Economy & Business

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DOT loosens rules for driverless trucks

Oct 5, 2018

The Department of Transportation said in its new autonomous vehicle guidelines Thursday that a human driver doesn’t necessarily have to be in the driver's seat of a commercial motor vehicle. That means an artificial intelligence system could potentially drive a truck. What could this mean for the trucking industry?

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Toyota has announced a safety recall of some 807,000 Prius and Prius V cars in the U.S., saying that the company needs to fix a problem that could cause the vehicles to lose power and stall "in rare situations." The recall covers Prius vehicles from the 2010-2014 model years and Prius V cars from the 2012-2014 model years.

"While power steering and braking would remain operational," Toyota says, "a vehicle stall while driving at higher speeds could increase the risk of a crash."

(Markets Edition) The Labor Department’s household survey from Friday morning shows rising payroll tallies in September, along with July and August’s totals revised upward. Also, the unemployment rate improved even further. Also, the Department of Transportation has released new guidelines for self-driving vehicles. One key adjustment: A human is no longer required to be in the driver’s seat for autonomous commercial vehicles.

The last time the U.S. unemployment rate was roughly as low as the 3.7 percent it is now — December 1969 — the economy was overheating, inflation was spiking and a short recession soon followed.

Could that happen again?

Probably not anytime soon, most economists say. Yet there are some surprising similarities between today's economy and the late 1960s, when the unemployment rate remained mostly below 4 percent for four straight years.

Updated at 10:21 a.m. ET

The U.S. jobless rate dropped to 3.7 percent in September — the lowest since 1969, though the economy added a lower-than-expected 134,000 jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said. The jobless rate fell from August's 3.9 percent.

Average earnings rose 8 cents, to $27.24 per hour last month. But wage growth slowed, with average hourly earnings up 2.8 percent from a year earlier, compared with a 2.9 percent increase in August.

The economy has now added jobs for nearly eight straight years.

Manufacturing could face a slowdown

Oct 5, 2018

Manufacturers have been adding 20,000 to 30,000 jobs per month since the summer of 2017. But that upward trend took a pause in August, with a 3,000 jobs decline in manufacturing. It could be a one-month blip, but there are other signs that manufacturing could be poised for a slowdown. The strong dollar is making U.S. exports more expensive abroad. Escalating trade tensions and retaliatory tariffs imposed by U.S. trading partners could further hurt overseas demand for goods made in the USA.

(U.S. Edition) The September jobs report is gaining most of the attention on Friday morning, with forecasters expecting signs of steady jobs growth. But one thing that appears to be leveling off is the manufacturing sector. We look into why. We also look at Walmart’s efforts into offering better job training to workers after the company joined about a dozen others in a pledge to train millions of workers in the next five years.

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service … After intense pressure from shareholders against the move, Unilever does a U-turn on plans to scrap it’s dual-share structure and shift its headquarters away from the U.K. to the Netherlands. Then, Russian president Vladimir Putin is in India Friday meeting with the country's prime minister Narendra Modi. The two countries signed a new defense-weapons deal, but it could provoke the U.S. into imposing fresh sanctions on India. Afterwards, anger with the status-quo political environment is an issue for countries all over the world.

The Department of Transportation has announced new federal voluntary guidance on the development and use of automated vehicles — with the goal of "removing unnecessary barriers" to innovation.

Why the Facebook breach isn't just about Facebook

Oct 5, 2018

Facebook announced this week that it had suffered its biggest hack ever, compromising the accounts of at least 50 million users. Part of the reason a Facebook hack is so scary is that the social network connects to so many other apps and services. You might use it to log in to Spotify or Tinder or OpenTable — a whole string of apps might have your information connected to your profile. So far, Facebook has said hackers did not access any third-party apps. But it's still investigating the scope of the hack.

Facebook announced this week that it had suffered its biggest hack ever compromising the accounts of at least 50 million users. Part of the reason a Facebook hack is so scary is that the social network connects to so many other apps and services. You might use it to log in to Spotify or Tinder or OpenTable — a whole string of apps might have your information connected to your profile. So far, Facebook has said hackers did not access any third-party apps. But it's still investigating the scope of the hack.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

What do you remember about this week, 25 years ago? October 1993. Many of us were watching Seinfeld and the first Roseanne or listening to a Mariah Carey cassette on our Walkman. And one of the top movies that year starred Bill Murray as a TV weatherman, who relives the same day, Groundhog Day, over and over and over again.

"Bill Murray's character [is] getting caught in a time loop," says Carl Davis, research director for the non-partisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

Here's a number for you: 1 million. That's how many children were victims of identity fraud in 2017, according to data from Javelin Strategy & Research. Sixty percent of those affected know the person who stole the child's identity, which resulted in $2.6 billion in total losses and over $540 million in out-of-pocket costs to families.

The New York Attorney General's Office is urging a state court not to dismiss its lawsuit against President Trump's charitable foundation, saying the foundation has repeatedly violated state and federal laws.

Attorney General Barbara Underwood said the Donald J. Trump Foundation "was a shell corporation that functioned as a checkbook from which the business entity known as the Trump Organization made payments."

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