economy

News coverage of the economy.

There are ways to make a living that sound too good to be true. But they do exist. Consider the guy who makes stuff out of Legos for a living, or the one who plays his favorite records for several thousand friends on Friday and Saturday nights. How do you get those jobs?

Guests:

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

The time is ripe for the sharing economy in farm country.

Much like other Web-based companies like Airbnb or Uber, a site dedicated to leasing and using farm equipment is making available expensive machinery during the times producers need it most. And the idea is taking root as crop and livestock prices trend lower and costs climb higher.

“You get innovative when things get tighter,” said Chad Hart, an agriculture economist at Iowa State University. “We're looking for ways to enhance income right now especially in a low margin environment.”

Hyatt Hotels

Citizens for Responsible Government, the organization that collected petition signatures to send financing plans for a downtown Kansas City convention hotel has filed suit attempting to force the City Council to put their initiative on a ballot.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Almost all the stuff we buy spends some time in a truck before it gets to us. So, since store shelves are full and sales are strong this holiday season, you might assume that the trucking industry is doing great.

They're not.

Trucking companies say they are critically short of drivers. Truckers say they’re really just short of pay.

Teaching truckers

Co-working is a new and growing trend nationwide, and Kansas City is home to eleven co-work studios. Does this model reflect the future of work?

Guest:

  • Gerald Smith, founder and CEO, Plexpod

For the last 25 years, Bob Marcusse has been at the helm of the Kansas City Area Development Council. We look back on his career and talk about how the city has become more marketable since he began his position.

Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich has spent a lifetime thinking about all manner of economic questions — including one of the toughest issues facing the U.S. these days, which is the growing income disparity between rich and poor. His latest book, Saving Capitalism, asks the central question: Is the free market really free?

Ke’shauna Spratt was one of more than 1,300 young Kansas Citians who participated in the first Summer Job League, a Missouri workforce development program.

Spratt, 18, sent her summer answering phone calls at Children’s Mercy, helping patients start the scheduling process, and other administrative tasks.

“I actually want to get my bachelor’s in nursing, so it was a great opportunity to sit there and be able to work in a health care facility to be able to watch nurses,” Spratt says.

After the mortgage meltdown and bank bailouts that kicked off the Great Recession, many were pointing fingers at those who were supposed to foresee these catastrophes, economists. Steve Kraske talks with one who defends his profession, saying economists' ideas have contributed $1 trillion to this country’s economy.

Guest:

  • Robert Litan, author of "Trillion Dollar Economists: How Economists and Their Ideas Have Transformed Business"
Andrea Tudhope / KCUR

It's Saturday morning and Sherry's Place, the only bar in Keytesville, Missouri, is full of life. Kids are playing pool as adults enjoy beers at the bar.

But just outside, the street is desolate. The only sounds are caused by an eerie breeze — the waving of an American flag and the creaking of sheet metal patched over a missing window.

Praeger publishing

The escalating problem of student debt isn't just about the pain of writing large checks. So say two University of Kansas professors who have co-written a book on the crisis, using their own personal stories to make a case that differences in access to higher ed begin long before loans, and influence life and career paths far beyond graduation.

Guests:

Emilian Robert Vicol -- Flickr/CC

In his book, Understanding Modern Money, Randall Wray wrote that the way the eurozone was structured would likely cause a financial crisis.

That was in 1998.

Wray, a professor of economics at UMKC, is just one of a handful of economists who predicted the current crisis in the eurozone (the countries in the European Union that use the euro as currency).

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR

Research into income mobility across US counties inspires Central Standard to take a roadtrip, talk to an economist and hear from locals with their own research and experience to share. Is the "land of opportunity" created by individuals or their environments?

Guests:

On this edition of Up To Date, we continue our ongoing conversation about the economics of Kansas City's east side. 

Guests:

  • Rev. Dr. Vernon Howard is with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Urban Summit.
  • Councilman Scott Taylor represents the 6th District. He is chair of the Special Committee on Small Business.
  • Councilman Jermaine Reed represents the Kansas City’s 3rd District.

How much is a good teacher worth? Around $50 trillion by 2090, according to Eric Hanushek's calculations. On this edition of Up To Date, we discuss the economic value of quality teaching and the radical steps Hanushek proposes to achieve that goal.

Guests:

Frank Morris / KCUR

As Kansas state government braces for another round of budget cuts or tax increases (or both) to balance the state’s declining revenue, Wyandotte County is looking forward to a big jump in tax collections. That’s just part of the county’s profound, if spotty, change of fortunes.

Death spiral

Twenty years ago, Carol Marinovich became mayor of a city in steep decline. The Kansas City, Kansas she grew up in was collapsing. The house she grew up in, along with half her Strawberry Hill neighborhood, had long since been bulldozed to make way for I-70. But that was far from the worst of it. Wyandotte County seemed locked in a death spiral. 

Ford Motor Company / Wikimedia Commons

The middle class is seemingly ever-present in American politics and ideals. President Obama pushed for what he calls "middle class economics" in his State of the Union address, and according to a Pew research study in 2012, nearly half of all Americans identified themselves as being part of the middle class.

courtesy of the artist

For the past 35 years, artist and YJ’s Snackbar owner David Ford has been traveling to Guatemala.

His interests in the area have ranged from local foods and recipes to indigenous festivals and politics. But recently, his focus has narrowed — he’s become totally obsessed with broken doll heads, called muñecas, used in bustling marketplaces to advertise hair-braiding and hair-wrapping services to white tourists.

“It’s an advertising thing,” Ford explains.

Cody Newill / KCUR

Community activists and faith leaders from Kansas and Missouri rallied at the intersection of 63rd Street and Troost Avenue Thursday, calling for a "moral economy."

One issue that several speakers focused on was a recent comment by Federal Reserve Bank  of Kansas City president Esther George suggesting that interest rates may be increased to combat inflation. 

Frank Morris / KCUR

Stealing from your neighbor may not sound like a good idea, but Kansas and Missouri can’t seem to get enough of it.

For years now, the states have been locked in an economic border war, paying businesses –through tax incentives — to move across the state line, without necessarily creating new jobs. Lately there have been a few tentative signs of rapprochement. 

Cody Newill / KCUR

Missouri has the lowest average gasoline prices in the country at just $2.05 a gallon, according to AAA's daily fuel tracker.

On Tuesday in Kansas City, Mo., that average is even lower, at $1.97 a gallon.

The only city with lower prices in Missouri was Springfield, at $1.94 a gallon, according to AAA.

KU researcher Akiko Takeyama has been studying "the host" in Japanese society. The host is the male equivalent of the geisha, and became part of the Japanese economy with the decline of the seniority system and a shift from a manufacturing economy to a service economy. Changing gender roles, and expectations that Japanese women be "superwomen," demand that some tasks be outsourced; romance, an imported western concept according to Takeyama, is among them.

Guest:

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Here in Kansas City, the hotels are booked solid, and people are snatching up anything in royal blue. For some sectors of the business community, life is very, very good right now. For others, the baseball action doesn't translate into extra dollars.

On Wednesday's Up to Date, we take a look at how the World Series is having an impact on the local economy and why it might not be pumping in extra money as much as redistributing business success.

Guests:

2014 has seen all time highs in stock and bond markets. But last week took investors on a roller coaster, with the Dow erasing its gains for the entire year. So how are investors and their advisors responding to the volatility? And is the answer to that question different than it might have been before the recession?

Guests:

The pre-opening hype would be hard to deny. Just ask the people who spent two nights camping out to be among the first to enter the new Merriam IKEA on opening day. So what is the IKEA story, and how do we expect the global furniture retailer to affect the local economy?

Guests:

Sarah Stierch / Flickr-CC

The inequality of pay between men and women isn't a new issue-- and that's the point. Since the wage gap first received lots of publicity years ago, why hasn’t it closed?

On Wednesday's Up to Date, we examine why, on average, women still earn 23 percent less than men and what solutions are in the works.

Guests:

401(K) 2012 / Flickr-CC

Just what is a microloan and how can we use it to help a local business?

On Tuesday's Up to Date, Steve Kraske talks with a Kansas City, Mo., councilman and local business owners about a new program that's making a big difference in the city.

Guests:

  • Scott Taylor, councilman for Kansas City, Mo.
Phil Dowsing Creative / Flickr-CC

A new campaign is urging parents to spend more time reading with their kids, and Kansas City is at the front of this push for early childhood education.

On Monday's Up to Date, Kansas City mayor Sly James and a representative from the U.S. Department of Education join us to discuss what cities can do to promote early learning for kids. We also talk with Mayor James about what the situation in Ferguson means for Kansas City residents. We also take a look at some economic and development issues facing the city.

For the uninitiated, IKEA is just a big furniture store.

But for those in the Kansas City area who have been to IKEA before, the grand opening of a new store in Merriam, Kan., on Sept. 10 is a big deal. The Swedish furniture chain is allowing people to line up 48 hours before the Merriam store opens. And they will.

Why? Well, because of all the possibilities.

Nathan Haley / Flickr-CC

The recession hit more than five years ago, but its effects are still rippling through this country-- and that's what President Obama is here to address. In Wednesday morning's speech, he will be talking to a crowd at the Uptown Theater in Kansas City, Mo., about the economic challenges facing middle-class families and why he has taken executive action on issues such as minimum wage.

Up to Date will provide coverage of the event, with a live feed of the speech and post-speech analysis from local experts.

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