Moving past the years of recession has been a large and relatively slow process. The shocks at the middle class and below hit hard and left many US citizens economically wounded. Moving beyond the adversities caused by recession, we try to find ways to quantify how far we have come. In the New York Times article “Five Economic Trends to Be Thankful For,” Neil Irwin examines five trends that he believes show that the United States is on an upward path.
Irwin’s list begins with having “Cheaper gasoline and other fuels.” I think that it is safe to say that everyone is happier with cheaper fuel costs. In comparison to where we were years ago when gas was over $4.00 a gallon, of course this is going to be great news to people. Is this necessarily a good trend though? The concern I have is based on the lack of sustainability. Will the cheaper fuels now deter people from seeking more fuel efficient and sustainable options? If that is the case, then in the future this could be causing more issues if gas prices starkly rise and little advancements have been made. For right now however, you could say it is a positive trend.
The next two on Irwin’s list relate to job improvements. He states that there is job growth and more people are quitting their jobs. With a growth in the job market, people are able to quit and find superior opportunities. I agree with him here in saying that this trend will have positive outcomes for our economy. This is a creation of options in the workforce. People can and have been going out to find a working niche in which they will be most productive. It allows Americans to be active participants in their own career paths without the incessant worry of job security.
Onto the last two on the list are how home prices are rising at a sustainable rate and how we may be done deleveraging. With the crash of the housing market, many homeowners faced foreclosure and devaluation of their homes. Once this was over, Irwin notes that home prices were rising at a double-digit rate. Having a smaller, steady rate after this proves a careful stability in American household purchases. It is not too rampant but just enough that pricing trend continues moving forward. In congruence with this house pricing stability, household incomes are also likely more stable as Fed realized that Americans appear to be no longer trying to rampantly decrease their debt. I once again agree with the author on this being a good sign. A comfortable level indicates that the middle class is regaining strength.
I believe that Neil Irwin does a nice job of explaining reasons why the economy is heading towards the right direction. His rationale is concise and in line with common metrics of an improving economy.