The U.S. economy has been slowly recovering, but economists warn it could plunge back into recession if Congress does not take action to avoid what's become known as the fiscal cliff.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
That is the name that some clever communications specialist gave to the combination of expiring tax cuts - in other words, tax increases - and broad, mandatory spending cuts aimed at reducing the deficit. The two are set to go into effect at the end of the year.
In August last year, as Hurricane Irene threatened the East Coast, New Jersey's governor issued an evacuation order for Atlantic City. And WEEKEND EDITION was introduced to one restaurant owner who wasn't having any of it.
JOHN EXADAKTILOS: Choppy seas, little wind, little hazy. This is a bull (bleep) storm. Nothing's going to happen.
Superstorm Sandy capped what's been a pretty impressive couple of years for U.S. natural disasters. There have been wildfires, tornadoes, floods and derechos. And insurance companies are on the hook to pay billions in related claims.
"We're seeing more of everything, and what we're doing is trying to factor that in going forward as we work with others to have a better sense of what the future holds," says State Farm spokesman David Beigie.
Each month, the Labor Department issues an employment report. On Friday, that report showed job creation rose in October — and it revealed something more.
With its latest unemployment assessment, the government in effect took a BEFORE snapshot of the U.S. economy. It collected all of the data before Superstorm Sandy slammed into the East Coast and before the election outcome could be known. Each of those two events has the potential to change the AFTER outlook.
This is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Later in the program, Superstorm Sandy might've turned out the lights along the East Coast, but Twitter was ablaze with comments. We want to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly that Sandy brought out on social media. We'll have that conversation in a few minutes.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renée Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep. It's a busy Friday morning before the election. Around 8:30 Eastern Time the government releases the final monthly snapshot of the job market before the election.
MONTAGNE: Last month the unemployment rate dropped to 7.8 percent, the lowest in years. This month analysts expect the number may tic up again, though a separate survey may show another net gain in total people employed.