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Can Philanthropy Save a City?

August 4, 2018 STOCKTON, Calif.—The philanthropists came on air-conditioned buses from big cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco. They were driven past vacant lots overrun with weeds, auto-repair shops and fast-food restaurants and meat markets, and deposited at a construction site that had once held a liquor store that police had long...

Despite the Glitches, Shoppers Can’t Quit Amazon

July 18, 2018 FROM NEXTGOV arrow The promotions started more than a week ahead of time: Amazon, the world’s biggest e-commerce site, was launching its annual Prime Day on July 16, with 30 hours of deals online and in Whole Foods markets. The company issued five press releases promoting Prime Day, during which shoppers who pay...

Trump’s Complaints About Amazon Have a Historical Precedent

April 2, 2018 In the early 1900s, Charlie Harger, a writer for this magazine, visited a small country store on “the frontier” to talk to its proprietor. (He did not mention, in the eight full pages of the story where exactly that small retailer was located, because that’s how journalism was done in...

Trump’s Complaints About Amazon Have a Historical Precedent

March 30, 2018 FROM NEXTGOV arrow In the early 1900s, Charlie Harger, a writer for this magazine, visited a small country store on “the frontier” to talk to its proprietor. (He did not mention, in the eight full pages of the story where exactly that small retailer was located, because that’s how journalism was done in...

Chicago’s Awful Divide

March 28, 2018 CHICAGO—Americans hear a lot these days about the country’s urban-rural divide. Rural counties are poorer; urban ones richer. Rural areas are losing jobs; urban ones are gaining them. People with a college education are leaving rural areas. They’re moving to urban places. Behind this divergence lies a straightforward story: The...

A Small Town Kept Walmart Out. Now It Faces Amazon.

March 5, 2018 GREENFIELD, Mass.—Al Norman has been fighting to keep Walmart and other big-box retailers out of small towns like this one for 25 years. He’s been successful in Greenfield, his hometown and the site of his first battle with Walmart, and in dozens of other towns across the country—victories he documents...

What Amazon Does to Poor Cities

February 1, 2018 SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — This community was still reeling from the recession in 2012 when it got a piece of what seemed like good news. Amazon, the global internet retailer, was opening a massive 950,000-square-foot distribution center, one of its first in California, and hiring more than 1,000 people here.“This...

Could a Local Tax Fix the Gig Economy?

November 6, 2017 Sohail Rana has driven passengers around New York City for 25 years, first as a taxi driver, then for black-car companies, and now for Uber. He works around 60 hours a week and has no plans to stop working, partially because he can’t afford to stop. “I have no health...

What If Getting Laid Off Wasn't Something to Be Afraid Of?

October 25, 2017 NORRKÖPING, Sweden—When Beate Autrum first heard that she and hundreds of other employees were getting laid off from the Whirlpool factory where she worked, she was terrified. Autrum, a single mother, had uprooted her whole life to move to Sweden from Germany to work for Whirlpool, and she worried about...

The Barriers Stopping Poor People From Moving to Better Jobs

October 12, 2017 MERCED, California—Seccora Jaimes knows that she is not living in the land of opportunity. Her hometown has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, at 9.1 percent. Jaimes, 34, recently got laid off from the beauty school where she taught cosmetology, and hasn’t yet found another job. Her...