PODCAST: What's next for right-to-work, buying your own island

A general view of a reception on a private island at Sandals Resort on March 7, 2012 in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Michigan is the latest to pass a law turning itself into a so-called "right-to-work" state. That means employees in unionized workplaces can freely opt out of union membership and the union fees they would otherwise have had to continue to pay.

It's the second and final day of the regular policy meeting at the Federal Reserve. Later today we'll hear what, if any, additional monetary stimulus the Fed Board might endorse as the latest round of quantitative easing is set to expire.
 
Prices for both U.S. exports and U.S. imports fell last month. Those lower import prices are part of what's helping keep U.S. inflation low.

And applications for U.S. home mortgages rose more than 6 percent last week. That marks a new high point for the year. Home refinances are the lions share of all those mortgages -- about 84 percent. Refi growth had been slowing recently but saw a pretty healthy rebound last week. The rate on a 30-year-fixed rate mortgage is hovering at a historical low -- today it's at 3.57 percent.

If you're still struggling for the perfect holiday gift for that person who has everything, ABC News has helpfully compiled a list of private islands currently on the market. There's Lyons Island, Ontario, minutes from beautiful Sandbanks National Park. Hestholmen Island, featuring a waterside sauna and unique seclusion in the Swedish wilderness. Underwood Island, Connecticut -- only two-and-a-half hours from NYC. Mind you, this is the affordable list of private islands -- ABC only included those under $350,000.

North Korea has successfully launched a rocket into orbit. The country says the rocket put a weather satellite into space but there are concerns that the technology could help North Korea carry a nuclear warhead. There could be a UN Security Council meeting about the launch as soon as today.

The low-wage service industry is the fastest growing segment of the U.S. Labor market.  But growing so fast can mean growing pains. Just in the last month, workers at a number of national retail chains have walked off the job, demanding higher pay. Yesterday we looked at what a raise of even a few bucks an hour can mean to a person.  Today, a look at how that raise ripples across the economy.

Tonight, at Madison Square Garden in New York, the boss, Bruce Springsteen headlines a benefit concert for superstorm Sandy relief -- broadcast worldwide and streamed online. This one could raise the bar for fundraisers.

Seems like every time you turn on the news, there's some new danger to our health or our financial well-being. With every new innovation to improve our lives we get new fears -- think Facebook privacy or high speed stock trading.

And finally, you're probably not familiar with little Newberry College in South Carolina. But today they're getting some attention for rolling out what seems to be the country's first undergraduate major in social media. Talking to the local FOX affiliate, a professor describes it as a blended major of graphic design, communications, marketing, psychology, and statistics. And yes, it probably involves a lot of playing around with Facebook and Twitter -- which sounds frivolous but companies need young people who know their way around this stuff. According to one local employer near the school, "if there are students coming out...with a degree in this, I've got a job for them."

 

About the author

Jeff Horwich is the interim host of Marketplace Morning Report and a sometime-Marketplace reporter.

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