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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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Food Stamps and Unemployment

More evidence that the current economic “recovery” is unlike any other comes via Robert Doar in this item at Real Clear Markets where food stamp SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) usage has failed to take its usual course following the end of a recession by moving lower along with the unemployment rate.

Of course, new claims for unemployment insurance reached a 14-year low earlier today, so, the recent trend shown above shows no sign of reversing.

Why is this happening? The answers you might hear are likely dependent upon the political party affiliation of the person responding to the question, but this also involves changing demographics, ongoing cultural changes related to government assistance, and a host of other issues related to our financial/economic system and the decline of an aging empire.

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