The Dow is humming. The S&P 500 has never been better. The latest jobs report shows robust hiring and a dip in the unemployment rate. America is back on track, right? Leaving the Great Recession in the rear-view mirror, correct? So why doesn't it feel that way? PULSE takes a look at why, despite signs of a healthier economy, Americans should realize there's still work to be done in reinstalling the U.S. as a financial superpower.
AT YOUR SERVICE
It feels like it’s taking forever for the U.S. economy to add back the jobs it lost in the Great Recession. In historical terms, that’s true, and new research suggests it’s partly because of a half-century shift from manufacturing to services as the engine of the economy. Even with the relatively good news Friday that the economy added 165,000 net jobs in April, the United States is 2.5 million jobs short of where it was when the recession officially began in December 2007. It has been 45 months since the recession ended. Forty-five. READ MORE HERE
QUITTERS NEVER WIN?
America needs more quitters. Or the job market does, anyway. That’s the lesson to draw from the latest Labor Department report, which shows the soft underbelly of the U.S. jobs picture. The unemployment rate may be falling and the number of jobs rising. But there isn’t enough “churn” going on, a hallmark of a healthy job market, in which people freely move between positions. READ MORE HERE
GOVERNMENT LEADS BY EXAMPLE ... AND THAT'S NOT GOOD
Federal taxpayers employ more low-wage workers than Wal-Mart and McDonald’s combined, a new study calculates. The report from a public policy organization Demos, set to be released Wednesday, estimates that taxpayer dollars fund nearly 2 million private-sector jobs that pay $24,000 a year — about $12 an hour — or less. Those workers owe their incomes to government contracts, Medicare and Medicaid spending, and federal infrastructure funds, among other public sources. In contrast, Demos estimates that about 1.4 million workers earn that amount or less at Wal-Mart and McDonald’s, which are two of the largest employers of low-wage workers. READ MORE HERE
Page 2 of 2 - The Dow Jones industrial average closed above 15,000 for the first time Tuesday. An improving outlook for the economy and record corporate earnings are persuading investors to buy stocks. Federal Reserve stimulus is also helping. The Dow has gained 15 percent this year. It has more than doubled since hitting a bottom at 6,547 on March 9, 2009 during the Great Recession. READ MORE HERE
DEBT REMAINS A CONCERN
With the United States fast approaching its debt limit, Congress has again begun to grapple with complex questions about whether and how to raise the cap on borrowing. There is no perfect answer, but proposals such as the Full Faith and Credit Act (H.R. 807) won’t fix the problem. The legislation has 105 co-sponsors in the House, which is likely to vote on it this week. This bill purports to prevent the federal government from defaulting, but it would undermine the nation’s credit standing and make matters worse in the short term and potentially much worse in the long term. The reason is simple: It’s not rooted in the reality of how finance works. READ MORE HERE
GOOD READS ON THE GREAT RECESSION
Want to know how we got there? Check out these books. MORE HERE
THE BEST AND WORST FILMS ABOUT THE FINANCIAL CRISIS
Live-action and documentaries about dealing with the Great Recession. MORE HERE