The recession forced Mid-Atlantic Builders Executive Vice President Stephen Paul to cut the company's staffing. But he says the firm is being efficient with half the original number of employees.
Credit Marie McGrory / NPR
Christian Cerria has helped Mid-Atlantic Builders shrink the number of workers needed on a work site. The firm uses smartphones and tablets to fix designs and send them back to the office without shuttling workers back and forth.
Years into the economic recovery, hiring remains slow. Many businesses learned to do more with less during the recession, so they don't need to bring on as many people now.
These new efficiencies have led to what economists call "labor displacement," which is taking place around the country. One business in Rockville, Md., is doing the same amount of work with half its original staff.
Two things are noticeably absent from the offices of Mid-Atlantic Builders: people and paper.
For Darden Restaurants, the company behind Olive Garden and Red Lobster, its earnings projections out last week were not pretty. Sales will fall, it said, and company CEO Clarence Otis called higher payroll taxes a "headwind."
After a two-year tax break, the payroll tax, which funds Social Security payments, went back up to 6.2 percent on Jan. 1. The 2-percentage-point increase is an extra $80 a month in taxes for someone earning $50,000 a year.
Workers open ballots in a polling station in Rome on Tuesday following Italy's general elections. The initial results showed a close race with no clear-cut winner, a development that made financial markets jumpy.
Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind is facing a storm of criticism after he dressed as an African-American basketball player in blackface. Hikind wore the costume to a party at his house celebrating the Jewish holiday of Purim.
He posted a picture of himself on Facebook wearing an afro wig and an orange jersey.