When the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union last month, the seaside town of Port Talbot in Wales eagerly went along with the move. Brexit was approved by some 57 percent of the town's residents.

Now some of them are wondering if they made the wrong decision.

The June 23 Brexit vote has raised questions about the fate of the troubled Port Talbot Works, Britain's largest surviving steel plant — a huge, steam-belching facility that has long been the town's biggest employer.

Solar Impulse 2 has landed in Cairo, completing the penultimate leg of its attempt to circumnavigate the globe using only the power of the sun.

The trip over the Mediterranean included a breathtaking flyover of the Pyramids. Check it out:

President Obama is challenging Americans to have an honest and open-hearted conversation about race and law enforcement. But even as he sits down at the White House with police and civil rights activists, Obama is mindful of the limits of that approach.

"I've seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change," the president said Tuesday at a memorial service for five law officers killed last week in Dallas. "I've seen how inadequate my own words have been."

Mice watching Orson Welles movies may help scientists explain human consciousness.

At least that's one premise of the Allen Brain Observatory, which launched Wednesday and lets anyone with an Internet connection study a mouse brain as it responds to visual information.

The FBI says it is giving up on the D.B. Cooper investigation, 45 years after the mysterious hijacker parachuted into the night with $200,000 in a briefcase, becoming an instant folk figure.

"Following one of the longest and most exhaustive investigations in our history," the FBI's Ayn Dietrich-Williams said in a statement, "the FBI redirected resources allocated to the D.B. Cooper case in order to focus on other investigative priorities."

This is the first in a series of essays concerning our collective future. The goal is to bring forth some of the main issues humanity faces today, as we move forward to uncertain times. In an effort to be as thorough as possible, we will consider two kinds of threats: those due to natural disasters and those that are man-made. The idea is to expose some of the dangers and possible mechanisms that have been proposed to deal with these issues. My intention is not to offer a detailed analysis for each threat — but to invite reflection and, hopefully, action.

Alabama authorities say a home burglary suspect has died after police used a stun gun on the man.  Birmingham police say he resisted officers who found him in a house wrapped in what looked like material from the air conditioner duct work.  The Lewisburg Road homeowner called police Tuesday about glass breaking and someone yelling and growling in his basement.  Police reportedly entered the dwelling and used a stun gun several times on a white suspect before handcuffing him.  Investigators say the man was "extremely irritated" throughout and didn't obey verbal commands.

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Montgomery Education Foundation's Brain Forest Summer Learning Academy was spotlighted Wednesday at Carver High School.  The academic-enrichment program is for rising 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in the Montgomery Public School system.  Community Program Director Dillion Nettles, says the program aims to prevent learning loss during summer months.  To find out how your child can participate in next summer's program visit Montgomery-ed.org

A police officer is free on bond after being arrested following a rash of road-sign thefts in southeast Alabama.  Brantley Police Chief Titus Averett says officer Jeremy Ray Walker of Glenwood is on paid leave following his arrest in Pike County.  The 30-year-old Walker is charged with receiving stolen property.  Lt. Troy Johnson of the Pike County Sheriff's Office says an investigation began after someone reported that Walker was selling road signs from Crenshaw County.  Investigators contacted the county engineer and learned signs had been reported stolen from several roads.


What Is A Good Unemployment Number, Really?

Jan 3, 2013
Originally published on January 3, 2013 6:50 am
Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.



New unemployment and employment numbers come out for December tomorrow. And today, we'll try to figure out what perspective we should have on those numbers. Now, in the previous month's report, the unemployment rate dropped to 7.7 percent, which is a four-year low.

Nariman Behravesh is chief economist at IHS Global Insight, an international consulting firm. And he says it may be time to rethink what a good unemployment number is. We start here with a definition of full employment.

NARIMAN BEHRAVESH: Well, full employment is defined as basically everybody who's looking for a job or is looking to be employed is, in fact, employed.

INSKEEP: The first time I ever heard of this concept - when I was a teenager, maybe -people talked about full employment as being about a 5 percent unemployment rate. They didn't think of the zero percent unemployment rate. They said 5 percent.

BEHRAVESH: Well, and there are issues that won't ever get us down to zero. There's something called frictional unemployment, which is to say there's always going to be people between jobs. So at any given moment, there will be people who are out of a job and looking for a job. There's sort of structural employment issues in the sense that there may be some high-skilled that are waiting to be filled, but a lot of low-skilled workers who won't get those jobs. So there's always going to be some people who are going to be out there who can't quite find a job, but for very sort of straightforward reasons, not because the economy is a mess or because we're in a recession or anything like that.

INSKEEP: OK. So there's some number that's above zero that feels like full employment, or is awfully close to that, that's realistic to hope for. Has that number changed over time as the economy has changed?

BEHRAVESH: That is a number that does change. It changes with demographics. It changes with the business cycle, to some extent. So, for example, in the boom years of the 1990s and the 2000s, a lot of economists thought the unemployment - the full employment-unemployment rate was around 4 percent. Now the view is that just given all the changes that have occurred since the financial crisis, it may be closer to 6 percent. So it is a number that changes

INSKEEP: OK. This is disturbing to hear, because in the early 2000s, there was a recession - as you know very well - and the unemployment rate went up to six percent or so, and that was considered very, very bad. And now you're saying that that might be full employment in our changed economy? That might be the best we can hope for, is six?

BEHRAVESH: Now, the 2000-2001 recession was one of the mildest in the postwar period, whereas, of course, the recession we just went through was the worst since the Great Depression. So it is ironic that the high at that point of 6 percent is now viewed as full employment, basically. It's a little disturbing, but I think that's just the reality of where we are right now, relative to stay where we were four or five years ago.

INSKEEP: OK. So we've got the situation where six percent might be the best that we can aim for. We're in the sevens right now. At least it has, in recent months, been moving in the right direction. What would move it further in the right direction?

BEHRAVESH: Well, certainly, sustained growth ideally closer to 3 percent would help to bring the number down. Unfortunately, over the next year, we're probably only going to get about 2 percent growth, which means the unemployment rate is going to be stuck around sort of seven-and-a-half, maybe a little higher, for probably the better part of this year. But then our view is that the underlying strength in the economy will eventually start to kick in, as housing recovers, as consumer spending picks up, as businesses start to spend. So by the end of 2014, we have a shot at getting below seven and hopefully heading towards that full employment number of 6 percent.

INSKEEP: Are we never going to get to that 1990s-style 4 percent unemployment again in this country?

BEHRAVESH: I think a 4 percent number is probably unattainable in the next, say, five to six years. Again, a lot depends on sort of how the structure of the economy changes. You can never say never. But I would say in the coming decade, we probably will have a very hard time getting down to that 4 percent.

INSKEEP: Nariman Behravesh is author of "Spin-Free Economics." Thanks very much.

BEHRAVESH: My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.