Millions of Americans are still unemployed or facing home foreclosures. For them, the Great Recession drags on into its fifth year. But for others, the U.S. economy is looking up.
In a series of reports from NPR's national desk and member stations, correspondents found pockets of economic strength around the country in industries such as energy, technology, auto manufacturing, and agriculture that are invigorating the broader economy. Companies in these certain sectors are hiring, purchasing new equipment, and fueling optimism -- from the farm to the factory to the high-tech office.
The six-part series air beginning Monday, March 12, on Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
Looking Up: Energy
Morning Edition; Monday, March 12
The oil and gas industry is booming in certain parts of the country due to new technologies surrounding hydraulic fracturing. A growing number of technical and skilled-labor jobs are available in the oil patch, but not enough qualified applicants to fill them. As Kirk Siegler of member station KUNC reports, some college seniors already have high-paying jobs lined up in fields such as petroleum engineering.
Looking Up: Tech Hiring
All Things Considered; Monday, March 12
Last year, Utah saw 3% job growth -- the second fastest rate in the U.S., trailing only North Dakota. Why is Salt Lake City a hot spot? The city has deep tech roots, as NPR's Steve Henn reports.
Looking Up: Agriculture
Morning Edition; Tuesday, March 13
The agriculture sector hasn't seen such a boom since the 1970s -- exports are spectacular, and new technologies are transforming the industry. As spring planting begins, rebounds on the farms are helping to lift the economy. Frank Morris of member station KCUR reports.
Looking Up: Factories Insourcing
All Things Considered; Tuesday, March 13
A rubber manufacturer is bringing work back from China, as KNOW's Annie Baxter reports.
Looking Up: Automotive
Morning Edition; Wednesday, March 14
The U.S. auto industry is expanding -- and to replace lots of retiring boomers, plants are adding shifts and creating jobs. Tracy Samilton of member station WUOM reports.
Looking Up: Confidence
All Things Considered; Wednesday, March 14
A new Pew Research report finds that Americans are suddenly more optimistic. Today, 44% say they think the economy will be better a year from now, whereas last December only 28% felt positive. Does optimism actually help the economy? Kroc Fellow Aarti Shahani reports.