Business and Economy

Economy
5:21 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Mortgage Giants Ease Down Payments For First-Time Homebuyers

A new directive from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, will allow first-time homebuyers to put down as little as 3 percent.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 12, 2014 7:05 pm

A federal directive will go into effect Saturday making it easier for some Americans to come up with a down payment to buy a house.

The vast majority of home loans are guaranteed by the government-controlled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The regulator in charge of Fannie and Freddie will allow first-time homebuyers to put down as little as 3 percent.

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Around the Nation
5:16 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Do Guns On The Premises Make Workplaces Safer?

In 2010, Omar Thornton killed eight colleagues in Manchester, Conn., before killing himself. Private employers used to create their own rules about guns on their property. But over the past five years, many states have adopted laws that allow employees to keep firearms in their vehicles at work.
Douglas Healey Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 7:49 am

This year, Tennessee joined 21 other states that allow employees to leave guns in their cars in the office parking lot. The laws have left many employers debating how best to ensure safety at work.

After Georgia passed its law allowing employees to keep firearms in their employers' parking lots, Sally Roberts installed a sign on her newspaper firm's door. It read: "No Weapons Allowed."

A job candidate once threatened her, says Roberts, human resources director at Morris Communications. "She did become violent, and I'm very thankful she did not have a weapon."

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Small Business Administration
4:12 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Jan. 14 Deadline To Apply For Drought Disaster Loans

Credit Al Jazeera English / Flickr.com

Small businesses in 12 Oklahoma counties and two counties in Kansas have one month left to apply for U.S. Small Business Administration drought disaster loans.

Tanya N. Garfield, director of the SBA program, says businesses have until Jan. 14 to seek a federal disaster loan for economic injury.

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New Boom
3:51 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

To Attract Millennials, A Company Changes Its Product And Workplace

Employees at LifeSize in Austin, Texas, take a midday break to play a game of volleyball. The court was installed to help attract millennials to work for the company.
Nicole Beemsterboer NPR

Originally published on Fri December 12, 2014 5:16 pm

It's lunchtime at a company called LifeSize in Austin, Texas. A dozen employees are playing beach volleyball on a sand court next to the parking garage behind their offices. Corrine Heery, a 28-year-old financial analyst, says she loves the "midday endorphin rush." And that it enhances her bragging rights when discussing her work with friends. "It's not just the business side, it's this side too — people getting along and playing fun sports," she says.

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Business
3:26 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Low Gas Prices Expected To Continue As Crude Oil Drops To $58 A Barrel

Originally published on Fri December 12, 2014 5:16 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Media
3:26 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Al Sharpton's Two Hats: Cable News Host And Activist

Originally published on Fri December 12, 2014 5:16 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Shots - Health News
12:35 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Confusion Over Job-Based Insurance Can Shortchange Consumers

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 6:20 am

Misunderstandings about whether some types of job-based coverage disqualify consumers from signing up for subsidized insurance through the health law's marketplaces may lead some people to buy skimpier employer plans instead.

In recent weeks, some of the people called assisters, who help shoppers find coverage, say consumers are being told by employers that their bare-bones plans meet the minimum requirements under the law. That kind of insurance would cover preventive benefits, for instance, but might leave out prescription drugs and emergency care.

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The Salt
12:28 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Florida Tomato Pickers' Wins Could Extend To Dairy, Berry Workers

Farm workera at Lipman Produce load tomatoes on a truck on Jan. 16, 2014 in Naples, Fla. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. joined an initiative that will require its Florida tomato suppliers to increase farm worker pay and protect workers from forced labor and sexual assault, among other things.
Wilfredo Lee AP

Originally published on Sat December 13, 2014 10:10 am

Farm workers in America have long been among the nation's poorest paid and most abused workers. But conditions have been improving for Florida tomato pickers, and those advances may soon reach other farm fields, according to the annual report released Thursday by the Fair Food Standards Council, or FFSC, a labor oversight group based in Sarasota, Fla.

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The Two-Way
11:58 am
Fri December 12, 2014

Wealth Gap Between Races Widened During Recession, Study Says

Occupy Wall Street protesters join a labor union rally in Foley Square before marching on Zuccotti Park in New York's Financial District in 2011. A new report shows that wealth inequality between whites and nonwhites grew during the Great Recession.
Jason DeCrow AP

Originally published on Fri December 12, 2014 2:50 pm

The Great Recession has widened the wealth gap among white, black and Hispanic Americans, with median net worth in white households increasing to 13 times that for African-Americans, a new Pew Research Center study shows.

The study also shows that from 2007 to 2013, the wealth of white households has grown to 10 times that of Hispanic households.

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The Salt
10:56 am
Fri December 12, 2014

Aerial Photos Are New Weapon In Organic Civil War

The Cornucopia Institute commissioned this photo of an organic egg producer in Saranac, Mich. According to Cornucopia, the facility is owned by Herbruck's Poultry Ranch, which has a license to maintain up to 1 million chickens on this site.
Courtesy of The Cornucopia Institute

Originally published on Fri December 12, 2014 5:11 pm

If you look at it one way, these are the best of times for organic egg and milk producers. They can barely keep up with demand. Prices for their products are high. Profits are rolling in. Operations are expanding.

But that expansion is provoking suspicion, name-calling, and even clandestine investigations within the organic "community" because some organic advocates believe that some of these megafarms are not truly organic.

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