Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

As chief economist at ADP, Nela Richardson leads economic research and serves as co-head of the ADP Research Institute. She previously held roles as principal and investment strategist at Edward Jones Investments, chief economist at Redfin, and senior economist at Bloomberg. Nela also serves on the foundation boards for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association for Business Economics.
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MainStreet Macro: Deciphering January data

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

The start of the year often brings confusing economic data, and this January was no exception. Extreme weather across most of the U.S. muddled the picture even more. Here’s a guide to making sense of last month’s numbers.
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MainStreet Macro: Nela’s Recession Playbook

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

The biggest economic debate of 2023 is whether the U.S. is heading toward a recession. And the reason it’s being debated is because the data shows evidence for both sides. In the no-recession camp, the economy grew by 2.9 percent last quarter, besting analysts estimates, and inflation slowed for the second straight month in December. And while we’ve seen big headlines on corporate layoffs, these job losses aren’t yet reflected in the data. Jobless claims for the first three weeks of January were near record lows.
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MainStreet Macro: Shaking off the gloom in Davos

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

The annual World Economic Forum gathering in the mountainside retreat of Davos, Switzerland, is most commonly described with a single word: elite. After attending the meetings last week, I’d like to offer three more words that perhaps more constructively capture the ethos of Davos this year: Optimism, dealmaking, and hope.
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MainStreet Macro: Minimum wages are rising. But is it enough?

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Last week, data for December showed that the rate of inflation had fallen to 6.5 percent from 7.1 percent a year earlier. The decline was driven mainly by a steep drop in gas prices. While overall inflation might (thankfully) be losing steam, workers, especially those with smaller paychecks, continue to suffer an erosion of the pay gains they reaped during 2022’s tight labor market.
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MainStreet Macro: Five Global Trends Reshaping the World of Work

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

As we welcome 2023, the global economy is in a precarious place, with the growth outlook likely to slow for a second straight year in 2023. In addition to global growth, there are other trends that could be as important, if not more important, to the economy this year and in years ahead. As you plan for the new year, keep in mind these five global growth trends that are reshaping the world of work.
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MainStreet Macro: An economy in transition

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

As we round out 2022, one of the most frequent questions I get is, “Are we heading toward a recession?” Economic downturns are notoriously hard to call in real time. In fact, recessions aren’t officially designated until several months after the economy has moved out of one.
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MainStreet Macro: The labor market’s winning streak still has legs – for now

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

The labor market has had an incredible run in 2022. But with the Federal Reserve continuing to hike interest rates and companies announcing layoffs and hiring freezes, we might ask if that winning streak is coming to an end.
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MainStreet Macro: Robots need a human hand

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Before the holiday break, I left MainStreet Macro readers with a bit of a cliffhanger. We had just heard about layoffs at some of the biggest technology companies, a sector that has seen a lot of growth over the past several years.
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MainStreet Macro: Don’t read too much into tech sector layoffs

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Last week, while I was waiting with bated breath for the October inflation report, the headlines were buzzing with a series of announcements that seemed to bode poorly for the economy. Tech companies had muscled into the news cycle, announcing massive layoffs and hiring freezes. The cuts were dramatic and part of a running trend: The sector has shed nearly 120,000 jobs globally so far this year, and more than 23,000 in November alone, according to one layoff tracker.
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MainStreet Macro: A Walk down Main Street: Buffalo, N.Y.

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

When was the last time you took a walk down a real Main Street, the commercial hub of any small town or city? I recently had a chance to do just that with Kai Ryssdal, host of the “Marketplace” broadcast on American Public Media. Kai and I took a tour of Elmwood Avenue, a happening strip of local businesses in central Buffalo. Why Buffalo? Kai is a New York Giants fan, so it had nothing to do with the Bills’ near-flawless season. No, we headed to Buffalo because ADP Research Institute data recently showed that wages for lower-paid workers in the city had skyrocketed, jumping 40 percent from 2019 to 2021. Last year, for the first time, low-end salaries grew more rapidly in America’s most affordable cities than anywhere else.
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MainStreet Macro: Student debt: The other side of the mountain

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

The application process has begun! No, not for college admission, for student loan forgiveness. Last week, the Biden administration opened the application process debt forgiveness, the first step in the president’s three-part plan to help low- to middle-income borrowers saddled with big tuition bills. There are no transcripts, standardized test scores, essays, or letters of recommendation required. Applicants for this program need to meet only one threshold: Debt holders must earn less than $125,000 a year in individual income or $250,000 in household income to be eligible. The payoff: up to $10,000 in debt forgiveness, or, for recipients of federal Pell Grants, which are distributed to students with financial need, up to $20,000.
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MainStreet Macro: Inflation and Coffee:  A Love Story

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

I love coffee. It’s what I wake up for. I’d like to say that I spring out of bed to make breakfast for my sons, walk my dog Lavender, take an invigorating run, or even dig into economic data (my passion). The truth is, I wake up for coffee. As I assess events currently shaping the global economy, coffee has come up. Yes, it powers me through my workday, but coffee also is a window into the forces that are rocking our world. Here are three ways coffee is feeling the effects of the global economy.
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MainStreet Macro: Jobs week delivered good news, but a riddle endures

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Jobs week is one of my favorite times of the month, and these days the importance of employment data is even more pronounced. With inflation bearing down, U.S. job and wage reports provide the clearest signals available on whether hiring and pay are on pace to drive up the cost of goods and services even more. So without further ado, let’s take a walk through the jobs week that was.
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MainStreet Macro: The private-data revolution

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Yes, a normal day is still about 24 hours. But scientists say that Earth has been spinning faster, shaving milliseconds off a typical day. There’s evidence, in fact, that this year the planet is moving faster than it did in 2021 or 2020. If that’s not enough speed for you, there’s another acceleration under way, one that’s affecting the frequency of data
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MainStreet Macro: Another repercussion of Fed rate hikes: The dollar

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

The Federal Reserve last week took another aggressive whack at too-high inflation, raising its benchmark interest rate by three-fourths of a percentage point. It’s the third time in a row the Fed has taken such a big step, and indications are it won’t be the last. Central bank policymakers have telegraphed that they plan to raise the federal funds rate a by a combined 1.25 per percentage points in their last two meetings of 2022.
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MainStreet Macro: The Fed needs a sidekick

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Last week, consumer inflation data told us two things. First, thanks to falling energy prices, overall inflation edged down, to 8.3 percent in August from 8.5 percent in July. Second, other components of inflation accelerated, namely housing, food, and medical care. But if we strip out the two most volatile components of the index – food and energy — we get a troubling picture: Inflation went up, not down, from the previous month.
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MainStreet Macro: The stock market has a mind of its own

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Nela Richardson joined ADP as chief economist in 2020, where she leads economic research and is co-head of the ADP Research Institute. 

Nela regularly provides insight into the economy, real estate trends, and capital markets to policymakers and is a regular contributor to “Marketplace” on public radio. She has made appearances on CNBC, Bloomberg, Fox Business, ...

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MainStreet Macro: Pay Day

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Private employment topped its pre-pandemic high for the first time last month. ADP’s newly relaunched National Employment Report showed gains, and Friday’s government jobs report found that total employment was 240,000 higher than its February 2020 peak.
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MainStreet Macro: Coming soon: A powerful new tool for measuring the U.S. labor market

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Nela Richardson joined ADP as chief economist in 2020, where she leads economic research and is co-head of the ADP Research Institute. 

Nela regularly provides insight into the economy, real estate trends, and capital markets to policymakers and is a regular contributor to “Marketplace” on public radio. She has made appearances on CNBC, Bloomberg, Fox Business, ...

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MainStreet Macro: Jackson Hole: Another Trip down the Snake River

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Every year at this time, the Federal Reserve holds its high-profile annual conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Some 120 central bankers, finance leaders, and academics gather to discuss wonky but important global issues. The highlight of the event is a Friday morning speech given by the head of the Federal Reserve – Jay Powell. It’s the only public part of the conference.
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MainStreet Macro: Inflation-Tag team

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Main Street received good news last week. Not only did we see a slight cool-down to our national summer heat wave, we learned that inflation dipped, to 8.5 percent over the last 12 months ending in July from 9.1 percent for the same period in June.
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MainStreet Macro: Time well spent

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

.Something happened last quarter that most economy watchers missed. Labor productivity as measured by output per worker dropped like a rock. In the first quarter of this year, U.S. labor force time was not well spent. Productivity fell by 7.3 percent, the biggest drop since 1947. People worked 2.3 percent more hours and produced 5.4 percent less output.
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MainStreet Macro: Are we or aren’t we? The three Ds of recessions, and how to prepare

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Are we in a recession? Maybe, maybe not. What we know for sure is that the economy is running hot this summer – and not just because of the temperatures. Today we explain how downturns are measured, why this one is unique, and what you can do to prepare.
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MainStreet Macro: Hot Summer Housing Market

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

With most of the country withering in the summer heat, one sector of the economy appears to be cooling. After home prices took off in the early days of the pandemic, the white-hot housing market now appears to be cooling as sales slow.
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MainStreet Macro: Wages Go Prime Time: Part 2

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

My kids are into memes and have been since, well, the beginning of meme history. Given that my husband and I both are economists, it was only natural that a recent family dinner conversation centered around which meme would best represent inflation.
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MainStreet Macro: Wages go prime time: Part 1

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Wages are the bridge between job growth and rising inflation, and their trajectory will determine whether the Federal Reserve can put the brakes on rising prices without skidding the economy into recession. To that end, the central bank is eying one particular data point with new intensity.
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MainStreet Macro: A Penny Saved

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Savings accounts were the unsung heroes of the pandemic recovery. The personal saving rate – the share of a person’s disposable income left after taxes and spending on necessities and everything else – soared to a record of almost 34 percent in April 2020. That means people saved 34 cents for every dollar earned in the early days of the pandemic.
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MainStreet Macro: Missing Workers: Hiring in a Tight Job Market

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Summer usually signals the start of theme park season, when adventure-seekers line up for the adrenaline rush of their favorite roller coaster and its ups and downs. Labor market watchers can relate to those ups and downs – maybe too much, lately. It’s clear that employers, workers and jobseekers are more than ready for some stability. The labor market’s high-speed airtime cost more than 19 million workers their jobs at the beginning of the pandemic. Since then, we’ve recovered, but that ride has been bumpy and uneven.
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MainStreet Macro: What are small businesses telling us about inflation?

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

I spend a lot of time talking about small employers because they punch above their weight when it comes to the economy. Companies with fewer than 500 employees created two-thirds of net new jobs leading into the pandemic, and they led the recovery afterward. Each quarter, we at the ADP Research Institute survey our small company clients to gather their insight on the business landscape. This quarter, they wanted to talk about the macroeconomy and – no surprise -- inflation. Here are three things clients are telling us.
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MainStreet Macro: Globalization: The Promise, Perils, and Possibilities

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Last week I joined the World Economic Forum meetings in Davos, Switzerland. After a two-year hiatus from in-person events, world leaders, CEOs, international investors, and nonprofits reconvened at a time of great risk to global growth. This week, on the occasion of the Davos meetings, I’ll review the promise, the perils and the possibilities of globalization from the perspective of Main Street.
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MainStreet Macro: How data is transforming Main Street

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Last week I spoke at the World Data Summit in Amsterdam, a conference at which experts from across the globe met to discuss the most pressing data issues of our time. As the name suggests, data is fast becoming the universal language of business. For that reason, in this week’s blog I thought we’d talk about why data is important to Main Street.
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MainStreet Macro: Peak or Plateau?

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

One of my family’s favorite pastimes is playing board games. Our faves include chess (which my teenage boys dominate), Scrabble (my husband’s the GOAT on this one) and Monopoly (the most frequent victor is me, obviously). But not all games are quite so fun. My least favorite, when it comes to the economy, are guessing games. Wall Street right now is in the midst of a guessing game on key economic data. I call this game “peak or plateau”. This week, we examine three elements of the economy to determine if we’re at a peak or a plateau.
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MainStreet Macro: Makin’ it look easy

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

The truly great always make it look easy, don’t they? Be it Meryl Streep or Michael Jordan – no matter how hard, no matter what the feat – they make it look so easy. The Fed is trying to do something now that’s really hard: Rein in inflation without choking growth. Last week, the central bank announced its intention to raise short-term interest rates by a half percentage point. In this week’s blog we share three things to keep in mind as the Fed tries to pull off one of the trickiest maneuvers in modern monetary history.
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MainStreet Macro: The pandemic’s labor legacy

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

This week, all eyes will be on new labor market data. On Tuesday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics shares its latest on the great resignation and job openings. On Wednesday, the ADP Research Institute offers the first read on April employment numbers, and official government jobs data is due Friday. Hirings, job openings and quits provide a snapshot of the labor market. But like other snapshots of life, like holiday photos, vacations or the kids’ sporting events, they don’t tell the whole story. The pandemic has affected more than just monthly hiring – the changes we’re living through now are likely to persist well into the future. Here are three enduring changes wrought by the pandemic.
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MainStreet Macro: People at Work-A Global Workforce View

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

For the third year in a row, the ADP Research Institute surveyed 30,000 workers in 17 countries to understand their views on the workplace. The negative effects of the pandemic still linger, and the workforce is evolving as it adopts new priorities
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MainStreet Macro: Reaction to Inflation

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Inflation rose to 8.5 percent in March, reaching a fresh 40-year high. Not only that, a measure of what wholesalers pay for goods, before they get to store shelves, rose by 11.2 percent. That’s the biggest jump on record, and it means there could be more pain in store for consumers. The breakneck pace of inflation didn’t rankle markets – stock prices were flat after last week’s reports, with analysts positing that the March data could be the peak for price increases. But Main Street is likely to react differently. Here are three ways Main Street is reacting to high inflation.
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MainStreet Macro: Trade’s Big Week

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

We get a flood of new data on the state of the economy this week, including the latest imprint on an important but oft-ignored driver of the economy – global trade. Here are three reasons why global trade matters for Main Street.
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MainStreet Macro: Health Check

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Last week, the government released data showing that the economy created 431,000 jobs in March. It was hard to find something not to like about this report – job gains were strong and broad-based. But if you’re looking for areas still in need of improvement (and let’s face it, as an economist that’s kind of my job), turn to the labor force participation rate. Today, we give the jobs market a check-up to see if it's really as healthy as it seems.
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MainStreet Macro: Next Up-The Great Realignment

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

It's been a jobs recovery like no other. As the nation emerges from the darkness of the pandemic and moves closer to closing the coronavirus-induced employment gap, many of us are wondering what happens next. This week, we come to you by video to explain the workforce and economic influences that will define the great alignment.
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MainStreet Macro: The Global Footprint of U.S. Debt

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

I began my career as a PhD economist in the housing market, or to be more precise the mortgage market. Back then, I thought the two most local things you could buy were a haircut and a house. Well, I got it half right. While haircuts will always be local, how homes are financed in America is definitely not. People look to the Federal Reserve for a read on interest rates, but it’s not the only entity that determines the cost of U.S. mortgages and other borrowing. Buyers and sellers of U.S. debt both here and around the world also play important roles. Today, we look at the global footprint of the U.S. bond market and how it lands squarely on Main Street.
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MainStreet Macro: Why the Fed is Not a Bread Maker

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

One of my favorite things to do on weekends is make bread. It’s like magic. Measure the ingredients, toss them into the bread maker, close the lid, and press start. Three hours later, there you have it – a perfect loaf of warm bread. In life, alas, things aren’t as easy or predictable. That’s especially true when it comes to monetary policy. As Fed governors prepare to meet Tuesday to figure out a recipe for fighting inflation, they know that their own policies can behave very differently depending on market conditions. Here are three things the Fed will be watching.
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MainStreet Macro: Oil-It’s bigger than you think

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

The price of oil, like most things, is determined by supply and demand. But oil is unique in how its prices are set and how they can affect the economy. Today, we drill down on three key features of oil and what rising prices mean for Main Street – and what Main Street’s reaction might mean for the global economy.
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MainStreet Macro: Are consumers still all right?

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

While markets are reacting in real time to the recent developments in Russia and Ukraine, the effect of its uncertainty on the Main Street is tougher to discern. Closer to home, the Federal Reserve is expected to act next month to begin reining in inflation. That means rising interest rates and more uncertainty are on the horizon. So today we’re asking this question: Are consumers still all right? There are three reasons to think they are.
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MainStreet Macro: Seasons of Change

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

People love the changing seasons. Whether it’s a snowy winter or a summer day at the beach, a lot of folks have favorite times of year that they know they can look forward to. The job market, too, is subject to seasonal adjustments. With all the change in the air right now, today we’ll examine the seasons of economic change.
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MainStreet Macro: The Restaurant recovery

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Whether you started this week with the Super Bowl or Valentine’s Day romance – or both -- chances are that restaurant food, be it wings or a romantic dinner, was a big part of your plans. This week we take a look at the restaurant sector. It’s been a crucial part of the jobs recovery and a barometer of consumer spending and health during the pandemic.
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MainStreet Macro: The Hiring Funnel

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Job numbers for January delivered a big and pleasant surprise last week. Economists expected a dour report after omicron cases surged at the beginning of the year. The thought was that an increased number of workers taking unpaid leave and forgoing paychecks would show up as job losses. The government release defied those expectations, reporting 467,000 jobs created in January. The upshot is that the numbers point to strength in the 2022 labor market. With hiring up, let’s take a look at a key structure of the job market, the hiring funnel.
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MainStreet Macro: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

It’s been called the Great Resignation, the Great Reshuffle, and the Great Reassessment. But for some workers and the companies trying to hire or retain them, things don’t feel so great. A record 4.5 million workers in the U.S. quit their jobs in November of last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Companies are struggling to find and hire people. And the competitive market and rising inflation have employers puzzling over how to fairly compensate both new hires and their legacy employees. For many workers, wages are a determining factor in the decision whether to stay or go. Employers are figuring out whether they should pay to retain talent and, if so, how much. With these questions in mind, the ADP Research Institute analyzed the wages of 18 million workers during the last three months of 2021. Here’s what we found.
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MainStreet Macro: The Price is High

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

It feels like everything has been constantly changing over the past two years. Like the houseguests who overstay their welcome, we just want it to go away. But it might be good that we’ve all gotten accustomed to change, because more is coming in the months ahead in the form of higher prices and higher interest rates. This week, we explain the drivers of – and reaction to – inflation and how they’re putting the U.S. economy in a precarious position, at least in the short term.
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MainStreet Macro: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

2022 is just getting started – and thanks to the Omicron variant, it’s already giving us flashbacks of the past. The gloomy headlines might make you wonder where the economic recovery is headed. We’re in a cautiously optimistic mood this week, so let’s call it two steps forward, one step back.
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MainStreet Macro: We’re all Economists

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

It’s a new year on the calendar and the one-year anniversary of MainStreet Macro. We launched this blog with a proclamation that Main Street, not Wall Street, drives the economy. Main Street also determines the strength and duration of job recoveries and losses. A year in, how’s it going? The recovery taking shape has been as unpredictable as the events that brought us here. But we’re more certain than ever that each of us – workers, consumers, employers – plays a leading role in our own economic future. So, to kick off the new year, let’s look at three ways we’re all economists.
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MainStreet Macro: What’s next for Main Street?

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

A new year usually signals new beginnings for people and, by extension, the businesses they sustain. While 2022 will carry forward some themes from 2021, new economic trends will redirect the path ahead. Where will that new path lead us? Here’s what we need to know before we can answer that question.
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MainStreet Macro: Top Transformation Trends

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

It's official. The word “transitory” has been eliminated from the English language. Just joking, obviously. But it has been removed from the official Federal Reserve description of inflation, confirmation that rising prices are going to be with us for a while. That got us thinking. When it comes to the Main Street economy these days, what changes are no longer transitory, but permanent? Here are three ways to answer that question.
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The Holiday Shuffle

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Shopping becomes the national pastime at this time of year. In the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, spending by holiday gift-buyers accounts for nearly a third of the year’s retail sales. And the National Federation of Retail projects that this season could be retail’s biggest ever, with sales rising as much as 10% from last year to hit nearly $860 billion. That’s a lot of ugly reindeer sweaters. How is that even possible? As we’ve discussed before, the big three of inflation, labor shortages, and supply chain bottlenecks have made shopping more expensive. But higher prices don’t necessarily curb spending. In fact, it might increase it. You read that right. Here’s why the big three are triggering big spending on Main Street – and one big reason to be worried about it.
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MainStreet Macro: What’s in and what’s out

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

ADPRI kicked off 2021 with data that showed a global workforce in flux. Three in four workers in our survey said they had changed, or planned to change, how or where they live. Since then, we’ve seen tremendous upheaval in the labor market. In the U.S., companies are scrambling to hire and job openings are near record highs. But workers who quit in record numbers have been slow to return, and the labor market is still 5 million people smaller than it was before the pandemic. Here’s the cool part: There’s a wealth of new data to mine. In 2022, data will be more important than ever for employers navigating the new, dynamic workforce and evolving business landscape. With data in mind, here’s what’s in and what’s out for workforce trends in the coming year.
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MainStreet Macro: The Big Three

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

While you were worrying about labor, supply chains, and inflation, you might have missed the news that U.S. economic growth slowed from July through September to just 2%. That’s below even the tortoise-like pace that defined growth in the decade before the pandemic. It’s also a far cry from the sonic 6.7% growth we saw in the second quarter of this year. The delta-variant was behind the economic downshift, as another uptick in cases limited our rebound. Now, with viral outbreaks re-contained, the outlook for GDP in the final three months of 2021 will hinge on Main Street’s ability to navigate the big three: Hiring bottlenecks, inflation, and supply shortages.
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MainStreet Macro: Show me the money!

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

ADPRI’s Third Quarterly Workforce Vitality Report (WVR), released last week, provides an in-depth analysis of wage trends. The work is based on anonymous and aggregated data derived from about 250,000 U.S. employers and approximately 18 million private-sector U.S. workers. Here are four things we learned from the WVR in the third quarter of this year.
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MainStreet Macro: Gummed up?

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Pandemic spending habits are front and center this week, when we get data on two major measures of economic health – consumer confidence and spending. Consumer spending has led the pandemic recovery. But consumer confidence took a hit recently, when the delta variant led to a surge in coronavirus infections and renewed anxiety about health conditions. The trajectory of spending -- will it slow or remain resilient? -- is the number one question facing the economy right now. Is consumer spending gummed up?
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MainStreet Macro: Scarcity

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

The concept of scarcity drives economic theory because we don’t live in a world where resources are free-flowing and abundant. Scarcity requires people and businesses to make constant tradeoffs to get what they want. The role of scarcity in economic activity has been highlighted by the pandemic. Supply shortages are everywhere. From new cars to chicken wings, inventories are running low. In this week’s MSM, we dive deep into the idea of scarcity in the context of our current supply shortages by answering three big questions just in time for the holiday shopping season.
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MainStreet Macro: A short-term fix

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Every now and again something distracts me from Main Street businesses, consumers and employees. Today, my attention is directed toward Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. There, until last week, the Treasury Department was facing dire consequences as Congress fought over raising the debt ceiling. The urgency of the moment has passed after lawmakers in Congress approved a short-term fix to raise the debt ceiling enough to fund government spending through Dec. 3. What happens next? Glad you asked. This week, we tell you three things every Main Streeter should know about the debt ceiling.
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MainStreet Macro: Where do jobs numbers come from?

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Monthly jobs reports are among the most closely watched estimates of U.S. economic health. Even in normal times, they have the power to move stock prices, influence Fed interest rate policy, and shape spending priorities at the local, state and national level. There are two important monthly measures of employment. The official government non-farm payroll report is produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, rain or shine, on the first or second Friday of every month. In today's blog, we provide a peek under the hood of these two critical indicators and discuss their similarities and differences.
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MainStreet Macro: Is there an urban exodus of high-income earners in tech and finance?

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

As disruptive as the past 18 months have been, one place where workers have sought solitude is at home. The housing market has boomed since the pandemic as remote and hybrid work options led to a big uptick in demand for home offices and outdoor space to walk all the puppies that were adopted early days of the lockdown. Much has been said about the pandemic-driven migration to the suburbs. But so far, we’ve had only limited data available to understand it. This week, ADP dove into its payroll data, where we uncovered three worker migration trends that could have long-run implications for the workplace.
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MainStreet Macro: No Free Lunch

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

There’s a saying in economics – there’s no such thing as a free lunch. The idea is that things that look free often have hidden cost. The cost of borrowing, for both Main Street and Wall Street, isn’t exactly free, but it is really, really cheap right now thanks to the Federal Reserve’s easy-money policy, which has kept interest rates at rock-bottom levels. But all that cheap money can come at a high cost to all of us down the road. When Fed governors meet this week to take their regular measure of the economy, they’ll be weighing three of the biggest tradeoffs of cheap money.
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MainStreet Macro: Wages, Three Ways

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Wages have been on a tear lately. In August, they grew 4.3% from a year earlier. To put that number in perspective, in the decade leading up to the pandemic, wages never grew more than 3.5% from the previous year. There are three possible reasons wages are accelerating, each with a different implication for the broader economic recovery. On this weeks blog we discuss wages three ways.
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MainStreet Macro: Creative Destruction

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

On today's blog we discuss a new economic concept into our discussion of jobs recovery. It’s called creative destruction. Although it sounds mysterious, maybe even a bit ominous, it has deep roots in economic research on the labor market, new business formation, and economic growth. Creative destruction tends to track the economy and the ebb and flow of the business cycle. However, the unprecedented global pandemic has both shifted and accelerated the process of creative destruction in three unique ways.
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MainStreet Macro: Jackson Hole

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Every year at this time, some 120 prominent central bankers, finance leaders and academics gather in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to discuss pressing global issues. The highlight of the conference is a Friday-morning speech given by the head of the Federal Reserve – this year Chair Jay Powell. Traders, economists and other finance geeks hang on the speech’s every word for signs of a shift in monetary policy -- essentially whether the Fed will nudge interest rates up or down
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MainStreet Macro: Consumer Mojo

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Consumers have a special kind of economic mojo. What people buy, how much they buy and where they buy it – that’s the economy in a nutshell. Consumer spending was the first part of the economy to recover after the pandemic, and has been a tailwind to growth ever since. However, recent surveys point to a drop in consumer confidence. There are signs the consumer tailwind is losing some of its strength.
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MainStreet Macro: Working from Home- The Good, the Bad and the Virtual

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

This week we’re talking about a subject that a lot of us have gained experience with over the past year – working from home. During the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, as much as a third of the U.S. workforce did their jobs from home specifically because of the pandemic, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number shrank to just 13% in July as more adults were vaccinated. We review four key findings from the survey, “On-site, Remote or Hybrid: Employee Sentiment on the Workplace”.
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MainStreet Macro: When a Summer Off is a Bad Thing

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

The labor market is still recovering from last year’s bruising round of pandemic-related business closures, during which, for the first time in history, women bore more than their share of job losses. For some, that premature exit from the workforce was “voluntary”, a decision made to focus on increased family responsibilities during the pandemic. For others, the exit was decidedly involuntary, with women more concentrated in service-related jobs that were hit hardest by the pandemic. As the labor market continues its uneven path to pre-pandemic levels of employment here are three trends to watch for women this summer.
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MainStreet Macro: Pivotal Moments

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Main Street businesses, the real-world heroes in the economy’s battle against the viral menace of COVID-19, are at just such a pivotal moment. This week, official GDP data is likely to confirm what we already know — the U.S. grew like gangbusters in the second quarter of the year. Yet as good as the economic numbers look from a distance, up close there’s growing unease that Main Street isn’t out of the woods yet when it comes to the pandemic. Here are three pivotal moments Main Street is facing.
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MainStreet Macro: How much is too much inflation?

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

As inflation climbs -- businesses and consumers wonder what this trend means for economic recovery. In this episode of MainStreet Macro, ADP Chief Economist Nela Richardson breaks down the three key relationships influencing inflation and overall economic health.
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MainStreet Macro: Special Edition- The glass ceiling just got harder to crack

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Women’s job losses during the pandemic topped those of men for the first time in U.S. economic history. The “shecession” left millions of women pulled between work and new family responsibilities. As employees, women also were concentrated in industries hit hardest by social-distancing restrictions, such as retail and leisure and hospitality. At the ADP Research Institute, we wanted to know what happened to the women who stayed in the workforce during the pandemic year. Here are a few things we learned about women in the workplace during the pandemic.
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MainStreet Macro: Introducing ADP’s Quarterly Small Business @ Work Survey 

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Main Street firms were forced to reduce headcount quickly during the pandemic. But thanks to a potent formula of government stimulus and sheer grit, small firms led the recovery from the worst of the downturn. A new quarterly survey from the ADP Research Institute might help. The Small Business @ Work Survey, which I’m pleased to introduce here, will take the ongoing pulse of their economy. Here are key findings from our inaugural report.
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MainStreet Macro: The Fed’s Role: Thermometer or thermostat? 

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

It came as a surprise to no one, anywhere, that the Fed left interest rates at near zero when the Board of Governors met for its regularly scheduled policy meeting last week. The twist in the announcement, though, was a hint that the Fed might raise short-term rates and lower monthly bond purchases sooner than it had suggested. Today we discuss what hats the Fed needs to wear to help Wall Street, Main Street and the overall economy.
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MainStreet Macro: Should MainStreet Care about Student Debt?

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

This month, students around the country will graduate from college, vocational schools, and high school after a year of learning like no other.  Well it’s almost like no other.  One constant of higher education before and after the pandemic has been its high price tag. U.S. students owe a whopping $1.7 trillion in combined debt. Outstanding student loans have skyrocketed 90% over the past decade. Should Main Street care about student debt?
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MainStreet Macro: The Economy Needs a Vacation–Yours

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Memorial Day weekend – the unofficial kickoff to summer. If you’re like me, yours looks like a combination of work and play. But this year, many Americans have had to postpone their usual summer planning. And many others are preparing to make do with less as states begin to revoke a federal unemployment benefit. On this weeks blog, we look at three ways of looking at this summer's labor outlook.
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MainStreet Macro: The Retail Remix

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Last week we explained how to understand the economy in five easy steps. This week we focus on the most important indicator to watch – consumer spending. The great reopening has many of us dusting off our credit cards to shop (I’ll be honest, I never stopped). Yet the retail landscape is being transformed. Trends in place before COVID-19 accelerated during the pandemic and are remixing retail into the future.
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MainStreet Macro: How are we doing? Unpacking the economy in five easy steps

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Fourteen months after the pandemic’s initial assault, Main Streeters want to know how we’re doing. The answer isn’t simple. There’s a deluge of data, but depending on where you look, you could find different answers. So how are we doing – really? Here are five things to watch to get a sense of the economy’s overall well-being, ranked from important to very important.
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MainStreet Macro: Job Switching

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Typically, when the economic growth starts to accelerate like it is now, workers dust off their resumes and look for better options. The economy grew a vigorous 6.4% annualized in the first three months of the year, and is poised to grow by double digits in the current quarter. Yet recent data shows that even as the economy has improved, employees are reluctant to seek out new opportunities. In this week’s blog, we discuss the analysis conducted on 18 million workers to measure the financial returns to job switching.
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MainStreet Macro: The Global Workforce Speaks

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

We’ve spent much of MainStreet Macro’s first four months tracking the economic recovery and unprecedented changes in employment due to the coronavirus pandemic. This week, we shift gears to hear from workers themselves about how their attitudes and lives have adjusted.
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MainStreet Macro: Three lessons from history

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

This is a busy week for the economy. Not only are key members of the Federal Reserve meeting to discuss the hot topic of inflation, we’ll also get a report card on economic growth in the first quarter. What happens next for the economy is uncharted. We’ve never seen such a collision of low interest rates, massive fiscal stimulus, easy money and wealth disparity. We don’t know if the vigorous pace of growth will continue in the second half of the year, or even whether all sectors can recover if it does.
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MainStreet Macro: Why can’t we just print more money?

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

This week, I have a timely and thoughtful question from a 10-year old viewer, Caleb: “Ms. Nela, could you share with us why we can’t just print more money to fix the economy?” Well, Caleb, that’s a very good question, one that’s of particular importance to Main Street right now. When it comes to printing money and fixing the economy, there are three things to know.
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MainStreet Macro: What’s next for small businesses?

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Last week, the ADP Research Institute looked at how the first two months of the COVID-19 pandemic affected U.S. employment one year later. During the 2020 lockdown in March and April, the U.S. lost 20 million jobs, or about 15% of total employment. This week we review what's next for small businesses.
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MainStreet Macro: Running Hot and Cold

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

In the month of March, it’s hard to know which coat to wear. Will the weather be on the warm side or the cool side? That question also can be asked of the economy right now. As Main Street transitions from a pandemic-oppressed winter to a vaccine-liberated spring, is the economy running hot or cold?
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MainStreet Macro: The March Reset

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

This month, Main Street marks the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, in a year that took our lives and the economy on a wild roller-coaster ride. In two short months, we went from the longest economic expansion in U.S. history to the most devastating downturn since the Great Depression. What a difference a year makes. March has brought us an economy on the verge of a reset as the vaccine rollout picks up steam and a $1.9 trillion relief package begins its work. Yet as the U.S. continues its climb to pre-pandemic GDP, the economy isn’t resetting to its pre-pandemic form. Things are different. As I said last week, the story of the economy’s evolution is still being written. Here are four structural changes likely to outlive the pandemic.
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MainStreet Macro: An Unscripted Recovery

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

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.
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MainStreet Macro: What’s all the fuss about?

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

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.
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MainStreet Macro: Shop til the Economy Pops

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

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.
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MainStreet Macro: Housing Leads the Way

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

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.
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MainStreet Macro: Right Direction, Wrong Reason

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

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.
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MainStreet Macro: The Handshake

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

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.
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MainStreet Macro: Inflation, the Remix

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

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.
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MainStreet Macro: What Next for 2021 Jobs Recovery

by Nela Richardson, Ph.D.

Welcome to the MainStreet Macro Blog, a weekly dispatch that will dissect and explain the macroeconomic trends that affect the business community, its workers, and the consumers it serves.
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