The gripe noting the emphasis (or narrow focus) on stock market “news” is a recurring one on this blog, but perhaps it’s high time to suggest some sources which will provide a more comprehensive picture than merely stock market numbers and unemployment figures. Here are a few for your viewing pleasure:
Labor Information: What we get on television broadcasts and from most print media are national numbers, however this obfuscates the point that not all parts of the country are experiencing employment (and unemployment) in the same way. To find out more about state and local employment there’s information available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics at this page. Nevada, for example, is in the western region in the BLS categorization of various statistics, and more specifically as the national unemployment rate is 3.9% nationally (October 2017) the Clark County rate is 5.1%.(pdf) Although employment in the construction sector is up in Clark County, NV, the rate is altogether to close to that of Cleveland, OH which was 5.2% (pdf) Unlike Clark County, which saw a decrease in unemployment, Cleveland actually ticked up from 2016’s 5.1% to 5.2%. Using the handy interactive from the BLS link give will allow a person to see differences within a state, such as the 5.1% unemployment rate in Las Vegas and the 3.9% unemployment rate in the Reno area. (pdf)
A summary of state unemployment rates is available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As of November 2017 the lowest unemployment rate in the country is in Hawaii (2.0%) and the highest unemployment rate belongs to Alaska which has a rate of 7.2%.
The BLS also provides employment projections (for the next 10 years) complete with a graphic illustrating the fastest growing occupations. Presidential climate change denial notwithstanding, we should observe that the two fastest growing occupations are solar photovoltaic installers (105.3% increase) and wind turbine technicians (96.1% increase).
A few recommended bookmarks: AFL-CIO website; UAW website; SEIU website; Nevadans will want to keep up with Culinary Worker’s news; the Communications Workers of America is also highly informative. Labor Notes is also recommended.
Income Information: For those who don’t have FRED bookmarked — please do, you’ll be pleased with yourself for doing so. One of the many topics covered and charted is median household income. A person can also find information about the Income GINI Ratio for Households (by race), and Real Mean Personal Income. It would be difficult to imagine what information Isn’t available from FRED.
Once in a blue moon the media reports on the release of the Beige Book from the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. It is a compilation of anecdotal reports from each of the Federal Reserve districts, and is useful for those wanting to drill down into regional economic conditions. It’s published eight times per year, with the next release due out on January 17, 2018.
The St. Louis Fed provides FRED, and the New York Federal Reserve is the go-to place for information about debt, from student to household. See their Center for Microeconomic Data. The NY Fed has its own blog, also informative on a variety of topics. Readers might like to start with the NY Fed’s report on political polarization and consumer expectations.
There’s FRED, the Beige Book, and the NY Fed, and then there’s the Census Bureau, which tracks income inequality.
There are thousands of more sources and links which will prove helpful to those interested in economic trends, and this is by NO means a comprehensive list. However, I do hope these links will indicate to any reader that there is a wide variety of sources describing our economy going well beyond the narrow focus on stock market numbers and unemployment statistics!