Consumer Views on US Economy

America’s economy is currently not in as poor state as some of the commentators are suggesting. When one looks at numbers of hiring, wage increase, and consumer spending the situation is far from bleak. In fact hourly wages increased.

According to the government’s job report at the beginning of this month, employers in America are actually adding jobs.  True, it’s at a lower pace (hiring at 130,000 jobs in August), but it is still happening.   Unemployment figures remained stagnant (as for the last 3 months) at 3.7 percent.   This is almost the lowest number for unemployment in 50 years.  Plus, the longer the good unemployment rate continues, the better for employees as bosses may have to adjust how they work to ensure longer-term growth.  In other words, they will have to provide better packages for workers and invest in training, equipment etc.

Average hourly wages increased by 11 cents last month which marked a 3.2 percent escalation from 2018 figures. Indeed, according to PNC chief economist Gus Faucher:

“With slower, but still-solid job gains and good wage growth, households will continue to spend. The U.S. economy should avoid recession.”

US consumerism is looking good also.  The highest jump in consumer spending in five years was witnessed in the 2019 April-June quarter.  July looked good as well.

Awards in Recognition of Goodness

There are a variety of awards presented to businesses and businessmen and women for success in their industry.  There are also some awards given to individuals who have demonstrated goodness and ethics with their personal conduct in their given industry.  Here we take a look at three of them.

The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED) presented two women from Rapid City, SD with a national award. The organization is America’s largest nonprofit entity which works with and promotes North American business leadership.  Lafawn Janis and Kimberly Tilsen-Brave Heart were recognized for having “demonstrated leadership, initiative, and dedication and made significant contributions in business, their professions, or in their communities.” The NCAIED seeks to help with economic development, business development and leadership in tribal communities.

Tilsen-Brave Heart received the award for her work as owner of Painted Skye Management and co-owner of Et-i-quette Catering.  Janis for her work as Bluebird Consulting owner.

The American Bar Association recently presented Congressman John Lewis with the Thurgood Marshall Award for his commitment – through word and action – to civil rights in America.  Lewis is one of the original 13 Freedom Riders and a founding member and chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. According to former president of the National Bar Association, Robert L. Harris:

“Congressman John Lewis is one of our most revered elder statesmen. His sacrifices for civil rights, justice and equality are unparalleled.”

Economic Optimism: News and Views

What are people’s thoughts on the current status of the US economy?  Is there more of a leaning toward optimism or pessimism? Here we take a brief look.

According to a June study from the NFIB (National Federation of Independent Business), people are pretty optimistic about the economy. The finding was that:

 “While optimism remains at historically high levels, the June figure reverses the gain posted in May, with six components falling, three improving, and one unchanged. The Uncertainty Index rose substantially, increasing seven points to the highest level since March 2017. Last month, small business owners curbed spending, sales expectations and profits both fell, and the outlook for expansion dampened. When you add difficulty finding qualified workers and harmful state-level laws and regulations, you’re left with a volatile mix where uncertainty has increased to levels not seen in more than two years.”

Vis-à-vis employment in Mid-America, according to Ernie Goss, PhD, director of Creighton University’s Economic Forecasting Group and the Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics in the Heider College of Business, Omaha, Nebraska:

“Since December of 2018, the national employment growth rate has been approximately three times that of the region. Not surprisingly, approximately 40 percent of supply managers reported the shortage of qualified workers was the greatest economic challenge for their company for the next 12 months,” Goss said. “Due to shortages of workers in the region, U.S. Labor Statistics data show that the average regional hourly wage rate rose by 4.8 percent over the past 12 months, well above the national gain of 3.1 percent over the same period of time.”

Educating Women: Family Finances

Why are women in America so uneducated on their personal household finances?  Why are statistics showing – even today – that when it comes to divorce or widowhood, women are not educated as to what their personal finances are?  With so many women in top executive positions in various industries (even economic ones), the gap on education in this area is still broad.

Michelle Smith divorce expert is CEO and founder of NYC’s Source Financial Advisors, an RIA (Registered Investment Advisor) and a CDFA (Certified Divorce Financial Analyst).  She has been working in the field, advising women on this issue for the last 15 years.  Source Financial Advisors currently manages $420 million in assets and works with divorcing couples, 85% who are women.

Over the years Smith has found that many women who file for divorce or who are suddenly widowed have had no control over the money in the marriage and assets the couple own are completely foreign to them.  In recent years there has been a substantial increase in the amount of what has been coined the “gray divorce” (people over 50 filing for divorce) that is adding to the financial burden and stress, again primarily of women.  Smith echoed this when she reported that she had been “seeing more and more older people divorcing [given the increase in life expectancy, these people are] unwilling to stay unhappy” for longer.

The financial side for women who survive their husbands or are divorcing is terrible – no matter what age or stage.  There is so much to do (irrespective of the emotional side) with finances when one gets divorced.  Smith has found that the transitional process requires the suddenly-single woman to “become a CFO.”  As such she formulated a process for these individuals.  “Wife2CFO” is a system she developed to aide women in the divorce process.  “About two years ago, I literally woke up in the middle of the night and I saw the letter ‘F’ connecting the word ‘wife’ to CFO and so I immediately trademarked it,” she said.

Ultimately given that the rate of divorce after age 50 has doubled in the U.S. since 1990, and one out of two couples will end up divorced (which doesn’t even take into account the amount left widowed), it is time for women to get a full education on where they stand.

America’s Economy: Amazing Growth

Just last month 224,000 new jobs were created in America; that figure is more than twice than was needed to maintain workforce progression.  Growth of GDP per person has increased by 1.5 percent per year and over the last decade has increased by a 3.3 percent average annually.

At the end of this month it will have been 121 months that the US economy has been in a state of consecutive growth.  According to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), this is the longest stretch of time since 1854 that the economy has encountered such growth.

Given that the US economy is responsible for 25 percent of global output, if it keeps growing like this, it could be “time to rewrite the rules for how all rich economies behave.”  America is certainly not an island (economically) so if the countries it trades with encounter a recession it will impact the US as well.

Tribute to Bauhaus School

A tribute to the centenary of the establishment of the Germany’s Bauhaus school is being held in Tel Aviv.  Photographer Mozes Victor Konig is thrilled to have been able to check out the exhibition that is being held at the Diaghilev Hotel at The Gallery from June 13 until July 27.

“I read about Less Is More: Israeli Art Homage to Bauhaus in an entertainment journal online.  Given that my father’s mother originated from Weimar before escaping the Nazis, I thought it would be fitting that I visit the event that is happening in our land,” Konig explained.

“As an artist of sorts myself, I was most impressed to learn the history of the school which is very arts-centric, using both fine art and craft arts. Even more so because this type of art has had a very strong influence on design and architecture right here in Israel.”

Exhibit curator is Ilan Wigan and some of the participating artists include: Liat Elbling, Ohad Meromi and Nahum Tevet.

Growth of US Economy

There are so many conflicting reports about the growth – or lack thereof – of the US economy.  Here we take a look at some of those and try to present them in a way that the reader can come up with their own conclusion.

In Q1 2019, there was a growth of 3.1 percent in the economy. While there has been a slight deceleration in job hiring, jobs have still been added for more than 100 consecutive months. Plus this month we are seeing more expansion than even that of the 1990s boom, making it the longest stretch of time of continuous growth.

According to economist Todd G Buchholz:

“There is a dirty little secret in economics today. The United States has benefited – and continues to benefit – from the global slump.”

Even though there is currently a Brexit-fed-UK crisis; a French yellow-vest-unrest and a Chinese fear of foreign market bombardment, this global turbulence is not impacting America in the way one would imagine.

Indeed, in 2018 when the US economy grew by 2.9 percent it was unrivalled by its European counterpart that pulled in a mere 1.8 percent in economic growth.  Buckholz puts some of this down to the “sluggish GDP outside of America…low interest rates and weak inflation…puny looking yields on bank certificates of deposits (CDs).”