Sanctions on Russia carry global risks

But are they riskier than a ground war in Europe? And what do they mean for the international economy? As President Joe Biden weighs imposing additional sanctions on Russia to deter an invasion of Ukraine, we look into what those measures would cost the U.S., our allies and Russia. Also on today's episode: Hello from the other side of concert cancellations, the factors behind the price of natural gas and the Weekly Wrap.

The KN95 masks you bought online might not be cutting it

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently upgraded their guidance on face masks: Nix the cloth or surgical masks in favor of N95s or KN95s. But not all masks are created equal. On today's show, we hear from a "mask nerd" about how consumers can be discerning when shopping for face coverings online. Plus: Why unemployment claims are back up; how resume gaps are being destigmatized; and what construction companies are doing to tackle the labor shortage.

Trump-era steel tariffs are over, but not for the U.K.

Trump, tariffs and Brexit — it might sound like a throwback, but it's the present for British steelmakers. President Joe Biden cut a tax on steel imported from European Union countries last year, but the United Kingdom was excluded. Though the U.S. and U.K. plan on discussing the tariff rift, the future of British steel remains uncertain. We also hear about the impact of rising mortgage rates, tackle why rising oil prices could be here to stay and chat about a new environmental transparency policy for publicly traded companies.

Why a health communications expert gives the CDC a "C"

Communication is key in any relationship — including the one between health officials and the public. On today's show, a health literacy expert talks to us about how going "back to the communication basics" could aid the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's pandemic messaging. We'll also hear about how omicron-induced lockdowns in China are affecting the global supply chain, why wireless carriers and airlines are still fighting over 5G and how U.S. Postal Service cuts could impact rural Americans.

TikTok is changing the voice of brands online

More than 1 billion people use the short-form video platform TikTok monthly, presenting a huge marketing opportunity for businesses. Take, for example, the language learning company Duolingo, which uses its big, green owl mascot in zany videos and has amassed a huge following in recent months. Today, we'll chat with Duolingo's social media coordinator about the authenticity and communication styles that attract a younger audience. Plus: A more-stressful-than-usual tax season ahead, the factors behind a dip in community college enrollment and why every celebrity seems to have a beauty brand these days.

What's next for the families who rely on the child tax credit?

Since July, more than 36 million households have received a few hundred dollars every month through the expanded child tax credit. Tomorrow, that won't be the case. In this episode, we hear what the extra cash has given families and what it means to have it taken away. We also hear why consumer sentiment took a dive, why bank loans might be making a comeback and what testing positive for COVID-19 has cost one family.

The economy is bouncing back, but not for women of color

In December, employment prospects improved for every race and gender group — except Black women, for whom the jobless rate increased from 4.9% to 6.2%. Today, we look at how racism and segregation shaped the economic trajectory of women of color and how COVID could continue to hold them back. We'll also hear how omicron is hampering trash collection, discuss why the outlook for initial public stock offerings is souring and explore the potential (and definition) of Web3.

Inflation may have already peaked

The consumer price index clocked year-over-year inflation at 7% on Wednesday, the fastest pace since 1982. But month-over-month numbers and other factors point to a deceleration that could give consumers some relief. On today's show, we do the numbers on inflation and wages. Plus, we visit new nuclear plants, contemplate a career pivot and trace the debate over alimony.

Are rents surging or stalling? Depends on whom you ask.

If you're a renter in need of a chuckle, just look at the consumer price index, which calculates rent inflation at just 3% for last year. The cost is rising much faster for many renters, and other data sources show the increase near 18%. Today, we'll talk about this wide data disconnect and why how we measure housing inflation is so important. We'll also hear about the business of tracking other businesses' shipments and check in with a downtown Los Angeles cheesemonger and a certified public accountant in New York City.

If it feels like we've been here before ...

... it's because we have. As omicron surges nationwide, nearly a quarter of hospitals are critically short-staffed, according to federal data. That's forcing hospitals to once again make tough calls, like limiting bed capacity, cutting elective surgeries or asking health care workers back — even if they've tested positive for COVID-19. We'll also tackle the challenges of constructing housing that's affordable and carbon neutral, take a look at why big bank investors are optimistic about fourth-quarter earnings and hear how a team of British researchers is hoping to harness the power of the sun.

December's jobs report is a head-scratcher

Unemployment fell in December close to a pre-pandemic low. But the economy added far fewer jobs than economists expected. So what gives? It has to do with the two different surveys that make up the monthly jobs report and how they define "employment." Plus: App-based payments come out from "under the table," higher fees come for second homes and people shift how they do their 'dos in the pandemic.

What happens to our economy if we're not a democracy?

One year ago, supporters of Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol in a violent and deadly attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Today, we revisit the economic ripples of the Jan. 6 insurrection and examine how political instability continues to hamper the economic recovery. We'll also hear how utility infrastructure plays into wildfire prevention, what a festival cancellation means for surrounding businesses and why consumers have a gloomier outlook than the economy does.

Brexit's impact, one year on

Though the United Kingdom formally ended its European Union membership at the start of 2020, last week marked the one-year anniversary of the U.K. severing remaining ties with the EU. Today, we hear about the hopes, frustrations and economic outlooks of five small U.K.-based companies 12 months on. Plus: hints of an easing supply chain, a growing industry to manage office downsizing and a high-tech tractor that could curb a shortage of agriculture workers.

Corporate boards are finally starting to keep their diversity promises

While a group of GOP-led states is currently pushing against NASDAQ board diversity requirements, some corporations have already ramped up their diversification efforts. The number of directors from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups jumped by 25% in 2021, and women now make up almost 30% of directors among Russell 3000 Index companies. The shift, while slow, hints at the changing values of companies and their investors. We'll also hear from recruiters experiencing a boom in business, head to Albuquerque as it pilots a zero-fare bus program and check in with small retailers catching a breath after holiday shopping.

A look at Sacramento's "right to housing" proposal

California is home to nearly one-quarter of the country's homeless population, a count that has likely grown during the pandemic. Last year, the mayor of Sacramento — home to 11,000 people without homes — proposed a radical solution to the city's homelessness crisis: treat housing as a legal right. Housing advocates largely support the proposal, except for a controversial part requiring homeless residents to move to a temporary shelter or be removed from their current locations. Also on today's program, big banks delay their back-to-office plans, the strategies behind some brands' familiar chimes and why energy companies are racing to liquefy natural gas.

New year, same pandemic

Even if it may not feel like it amid spiking COVID-19 cases, we are in a very different world — and economy — than the one we were in a year ago. Today, we're taking a look back at 12 months of inflation, supply chain headaches and child care issues. We'll also look at what interest rates and consumer spending might be like as we continue to redefine "going back to normal" in 2022. Plus: an argument for ethical AI, examining a piece of "must-pass" legislation and the reflections of a parade organizer. Time is running out to make a gift to Marketplace in 2021. Don't delay!

While renters face eviction, a Texas county returns unspent relief aid

In late November, commissioners in Montgomery County — located north of Houston — voted to return $7 million in unused federal rent relief. But some renters there are still facing eviction, and many have found it difficult to access county- and state-level COVID relief funds. As the federal government works to reallocate rent relief, we pay a visit to Montgomery County to see how officials, activists and renters are responding. But first, a look at what 2022 might bring for the job market, how restaurants and bars are planning for a second New Year's Eve with COVID and why a big-ticket bailout for the U.K.'s hospitality industry still might only be a drop in the bucket.

How pandemic grief is rippling into the economy

A little over a year ago, the first American received a COVID-19 vaccine. Now, we're averaging more than 250,000 positive COVID cases per day. This year has been ... a lot. Consumers and workers are more resilient but are tired or burned out. Counselors and clinicians are overwhelmed with the scale of grief they've been tasked with addressing. Today, we'll talk about the psychological toll the pandemic has taken, how to grieve the lives we once knew and how to live with this continued uncertainty. Plus: The huge price tag of returning those unwanted holiday gifts, a new holistic approach to preventive care coming to California and a look at Japan's hydrogen-focused plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

In California, a blueprint for addressing the opioid crisis

The pandemic has exacerbated the country's opioid crisis. More than 100,000 people in the United States died from drug overdoses last year in the highest one-year death toll on record. Today, we take a look at a recently expanded program in California, one that utilizes medically assisted treatment in emergency rooms and is becoming a model for other programs around the nation. We'll also hear about the questions Moderna's shareholders are raising regarding global vaccine equity, take a look at the future of streaming services and examine Brexit's impact on the United Kingdom's role as a hub for plundered antiquities.

Will shorter CDC isolation guidelines help COVID staffing issues?

On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reduced the recommended isolation period for people who get COVID-19 from 10 days to five. Still, COVID cases are surging with the spread of the omicron variant. Now airline, health care and service industries are facing yet another wave of staffing disruptions without the government support they had at the beginning of the pandemic. Also on today's show: How the pandemic has shifted the gaming console industry, an early look at holiday shopping stats and identifying the impact of the next Great Migration.

A 2022 New Year's gift for many workers? An increased minimum wage

At the start of 2022, more than 50 jurisdictions are slated to raise their minimum wage rates, many to $15 an hour or more. Despite widespread support for increased minimum wages and years-long activism, efforts to boost the minimum wage at the federal level have largely stalled. But even as many employers independently raise pay amid a tight labor market, inflation continues to chip away at the gains made by many workers. Also on today's program: A look back at the week, what consumer spending looks like amid the arrival of omicron, how the surge in electric vehicle demand impacts the Democratic Republic of the Congo and a festive take on The Numbers.

COVID-19 mitigations are straining school nurses

Before the pandemic, roughly a quarter of schools in the United States didn't employ a school nurse at all, and less than half employed nurses full time. Now, many of those nurses are adding contract tracing and COVID-19 testing to their already lengthy list of duties to keep kids healthy. These stressors are pushing some school nurses to their breaking point and highlight the issue of understaffing, which can be detrimental in communities where the school nurse's office may be the only access to health care some students have. Also on today's program: Americans are returning to their pre-COVID saving habits, airlines are pushing for reduced CDC quarantine guidelines and some indie musicians are turning to indie revenue streams.

Why being single is costly in the U.S.

It won't appear as an additional tax or fee on a receipt, but if you're single in the U.S., you're paying more than your married peers. That's because policies and programs, from Social Security to the tax code, were written when it was assumed that Americans would get and stay married. Today, we'll hear from journalist Anne Helen Petersen about how your relationship status can dictate your economic outlook and whether policies are likely to change with the changing population. Plus: Consumer confidence creeps up despite omicron, a historically Black college gives students a generous gift with no strings attached, and how hard-to-find COVID tests illustrate the challenges of relying on a private industry during a public health crisis.

In tourist communities, short-term rentals are pricing out locals

When you head to an outdoorsy town or resort community to get away from it all, it can be easy to forget the people who live and work there full time, ensuring that the place runs smoothly. The tourism that many of those towns rely on can also produce housing pressures. Marketplace's Amanda Peacher takes us to Joshua Tree, California, where short-term vacation rentals make up more than one-quarter of the housing stock. As she points out, the affordable-housing shortage is becoming more common around the Western U.S. Also: What the holiday spending habits of four families tell us about the economy, what hurdles await President Joe Biden's plan for distributing at-home COVID tests and what 20% inflation looks like in Turkey.