Pick a Number, Any Number

With so much economic data showered on us every month, about the last thing anyone needs is another number. It’s hard enough to keep track of what’s going on as it is, so more measures of the economy are not helpful. That is, they aren’t helpful unless they give us a particular insight that can’t be gained anywhere else.

This is probably why the more comprehensive U6 unemployment hasn’t caught on against the headline U3 unemployment figure, despite the latter’s obvious deficiencies. Two numbers causes confusion, one gives us clarity. Still, with the changes that are taking place in the economy and the slowness of the recovery, it’s worth taking at least a passing glance at anything that might help us understand where things are going in the future. More to the point, with wonderful tools provided by the St Louis Federal Reserve we can run a lot of custom charts to see what makes sense.

Let’s give it a go.

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Economy Still Ahead at the Half

It’s halftime!  2013 is half over, and data for another quarter is in.  It’s time to check in on Barataria’s predictions for the year and see how things are going.

The mainstream press has already latched onto the story of a recovery that is slow but gaining strength, so this is hardly news anymore.  But exactly how and why it is strong remains important in many ways.  This is a restructuring more than a traditional recovery after a recession, so it takes a lot of time.  The foundation has to be laid before the new economy can be framed on top of it.  That foundation came through in 2012, but progress has to continue in key areas to make it possible for the jump to a new boomtime around 2017 or so.

Break out the expensive commercials and grill the burgers, we have a game!

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Next Generation, Waiting

There has been little doubt that employment has been improving in the US.  From the trough three years ago 5M jobs have been created.  That’s not enough to fill the 12M or so that need to be created, but it’s a start – and it’s been steady progress.  But who is being left behind as the situation (very) slowly improves?

The most important group are the young who are looking for their first job.  Those 20-24 have a lifetime of expectations and habits created by the start of their career, and by any measure their outlook is not good.  While the economy transforms itself into whatever will create the next wave of opportunity the young are being left behind.  This is true throughout the developed world, particularly in Greece and Spain, but the problem is also acute here.  Let’s start by defining the problem.

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