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Timing is Everything Pretty Important

The combination of sharp increases in the cost of higher education (and the corresponding crushing debt load for many), the long-lasting effects of the Great Recession, and the reality that an undergraduate degree is the new high school diploma has made things surprisingly difficult for Millennials and, as noted in this report from the New York Fed, one of their responses is to live at home while in their twenties in rapidly rising numbers.

Yes, I’m a sucker for a good .gif, but this one is pretty illustrative of how policy makers in the U.S. and elsewhere are affecting an entire generation. When it becomes the rule, not the exception, for twenty-somethings to spend an inordinate amount of time living at home for financial reasons, then something has gone terribly wrong in the world.

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Can You Spot the Trend?

From The Increasingly Unequal States of America(.pdf) at the Economic Policy Institute (via this item at The Nation) comes the graphic below that helps explain why so many Americans feel so strongly that the economic recovery hasn’t yet reached them, despite news that U.S. job creation in 2014 reached a 15-year high and that the unemployment rate has tumbled.

The report notes this is “not just a story of those in the financial sector in the greater New York City metropolitan area reaping outsized rewards from speculation in financial markets”. These are broad-based trends that have occurred nationwide since the 1970s following many decades when, for example, there “was a cultural and political environment in which it was unthinkable for executives to receive outsized bonuses while laying off workers”.

That’s progress, I suppose.

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Payrolls Rise 321K, Jobless Rate at 5.8%

Wow. Broad-based gains for nonfarm payrolls with the highest net job creation since 2011 and big upward adjustments (+44K) to prior months’ data.

The household survey was much less impressive as the number of people counted as employed rose just 4K, whereas, the ranks of the unemployed jumped by 115K (technically, the jobless rate rose from 5.756 percent to 5.824 percent, both rounding to 5.8 percent).

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The Invisible Unemployed

In this story at The Atlantic, Derek Thompson delves into the mystery otherwise known as the U.S. labor market to reveal a few reasons why the electorate seemed so unhappy earlier this month despite a plunging jobless rate and soaring stock prices.

I had always thought that the number of “unemployed” was actually far higher than the number of discouraged/involuntary part-time workers and, up until recently, it has been, but no more. Combined with little or no wage growth (and declines in real terms going back a decade or more), it seems Americans do have a lot to be unhappy about.

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