Yuki Noguchi

Yuki Noguchi is a correspondent on the Business Desk based out of NPR's headquarters in Washington D.C. Since joining NPR in 2008, she's covered business and economic news, and has a special interest in workplace issues — everything from abusive working environments, to the idiosyncratic cubicle culture. In recent years she has covered the housing market meltdown, unemployment during the Great Recession, and covered the aftermath of the tsunami in Japan in 2011. As in her personal life, however, her coverage interests are wide-ranging, and have included things like entomophagy and the St. Louis Cardinals.

Prior to joining NPR, Yuki started her career as a reporter for The Washington Post. She reported on stories mostly about business and technology, and later became an editor.

Yuki grew up with a younger brother speaking her parents' native Japanese at home. She has a degree in history from Yale.

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5:12pm

Wed July 29, 2015
Your Money

From The Silents To Millennials, Debt Burdens Span The Generations

Originally published on Thu July 30, 2015 1:57 pm

Alyson Hurt and Paige Pfleger NPR

For most of us, debt is a big part of life. According to a new study by Pew Charitable Trusts, 80 percent of Americans have some form of debt — from student loans to credit card balances.

There are many among the so-called silent generation, those born before World War II, who are still paying off mortgages and credit cards.

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3:33am

Tue July 21, 2015
Business

Zappos: A Workplace Where No One And Everyone Is The Boss

Originally published on Wed July 22, 2015 2:43 pm

Zappos.com tour guide Erika Newman (right) shows off the ball pit in the human resources department of the company's Las Vegas headquarters. Zappos eliminated managers and embraced a system of self-governance known as holacracy.
Sacramento Bee TNS/Landov

Jacqui Gonzalez once spent an hour and a half on the phone helping a customer. The Zappos.com employee enjoys being generous with the online shoe retailer's money, sending gift baskets and thank-you cards to people whose complaints she has solved.

And mostly, she's grateful that she doesn't have a manager to consult in making those decisions.

"We don't have to put someone on hold and ask permission," says the former customer service agent, who is now a tour guide at the company. "We don't have a manager that you need to be transferred to. How refreshing is that?"

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5:22pm

Thu July 16, 2015
Business

Employee Or Contractor? New U.S. Guidelines Could Reclassify Workers

Originally published on Thu July 16, 2015 10:45 pm

Until this spring, California port truck driver Alex Paz was considered an independent contractor. He had paid for fuel and registration of a truck, but the truck itself was owned by the trucking company. Some months, after the company deducted his costs, he ended up owing the company money.

"I didn't feel like I was working for myself," he says.

Under pressure from Paz and the Teamsters Union, the company reclassified him as an employee.

"It's a lot better because now you get paid. You know you're an employee," Paz says.

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3:36am

Wed July 8, 2015
All Tech Considered

Amid New Overtime Rules, More Employers Might Set Email Curfew

Originally published on Tue July 21, 2015 3:20 pm

New federal rules could expand the number of employees eligible for overtime. That may lead more companies to curtail the use of work email after hours.
Skopein Getty Images/Ikon Images

The buzzing phone or ding of an email from the bedside table might be standard these days. But a long-awaited proposal that would increase the number of employees eligible for overtime pay could mean more companies curtailing the use of work email after hours.

When Nicholas Castillo was hired as a bank branch manager several years ago, he was told his $30,000 salary came with expectations.

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5:52pm

Thu July 2, 2015
U.S.

New Rules Could Create A New Class Of Overtime Workers

Originally published on Thu July 2, 2015 7:22 pm

As President Obama promised, a new rule would make 5 million more Americans eligible for overtime pay.

Many workers say it's a welcome change. But businesses say employees could see negative, unintended consequences.

Barrett Zenger has managed a music store in Corpus Christi, Texas, for the past seven years, where he oversees two dozen employees, stocks inventory and fills in for sales clerks who call in sick.

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5:17pm

Tue June 23, 2015
U.S.

State Department Computer Glitch Creates A Visa Nightmare

Originally published on Tue June 23, 2015 8:56 pm

A glitch in the State Department's visa system has affected people around the world. Many, including athletes, workers and students, have been unable to enter the United States.
Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

The State Department says it is working around the clock on a computer problem that's having widespread impact on travel into the U.S. The glitch has practically shut down the visa application process.

Of the 50,000 visa applications received every day, only a handful of emergency visas are getting issued.

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4:31pm

Mon June 15, 2015
Business

Judge Rules In Favor Of AIG In Bailout Case, But Offers No Damages

Originally published on Mon June 15, 2015 7:20 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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5:00am

Wed June 10, 2015
All Tech Considered

Businesses Are Hanging Up On Voice Mail To Dial In Productivity

Originally published on Wed June 10, 2015 9:58 am

That little red "message" light may not be as ubiquitous in offices as it used to be.
Photo illustration: Ariel Zambelich/NPR

A few short years after voice mail was developed in the late 1970s, it quickly became an essential business tool.

But in the past few years, its use has been in decline. And some offices have opted to get rid of it altogether.

After JPMorgan Chase said last week it was canceling voice mail for most of its employees, I sent the bank's public relations department an email.

A bit later, there was that familiar red light on my desk phone:

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5:28pm

Fri May 29, 2015
Shots - Health News

When Are Employee Wellness Incentives No Longer Voluntary?

Originally published on Fri May 29, 2015 6:49 pm

There are legal questions about how far employers can go to encourage participation in wellness programs.
Bjorn Rune Lie Ikon Images/Getty Images

Scotts Miracle-Gro makes products for the care and health of lawns. The Marysville, Ohio, company says it wants to nurture its 8,000 employees the same way.

"It's very much of a family culture here," says Jim King, a spokesman for the Scotts company, which offers discounted prescriptions, annual health screenings and some free medical care.

In states where it's legal, the company refuses to hire people who smoke.

"We've been screening for tobacco use for about a decade," King says. "We no longer employ tobacco users."

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3:24am

Wed May 20, 2015
All Tech Considered

How A Bigger Lunch Table At Work Can Boost Productivity

Originally published on Wed May 20, 2015 3:09 pm

A view of the central area of Atlassian's office in San Francisco. The software company found that desks were used only 20 percent of the workday — half as much as conference rooms were used.
Atlassian

The loftlike San Francisco office of software maker Atlassian has an open central amphitheater, where all-staff gatherings and midday boot camp exercises are held.

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4:22am

Thu April 23, 2015
U.S.

Some Companies Fight Pay Gap By Eliminating Salary Negotiations

Originally published on Thu April 23, 2015 10:56 am

Women stage a protest demanding equal pay for women at a 2012 rally in Miami.
J Pat Carter AP

When it comes to negotiating salaries, the research is pretty clear: women are less assertive than men. It's one reason women who start their careers with a narrower pay gap see it widen over time.

Carnegie Mellon economics professor Linda Babcock, who studies the gender pay gap, says men are four times more likely to negotiate their pay. That keeps women at a disadvantage, though they're not always aware of it.

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5:40pm

Mon April 13, 2015
Business

New York Investigates Retailers For Unpredictable Work Schedules

Originally published on Thu April 16, 2015 2:49 pm

Gap is among 13 big retailers that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is investigating for possible violations of "reporting time" laws. Gap says it is establishing "sustainable scheduling practices."
Andrew Burton Getty Images

The unpredictable schedules of retail and fast-food workers is a big issue in workers rights campaigns. Now, the New York attorney general is investigating the way some of the country's biggest retailers handle scheduling.

In New York, if a worker shows up for a shift that he doesn't end up being needed for, the law says he still is due four hours of pay. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says retailers, especially, rely heavily on systems that require workers to be ready to work a shift — regardless of whether they end up working. It's called on-call work.

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3:20am

Tue April 7, 2015
All Tech Considered

A New Internet Domain: Extortion Or Free Speech?

Originally published on Tue April 7, 2015 3:48 pm

iStockphoto

A rash of new Web domain suffixes has popped up in recent years to supplement .com and .net — terms such as .bargains or .dating.

Several new suffixes seem to invite negative feedback. There are .gripe and .fail. There's even .wtf — a colorful variation on "what the heck." And soon, there will be .sucks.

J. Scott Evans says his objection isn't that it sounds whiny — it's the price. Evans is associate general counsel at Adobe Systems, and for a trademark owner like his to claim Adobe.sucks would cost $2,500 a year. That's more than 100 times the typical fee.

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6:34pm

Wed April 1, 2015
Shots - Health News

Germanwings Crash Highlights Workplace Approaches To Mental Health

Originally published on Thu April 2, 2015 2:12 pm

When it comes to an employee's mental health status, what does an employer need to know, or have a right to know?
iStockphoto

The horrifying crash last week of the Germanwings flight operated by Lufthansa has put a spotlight on what the airline knew — and what it should, or could have done — about its pilot's mental health.

Lufthansa could face unlimited liability, after the pilot allegedly brought the plane down deliberately. Here in the U.S., employment experts say monitoring employees' mental health status raises a thicket of complicated issues.

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9:34am

Sat March 21, 2015
Business

As Americans Eat Healthier, Processed Foods Starting To Spoil

Originally published on Sun March 22, 2015 2:24 pm

This week Kraft Foods recalled nearly 2.5 million boxes of macaroni and cheese that were potentially contaminated with metal pieces. Kraft and other processed food manufacturers are facing many challenges.
Toby Talbot AP

Kraft Foods is going through a rough patch.

This week, Kraft recalled nearly 2.5 million boxes of macaroni and cheese that were potentially contaminated with metal pieces.

Also, Kraft Singles, a pre-sliced processed cheese product, earned a nutritional seal from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The seal prompted outrage from nutritionists.

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