A Quick Look at the Economy Over the Past Four Years

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I don’t quite remember what got me going on this, but I thought I’d start off the week with a quick look at how the economy has been doing over the past few years.

First, here are two measures of core inflation (i.e., excluding food and energy), the Fed’s favored instrument for gauging price movements. Inflation hasn’t reached the Fed’s goal of 2 percent the entire time, and shows no signs of acceleration:

Here’s labor force participation. Its long-term decline has stopped for both men and women and has been basically flat for the past four years:

And here are weekly wages for production and nonsupervisory workers, adjusted for inflation. There’s been slow but steady growth for four years:

So inflation is subdued and shows signs of staying subdued. Labor force participation is flat. And wages of ordinary workers have been growing at about 1 percent per year.

There’s nothing really new here: these charts just show that the economy is in good shape. Not great, not bad, but pretty decent. You can tell a lot of different stories with data like this, so be just as wary of folks peddling doomsday scenarios as you are of presidents pretending that the economy is booming.

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THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

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