National / International News

Women's Euro 2017 highlights: Netherlands 3-0 England

BBC - Thu, 2017-08-03 21:00
England's Women's Euro 2017 campaign comes to a disappointing end as they are beaten 3-0 in the semi-finals by hosts the Netherlands.

World Athletics Championships 2017: Usain Bolt's historic 100m win in 2009

BBC - Thu, 2017-08-03 20:57
Michael Johnson picks his top five World Championships moments - at number one is Usain Bolt's record-breaking 100m victory in 2009 in Berlin.

The Sun to pay 'substantial damages' to ex EastEnders boss

BBC - Thu, 2017-08-03 20:40
The newspaper has apologised for wrongly suggesting Sean O'Connor was "sacked over bullying".

US police 'closing in' on Oxford University murder suspect

BBC - Thu, 2017-08-03 19:50
"We have an idea of his whereabouts," say police looking for Andrew Warren in the United States.

Let The Vacations Resume: Power Restored To 2 North Carolina Islands

NPR News - Thu, 2017-08-03 19:40

Evacuation orders will be lifted noon Friday for Ocracoke and Hatteras, where electricity was cut off by a construction accident July 27. That meant no air conditioning and no restaurants.

(Image credit: C. Leinbach/AP)

The Secret Service No Longer Has A Command Post Inside Trump Tower

NPR News - Thu, 2017-08-03 18:52

The service's move happened in July because the government couldn't reach agreement on lease terms with the Trump Organization. Agents protecting the president will still operate in the building.

(Image credit: Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images)

British ticket holder wins £51m Euromillions jackpot

BBC - Thu, 2017-08-03 18:06
The Euromillions jackpot was won by a UK ticket holder, but has not been claimed.

Fedex says it won’t add surcharges to regular holiday period packages, unlike UPS

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2017-08-03 08:00
The weather outside may be sweltering, so it might seem an odd time to be thinking about the holiday season, but that's exactly what shippers are doing. Today FedEx announced it won't be adding holiday surcharges to regular packages it delivers over that period. That’s significant, because in June, UPS announced it will add an extra 27 cents to all of its ground-transported packages. How is FedEx able to do this? Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Economists think immigration boosts growth. So why does Trump want to cut it?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2017-08-03 08:00
President Trump threw his weight behind a massive change to U.S. immigration policy this week, supporting a proposal that would cut legal immigration to the U.S. in half during the next decade. The bill would limit the ability of legal residents and American citizens to bring family members to the country in favor of highly skilled workers. But the plan is being touted at the same time the economy looks to be pretty near full employment and as the Trump administration tries to spur overall economic growth. Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Ex-Im Bank sparks fight over its role and leader

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2017-08-03 08:00
There’s a sharp division in the Republican Party between libertarians, who believe in free markets without government interference, and more mainline, pro-business Republicans, who want the government to intervene in markets to help U.S. businesses. The latest example of this? The Export-Import Bank, which provides loans to foreign businesses or governments so they can buy U.S. products. The man President Trump has chosen to lead the bank also wants to kill it off. His nomination has been called the latest front in the Republican Party's civil war. Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Do electric vehicles reduce emissions when the electricity comes from coal?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2017-08-03 07:46
This is just one of the stories from our "I've Always Wondered" series, where we tackle all of your questions about the world of business, no matter how big or small. Ever wondered if recycling is worth it? Or how store brands stack up against name brands? Check out more from the series here.   Chris Linden is a writer who lives in Crystal Lake, an outer suburb of Chicago. He drives about an hour to get to work. His car? “A 2010 Toyota Corolla,” Linden told me in a recent phone call. “A regular old internal combustion engine.” He said he has toyed with the idea of an electric car, but he’s wondered how bright the green halos on them really glow. He wrote: "I've always wondered ... Does an electric car actually create less pollution and conserve resources, or am I simply substituting one form of pollution and resources (fuel exhaust) for another (power plant exhaust)?" His question is why some people have playfully referred to electric vehicles not as EVs, but as EEVs. “Elsewhere emissions vehicles,” said Kevin Book, managing director of ClearView Energy Partners. Book said to measure how clean an electric car is, you have to factor in where it operates and gets charged. “Different states have different generation mixes,” he said. “Different local sources of power create different impacts.” In Los Angeles, for example, the energy mix is pretty green. I recently boarded a helicopter owned by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to get an overhead look at how widespread renewable power has become in Southern California. About a 40 minute flight northeast of LA, we reached the Beacon Solar farm, a massive array of black glass grids spreading out over the sand. The project, when completed, will provide 250 megawatts of generating power, which can provide an emissions-free source of fuel for electric vehicles. The Beacon Solar Farm will provide 250 MW of renewable electricity to Southern California when it's completed this year. Jed Kim  The solar farm was just one of several visible from the sky. LADWP helicopter pilot Jeff Goldman said he’s noticed the growth in the two years he’s been flying for the department. “There’s definitely more solar farms going up,” Goldman said. “You can see they’re actually being worked on out there. I see a few extra patches — dirt patches — popping up where they’re going to put more panels down.” Just as solar has spread in the region, so has wind power. Wind turbines dot the landscape in several portions of the Mojave Desert. Jed Kim According to initial estimates, LADWP received 29 percent of its power from renewable sources in 2016. It expects to get at least a third by 2030. LA already has about 27,000 electric cars on the road. But that’s the view from California, a state that's an early adopter of pretty much all things green. Where Linden lives in Illinois, a company called ComEd provides power. Last year, it got 2 percent of its power from wind, zero from solar and 35 percent came from coal.  ClearView’s Kevin Book said if coal plants are old and inefficient, the emissions they release in charging equivalent electric vehicle miles can actually be slightly higher (303 grams of carbon dioxide per mile) than driving a typical 30 mile per gallon gas-powered car (296 grams of carbon dioxide per mile). However, the past decade has seen a lot of renewables come online. Cleaner natural gas has also boomed, and newer coal power plants are burning cleaner. “Today, the average power generation mix is a lot greener than when it was more coal-intensive,” Book said. “As a result, you have an electric vehicle burning today’s power mix would get about 124 grams of carbon dioxide per mile, compared to that conventional vehicle at 296. So less than half the carbon intensity.” So, on average, no matter where you are, driving an electric car would shrink the emissions footprint by at least half compared to Linden’s 2010 Corolla. Book said that electric vehicles are also getting more efficient, traveling further on less power. “The days of the elsewhere emissions vehicle, here in the United States at least, are for the most part over,” he said. Even if carbon emissions were equal between driving a typical internal combustion engine vehicle and charging an electric vehicle using power from a fossil fuel plant, experts said there could still be an overall health benefit from driving an EV. The emissions that come out of tailpipes and power plants contain more than just carbon dioxide. There’s also ozone, particulate matter and carbon monoxide. “They’re often called ‘criteria air pollutants,’ and those cause asthma, respiratory disease, heart disease in individuals,” said J.R. DeShazo, a professor of public policy at UCLA. “Just reducing people's exposure to those emissions improves their health. DeShazo said driving an electric vehicle, even if it's fueled by a polluting power plant, moves these "criteria air pollutant" emissions to power plants, most of which are located farther away from where people live. “If driving electric vehicle reduces the number of people exposed to harmful pollution, then that improves people’s health and society’s well-being. Even if total emissions don’t go down, they just get moved to a place where there are fewer people,” DeShazo said.

Congress needs to pass tax reform. Or else.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2017-08-03 07:20
Leaders in both houses of Congress seem bound and determined to put the health care debate behind them and move on to tax reform. Various and sundry interest groups have made it clear that's what they want to do too, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal spoke to Neil Bradley, the senior vice president and chief policy officer at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, about tax reform and how it impacts growth in our economy. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.  Kai Ryssdal: There has been a sliding timeline of when the White House is hoping to get tax reform done by. The latest, I think, was from Secretary Mnuchin. The other day he said November is when he wants it past the Senate. How realistic do you think that is?  Neil Bradley: Well, it may slip a little bit past November. You know, it's good to set deadlines even if sometimes you don't hit them. But we're at least appreciative of the sense of urgency that the secretary's displaying. Ryssdal: Your boss, the president and CEO of the chamber, Tom Donohue, wrote an open letter to members of Congress 10 days ago in which he basically said, well not basically, he flat out said, "Get tax reform done, or else." What's the "or else"? Bradley: Well, what he said is that failure is not an option and that when it comes to evaluating candidates who the chamber's going to support for public office, one of the things that we're going to take into consideration is did they contribute to helping tax reform get across the finish line or did they stand in the way? A candidate, elected official who's standing in the way of tax reform is not someone who's looking out for American families or the economy.  Ryssdal: You're going to campaign against them, is that what I hear you saying?  Bradley: Well, it's going to be a consideration. We've scored members of Congress based on their votes for about 40 years now. And that goes into a consideration of who we endorse, and who we support, and who we work against. But an overarching factor this time is going to be tax reform, and did they help us get it done.  Ryssdal: He said in this letter, Mr. Donohue, he said, "We will be focusing on individuals with a demonstrated a willingness to govern, which means reaching consensus so that legislation can be passed and enacted into law." That sounds like you're saying you guys have got to compromise.  Bradley: That's exactly what we're saying. We've got a lot of folks who give lip service to what they're for, and if only everyone else would agree with them, it would get done. That's not the way the legislative process works. Everyone's got to give and take. We're willing to give and take as part of the business community. We know that our perfect bill's not going to become law. But we want to see something happen here. And if we're willing to compromise, members of Congress need to be willing to compromise as well.  Ryssdal: Where does this go economically if the Congress cannot get its act together? I mean, you guys in this letter, Mr. Donohue in this letter, was harsh about the party with which the chamber has been traditionally aligned.  Bradley: I think your first question is the real important point — what happens economically if we don't get this done? We've had a decade of basically 2 percent growth. That's never happened before in modern American history. You know, Americans, since World War II, are used to 3 percent plus growth. That's 50 percent bigger economic growth than what we've experienced in the last decade. There is no way, in our opinion, that we're going to get back to the levels of economic growth that we all want minus tax reform. So that's why it's so important, that's why there have to be consequences if it doesn't get done. related Rep. Brady on tax reform: 'We're going to get this done this year' Are we going to see meaningful tax reform soon? How tax withholding became the norm for American workers Ryssdal: I'm glad you mentioned that 2 and 3 percent growth thing. Mick Mulvaney, the director of the OMB, has been very vocal about his desire, about the president's desire, to get to 3 percent economic growth. Tax reform can't do it by itself, as much as the chamber may want to think so. What else has to happen for the Trump administration to get its economic agenda in gear?  Bradley: Well, we actually would agree with that. Tax reform alone won't get it done. You do have to have regulatory reform, you have to have pro-growth trade policies. We have to deal with our cybersecurity threats. But if we did everything else right and we didn't get tax reform done, we're not going to get to the economic growth that we all want to see. So tax reform is kind of the indispensable element. It's not enough by itself, but if you did everything else and didn't do tax reform, we're going to end up falling short.  Ryssdal: Why is tax reform the thing in your mind?  Bradley: Well, because we have the most uncompetitive tax code in the industrialized world. We we tax our businesses at the highest rate. We're one of the only countries in the world that continues to tax businesses both at home and abroad, this kind of double taxation. Our small businesses have one of the highest tax rates in the world, as well. It's just a system that's punishing to those who want to grow their business or start a new one. It's been 31 years since we last reformed the tax code. The rest of the world's passed us by in those three decades. And it's having real consequences for businesses, and for workers, and for families.  Ryssdal: The catch of course is the last time we did tax reform and gave corporations a break on repatriated taxes and all of those things, companies didn't actually pass down to workers, right? They did stock buybacks and handed out dividends to shareholders. It didn't get out through the economy.  Bradley: Well, I think what you're pointing to is the reason that we need broad comprehensive tax reform. That was a one-off scenario for a temporary break to repatriate funds into the U.S. And we shouldn't be surprised if people don't make permanent decisions based on very temporary tax relief measures. That's why you have to reform the whole system. If you want a business to invest in a new factory in America, if you want them to hire new workers, it's very difficult for a business to do that when what the government says is "Well, we'll give you a tax break for a couple of year, but then we're going to take it away from you." If you can give me the certainty of what the government's going to be doing on taxes for the long term, then I have the freedom to invest and to grow the business without having to worry about Uncle Sam. 

The American Bar Association is trying to address a shortage of trial lawyers

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2017-08-03 07:00
 It’s safe to say the last thing anyone wants when they’re headed into a courtroom is a lawyer who’s never tried a case before representing them.   “Every surgeon has his first surgery but the client and the patient doesn't necessarily want it to be them," said Laurence Pulgram, a partner at Fenwick & West, a law firm based in San Francisco and chair of the American Bar Association's Section of Litigation.  Less experienced lawyers aren’t only at a disadvantage because they’re still learning. Some judges may also be annoyed by stumbles from newbies. “There's a sense that judges will respond more favorably to senior lawyers and in some cases that it's more respectful to take a more senior lawyer," said Pulgram. After a slow decades-long decline, only about two percent of civil cases, such as divorce, product liability and family squabbles over wills, now make it to trial. It’s usually cheaper, faster and a whole lot less risky to settle out of court. But that small number, plus the preference for experienced trial attorneys, means junior lawyers have few chances to learn how to argue a case in front of a jury. The problem has gotten so acute that when the American Bar Association holds its annual meeting this month, there will be something new on the agenda: a proposal to get more junior lawyers into the courtroom. Pulgram, who co-authored the proposal, said even firms which may be reluctant to pay for training should take heed. "For those of us who are in law firms and who are more experienced, we realize that we're not going to have the best talent staying with us if we don't give them the opportunities," he said. Related New paper chase: law school for non-lawyers Should law schools pay if students don't get jobs? While it may seem unlikely, it's the very experience of going to trial which may help lawyers avoid future battles in front of juries. "Because when you signal to the other side that you're ready, both sides realize that trial may not be the best resolution for all involved," said Ralph Carter, a commercial litigator with Duane Morris in New York. If a litigator knows the opponent is armed and ready they may advise a client to steer clear.  "You don't want to say 'okay let's go to trial.' You want to say 'what are the options here before we go to scorched-earth litigation,'" he said.  The new proposal targets multiple aspects of the legal system. It encourages judges to help new lawyers sharpen their skills. The problem is so bad, notes Pulgram, some judges are already taking action on their own – prodding senior lawyers to give juniors a chance to stand up in court. “If you send a lawyer with say less than five years' experience I will schedule a hearing or let it run  longer to make sure that younger lawyer gets experience,” said Pulgram.  The proposal also makes a firm suggestion for law firms to try taking a page from the sports world by pulling out star players every once in a while to give rookies some time on the field in order to strengthen their future teams. Law schools, too, are trying to shore up the bench, offering moot trials and helping students get supervised work in real courtrooms. But, said John Cuttino, president of DRI, a national association of defense attorneys, and a shareholder at the law firm of Gallivan, White & Boyd, classroom education has its limits. "In my 30 years of experience, no trial has gone according to script," he said. Birds have flown through the courtroom, lightening has struck. "It's a theater," he said. "Nothing is a substitute for the real event."  It's not just enough to know the law. Becoming a good trial lawyer, notes Cuttino, requires real life experience. "It is a combination of being a little bit of an actor, being a little bit of a minister, being a little bit of an arbitrator and being a little bit of a sales person. There are just a lot of features that go into convincing a number of people that your version of the facts and your client's position is the one that they should endorse and the one that they should accept as the truth," he said. When lawyers don’t know how to stand up in front of juries, notes Cuttino, they become less likely to recommend a jury trial to their clients — even if it’s the best option. And that reluctance to have a jury trial can have repercussions far beyond the courtroom. “The public learns about the way the justice system works in many ways through participation on juries," said Greg Hurley, senior knowledge management analyst at the National Center for State Courts. "And without that experience they just don't know what happens at the courthouse.”  But judges and lawyers do. And that’s why Pulgram said he hopes the case for the proposal will be a win. The Bar Association’s Judicial Section, which represents judges, has already endorsed it.  For those not in the legal profession it may seem hard to muster sympathy for attorneys. However, said Pulgram, you may want to allow yourself to be persuaded. "The lawyer never matters until you need one," he said. "And at that point that's when you need to make sure that those senior lawyers didn't pull up the ladder and that your younger lawyer had a way to climb up."   

Eurozone hopes PIIGS may fly

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2017-08-03 05:43
At the start of the Eurozone debt crisis, in 2010, British financial traders caused deep offense by labeling the five weakest countries in the currency bloc, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain, with the insulting acronym “PIIGS.” Today those countries have their revenge. They’ve apparently defied the negative stereotype and are clocking up a healthy economic performance. The PIIGS might not be flying yet, but they certainly seem to be taking off: “Europe has had a very good year to date and is genuinely recovering," said Laura Foll of the Janus Henderson fund management group. "Unemployment has come down. Economic growth is looking better than expected.”  Among the most heavily indebted and bailed-out countries in the bloc, Spain is the star: It is growing at more than 3.5 percent per year. Even the zone’s financial pariah, Greece, has come in out of the cold and is basking in an unexpected glow of investor approval. Last week, for the first time in three years, the government in Athens offered its bonds for sale and it was inundated with bids. “This is surely a positive sign," said Florian Hense, Europe economist with Germany’s largest private bank, Berenberg. “We see a bigger improvement in Ireland, and even Portugal is growing at a very healthy pace,” he said. All this comes after seven years of crisis; after $380 billion of bailout money has been pumped into Greece alone; and after the bailed-out countries were compelled to cut their public spending and reform their economies, largely at the insistence of the German government. “Tough love,” Hense calls it. “That tough love has certainly worked. These bailed-out countries are reaping the benefits of those reforms and cuts,” he told Marketplace. “The German government’s approach has been vindicated.” Not all economists are saluting the Germans, however, nor are they all overly impressed by the latest rosy assessment of the bloc’s performance. Simon Tilford of the Centre for European Reform said the austerity program made matters worse in Greece, and that country has still not really rebounded. “It’s gone through the biggest peacetime slump of any developed economy ever, and it’s yet to bounce back in any meaningful way,” he said.   Tilford argues that the recent Greek bond sale was a success only because the bonds carried a very high rate of interest. And he’s rather dismissive of the overall improvement in the eurozone. “It’s very weak given the scale of the preceding slump. The eurozone economy is still only a little bit bigger than it was before the 2007 crisis. There’s a long, long way to go before people can start talking about recovery.” Hardened critics of the euro, like Henry Newman of the Open Europe think tank, say that despite the growth spurt in the zone, the deep existential flaws remain. Newman doesn’t believe the single currency is sustainable “without much more political union.” In other words: without a United States of Europe in which Germany shoulders the debts of its poorer partners. German economist Florian Hense said that is unlikely to happen anytime soon, but he is far more optimistic about the long-term prospects for the euro; he insists the current upswing in the eurozone is genuine and gathering pace, and he points out that the bloc is now growing faster than the U.S., the first time that’s happened for many years.      So is the eurozone out of the woods? Is he calling the end of the debt crisis? “ Yes … and no.” he said. An economist’s forecast.   

How an immigration raid threw a small Iowa town into economic crisis

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2017-08-03 05:00
President Donald Trump came to office with a pledge to ratchet up immigration enforcement. So far, it's still unclear if his administration plans to make workplace immigration raids part of its strategy. Such raids were a hallmark of President George W. Bush’s second term. Tiny Postville, Iowa, population 2,000, was home to one of largest in history. On May 12, 2008, kids at school in Postville heard helicopters circling overhead. Pedro Lopez Vega, a seventh grader at the time, gathered with friends at the window out school and mused about what was going on. “We thought maybe they're the National Guard trying to show off to the high schoolers, trying to recruit a couple of them, like they're giving them helicopter rides," he said. Most of Lopez’s family members, immigrants from Mexico, were undocumented. So the helicopters also triggered something else: a fear of being deported.   “There's also that kind of voice in the back of your head, [saying] ‘What if the biggest fear of your life -- the thing that can essentially destroy your life--is happening?’” Word came that there was an immigration raid at the kosher meatpacking plant, Agriprocessors, where both of Lopez’s parents worked. His dad wasn’t on that shift, but he knew his mom was. “I went to my desk and put my head down and started crying,” Lopez said. “I was like, ‘That's it. That's my mom.’” His mom was one of nearly 400 workers arrested in the raid. She told authorities she was in the country alone so that Lopez, his dad and two sisters wouldn't be discovered. Over the following year, she was shipped to multiple detention centers in several states, then eventually deported back to Mexico. Related This Wisconsin dairy farmer knows what wages sent to Mexico can do Fearing deportation, families prepare custody paperwork Immigration and politics on a Georgia campus in Trump country For Lopez, the separation was brutal emotionally. And without his mom's income, the family sometimes couldn't pay its water bills or buy food without help from the local food pantry. Several Agriprocessors managers wound up in prison for labor and immigration violations or financial crimes. The company went into bankruptcy, and the plant shuttered about five months after the raid. The whole town was thrown into crisis. “It cratered the Northeast Iowa economy,” said Aaron Goldsmith, a local business owner. “A lot of innocent people got really hurt.”  Goldsmith, a 20-year resident of Postville, is part of the Hasidic Jewish community that sprang up in the town around the kosher meat plant. He said because of the raid, hundreds of undocumented workers disappeared practically overnight, no longer paying rent, no longer spending money around town. This all happened as the Great Recession was unfolding, creating a double whammy. Aaron Goldsmith, a business owner in Postville, at a warehouse for his business, Transfer Master, which makes customizable hospital beds. He said the town took years to recover from the 2008 immigration raid. Annie Baxter/Marketplace “We had so many houses foreclosed on. People abandoned their houses. Businesses picked up and moved away,” he said. Pointing to an empty storefront on the main drag in town, Goldsmith said the retail space used to be a Hispanic-owned grocery store and restaurant. “That building is still empty. It was 100 percent the raid drove that out,” he said. Goldsmith had a hard time financing an expansion of his own medical supply company because property values dropped so sharply. New owners bought the kosher plant nearly a year after the raid. It got a new name: Agristar. The new management started to tap a new source of workers with legal status: Somali refugees. Goldsmith, ever the town booster, said the town has mostly recovered. A couple of once-empty storefronts are now Somali-owned businesses. One of them is next to a synagogue. “That’s the ultimate diversity,” he said, proudly. “Consider the Middle East, how broken it is, and here you have a Muslim Somali business right next to an Orthodox Jewish synagogue.” But the long-term prospects for Postville, like most rural towns its size, are not great. The population is aging; the workforce is shrinking. Those demographics mean some business owners still turn to undocumented workers nine years after the raid. But Pedro Lopez Vega’s family no longer counts among those workers. Pedro Lopez Vega stands with members of his extended family at his graduation from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, near his hometown of Postville. His mom, who was deported in the wake of a raid at Agriprocessors, is under the bell. His father is next to him in the baseball cap. Photo courtesy of Pedro Lopez Vega Lopez said about a year after the raid, his whole family got visas, including his mom, allowing her to return to Postville. Next came green cards. “We all have permanent residency,” he said.   Lopez recently finished college and moved to the Minneapolis suburbs. His family remains in Postville, and his parents both work at Agristar, the kosher meat plant. The owners are different, but it is, of course, the same place where his mom got arrested. Lopez isn’t shocked she went back. “Tell me another place they can work at in Postville. Tell me another small town that they’d feel comfortable living in,” he said. Despite everything that happened in Postville, Lopez said, it’s safe. It’s quiet. It’s home.

Wanted: qualified people who will work for yesterday's wages

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2017-08-03 05:00
The economy in Bend, Oregon, is booming. Population has increased by 20 percent since 2010, driven by an influx of technology and service workers, and retirees, according to economist Damon Runberg at the Oregon Employment Department. This small city in the foothills east of the Cascades Mountains is also a prime tourist destination for skiers, kayakers, mountain bikers and microbrew enthusiasts. All that growth is creating demand for workers in construction, retail, hospitality, professional services and manufacturing. Unemployment in the Bend metro area was at 3.9 percent in June, and a wide range of employers at all levels of the job market report they’re having trouble attracting and hiring qualified workers, Runberg said. “The common misconception is that the tightness in the labor market now is in entry-level positions, where there are a lot of vacancies,” Runberg said. “But we’re also seeing it in more professional, higher-level occupations as well.” Todd Taylor runs a family-owned civil construction firm, Taylor NW, with about 150 employees, and he said “there’s a labor shortage” in the region." He said that’s a big change from 2008, when the company opened its doors in the aftermath of the housing crash and in the midst of the Great Recession. “Looking back, although it was challenging, there were plenty of good people that were in transition of jobs,” Taylor said. “And we were buying equipment at 25 to 50 cents on the dollar.”   He said during the downturn, a lot of skilled construction workers, commercial truck drivers, welders and pipe fitters left the area. “They moved to North Dakota and the oil fields,” he said. “And in the last three or four years, a good portion of those people have come back." Not enough, though, to meet employers' needs.  Related The wages-to-job ratio is out of whack Why women and men view the economy differently Middle class struggles with changing job market Greg Lambert runs Mid Oregon Personnel, a staffing firm that serves sectors including manufacturing, professional services and hospitality. He said decades ago, Bend’s economy was depressed with resource industries in decline, timber mills shutting down and many working-class families in distress. But that has changed.  “Now we spend thousands of dollars in recruitment costs per month, and we can’t find enough people to fill our interview sheets,” Lambert said. He is trying to fill open positions that require little or no experience and pay $12 per hour to $13 per hour, well above the local minimum wage of $10.25 an hour, he said. “We have people routinely tell us: ‘If you can’t pay me $15 an hour plus benefits to start, I can’t afford to get off my subsidies and go to work.'” By “subsidies,” Lambert said he means government benefits, such as unemployment insurance, disability and food stamps.   But Runberg offered another explanation for some employers not being able to hire the workers they need. “Businesses haven’t caught up to how tight the labor market is, and maybe they aren’t offering what they should be in today’s market,” he said.    Lambert countered that many employers can’t raise prices significantly on their customers to pay for higher wages. “There’s only a certain amount companies can raise their costs before they can’t hire people anymore,” he said.   Economist Jesse Rothstein, director of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at the University of California, Berkeley, said that with national unemployment below 4.5 percent and likely to go even lower in coming months, most employers will have to raise pay before long to remain fully staffed.   “Employers got used to paying low wages because they had so many years of excess labor,” Rothstein said. “And right now what they’re seeing is that they can’t find workers for those low wages.” Heather Ficht, who directs the East Cascades Workforce Investment Board in Bend, is focusing on longer-term solutions to the current labor shortage by tapping into demographic groups that historically have been left out of the labor market.   “We’re working with individuals with disabilities, with criminal history, who are receiving food stamps,” she said, “people who aren’t necessarily the first line that employers go through” to look for job candidates. “How can we invest more to raise their skills to meet the bar? And we’re also working with businesses to understand that there are minor accommodations they can make to activate that population." She said that might include providing on-the-job training and assistance with transportation or child care.   For job seekers with marketable skills and a consistent work history, it is now a seller’s market. Ron Marinello is construction worker who left Central Oregon after the recession to work in the North Dakota energy boom and has recently come home to Bend. “I was a supervisor in the oil fields,” he said, “and I could have a job tomorrow. There’s so much out there, it’s almost overwhelming — anything from construction work to administrative. There’s a lot of technical stuff going on.” Marinello is happy to be home “not having to tolerate the oil fields ... the weather and the environment.” He thinks he’ll make at least $25 an hour when he starts working again. But even earning that much, he said, he’ll be strapped for cash, because Bend’s housing and other living costs have soared in the continuing economic boom.