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Layoffs reach record lows, and other thoughts

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A "Now Hiring" sign in front of a restaurant in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, in March.

Now Hiring signs are displayed in front of restaurants in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, on March 19, 2022. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds / AFP) (Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images) Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

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One side effect of the current labor market: Workers are less likely to get laid off. That might not be so great for those of us with toxic bosses and co-workers. Speaking of toxic, Twitter launched a “poison pill” strategy to fend off Elon Musk’s bid to buy the company. We also talk about filing taxes and four-day workweeks. We close out today’s Economics on Tap with a round of Half Full/Half Empty.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Got a question for the hosts? Email us at makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voice message at 508-827-6278, or 508-U-B-SMART.

Make Me Smart April 15, 2022 transcript

Note: Marketplace podcasts are meant to be heard, with emphasis, tone and audio elements a transcript can’t capture. Transcripts are generated using a combination of automated software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting it.

Sabri Ben-Achour: Yeah, but it’s just not useful for reaching beyond that. Oh, hello. I’m Sabri Ben-Achour and welcome back to Make Me Smart, where we make today make sense.

Marielle Segarra: And I’m Marielle Segarra. Thank you to everyone for joining us this Friday for Economics on Tap, whether you’re on the YouTube livestream or listening to the podcast, excited to be here.

Sabri Ben-Achour: Yeah, today we are going to do the news and we’re going to play a round of Half – Half Empty/Half Full. But first Marielle, what are you drinking?

Marielle Segarra: I love that. You just changed the name of the game on your first Friday here. It’s now called Half empty/Half Full Drew. Nah, I’m just trolling you. Okay, I have to decide actually, because I went to the store and I got some like healthy seltzer. It’s this Tropical Punch, sparkling tonic, which like is supposedly gonna help my digestion or something. And then I have tresclavos, which is a rum that has real mango in it. It’s from San Juan. I got it when I was there. So, I don’t know which one do you think I should have?

Sabri Ben-Achour The rum. Just on it’s own.

Marielle Segarra: I feel like the rum, it’s Friday. Right? Okay, I’m gonna have the rum. I’m gonna try it out. It’s um, I’m excited to finally get to the bottom and then eat the mangoes. Is that too much of a pourr? Like, I don’t know anymore. That seems like – is that one drink?

Sabri Ben-Achour: That’s yeah, yeah, sure. That’s one drink. Yeah. Could also be like, a fourth of a drink for some people. But I’d say that’s good.

Marielle Segarra: For some unnamed people.

Sabri Ben-Achour: Uh-huh.

Marielle Segarra: Mhmm, mhmm mhmm. What about you?

Sabri Ben-Achour:  I’m drinking diet Red Bull out of out of a pottery cup that I made.

Marielle Segarra: Cool. All right, you ready? Are you ready to do the news?

Sabri Ben-Achour: Yeah, ready.

Marielle Segarra:  You go first.

Sabri Ben-Achour Okay, all right. Well, so first of all, I want to just revisit our old friend Elon Musk in his in his quest to buy Twitter. So Twitter just threw up what’s called a poison pill which is basically they’re, they’re basically they’re like, “Oh, you want to buy our company? Well, we’re going to just issue so many shares at such a discount price that your percentage is now worth nothing. And you will have to buy so many shares now to take us over that it will be ruinous for you. Dare you to try it.” So that’s the latest in this dumb drama of you know\, this rich man who wants to buy Twitter.

Marielle Segarra: I love hearing you explain those.

Sabri Ben-Achour: Stay tuned.

Marielle Segarra: You always do it with such verve. “It will be ruinous for you.”

Sabri Ben-Achour: Ruinous. Yeah, I just want to use the word ruinous but that was just I just want to touch on that. But the other thing that I that I saw that I thought was cool. Was that the labor market is so tight right now, the odds of getting laid off are at their lowest they have been since like the 1960s. And that’s cool, right? That is good for people who would like to maintain their jobs but but this is what this made me think of think about what that means. Think about how many like toxic bosses how many like horrific coworkers how many people out there that the company and everyone in it has just been dying to fire, dy-ing to get rid of, but they can’t because the labor market is so effed right now. And just I just wonder how many people out there are now tolerating like, horrific work situations because the labor market is so tight. That’s just my dark – my dark thought on this.

Marielle Segarra: I really wish you wouldn’t subtweet me to my face. Very unkind. No, you’re right. You’re totally right. But your mind does go to really dark places. That’s like when I saw that I was like, Oh, great, that’s awesome for people. And you were like, “think about the evil humans, who I now have to continue to work with.”

Sabri Ben-Achour: No, there’s nobody like that at Marketplace. I love my coworkers. At this time.

Marielle Segarra: At thiss time.

Sabri Ben-Achour: Just kidding, I’m kidding. I’m kidding. I’m kidding. Okay. No, we obviously have a really team, like, that’s, yeah, yeah.

Marielle Segarra: Lots of good people.

Sabri Ben-Achour: But yeah, what is your, what is your news thing?

Marielle Segarra: Yeah, so also on the workplace front, California is considering a bill that would institute a four day workweek, and specifically, not 40 hours divided by, divided by, sorry, not 40 hours over four days, but 32 hours over four days. And you would just have to get the same amount of work done supposedly. It’s interesting, because I do think that there’s a lot of, especially in the pre pandemic, times, when a lot more people were going into the office, you’re not usually working eight hours straight, there’s a lot of, I don’t know, walking into Sabri’s office.

Sabri Ben-Achour: Watering the plants.

Marielle Segarra: Watering the plants, go and get lunch, and it takes an hour to just like walk to the wait on the line, whatever the the local chain is.

Sabri Ben-Achour: Yeah, cause everyone is getting lunch.

Marielle Segarra: And finally getting back. And so I do think that it has made the pandemic working from home has made some people more efficient, maybe it’s the reality is you could get your job done in 32 hours. But we’ll see a lot of companies are not in favor of this, you can understand why, especially in the tech industry, a lot of workers also say that they really can’t do their jobs in 32 hours. One thing to know is that this would apply to larger employers. I think it was 500 employees or more. And I bet there would be lots of exemptions. But you know, it’s like with California, they pass laws all the time that later become a model for the rest of the country, whether it’s because other states are inspired by them, or because companies are like, “we don’t want to have to deal with a patchwork of laws on environmental regulations or emission standards or something. So now we’re just all going to follow California’s lead.” So I wonder, yeah, if it could be, set a new tone. But can’t companies do that now if they want to, though, like, I mean, like, why do they need a law? Why do they need a law? Like. Oh, the law would be to require them to do it.

Sabri Ben-Achour:Oh, no, no. No. I don’t want to work like 20% harder for four days. I – like I don’t think I don’t know. Do you want that? Would you –  what would you do?

Marielle Segarra: I mean, it would be four really intense days, but I already feel like our days are pretty intense. I think that we would have,  despite what I said earlier about just walking into your office and and you know, killing time, but like when we’re on deadline, we just have to be on deadline and we have to get the story done. And it’s not. I think there would have to be exemptions for companies like ours, unfortunately. Because yeah, the news doesn’t really stop. I don’t know or maybe they’d just have to schedule differently. But would I want it? Kind of I think I would I don’t know if it’s really doable, but I would love the idea of every weekend being a three day weekend.

Sabri Ben-Achour: Yeah, yeah, I mean, that would be nice. Be nice.

Marielle Segarra: It could be. So I don’t know – but I don’t know how actually how doable it is. The other thing I wanted to bring up is that Tax Day is Monday so I just recently did my taxes. I definitely wait until the last minute so no shame if you did but you’re supposed to file your taxes by Monday or file an extension and if you file by mail, you probably shouldn’t this year unless – if you’re waiting for a refund because the IRS is super backed up. So if you, if you do fill out the forms you can do it on the IRS website for free and file them electronically for free, which is what I do.

Sabri Ben-Achour: Oh that’s a good tip. That’s a great tip.

Marielle Segarra: Yeah, it’s called IRS Free File or something like that. Fillable Forms, no, that’s what it is the fillable forms

Sabri Ben-Achour: I use the – a tax software program thing. I did mine like last week. They were complicated because whenever I have like pottery teaching income, so it just slightly complicates things. But also there’s something called a capital gains distribution which I learned about which is when, if you invest in mutual funds. If for whatever reason, they suddenly sell a bunch of stock, they are required to pass the proceeds on to you without your asking, and you have to pay taxes on that. So let’s say like normally, you know, a mutual fund if they give you a dividend it’s, like programmed to automatically reinvest in the mutual funds, so you don’t ever see it um –

Marielle Segarra: This is classic New York, by the way, the fire truck.

Sabri Ben-Achour: Oh, can you hear that?

Marielle Segarra: Just can’t help it. Yeah, but that’s fine. It’s fine. It’s just classic. Like, there’s always a fire truck in the background.

Sabri Ben-Achour: Yeah. Yeah. Anyway, they, if they sell shares, they give them to you. You don’t even know that you got them and then suddenly have to pay taxes on them. So I owed a like, chunk of change that I did not see coming. But I did learn about capital gains distributions. And apparently you’re supposed to open the mail that they send you ove… to know that it’s coming. I’ve done something about it, but I didn’t. So I owed money.

Marielle Segarra: Now, you’ve got me worried that I’ve gotten something like that, because I do my own taxes. And I’m always like, did I get this exactly right? Yeah. Well, yeah, just do your taxes. Try to remember by Monday.

Sabri Ben-Achour: Yeah.

Marielle Segarra: I think we’re ready to play the game.

Sabri Ben-Achour: Yeah, yes. The Half, Half Full/Half Empty.

Marielle Segarra: Half Empty/Half Full.

Sabri Ben-Achour: Sorry. Half Empty.

Marielle Segarra: No, it’s Half Full/Half Empty. I’m just messing with you.

Sabri Ben-Achour: Oh, oh.

Marielle Segarra You’ll never remember it, now.

Sabri Ben-Achour: So how do we do that?

Marielle Segarra: Oh, well Drew, is going to present us with some –  because this is your first time right? Drew is going to present us with some stuff that happened this week. And we will say whether we’re half full or half empty on it. And I do feel like I have some confusion around this game because people play it differently. And sometimes it’s like I’m half full means I want this thing to happen. And sometimes I’m half full means I think this thing is going to happen. Or sometimes I’m half empty just means I don’t want to talk about this, or I’m bored.

Sabri Ben-Achour: Okay, all right. Well, I’ll specify when we do it.

Marielle Segarra: We’ll see how this goes.

Drew Jostad: These are all acceptable ways of playing Half Full/Half Empty.

Marielle Segarra: Oh, okay. Good.

Sabri Ben-Achour: Okay.

Drew Jostad: Speaking of Tax Day, are you half full or half empty on doing your taxes early?

Marielle Segarra: Well, I mean, I guess I think it’s great if you do them early. I’m – I’m half full on on the prospect of doing them early to get a refund earlier. But I – if I’m being honest, I don’t do mine early. So I guess, half empty.

Sabri Ben-Achour Yeah, my cup is like has flipped over fell, crashed completely empty. It’s incapable of holding any liquid on doing my taxes early. I have never done my taxes early. I always procras – te the only reason why I did them last week is because I got confused about the deadline and thought it was this Monday instead of whatever it actually is. So no, I never do them early. And I wish – wish that I were a person who did. I respect those people.

Marielle Segarra: That’s classic – on brand for you, Sabri, to not, like to wait until the absolute last minute. But you’ll – I think you’re gonna do a good job with them, though. Like you’ll wait until the last minute but then there’ll be done like perfection.

Sabri Ben-Achour: Yeah.

Drew Jostad: Okay, are you half full or half empty on a growing number of camps, startups and media on cryptocurrency for kids?

Sabri Ben-Achour: Yeah. Yeah, I’m half, half full on introducing children to gambling. Yeah, just let’s throw in liquor and cigarettes to while we’re at it. No, I mean, I think it’s great for kids to have exposure to financial knowledge in general. But okay, crypto, okay. Crypto’s great, I have crypto. What about you?

Marielle Segarra: I think I think I need a camp for crypto because I don’t have any and I don’t know if I should get any. And like, I’m just picturing myself kind of showing up to crypto summer camp along with a bunch of these kids. Like, “explain crypto to me.” I have to use that voice. Obviously. I say, I say half full I guess. I think it’s good for them to learn about it. Just like it’s good for them to learn about coding, and all other sorts of things, but it depends who their teacher is right? Because it’s like, what are you learning about it? I mean, I was just thinking this actually around taxes. I would be super full, all the way full on a summer camp that teaches children how to do their taxes. Why do we not teach people how to do this. Why does it have to come down to TurboTax? I am such an evangelist for doing your taxes yourself if you can, and we don’t learn it in school, I took Home Ec, and I learned how to make monkey bread and like a tiny little bookworm out of felt. And sew on a button. And I don’t need – nobody taught me how to do my taxes until I was an adult. My mom taught me anyway. Yeah, so does that answer your question?

Drew Jostad: Yeah, everybody’s doing, everybody’s doing just great. According to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the U.S. over the past two years. Are you half full or half empty?

Marielle Segarra: Can we phone a friend on this one? Is that the same game…

Sabri Ben-Achour Pickleball, it’s, it’s where you um, so I don’t actually know exactly. I know. It’s played with like a combo of like ping pong paddles, or it’s a mishmash of a bunch of different sports. And it was invented in Washington State, and it’s called pickleball. Because in crew, there’s the pickle boat. That is the crew of the pickle boat, which I don’t know what purpose the pickle boat serves but that boats crew is made from a bunch of other crews like leftovers. So they call it the pickle boat. I don’t know why that is the case. But anyway, so they call it pickle ball. Because similarly, it’s made up of a bunch of different random leftovers from other sports. You know, I’m – I’m half full, I am half full on people having fun. So that’s great. I look forward to the pickle nationals someday.

Marielle Segarra: I’m a half full – yeah, exactly on people finding joy wherever they can. So yeah, that sounds great. And now I know what pickleball is. Thank you Sabri Ben-Achour.

Sabri Ben-Achour: Yep, I don’t know if it’s play with ping pong paddles. We should fact check that.

Marielle Segarra: You made that up. Okay, that was all a lie Sabri. I’ll erase it from my memory thank you.

Sabri Ben-Achour: I think it is. I think it is. I think I’m pretty sure that it is. But, but yeah.

Drew Jostad: Okay, before we make anything else up about games. Are you half full or half empty on a Spirit Halloween store film that is apparently in the works?

Marielle Segarra:P What? What’s that about? How do you make a film about that? Is it like well, haven’t they made films from really ridiculous things before that there was like no basis for I’m forgetting exactly what it was. But there was no story behind it. Was it the “Battleship” film like it based on based on …

Sabri Ben-Achour: Yes. On battleship bingo or whatever that game is?

Marielle Segarra: Or the board game? Yeah. Drew, do we know anything about this film? Like what is the plot?

Drew Jostad: I have a logline here when a new spirit Halloween store appears in a deserted strip mall. Three middle school friends who think they’ve outgrown trick or treating make a dare to spend the night locked inside.

Sabri Ben-Achour: Okay, um, I’m gonna be half empty on this one. I wish them the best of luck though.

Marielle Segarra: I actually love it. I really love Halloween. So I kind of want to as soon as you described that I was like, “Oh, I want to see that.” I like, I like adventures I like a caper. I like anything where someone is trapped somewhere not in a scary way but in a in a sort of like like what was the remember that book “The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.” No. Okay, that was a good book, right, or right like somebody saying in the live stream “Night at the Museum” kind of vibe or I love anything like that. Oh, yeah. If there are adventures to be had. So a good luck to them. I hope it’s I hope it’s good. I’m half full.

Drew Jostad: Okay, cool. Every Wednesday through May 4th Krispy Kreme is going to offer a dozen glazed doughnuts for the price of a gallon of gas that week. Are you half full or half empty?

Marielle Segarra: Oh wow.

Sabri Ben-Achour: What month is that happening?

Drew Jostad: This month?

Marielle Segarra: Okay, I gotta do a little math here. The price of a gallon of gas that week. What’s the price of a gallon of gas right now? And what’s the price of a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts in general?

Drew Jostad: According to this article, right now, it’s 4.11 for a gallon of gas.

Marielle Segarra: And a dozen Krispy Kreme Doughnuts generally costs?

Sabri Ben-Achour: A dozen is $11.39 according to a random site on Google.

Marielle Segarra: So that’s a steal.

Sabri Ben-Achour: Journalistic integrity. Yeah, I guess it is a steal. Yeah.

Marielle Segarra: So let’s get it then.

Sabri Ben-Achour:  They wouldn’t have a promotion where they’re gonna charge more for donuts, I guess. That wouldn’t work.

Marielle Segarra: That would be, but that could be the gamble. Right? Like they if they have to sort of make their money back, so like some weeks, it’s like slightly more some weeks it’s slightly less. But actually, it’s not at all they’re just giving them away. Why are they doing this? What is their secret plan here? Is it – it’s, it’s marketing. It’s marketing is what that is.

Sabri Ben-Achour: Yeah. Yeah, that is, it’s pretty clever. Pretty clever marketing. I’ll give them that.

Marielle Segarra: Do like Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. They’re, they’re – Especially when you heat them up in microwave. I could probably eat like 12 of those in one sitting.

Drew Jostad: Is this a half full?

Marielle Segarra: I’m half full. That’s a half full.

Sabri Ben-Achour: Yeah, I’ll give it half full.

Marielle Segarra: That’s full glass of milk on that one. All right. How did we do Drew? Look good?

Drew Jostad: I was not keeping score.

Marielle Segarra: Just mean how’d we do like generally, was that the vibe was that – did we play it right. Are you gonna make it to the Half Full/Half Empty Olympics?

Drew Jostad: You got my vote.

Marielle Segarra: Yay. Okay, well, we got Drew’s vote. That is it for us today. We expect chi to be back on Monday with Amy Scott. And next week’s Tuesday deep dive will be about the economics of refugee resettlement. So lots to get into there. Yeah.

Sabri Ben-Achour: If you have been wondering about that, in particular and want to send any questions about that ahead of time, you can send us a voice memo or an email to makemesmart@marketplace.org. You can also leave us a voice message we are at 508-827-6278 which conveniently comes out to be 508-U-B-SMART. I’m sure everyone else has heard that a thousand times.

Marielle Segarra Mmhm. But isn’t it cute though? Bridget Bodnar did that apparently.

Sabri Ben-Achour: Clever.

Marielle Segarra Make Me Smart is produced by Marissa Cabrera and Marque Greene our intern is Tiffany Bui. Today’s episode was engineered by the amazing Drew Jostad who is a big fan of ours and our playing of this game. The senior producer is Bridget Bodnar.

Sabri Ben-Achour: The team behind our game is Steven Byeon. Mel Rosenberg and Emily Macune with theme music written by Drew Jostad and the director of On Demand is Donna Tam.

Marielle Segarra Donna Tam. Love her.

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