Is Everything Awesome In The Economy?
Hey, one it is Stacey and Cardiff the Oxford English. Dictionary defines word do monger as chiefly appreciative a person who predicts disaster or misfortune case anyone's curious about how we spend our time here. Of course, the more informal urban dictionary has a different definition. It defines do monger as quote, possibly the most annoying kinds of people that one can think of oh do mongers they're already mongering doom. And now, they're annoying on a very extreme scale. A Beasley do mongers. You know, they're people who are always portending terrible things seen the worst and everything. Everything's going down the tubes. Things are getting worse. You know, the apocalypse it's on its way. We don't want to be that. No. We don't wanna be annoying. We don't want to be du mongers. At least. Has a strong do monger section. It hard not to be an do monger. Especially in the first three months of this year. When some important indicators about the us economy really were disappointing especially those indicators about people's jobs about how much money they spend. And also about how the economy and the rest of the world was doing, and you know, communists, were not really saying that we were gonna go into recession or anything like that. But you know, the chances of going into a recession or things starting to slow down did seem to be climbing. But but in the last month economic indicators have improved they've have quite improved to the point where we can say that everything, you know, is awesome. Like in the LEGO song in the Legos on. You can always play the song. But I think we can say that everything is not not awesome, right? Very rely overly optimistic, but we're also mixed me nervous today on the indicator from planet money. We are going to share three trends that are making us feel not not awesome about the economy so far this year. And you know, so that you cannot accuse us of being do mongers earliest you can't accuse me into another story. Open to the accusation. Everything is cool. This message comes from NPR sponsors snowflake. The only data warehouse built for the cloud unlock. Deep data insights with the instantly scalable, cloud built data warehouse. Start your journey towards data driven decision. Making at snowflake dot com slash NPR. Support also comes from NPR sponsor linked in jobs when it's time to hire for your small business. You wanna find the right person for the job Lincoln jobs can help learn more at Lincoln dot com slash indicator. Terms and conditions apply. Okay. Three feel good issue indicators to lighten the mood. Yeah. There we go. There we go. There's the Cardiff gercy. I know exactly I up initial jobless claims unemployed workers are of course, eligible for unemployment insurance benefits, and when unemployed worker I files for those benefits. It's called an initial jobless claims the Labor Department keeps track of how many initial claims are made from week to week. And in a strong economy, you'd expect the number of initial jobless claims to be falling because a lot of jobs are available than fewer people should be filing for unemployment benefits. But in the last few months of twenty eighteen up until February of this year, the number of initial jobless claims had actually been going up, and we were concerned because when jobless claims are going up, it means that there are some parts of the labor market where people are struggling to find jobs. So they're filing for unemployment, but that is not happening anymore. No, it isn't not anymore. Initial jobless claims have been plummeting since February. Everything is not not awesome. Oh, that's going to be. According to the most recent update there have been two hundred and one thousand two hundred and fifty initial jobless claims per week in roughly the past month that is the lowest level in almost fifty years, and it is also today's first planet money, indicator and most importantly, it's a sign the labor market is still in very good shape. Okay. Reason number two that the economy's not not awesome. Our next feel good ish. Indicator of the one point six percent retail sales were one point six percent higher in March than they were in February. And that was a strong number stronger than analysts had even expected and retail sales. Are basically what they sound like, you know, it's things that we buy from stores or online or at dealerships like cars and furniture and clothes and all that kind of thing. Interestingly enough also includes bar tabs. Yes. Cardiff interesting that you point this out. True, though, retail sales numbers also include what people spend at bars and restaurants under category called food services and drinking places snappy little name bars, and you know, in a growing economy retail sales should also be growing from month to month and from year to year because as the economy grows, people get jobs and make more money, and so they can buy more stuff more retail goods. But from last July all the way up until February of this year, retail sales were basically flat, and it really still is not clear what was going on. Because during most of those months wages were still growing at an increasing pace. People were getting bigger raises at work. They just were not spending more on retail goods. And the worry was that if that trend had continued or even if it had gotten worse if people had started spending even less money than it could hurt the economy 'cause remember if people are not spending money that eventually companies will make less stuff to sell which in turn means it companies don't need as many workers. And they might even start laying off those workers, but things changed in March when retail sales finally started growing again, and even though we have only one month of growth that we are looking at right now at least, you know, the stopped the trend of flat retail sales, and it could be a sign that maybe just maybe Americans are ready to go shopping, again, not not awesome by ever heard would make things even more not not exactly losing track of the double negative. Finally, here's the third indicator that suggests things aren't quite as bad as people had feared earlier this year. Three point three percent. That is how much the global economy is expected to grow this year. According to the latest estimates from the International Monetary Fund. Now that is a slower pace of growth than last year. But we were still relieved because given just how much the global economy was slowing at the end of last year, the estimates for this year could have been even worse than they ended up being instead the IMF economists now say that they actually expect the global economy to improve in the second half of the year and into next year. And the reason is that policymakers in a lot of different countries like the central banks and the politicians have been responding to the global slowdown by taking steps to keep their economy stimulated. And this matters global economic growth does matter for the US economy when the rest of the world has a strong economy. It means that people abroad will buy more products made by American companies. And those American companies can then better afford to keep hiring American workers to make those products. So there it is three indicators that the us economy is in less danger of falling into a recession than people thought just a couple of months ago. She likes to say three not not awesome indicators, and in fact in the past couple of months, economists and other forecasters have raised their estimates for how fast the US economy is now growing, and we should say Cardiff is a nod to you know, all the me. Host. There are still a few parts of the economy. The do not look, so great some not awesome parts of the economy. And maybe the best example here is the housing market, which has been sluggish for more than a year now. But guess what you found out just yesterday that in March people bought new houses at the fastest pace of any month since November of two thousand seventeen not not awesome. So there you go card if not not awesome yet, again, even I was breathing a sigh of relief on that number. So yeah, it's true. That just because the odds of recession of gone down does not mean that everything's awesome. But it also does mean in a nod to my co host that everything is not catastrophic either. And that folks is that as optimistic as I and round here. It's economics optimism is just not. This episode was produced by are very optimistic producer could stand the guy Ardo and edited by paddy Hirsch, our fact, checker is will Ruben and the indicator is a production of. Everything is. Also, just attack something on here. Quick footnote for the wonky types out there, just so we don't get emailed about this. Because I know you're firing up your laptops, right now. Okay. For the initial not not. The initial jobless claims we're using the four week moving average. And even though it's true that initial weekly claims are at their lowest point in about fifty years. It is also the case that the requirements to qualify for employment insurance benefits have changed. So the comparison across all fifty those years is not perfect. If you want more from the planet money universe. You should subscribe to our newsletter. It's fun. It's free. It goes in your Email every week to subscribe, you can go to NPR dot org slash planet money newsletter. One word that's NPR dot org slash planet money newsletter.