Adam Davidson

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Robert Siegel talks with Adam Davidson from Planet Money team about this week's cluster of positive data on the health of the U.S. housing market. Davidson says the strength of the housing sector is now irrefutable, even though a broader economic recovery is still years away.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is beginning work Thursday on a proposal to overhaul the nation's immigration laws. Audie Cornish talks with Adam Davidson of the Planet Money team about what academic research says about the economic impact of immigration.

Every week, the Department of Labor issues data detailing the number of people who filed for unemployment benefits in the previous week. According to Thursday's report, 385,000 people filed last week, the third weekly increase in a row, and a higher figure than expected. Robert Siegel talks with Adam Davidson about this week's initial claims report. Davidson says the report can help illuminate the vital question of whether the United States has a cyclical or a structural unemployment problem.

One jobs number gets all the attention: The number of jobs lost or gained in the previous month.

That number is important. But focusing too much on the net change in jobs can be misleading. It gives the impression that a job is like a widget — it's something that gets made in a factory somewhere, and that we hope exists forever.

That's not how it works. Even in good economic times ,new jobs are constantly being created and old jobs are constantly being destroyed. (Of course, you do want the number of jobs created to exceed the number of jobs destroyed.)

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News . I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

And a record close. That's what we've been hearing both today and yesterday as the Dow Jones industrial average climbs upwards.

BLOCK: That may be an ear-grabbing headline after a recession and years of unimpressive growth. But we begin this hour with a different take from Adam Davidson of NPR's Planet Money. Hey, Adam.

ADAM DAVIDSON, BYLINE: Hey, Melissa.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

Is China an economic partner, an adversary, or both? In last night's debate we heard slightly different answers from President Obama and Mitt Romney.

(SOUNDBITE OF DEBATE)

MITT ROMNEY: We can be a partner with China. We don't have to be an adversary in any way, shape or form. We can work with them. We can collaborate with them, if they're willing to be responsible.

Every day, small shop owners from Africa and Latin America fly into New York with wads of cash and empty suitcases. As Robert Smith reports today, their destination is zip code 10001 in Manhattan, home to a cluster of wholesale stores selling a quirky mix of decently made goods at cheap prices.