The Economy

The U.S. Spends More on Social Services Than Many Other Countries

Which country spends more money on social services: the United States, or Sweden? Turns out, it’s the U.S.

---

Fifty Nifty Small Town Rankings

Let’s say you wanted to combine the economic advantages of a specific state with the cost-of-living advantages of small-town life. Which small town would you choose? Well, Business Insider, in addition to releasing the fifty nifty United States economy rankings we looked at earlier today, has also put together a list of the most affordable small towns in each state.

---

Fifty Nifty United States Economy Rankings

Which state do you think has the best economy? How about the worst? Where do you think your own state falls into the ranking?

---

We Literally Cannot All Be Middle-Class

I have some potentially alarming news.

IT’S POSSIBLE THAT YOU ARE NOT IN THE MIDDLE CLASS

---

Is Your Boss Springing for a Holiday Party

Fortune claims that 90% of offices are planning parties in 2014. Get out those reindeer headbands!

---

A Recovery Without Steady Incomes

The U.S. unemployment rate is currently at 5.8 percent—the lowest since the financial crisis of 2008. The U.S. economy has grown at a rate of 3 percent for the past four to five quarters encouraging analysts to say that our country “is finally casting aside the shackles imposed by the financial crisis.” Corporate profits are at a record high. And yet, household incomes remain volatile—especially for low and middle-income households.

---

Sobering Loan, Debt, Savings News; Or, Janet is Yellen at Us Again

We Americans are in dire straits. We need to pay people to find us roommates so that we can afford to live in grossly overpriced apartments on the outskirts of where the jobs are. Student loans are such a crushing financial burden, totaling $1.2 trillion, that an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street called Rolling Jubilee has started urging debtors to organize and fight back.

Americans have an average of about $30,000 worth of student debt, and one in ten borrowers default on their loans. According to Andrew Ross, a Rolling Jubilee board member and professor at New York University, this sizable group of people can make an impact if they act as a unit. … “Debtors often don’t identify their condition as permanent,” Taylor said. Unlike medical debt, which is usually perceived as unavoidable, “people with student loans feel like they made a choice. It’s their problem. They feel shame instead of outrage.” …

The long-term goals, group members say, are to challenge the very existence of student loans in the first place and advocate for free education. “There’s this strong sense in the United States of morality behind debt—that being a good person means paying what you owe,” said Thomas Gokey, 35, who has $67,000 in student loans and came up with the idea of buying portfolios on the secondary market for the collective’s first action back in 2012. “We hope to undermine this fake morality around debt.” Since the debt was bought for pennies on the dollar, he says, people “really don’t owe this debt at all. Someone is simply making a profit.”

The GOP blocked Elizabeth Warren’s student loan bill, again. And now Fed Chair Janet Yellen has some more grim news

---

Pros and Cons of “The Uber for Housecleaning”

Lydia DePillis at the Washington Post wrote about the new “Uber for home cleaning” companies like the one I used this week. This one focuses on Homejoy, and smartly discusses a lot of the pros and cons.

---

Parent Penalty FOR MOMS ONLY Blah Blah Blah Let’s Talk About Something More Cheerful

Mommies, especially low-income ones, take a hit in the labor market, whereas daddies, especially already privileged ones, reap rewards. You must be as tired of reading this nonsense as I am of writing about it.

Ms. Correll asked participants how much they would pay job applicants if they were employers. Mothers were offered on average $11,000 less than childless women and $13,000 less than fathers. In her research, Ms. Correll found that employers rate fathers as the most desirable employees, followed by childless women, childless men and finally mothers.

Low-income women lost 6 percent in wages per child, two percentage points more than the average. For men, the largest bonuses went to white and Latino men who were highly educated and in professional jobs. The smallest pay bumps went to unmarried African-American men who had less education and had manual labor jobs. “The daddy bonus increases the earnings of men already privileged in the labor market,” Ms. Budig wrote.

GAH SEXISM UNEQUAL OPPORTUNITY OUR CLASSLESS SOCIETY okay I’m out. Only good news now:

Jesse Mecham of YNAB did an AMA.

New Orleans’s economy has seriously bounced back post-Katrina; it reversed a pre-hurricane decline and is now outperforming the country in general.

Here’s what Rupert Giles maybe studied at Watcher / Librarian school.

+ New pizza box will save the world.

---