Jim Zarroli

Jim Zarroli is an NPR correspondent based in New York. He covers economics and business news.

Over the years, he has reported on recessions and booms, crashes and rallies, and a long string of tax dodgers, insider traders, and Ponzi schemers. Most recently, he has focused on trade and the job market. He also worked as part of a team covering President Trump's business interests.

Before moving into his current role, Zarroli served as a New York-based general assignment reporter for NPR News. While in this position, he reported from the United Nations and was also involved in NPR's coverage of Hurricane Katrina, the London transit bombings, and the Fukushima earthquake.

Before joining NPR in 1996, Zarroli worked for the Pittsburgh Press and wrote for various print publications.

He lives in Manhattan, loves to read, and is a devoted (but not at all fast) runner.

Zarroli grew up in Wilmington, Delaware, in a family of six kids and graduated from Pennsylvania State University.

The coronavirus has taken a hatchet to municipal budgets everywhere, forcing cities and towns to lay off librarians, parks workers and even first responders like police and firefighters.

From big cities like Detroit to small towns like Ogdensburg, N.Y., workers are being furloughed, programs are being cut and major capital projects are being shelved.

Marshall Gilmore finally got what he'd been waiting for this month when the state of Mississippi allowed him to offer table service again at his restaurant, the Harvest Grill in Meridian.

Still, many of his tables sit empty, even at limited capacity, and he makes most of his money offering curbside food pickup.

"People are just a little apprehensive about getting out in public. This was a once-in-a-lifetime scare that we all just went through. So everyone's a little scared," Gilmore says.

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We have another damage report this morning. The government reported how many Americans filed for unemployment for the first time last week, a number that has been in the millions week after week. NPR's Jim Zarroli is covering this. Hi there, Jim.

NPR's business correspondent takes listener questions on the state of the U.S. economy and unemployment.

Updated at 8:43 a.m. ET

Another 3.2 million people filed for unemployment for the first time last week, bringing the total number of jobs lost during the coronavirus crisis in the last seven weeks to at least 33.5 million.

Last week's number was down from the nearly 3.9 million initial claims filed the week ending April 25, and filings have fallen for five weeks in a row.

The claims numbers come one day before the release of the April jobs report, which is expected to show a staggering jump in unemployment to around 16%.

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State unemployment funds are starting to run dry. They simply can't keep up with the flood of unemployment claims coming in right now. Some 30 million people have applied for benefits since the middle of March. Here's NPR's Jim Zarroli.

A few weeks ago, Tracy Delphia and her co-workers indulged themselves with talk about what it would be like to be furloughed.

They wondered: Wouldn't it be nice to enjoy a little downtime and go on unemployment? Or would it be preferable to keep your job?

Now that she has lost her job as a research analyst, Delphia is pretty sure she knows the answer: It's better to be working.

"The sense of worry about, 'Will I get to go back?' sort of overrides any enjoyment someone might have from sleeping in, in the morning, or whatever," she says.

Trish Pugh started an Ohio trucking company with her husband in 2015. Even for a small business, it's small — they had two drivers, counting her husband, until they let one go because of the coronavirus crisis.

And so her company applied for a loan under the first, $349 billion round of the Paycheck Protection Program, which the federal government had set up to rescue small businesses.

It didn't go well.

Normally, spring is the time when Gillson Trucking's fleet of 150 trucks are at their busiest, transporting strawberries and lettuce from the farms of California's Central Valley to restaurants in the Northeast and Midwest.

But with most of the country's restaurants shut down indefinitely, the trucks are mostly sitting idle right now.

"The produce is available, but because of these restaurant chains has been closed down there are no buyers," says the Stockton, Calif., company's co-owner, Harsimran Singh.

Updated Tuesday at 9:31 a.m. ET

Several large restaurant chains, an asset management firm and even the Los Angeles Lakers have returned money they received from the first $349 billion allotment in the Paycheck Protection Program.

The decision to give back the money comes amid complaints that many large companies are wrongly accessing a federal loan program intended to help small businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.

Updated at 8:46 a.m. ET

The number of people forced out of work during the coronavirus lockdown continues to soar to historic highs. Another 4.4 million people claimed unemployment benefits last week around the country, the Labor Department said.

That brings the total of jobless claims in just five weeks to more than 26 million people. That's more than all the jobs added in the past 10 years since the Great Recession.

When the British economy ground to a halt a few weeks ago, Reda Maher suddenly found himself among the ranks of the unemployed, alongside untold millions of other people around the world.

But unlike many others, Maher can rest easy, knowing that money will keep flowing into his bank account until he's called back to work.

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Updated at 1:36 p.m. ET

Restaurant chains, construction companies and mobile-home makers are among more than a million businesses approved for loans so far under the government's $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program.

The program is primarily intended to benefit small businesses — defined as those with fewer than 500 employees — hurt by the coronavirus pandemic. However, some larger, publicly traded companies have also qualified for loans.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Tonight President Trump announced new guidelines for a gradual step-by-step reopening of the country.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Updated at 8:43 a.m. ET

The number of people filing for unemployment climbed by another 5.2 million last week as the toll of the nation's economic dive amid the pandemic continues to mount. That number is down from the revised 6.6 million in the week that ended April 4, the Labor Department said.

But in the past four weeks, a total of 22 million have filed jobless claims — nearly wiping out all the job gains since the Great Recession.

The coronavirus, we are sometimes told, is a great equalizer, preying on both the elite and the ordinary, the well-heeled and the downtrodden.

"It doesn't care about how rich you are, how famous you are," Madonna assures us in her latest video, sitting naked in bathwater laced with rose petals.

But being rich sure does let you ride out the pandemic in much more pleasant surroundings.

Banks are starting to reel from the financial impact of job losses and business shutdowns across the country from the coronavirus.

Two of the nation's biggest banks reported plummeting profits during the first three months of the year as they sought to prepare for an onslaught of defaults in debt that ranged from credit cards and mortgages to business loans.

Updated at 2:25 p.m. ET

One of the country's largest pork-producing plants closed indefinitely after nearly 300 of its employees tested positive for COVID-19. And the company's CEO warned that the coronavirus pandemic is pushing the nation's meat supply "perilously close" to the edge.

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Updated at 10 a.m. ET

The number of people seeking unemployment benefits shot up again last week, as 6.6 million more people filed initial claims, the Labor Department said Thursday. About 16.8 million have filed in the past three weeks, and analysts expect the numbers to keep rising.

In the prior week, ending March 28, a revised 6.9 million people filed first-time claims.

The United States faces "a bad recession," combined with the kind of financial stress not seen since the global financial crisis of 2008, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon warns.

"The world is confronting one of the greatest health threats of a generation, one that profoundly impacts the global economy and all of its citizens," he wrote in his widely read annual letter to shareholders.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Over the years, the federal government has spent trillions of dollars more than it brings in, racking up big deficits even in good times, when it ought to be paring debt down.

Now, as it struggles to repair the damage from the coronavirus epidemic, it's getting ready to spend trillions more, pushing up this year's deficit above $3 trillion.

"It's mind-boggling. I never contemplated this," says Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum, who headed the Congressional Budget Office under President George W. Bush.

Updated at 10:51 a.m. ET

A record 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week as the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the country. The Labor Department's report for the week ended March 21 was one of the first official indicators of how many people have suddenly been forced out of work nationally.

In the prior report, for the week ended March 14, initial claims totaled 282,000.

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Updated at 10:13 a.m. ET

New claims for unemployment benefits climbed to 281,000 last week as the coronavirus pandemic shuttered businesses and left people out of work, the Labor Department said Thursday. It was the highest level since Sept. 2, 2017, when they totaled 299,000.

While some states are getting deluged with so many unemployment claims their computers are crashing, President Trump continues to downplay the impact of the coronavirus on the U.S. economy.

Trump dismissed a worst-case scenario described by his Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in which U.S. unemployment could soar as high as 20%.

"We're no way near it," Trump said.

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