts each year.

It's part of a plan to catch people who might be cheating on their taxes and to raise badly needed revenue to help finance the Biden agenda. But Republicans are fighting back hard, calling the move an invasion of privacy, while banks object to the increased monitoring.

The Federal Reserve is imposing new restrictions on investments by its senior officials as it seeks to address a controversy involving trades made by two regional Fed bank presidents last year.

The new rules prohibit policymakers and senior staff at the Fed from buying individual stocks. They're also barred from holding individual bonds as well as other market products including derivatives or any investments involving government-backed securities.

The chair of the Federal Reserve has one of the most powerful economic jobs in the world, with the ability to move markets with a single phrase.

Under Jerome Powell's leadership, the Federal Reserve has been instrumental in steering the economy from the depths of the pandemic in a quest to claw back the 22 million jobs that were lost.

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Oil prices keep climbing, supply chains still tangled - and that's keeping inflation at its highest level in more than a dozen years. The Labor Department said this morning that consumer prices rose 5.4% during the 12 months ending in September. Price hikes accelerated in just the last month. NPR's Scott Horsley joins us. Scott, that is a long list of bummer items. Let's start with energy. Crude oil prices have risen sharply, and that's causing gas to rise. What's going on?

Updated October 13, 2021 at 8:42 AM ET

Here's another unexpected example of how supply chains have been upended by the pandemic: Glass bottles used for everything from vinegar to pasta sauces are getting tied up in their own bottlenecks. That's driving prices higher, when you can get the bottles at all.

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Three U.S.-based economists will share this year's Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for their innovative work with "natural experiments" – events or policy changes in real life that allow researchers to analyze their impact on society.

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Three economists are sharing this year's Nobel Prize for their work on so-called natural experiments, including how changes in the minimum wage affect the labor market. NPR's Scott Horsley is here with details. Hey, Scott.

Updated October 8, 2021 at 10:59 AM ET

A few months ago, forecasters thought September would be a banner month for hiring.

Schools would reopen, freeing parents to go back to work. Supplemental unemployment benefits that some employers blamed for keeping workers on the sidelines would expire. Most importantly, widespread vaccinations would put the pandemic in the rearview mirror.

It hasn't exactly worked out that way.

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Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned lawmakers Tuesday that the federal government could run short of cash to pay its bills by Oct. 18 unless Congress acts quickly to increase the government's borrowing authority.

The warning, at an appearance before the Senate Banking Committee, comes amid a standoff in Congress over the so-called debt ceiling. Senate Republicans blocked a measure to increase or suspend the debt ceiling on Monday.

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Updated September 22, 2021 at 4:46 PM ET

Federal Reserve policymakers now think inflation will run hotter than previously expected this year, but the central bank still believes price hikes will moderate in 2022 as pandemic pressures fade.

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