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.

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.

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.

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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.

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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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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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There's been a sharp spike in the number of companies laying workers off. A lot of states say they're suddenly flooded with unemployment claims. And as NPR's Jim Zarroli reports, some are not prepared for the onslaught.

Updated at 4:10 p.m. ET

As odds of a global recession rise, governments and central banks around the world are racing to fend off the economic damage from the spread of the coronavirus.

Updated at 4:22 p.m. ET

An emergency interest-rate cut by the Federal Reserve failed to mollify investors worried about the coronavirus epidemic, and stocks once again plummeted.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 786 points, a drop of 2.94% after an especially volatile trading day.

All the major indexes have lost more than 10% of their value since their all-time highs, moving back into what the market calls a correction.

Updated at 5:40 p.m. ET

Stocks took another steep dive Friday, deepening a multi-day rout fueled by fears about the coronavirus' impact on the global economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 357 points on Friday, capping a week in which the blue chip index fell 3,583 points or 12.4%. The Dow is down 16.3% from its recent peak on Feb. 12.

The S&P 500 stock index lost 11.5% for the week and is now down 14.6% from the all-time high it reached only last week.

Some of the world's largest and most powerful banks spent the past decade mired in scandal, but none descended as far into ignominy as Germany's Deutsche Bank. Its rap sheet includes a staggering array of ethical and legal lapses, including money laundering, tax fraud and sanctions violations — not to mention mysterious ties to President Trump that federal investigators are even now looking into.

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Former WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers, the "telecom cowboy" who spent 13 years in federal prison for his involvement in a notorious $11 billion accounting scandal, died Sunday. He was 78.

A federal judge had released Ebbers from prison in December — short of his 25-year sentence for fraud — because his health had deteriorated.

A former Mississippi basketball coach who preferred cowboy boots and jeans to suits and ties, Ebbers was one of the most colorful and successful executives to emerge out of the telecommunications revolution.

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