March 8, 2021
MainStreet Macro: An Unscripted Recovery
Oscar material, anyone? If you’ve been looking for a riveting drama, here it is.
You’ve heard the big news by now: Job creation popped in February, blowing through economists’ expectations. Employers added 379,000 jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday, nearly doubling the consensus estimate.
The monthly data isn’t a disappointment on its face, but let’s dig deeper. Even with the jump in hiring, the U.S. still has had nearly 10 million fewer jobs in February than it did a year ago, before the coronavirus took hold. The unemployment rate last month was 6.2 percent -- better, but likely understates the scarring in the labor markets.
March 1, 2021
MainStreet Macro: What’s all the fuss about?
This week on the Main Street Macro Blog we’re taking a figurative field trip to Wall Street and to a specific neighborhood on the Street called the Bond Market. While Wall Street is not the economy there are some instances when the actions and beliefs of stock and bond investors affect Main Street business. Last week was one of those times. Long term bond yields, the return investors receive from debt securities, have been creeping upwards, causing many of our Wall Street friends to catch the jitters. What’s also the fuss about? Here are four things Main Street should know about the recent rise in bond yields.
February 22, 2021
MainStreet Macro: Shop til the Economy Pops
Shoppers on Main Street tell us a lot about the state of the broader economy. What you and I spend our hard-earned dollars on -- whether we save or invest, buy clothes or cars, spend Saturday nights chilling with Netflix or at a bar after a game -- all adds up to just how quickly the economy recovers.
February 15, 2021
MainStreet Macro: Housing Leads the Way
The title of this blog, Main Street Macro, might be self-explanatory. What you don’t know is that I grew up on Main Street, in a smallish Indiana town. I have a direct and personal connection to what we talk about each week.
Today, let’s talk about my old Main Street house and the millions of houses like it--those profoundly personal and sometimes sentimental investments that have a direct and outsized influence on the economy.
February 8, 2021
Main Street Macro: Phil has spoken
Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow last week, signaling six more weeks of winter just as the Northeast was being blanketed with its strongest snowfall in five years. As an economist and professional forecaster, I’m impressed by the real-time confirmation of the groundhog’s prediction.
Another prediction last week also is likely to hit its mark. The Congressional Budget Office forecast an economic rebound to pre-pandemic levels by mid-2021. It’s the latest in a string of analyses to show that one of the most severe recessions in U.S. history also likely will be one of the shortest.
February 1, 2021
MainStreet Macro: Right Direction, Wrong Reason
Last week we reported that wages for U.S. workers grew 4.4%. On Main Street, that translates to about a buck and a quarter increase in average hourly take-home pay, to $30.19. It’s a much stronger increase than the historical average. Like other macro-level indicators, however, this headline wage number masks ongoing job market turbulence caused by COVID-19.
To get a closer look, we turn to ADP data on wages, which draws information each month from approximately 250,000 companies and 18 million employees, about 15 percent of all U.S. private sector employees.
January 25, 2021
MainStreet Macro: The Handshake
One of the first things to disappear during the COVID-19 pandemic was the handshake. In the midst of the contagion, the greeting was quickly replaced by the fist bump, then the elbow bump, then (my personal favorite) a quick wave behind a masked smile.
Now that handshakes have all but vanished from the planet, Main Street businesses are gearing up for a new form of outreach from the Biden administration. It’s the non-physical, but just as tangible embrace of aggressive monetary policy with an ambitious Go Big or Stay Home fiscal spending package.
January 18, 2021
MainStreet Macro: Inflation, the Remix
Last week witnessed a second Trump impeachment in three years. It’s a remarkable time in political history and there’s a lot to unpack. But this isn’t that type of blog and I’ve taken a grand total of one political science class and whatever history was required in high school.