(Trends Wide) — We are experiencing a life-changing pandemic, an assault on democracy, and a reckoning of racial justice. But it’s the economy and inflation that sour the general mood of Americans.
There are many social, political and health concerns. Covid-19 cases are on the rise in most states, indicating once again that the virus is here to stay. A series of court cases showed that the national reckoning on racial issues is as complicated and unsolvable as ever.
And behind all the news about politics is the expected return attempt by former President Donald Trump, who at this time last year was plotting a coup. Sometimes these stories fit, like when Trump met with Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager who was recently acquitted after killing two people in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last summer.
On Wednesday, meanwhile, President Joe Biden pointed to the conviction of three white men in the death of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man, as proof that “our justice system (is) doing its job.”
However, what can affect Americans most directly each day is the state of the United States economy.
Here’s the disconnect between data and everyday life: People are struggling with rising costs at gas stations and at the grocery store, even when there’s a lot of great economic news to be thankful for.
First of all, almost everyone who wants a job has one. The government registered just 199,000 new jobless claims last week, the lowest since 1969. Meanwhile, a key measure of inflation rose in October to its highest level in 31 years.
Trends Wide’s Christine Romans described this pandemic contradiction in a video report.
I borrowed much of his ideas for this list of possible good news, which includes:
- The US industrial production is advancing above pre-pandemic levels.
- The automobile manufacturing recovered last month and the factories ‘output would have been even stronger if it weren’t for the setbacks in the companies’ supply chain.
- The company profits are enviable and big companies are circumventing supply chain problems, passing higher costs on to customers and even filling in their profit margins along the way.
- The largest publicly traded companies They have higher profit margins today than before the pandemic, and their retirement account probably shows it.
- The Dow is up 17% this year and el S&P 500 25%. If it pulls back further since the market crashed in 2020, some averages have doubled.
- The workers have the advantage. You may have heard it called the “Great Resignation”: Americans are stepping down from their jobs in record numbers. In September, 4.4 million left their jobs, and economists say many are taking on better jobs with higher pay and start-up bonuses.
- The payrolls are more abundant after years of poor wage growth, especially for low-wage workers. Salary growth is approaching 5%.
- The Americans are saving. Thanks to higher wages, COVID-19 stimulus checks and child tax credits, Americans have an excess of $ 2.3 trillion in savings since the crisis began. JP Morgan says your average checking account balance is 50% higher this year than it was in 2019.
- The economy is adding jobs. Overall, 5.8 million jobs have been added this year.
There is certainly a contradiction here if the national mood is down while the economic indicators are up.
In a recent CBS News poll, just 4% of Americans said things in the country are generally going very well, and 26% said they are going somewhat well. People had the same opinion about the economy: 30% said that the state of the national economy was very good or quite good.
It is also true that while concern about the economy has increased, it remains historically quite low, as Gallup notes.
“Inflation concerns are making headlines, but most other indicators are going from strength to strength,” Romans said in his report.
He offered two reasons why the consumer sentiment indicators do not reflect the strong indicators:
- Americans are exhausted by the pandemic.
- They are bombarded every day by higher prices at the grocery store and the gas station. “Everyone drives and eats; not everyone has stocks,” he said.
It’s hard to square these strong indicators with the silly meme circulating in Washington that some Americans will not be able to buy turkeys this year due to inflation.
I asked Ariel Edwards-Levy, Trends Wide poll editor, how to view the national mood, and she argued that polls don’t allow easy conclusions.
He said: “It is true that at the same time
a) concern about the economy is increasing;
b) the economy is not yet as dominant an issue as it was during the Great Recession;
c) the prevailing views of Americans on the economy at the moment are generally quite bad and,
d) opinions on the economy are closely related to partisanship. “
The partisan element is important. Much of the Republicans may have a worse view of the economy right now simply because of their disdain for Biden. Democrats could have exhibited the same behavior during the Trump administration.
Food is certainly more expensive
The American Farm Bureau Federation did the math to argue that the average Thanksgiving banquet for 10 people will cost $ 53.31, or about $ 5.30 per person. Last year, the median figure was $ 46.90.
The American Farm Bureau Federation noted that turkeys are more expensive this year, but also added that it bought turkeys to do these calculations before grocery stores stocked up for Thanksgiving.
When White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the fact that this was the most expensive Thanksgiving in history, she responded, “I just want to make it clear that there are plenty of turkeys available. That’s about a dollar more for a 20 pound bird, which is a huge bird if you’re feeding a very large family. And that’s something that, again, we’ve been working on to make sure people have more money in their lives. pockets to cope with as the economy recovers. “
The abundance of turkeys is something all Americans can be thankful for, even if there is concern that they will cost a little more.