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.

Out of the 250 million cars and trucks on U.S. roads, the impending recall at Volkswagen will involve just a half-million of them. But VW's emissions cheating scandal is receiving outsize attention because many of the company's customers feel duped. Now those customers are weighing what it will take to make them feel whole again.

A strong showing during the Sept. 16 debate has put Carly Fiorina at the top of a crowded field of Republican presidential candidates. But in the corporate world, another debate remains: Fiorina's business record.

Donald Trump says as a businesswoman, Fiorina would be unqualified to lead one of his companies.

"The head of the Yale business school, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, wrote a paper recently (calling it), 'one of the worst tenures for CEOs that he has ever seen,'" Trump says.

As a girl, Julie Luettgen hid in her room to escape her mother's Estee Lauder perfume. As an adult, she finds scents inescapable.

"Everywhere I go — theaters, I've been at restaurants — and it's like, 'Oh my God, do you smell that?' It's terrible," she says.

Luettgen, a Realtor in Milwaukee, says her nose keeps tabs on co-workers as they come and go. "I can tell who's been in there just by the smell," she says.

The Labor Department is considering changing rules that define who qualifies for overtime pay and who does not, and businesses say it would have far-reaching consequences that may not be good for workers.

Currently, the rules say you have to make less than $23,660 a year to be automatically eligible for overtime, but the Labor Department's proposal would more than double that required salary level to $50,440. That would mean an estimated 6 million more people would be eligible for overtime pay.

The shootings on live TV of two young journalists last month highlighted, once again, the perils of dealing with potentially dangerous employees. Prior to the Roanoke, Va.-area attack, former employee and alleged shooter Vester Flanagan showed some violent tendencies at work. But it can be very difficult for employers to know when — and how — to step in.

We all harbor biases — subconsciously, at least. We may automatically associate men with law enforcement work, for example, or women with children and family. In the workplace, these biases can affect managers' hiring and promotion decisions.

So when Pete Sinclair, who's chief of operations at the cybersecurity firm RedSeal, realized that — like many other Silicon Valley companies — his company had very few female engineers and few employees who weren't white, Chinese or Indian, he wanted to do something about it.

This has been a banner year for employees seeking greater paid parental leave.

Companies have long had to disclose what their CEOs make, but soon, for the first time, large companies will have to disclose how salaries at the top compare to their median compensation level for employees worldwide. It's a rule the Securities and Exchange Commission adopted as required by the Dodd-Frank financial law.

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Investors are in the midst of a sell-off. The Chinese stock market's troubles are leading to big questions about how much that country's problems will be a drag on the rest of the global economy. The Dow Jones industrial average was down Monday nearly 600 points, or 3.5 percent.

So, what are average investors to do? Nothing. Hang tight. At least that's what most financial experts say.

But that advice is easier to give than to follow. When pushed off a cliff, one's natural instinct is to grab for anything to stop the fall.

A recent New York Times article about harsh workplace culture at Amazon called attention to how the online retailer handles evaluations: Any co-worker can critique another any time, anonymously. Less exhaustive versions of the peer performance review — or 360 review as they're often known — have been popular for several years.

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.

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?"

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.

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.

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.

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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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:

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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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