It’s time to Break It Down!
There is a woebegone narrative that suggests the United States has gone to hell in a handbasket. The story is built upon a framework that accurately points to an inflation rate unseen since the 80’s, and to record high gasoline prices, both legitimate causes for alarm and distress.
But that’s not the end of the story. In fact, quiet as it’s kept, tens of millions of American households are thriving at the highest level in decades.
Why is that significant? High gas prices, stock market volatility and inflation are hiding the reality that the economy is working for a high swath of Americans – and has richly bolstered their nest eggs.
Here’s something rare these days – a parade of encouraging news:
Houses: It’s hard to find one to buy – and the 66% of Americans who do own homes are seeing the values soar. The middle class has made an enormous $2.1 trillion from homeownership in the past 10 years, Fortune reports.
Retirement accounts: Despite the recent sell-off, they’ve been fattened by the stock market. Moreover, the share of people who say they expect to work past their early 60’s has dropped below 50% for the first time.
Jobs: Today there are 11.4 million job openings. The current unemployment rate is 3.68% – back to pre-pandemic lows.
Safety nets: 68% of Americans say they have cash for a rainy day.
Millennial homeownership: It’s at 43%, up from 37% last year.
Reality check: There’s still plenty of pain in this economy – likely with much more to come.
The tight housing market is pricing out millions of renters and potential buyers.
Rising prices – at the pump and in the grocery store – are draining wallets.
That helps explain one of the bigger polling conundrums we’ve seen:
We think things are going fine for us, but terribly for America. 78% of Americans are confident in their personal financial well-being, but only 24% are confident in the financial well-being of the U.S., per Federal Reserve data reported by the Atlantic’s Derek Thompson.
The bottom line: Things haven’t been so good for many decades, Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research told The New York Times:
“You’d have to go back to the late 1990’s to find a similar era. Before that, the 1960s.”
At the end of the day, there is no getting around the fact that these are challenging times. But let’s be clear, these are not Dickensian “Worst of times.” Remember to appreciate the balance of the universe. “Inflation and Gas Prices Are High; So Are Retirement Accounts and Millennial Home Ownership!”
I’m done; holla back!
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