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.

Updated September 22, 2021 at 4:46 PM ET

Federal Reserve policymakers now think inflation will run hotter than previously expected this year, but the central bank still believes price hikes will moderate in 2022 as pandemic pressures fade.

Nicole Wolter runs a factory in Wauconda, Ill., that makes gears and pulleys used in a variety of industrial equipment. She has plenty of orders, but she's straining to get all the parts she needs – and that's creating trouble across the supply chain.

"I'm getting phone calls of 'Hey, you're holding up a $5 million machine,'" says Wolter, adding that customers sometimes offer to pay for overtime in her factory or next-day air delivery. "I think there's just that air of desperation."

Updated September 14, 2021 at 8:48 AM ET

Prices for beef, pork and chicken have surged during the pandemic, and the Biden administration believes it knows who's partly behind it: a handful of big meatpacking companies that control most of the country's supply.

Beef prices alone jumped 12.2% over the last year, according to new consumer inflation data on Tuesday, making it one of the costliest items in the surging bills that consumers face today at the grocery store.

Hiring slowed sharply in August as a new surge in coronavirus infections slammed the brakes on the economic recovery.

U.S. employers added just 235,000 jobs last month, a sharp slowdown from the torrid pace of hiring in June and July.

"The labor market recovery has downshifted," said Nela Richardson, chief economist for the payroll processing company ADP. "The U.S. economy is facing increasing headwinds as the pandemic wears on and the delta variant creates uncertainty."

The unemployment rate fell to 5.2% in August from 5.4% in July.

Updated September 6, 2021 at 10:56 AM ET

Emergency unemployment benefits expire nationwide on Monday, ending an important safety-net program that millions of Americans have been relying on during the pandemic.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said on Friday the U.S. continues to recover from the pandemic recession, and that progress could allow the central bank to dial back its extraordinary efforts to prop up the economy later this year.

Powell cautioned, however, that the recovery remains uneven and unpredictable, and said the Fed will continue to monitor incoming data and adjust its policies as needed.

Like a lot of employers, Dean Burrows is looking for help these days.

Many of the experienced machinists at Gear Motions, the company Burrows runs in Syracuse, N.Y., took early retirement during the pandemic. And finding replacements has not been easy.

"We're not just competing against other manufacturers," Burrows says. "We're competing against the McDonalds, the Amazons. So it becomes challenging to try to position yourself as a company that people want to come to work for."

Updated August 11, 2021 at 8:59 AM ET

A lot of workers are getting wage hikes this year as employers compete for scarce labor. But it's not all good news for workers, or for the economy: Some businesses are raising prices to offset the wage hikes, contributing to surging inflation and eroding some of the benefits from that higher pay.

Updated August 6, 2021 at 8:56 AM ET

At the Wheat Penny Oven and Bar in Dayton, Ohio, demand for pizza and craft cocktails has never been stronger, but staffing shortages have temporarily forced the restaurant to close on Sundays and Mondays.

"Not everybody wanted to come back," says co-owner Liz Valenti. "People that had been in this industry for five, 10, 15 years, made the decision not to come back to hospitality. They've moved on to other areas."

Bob Sinner, a specialty soybean producer in North Dakota, has a major problem on his hands: He has plenty of beans, but he's struggling to ship them to his customers overseas, and his deliveries are running at least a month and a half behind schedule.

"We've had customers in Asia that have had to stop their operations waiting for supply," Sinner says. "Our farmers need to get their storage facilities emptied because we have a new crop that's coming in September, October. We have to get this product moving."

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is calling for the child tax credit expansion to be made permanent as the first installment of the monthly allowance was delivered to parents' bank accounts this week.

Under the Biden administration's American Rescue Plan passed by Congress in March, parents are set to receive $250 to $300 per child every month for the rest of this year. The first of those monthly payments, totaling $15 billion, were delivered on Thursday.

Surging prices for used cars have been a major driver of inflation this year. Now, there are signs those price hikes may be shifting into reverse — and that could provide important clues about where inflation is headed next.

The prices dealers pay for used cars at massive auctions across the country finally dipped in June after hitting record highs in each of the four previous months, according to the Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index.

It's been a roller-coaster ride for lumber prices over the last year – and it's drawn outsize attention from the aisles of Home Depot to the Federal Reserve.

Lumber prices surged to record highs this year on the back of booming demand from homebuilders and do-it-yourselfers with plenty of time on their hands. The price surge was so big and sudden, it became a symbol of what some economists feared: rampant inflation.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Solstice Wood Fire Pizza in Hood River, Ore., made it through the depths of the pandemic. And now that Americans are eating out and doing all the things that had been off-limits, this should be a booming time for owner Aaron Baumhackl.

Instead, Baumhackl is facing an unexpected problem. He's struggling to find all the workers he needs to churn out his pizzas, and he's losing valuable business.

"The demand is like we've never seen before," says Baumhackl. "It would have been a record-breaking year."

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