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Americans Are Flush With Cash and Jobs. They Also Think the Economy Is Awful.

By Curt_Anderson
November 6, 2021 6:22 pm
Category: Government
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(New York Times)Americans are, by many measures, in a better financial position than they have been in many years. They also believe the economy is in terrible shape.

[This contradiction] presents a fundamental challenge for economic policy, which has succeeded at lifting the wealth, incomes and job prospects of millions of people — but has not made Americans, in their own self-perception, any better off.

Workers have seized the upper hand in the labor market, attaining the largest raises in decades and quitting their jobs at record rates. The unemployment rate is 4.6 percent and has been falling rapidly. Cumulatively, Americans are sitting on piles of cash; they have $2.3 trillion more in savings in the last 19 months than would have been expected in the prepandemic path. The median household’s checking account balance was 50 percent higher in July of this year than in 2019, according to the JPMorgan Chase Institute.

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  1. by islander on November 8, 2021 4:44 am

    I'm sure some people will disagree with this, there'll always be those who would rather sit around and complain even when things are rolling along pretty good whether it is the economy, "today's kids", or society as a whole, they perceive the world differently. It seems to be a personality trait.

  2. by Donna on November 8, 2021 9:08 am
    OTOH, people are leaving California in droves because they can't afford the cost of living. Very few people who are retirement age can afford to retire in California. Ot's the sole reason Sheri snd I are leaving.

    Because of the IMO generous $400/wk COVID relief/stimulus on top of regular unemployment checks, many people were making more money by not working during the partial lockdowns than if they had worked. Unless this sort of wildcat general strike that's happening now results in employers increasing hourly wage rates, most of the people who benefitted from not being employed are going to be back the same paycheck to paycheck situation they were in prior to the pandemic.

  3. by Curt_Anderson on November 8, 2021 9:25 am
    There lies the paradox.

    California is economically successful as evidenced by the high cost of living there. Good state and local governments do their best to improve the quality of life of their residents.

    Neighborhoods with tree-lined streets near parks are often the priciest neighborhoods in which to live. That often prices out people with limited or fixed incomes. Nice neighborhoods also attract people with money and people with money attracts businesses such as restaurants and other services.

    Businesses generate jobs. People with jobs have spending power which tends to increase demand on housing, et cetera which causes the price of living to go up.

  4. by Donna on November 8, 2021 3:22 pm
    Right, but in SoCal, even the shitty looking neighborhoods are expensive.

  5. by Curt_Anderson on November 8, 2021 4:36 pm
    Donna, even SoCal's not-so-great places are in demand. Obviously people who live in those "shitty" places think it's worth the price. It might be because of the nearby scenery, the ocean, jobs, civic improvements or the arts scene. Otherwise they'd all move to Tucson, northern California, Oregon or wherever the cost of living is cheaper.

  6. by Donna on November 9, 2021 7:05 am
    They increasingly are leaving.

    Btw, you left out climate. If you like a climate that isn't too warm, cold, humid, or arid, and you don't like rain, which is probably most people, you won't find a more enticing climate than SoCal's. In fact I've heard some people refer to the high cost of living here as a "climate tax".

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