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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All Tech Considered
3:24 am
Wed May 20, 2015

How A Bigger Lunch Table At Work Can Boost Productivity

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

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

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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U.S.
4:22 am
Thu April 23, 2015

Some Companies Fight Pay Gap By Eliminating Salary Negotiations

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

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

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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Business
5:40 pm
Mon April 13, 2015

New York Investigates Retailers For Unpredictable Work Schedules

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

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

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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All Tech Considered
3:20 am
Tue April 7, 2015

A New Internet Domain: Extortion Or Free Speech?

iStockphoto

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

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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Shots - Health News
6:34 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

Germanwings Crash Highlights Workplace Approaches To Mental Health

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

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

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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Business
9:34 am
Sat March 21, 2015

As Americans Eat Healthier, Processed Foods Starting To Spoil

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

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

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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U.S.
5:49 pm
Fri March 6, 2015

Part-Time Workers Struggle With Full-Time Juggling Act

Note: Seasonally adjusted, in millions, for each February (2007-2015)
NPR Bureau of Labor Statistics

Originally published on Fri March 6, 2015 8:05 pm

The cold weather did not hamper hiring last month. Employers added nearly 300,000 jobs to payrolls, and the unemployment rate fell to 5.5 percent.

Despite another strong report, there is little evidence that all the hiring is putting upward pressures on wages.

And there are more than 6.5 million people working part time who would like to have more hours.

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All Tech Considered
3:50 am
Wed February 25, 2015

Recruiting Better Talent With Brain Games And Big Data

With the technology to conduct more nuanced tests, some companies say they can provide more useful detail about how people think in dynamic situations.
Marcus Butt Getty Images/Ikon Images

Originally published on Thu February 26, 2015 1:49 pm

The job interview hasn't changed much over the years. There are the resumes, the face-to-face meetings, the callbacks — and the agonizing wait, as employers decide based on a hunch about who's best suited for the job.

Some companies are selling the idea that new behavioral science techniques can give employers more insight into hiring.

For most of her life, Frida Polli assumed she'd be an academic. She got her Ph.D, toiled in a research lab and started a post-doctorate program before she realized she'd been wrong.

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All Tech Considered
3:33 am
Tue February 17, 2015

You Might Want To Take Another Pass At Your Passwords

They might be hard to remember sometimes, but good passwords may be the best defense against hackers.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue February 17, 2015 12:24 pm

Compromises of private corporate or consumer data are all too common. This month, health insurer Anthem announced its customer data was hacked.

Yet even President Obama last week poked fun at our common line of defense: the lazy password.

"It's just too easy for hackers to figure out usernames and passwords like 'password' or '123457.' Those are some of my previous passwords," he said.

In short, passwords have, in some cases, undermined their own security intent.

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Business
4:37 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

Staples Takes Another Shot At Buying Rival Office Depot

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 7:33 pm

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

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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The Salt
5:31 pm
Fri January 30, 2015

Shake Shack Sizzles With IPO As McDonald's Fizzles

The founder and chairman of Shake Shack, Danny Meyer, visits the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 30, 2015 8:40 pm

Shake Shack, the Manhattan-based burger chain, has a cult following, and investors gobbled up shares Friday when it became a publicly traded company.

In its initial public offering, shares were priced at $21, but they jumped to nearly $50 as trading began, and closed the day just under $46.

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Business
4:14 am
Thu January 29, 2015

And So We Meet, Again: Why The Workday Is So Filled With Meetings

PW Illustration Ikon Images/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 29, 2015 8:46 am

The ouster of Bryan Stockton from his perch as CEO at Mattel this week came as the toymaker's best-known brands like Barbie stagnate and it loses business to Web-based games.

Stockton himself said last year that Mattel lacked an innovative culture and blamed it in part on something specific: bad meetings. That's a common and persistent corporate ailment.

Scott Ryan-Hart is a cartographer for the Ohio Department of Transportation, where a typical meeting can last more than two hours.

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Business
4:51 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

Largest Unit Of Gambling Giant Caesars Files For Bankruptcy

Originally published on Thu January 15, 2015 6:33 pm

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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Business
3:21 am
Thu January 15, 2015

Businesses Try To Stave Off Brain Drain As Boomers Retire

Dave Tobelmann worked for 33 years at General Mills before retiring five years ago. Not long after, he returned to the company, this time through a staffing firm specializing in retiree placement.
Courtesy of Dave Tobelmann

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 8:02 pm

In the U.S., roughly 10,000 people reach retirement age every day. And though not everyone who turns 62 or 65 retires right away, enough do that some companies are trying to head off the problem.

Dave Tobelmann, who for 33 years developed new products for General Mills, retired five years ago at age 57 — around the same time as a number of other colleagues. "Yeah, I went to a lot of retirement parties," Tobelmann says.

Losing veteran workers is a challenge, even for big companies like General Mills.

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Business
4:38 pm
Thu January 1, 2015

More States Raise Minimum Wage, But Debate Continues

Protesters march in New York City on Dec. 4 to demand an increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour. New York state's minimum wage rose to $8.75 on Wednesday.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 1, 2015 10:34 pm

The minimum wage went up in 20 states Thursday, a day after the state of New York boosted its minimum, which means a majority of states now have a minimum wage higher than the federal government's, which is set at $7.25. The state with the highest minimum wage is now Washington state, at $9.47 an hour.

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Business
4:48 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

Comcast-Time Warner Deal Tops A Year Of Corporate Mergers

There were $3 trillion worth of corporate mergers in 2014. Comcast's proposed acquisition of fellow cable company Time Warner was the largest at $45 billion.
Gene J. Puskar AP

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 7:05 pm

This year saw some very large corporate mergers and takeovers. Comcast and Time Warner's proposed deal topped the list.

Globally, there were $3 trillion worth of deals announced this year — the biggest year for mergers and acquisitions since the financial crisis. And the trend is expected to continue next year.

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Economy
4:21 pm
Tue December 23, 2014

GDP Growth At Highest Level Since 2003

Originally published on Tue December 23, 2014 7:03 pm

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

Business
5:05 am
Tue December 23, 2014

A Year Later, Delivery Services Up Their Holiday Game

Originally published on Tue December 23, 2014 5:12 pm

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

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Well, here's an idea for a lampooning December movie - it's the holidays and shipping companies can't get their act together. They disappoint millions of customers because they can't deliver gifts on time.

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Around the Nation
5:42 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 8:49 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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The Salt
6:04 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Big Mac Whacked: McDonald's U.S. Sales Continue To Slide

McDonald's says that same-store sales in its U.S. locations dropped nearly 5 percent in November, continuing a downward trend.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 1:34 pm

McDonald's is not loving its financial numbers these days. The fast-food chain reported that same-store sales in the U.S. tumbled 4.6 percent in November compared with a year ago, as the company continues to struggle to find solid footing.

"McDonald's news this morning was jarring," says John Gordon, a consultant with Pacific Management Consulting. He has either worked in or tracked the fast-food industry for four decades. Monday's announcement, he says, had his colleagues abuzz.

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Around the Nation
3:20 am
Wed December 3, 2014

Mischief Under The Mistletoe: Office Partygoers Behaving Badly

Too much partying at the office holiday bash can lead to lawsuits, firings or just plain awkwardness.
Bill Sykes Images Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 6:14 pm

Thanksgiving kicks off holiday party season, and at office holiday parties around the country, this means co-workers will make merry and mischief.

This time of year, Minneapolis attorney Kate Bischoff is a busy woman.

"I often represent clients who are handling the aftermath of a holiday party when it has gone off the rails," Bischoff says.

This includes, but is not limited to, bosses hitting on interns. There was also the case in which a manager gave a direct report a sexually explicit gift. Perhaps it was a joke, but it resulted in a harassment claim.

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Business
6:36 pm
Fri November 21, 2014

Obama's Immigration Moves Do Little To Help Businesses, Groups Say

President Obama after discussing his executive actions on immigration Friday at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas. Business groups say the plan does little to help U.S. employers attract foreign workers.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Fri November 21, 2014 7:46 pm

Business groups have long been active players in the nation's immigration debate. They represent employers who need to recruit workers, after all — employers who are sometimes investigated, even prosecuted, for hiring workers who are not approved to work in the U.S. legally.

Many big employers have been pushing for reforms that would allow them to keep more science and technology workers and skilled laborers in the country. But the executive action President Obama announced Thursday leaves out much of what the business lobby has been advocating for.

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Business
6:34 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

Workers Say Employers In Ailing Atlantic City Hold All The Cards

Paul Smith, a single father and a longtime cook at the Trump Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City, is worried about losing his health benefits if the casino closes in December.
Rob Szypko NPR

Valerie McMorris has served drinks at the Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, N.J., since it opened 24 years ago.

Casinos have sustained McMorris most of her life; both of her parents worked in casinos, she says. "It just allowed so many people a middle class status."

But McMorris says that's changing. Her pay and benefits have been cut. Her husband lost his job at the Revel, a gleaming $2.4 billion casino that went bust this year.

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Business
5:43 pm
Thu November 13, 2014

As Casinos Fold, Stakes Are High For Atlantic City Transformation

Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian stands in front of an outdoor goods store under construction. The state's Casino Reinvestment Development Authority contributed land and $12 million for the project.
Rob Szypko NPR

Originally published on Fri November 14, 2014 6:46 pm

In gambling, they say, the house always wins. But that hasn't been the case in Atlantic City this year. By year's end, the city that once had an East Coast monopoly on gaming may lose its fifth casino.

The city is reeling from the closures. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Thursday that the first order of business is to "stop the bleeding." So city and state officials are trying to reposition Atlantic City by literally building it up.

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Business
4:39 am
Tue October 28, 2014

Behold The Entrenched — And Reviled — Annual Review

Nearly 90 percent of companies do formal evaluations at least once a year, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.
Zack Blanton iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed October 29, 2014 10:24 pm

Performance review season is nearing, and if that makes you break out into a cold sweat, you're not alone. Studies show between 60 percent and 90 percent of employees, including managers, dislike the performance evaluation.

Some companies are starting to look at alternatives, but the performance review is pretty entrenched.

"They're fraudulent, bogus and dishonest," says Samuel Culbert, a management professor at UCLA who does research in dysfunctional management practice. "And second, they're indicative of and they support bad management."

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Business
4:31 pm
Thu October 23, 2014

Cigarette-Maker Reynolds American To Ban Smoking At Work

The headquarters of Reynolds American in downtown Winston-Salem, N.C.. Starting in January, workers there will no longer be allowed to smoke at their desks.
Chris Keane Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu October 23, 2014 6:35 pm

Reynolds American, the country's second-largest cigarette-maker, is changing its policy on smoking in the office. Until now, Reynolds employees have been able to light up at their desks, but come January, workers will have to either go outside or use specially equipped smoking rooms.

"We allowed smoking of cigarettes, cigars, pipes, traditional tobacco products throughout our facilities," says David Howard, a spokesman for Reynolds American. He says it's not as though his co-workers chain-smoke at work.

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The Changing Lives Of Women
4:30 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

Duke Energy CEO: 'I Don't Think Of Myself As A Powerful Woman'

Lynn Good has had many mentors throughout her career — but few of them were women. "So I'm generationally on the early part of the ascent of women into leadership roles," the Duke Energy president and CEO says.
Pat Sullivan AP

Originally published on Wed October 22, 2014 7:01 am

The first time I meet Lynn Good, she's tucked behind a set of doors with her bags, calmly waiting for the hotel's fire alarms to stop bleating.

She's at Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit in California to speak, even though, she says, "I don't think of myself as a powerful woman."

It occurs to me later that the unexpected run-in is a fitting introduction to a woman whose corporate ascent has been marked by some emergency detours.

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Business
4:12 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Preventing Worker Burnout Can Boost The Bottom Line

iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue September 30, 2014 6:46 pm

Burnout at work seems like a fact of life, especially with employers cutting back on leave benefits.

But some companies are trying novel fixes. In addition to boosting morale, some employers say, eliminating burnout can increase productivity and profitability.

At Aptify, a Virginia software company, burnout was a problem a few years ago. Projects demanded long hours, which affected motivation and morale. It's a medium-size firm, with 200 workers, but at the time, procedures seemed overly corporate and cumbersome.

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Business
4:59 am
Mon September 22, 2014

Rockefeller Brothers Fund Forsakes Its Legacy

Originally published on Tue September 23, 2014 4:18 pm

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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Business
3:21 am
Wed September 10, 2014

New York Says It's Time To Flip The Switch On Its Power Grid

A worker repairs electrical lines in Plainview, N.Y., after Superstorm Sandy in 2012. A proposed plan to overhaul the state's power grid could help the system better withstand severe weather and enable energy to be stored and managed more efficiently.
Bruce Bennett Getty Images

Originally published on Wed September 10, 2014 11:18 am

In the power business, it's all about managing the peaks.

During the hottest days of summer, electric utilities run at full capacity to keep giant cities comfortably cool. But most of the rest of the year, half that capacity goes unused — and that's highly inefficient.

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