Scott Horsley

Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.

Horsley spent a decade on the White House beat, covering both the Trump and Obama administrations. Before that, he was a San Diego-based business reporter for NPR, covering fast food, gasoline prices, and the California electricity crunch of 2000. He also reported from the Pentagon during the early phases of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Before joining NPR in 2001, Horsley worked for NPR Member stations in San Diego and Tampa, as well as commercial radio stations in Boston and Concord, New Hampshire. Horsley began his professional career as a production assistant for NPR's Morning Edition.

Horsley earned a bachelor's degree from Harvard University and an MBA from San Diego State University. He lives in Washington, D.C.

First-time claims for state unemployment benefits dropped below 1 million last week for the first time since the pandemic hit the economy in March. Claims under a special pandemic program for gig workers and others who are typically not eligible for unemployment also fell.

President Trump wants to give a $100 billion boost to the U.S. economy by hitting the "pause" button on workers' payroll taxes.

That would leave more money in people's paychecks. But the move — which Trump ordered over the weekend — is only temporary. And that could produce headaches down the road for workers, employers and the Social Security system.

Updated at 8:45 a.m. ET

U.S. employers added 1.8 million jobs last month, as the unemployment rate dipped to 10.2%.

The pace of hiring slowed from June, when employers added a record 4.8 million jobs. That suggests a long road back to full employment for the tens of millions of people who have been laid off during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Updated at 9 a.m ET

Ordinarily when people lose their job, they spend less money. But something unusual happened this spring when tens of millions of people were suddenly thrown out of work by the coronavirus pandemic.

Updated at 9:32 a.m. ET

The coronavirus pandemic triggered the sharpest economic contraction in modern American history, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

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For Lorena Schneehagen, the additional $600 unemployment payment each week during the coronavirus pandemic has held her family's expenses together.

She's an out-of-work preschool teacher in Ann Arbor, Mich., whose son is about to start college.

"I need that to help pay his tuition," Schneehagen said. "And for food and just to pay the general bills."

For years, Matt Harris dreamed about building a treehouse out behind his back fence in Knoxville, Tenn. He never got around to it, though, until the pandemic hit.

"It was just a matter of finding time," Harris says. "And that didn't come until everything kind of shut down for a little bit."

When the coronavirus canceled youth sports for the season, Harris suddenly found his weekends free. And his children — ages 8, 7 and 4 — made a willing construction crew.

The federal deficit ballooned last month as the U.S. government tried to cushion the blow from the coronavirus pandemic. The red ink in June alone totaled $864 billion.

The federal government ran a bigger deficit last month alone than it usually does all year. Washington spent hundreds of billions of dollars trying to prop up small businesses and assist laid-off workers.

Updated at 8:44 a.m. ET

From airlines to paper mills, the job news is grim, and there are growing signs it won't be getting better anytime soon. On Thursday, the Labor Department reported nearly 2.4 million new applications for state and federal unemployment benefits last week.

Federal regulators have finalized a new rule for payday lenders that strips out a key provision crafted during the Obama administration. Under the revised rule, lenders will no longer have to check that borrowers can repay their loan when it comes due.

Consumer advocates say that without that protection, borrowers often get trapped having to borrow again and again, at interest rates of up to 400%.

Updated at 5 p.m. ET

Employers added a record 4.8 million jobs last month, as the U.S. economy continued to slowly bounce back from a deep and painful coronavirus recession. The unemployment rate dipped to 11.1%.

Job growth accelerated from May, when revised figures show employers added 2.7 million jobs.

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Updated at 4:45 p.m. ET

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott imposed new limits on bars and restaurants Friday, one day after declaring he didn't want to move backward and shut down businesses.

But many people aren't waiting. Faced with a growing number of coronavirus cases across the South and West, they're making their own choices about spending, and many have already locked down their wallets.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Updated at 1:25 p.m. ET

Just as supplies of toilet paper are finally getting back to normal, the coronavirus has triggered another shortage of something we typically take for granted: pocket change.

Banks around the U.S. are running low on nickels, dimes, quarters and even pennies. And the Federal Reserve, which supplies banks, has been forced to ration scarce supplies.

The wealthiest American households are keeping a tight grip on their purse strings even as their lower-income counterparts are spending a lot more freely when they emerge from weeks of lockdown. That decline in spending by the wealthy could limit the whole country's economic recovery.

Researchers based at Harvard have been tracking spending patterns using credit card data. They found that people at the bottom of the income ladder are now spending nearly as much as they did before the coronavirus pandemic.

Lainy Morse is an essential worker who has been out of work since the middle of March.

She teaches preschool and ordinarily provides a vital service for working parents.

"Without us, moms [mostly] can't go back to work," Morse says.

Our national fascination with sourdough starter appears to have stopped. Or at least slowed down a bit.

The price of baking flour fell last month along with the price of eggs, suggesting that the baking craze that gripped hungry and housebound consumers in the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic has cooled.

Updated at 4:12 p.m. ET

The Federal Reserve left interest rates near zero Wednesday and once again promised to deliver whatever monetary medicine it can to an economy that's badly ailing from the coronavirus pandemic.

"The Federal Reserve is committed to using its full range of tools to support the U.S. economy in this challenging time," the central bank said in a statement.

It may seem obvious, with double-digit unemployment and plunging economic output. But if there was any remaining doubt that the U.S. is in a recession, it's now been removed by the official scorekeepers at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The bureau's Business Cycle Dating Committee — the fat lady of economic opera — said the expansion peaked in February after a record 128 months, and we've been sliding into a pandemic-driven recession since.

Updated at 4:13 p.m. ET

The U.S economy rebounded with surprising strength last month as businesses began to reopen from the coronavirus lockdown. U.S. employers added 2.5 million jobs in May, and the unemployment rate fell to 13.3%.

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Updated at 8:47 a.m. ET

The coronavirus pandemic has pushed unemployment to its highest level since the Great Depression, but the pace of layoffs has been easing. And there are now some signs that the job market could slowly start to recover.

The Labor Department says another 1.87 million people filed claims for unemployment insurance last week. That's down 249,000 from the previous week. While still very high by historical standards, the number has been declining steadily from a peak of 6.8 million the week ending March 28.

Updated at 10:36 a.m. ET Wednesday

The death of a black man at the hands of a white police officer has sparked days of civil unrest in the United States. Those sparks have landed in a tinderbox assembled over decades of economic inequality, now made worse by the coronavirus pandemic.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

President Trump is warning of possible sanctions this week against China over its treatment of Hong Kong. It's the latest source of friction in what's become an increasingly tense relationship between the world's two biggest economies.

Preschool teacher Lainy Morse has been out of work for more than two months. But the Portland, Ore., child care center where she worked is considering a reopening. Morse says she is dreading the idea, as much as she loves the infants and toddlers for which she cared.

"They always have snotty faces. It's just one cold after another," she says. "It feels just like an epicenter for spreading disease. And it feels really scary to go back to that."

The United States is still losing jobs at an alarming pace two months after the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

Another 2.4 million people filed claims for unemployment last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. That's down 249,000 — or 9% — from the previous week, but still painfully high by historical standards.

In the past nine weeks, jobless claims have totaled 38.6 million. That's roughly one out of every four people who were working in February, before the pandemic hit.

Members of the Senate Banking Committee squabbled Tuesday over how quickly the U.S. economy can rebound from the coronavirus shutdown and whether the federal government is doing enough to support struggling families and businesses in the meantime.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell warns it could be another year and a half before the U.S. recovers from the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. But he says this will not be another Great Depression.

"It's going to be a very sharp downturn," Powell said in an interview with 60 Minutes that aired Sunday. "It should be a much shorter downturn than you would associate with the 1930s."

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