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.
NPR business news begins with television the day after tomorrow.
All those political ads on TV and radio, billions of dollars worth, are about to come to an end. Which, if you're a TV station, raises the question of what will take their place?
NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports.
WENDY KAUFMAN, BYLINE: This year, Political spending will reach an all-time high. The Center for Responsive Politics puts the figure at about six billion dollars. More than half of that has gone into TV ads for president and everything else.
Estimates of the economic cost of the storm damage caused by Hurricane Sandy along the East Coast, are as high as $50 billion. A lot of that is physical damage. Just under half of those losses, though, are from things people didn't, or couldn't, do during the storm; like eat in restaurants, go to the theater, or just work. Reporter Tracey Samuelson brings us this look at the blows Sandy has dealt a pair of small-business owners in New York City.
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.