Elizabeth Macbride discovered her great-grandfather didn’t fall in front of a train in 1937 but lay in front of it deliberately. Her search to figure out why is touching and sad. (“Men still, more than women, define their self-worth by how much money they make and their occupations. That partly goes to explain why the suicide rate is three times higher among men than women.”)
The Atlantic asked 41 reporters and economists from across the U.S. what the most important economic story of 2013 was according to data and graphs. Here’s Heidi Moore:
Here’s why I love this chart: it nails the issue with the inequality at the center of our economy right now. Corporate profits are our only consistently rising metric of economic success. Everything else that matters is bumping along the bottom. Job openings have only modest gains, and nowhere near what we had before the crash. Personal income is stagnant. Unemployment is still absurdly high. That leads to the policy question: is it our goal as a country to fuel only corporate profits? Or do we have some other responsibility to the citizenry?
And here’s Eddy Elfenbein from Crossing Wall Street:
Here’s the Medicals Costs portion of the CPI divided by the Core CPI. This trend has been rising for decades, but it’s slowed down recently. It’s still too early to call is a trend. But obviously, if healthcare inflation soon becomes like regular inflation, then it’s a game changer.
There’s a lot more and a lot of interesting data to think about here, but basically, the labor market has not been great, but the stock market and corporate profits did well in 2013.
Whether you’re headed to a wedding (even your own) or just a barbecue, you may interact with someone who is unemployed. Do you offer a hug? Should you feign laryngitis and walk away? It can be stressful for the employed, or otherwise economically stable, to know how to respond.
Trust me. Since I was laid off, family, former colleagues, and especially, strangers, (albeit indirectly and always unsolicited) let me know how challenging my joblessness is for them. These rules of thumb will help you handle the unbearable lightness of being around the non-working class.
JUDGE: If someone admits to being laid off, fired, let go, or otherwise not working, let her know that her current situation is directly related to her defective character. Use strong simplistic (not to be confused with simple!) terms. Cloak statements in the form of questions like, “What did you do wrong?” or “Who can blame them (insert: corporation here)?” If the unemployed person seems defensive, remind her that you have a job for a reason.
“For about 43 percent of Americans over the age of 18 [that is: the ones without college degrees], there has been no growth in the labor market since it bottomed out more than two years ago. To get a job, you’ve essentially had to hope someone else lost or left theirs.” —The Atlantic’s Jordan Weissmann translates some charts! Basically: Um, sucks if you didn’t go to college! The other part of the analysis is that if you have a college degree, you cannot and should not complain about the job market because essentially it’s back to pre-recession levels so go get a job! Go, go, go!