The economy is teetering despite unemployment drop


The US economy is teetering, despite what the job and stock markets are telling you.

The scariest set of economic indicators to emerge in decades shows what’s crushing the dreams of record numbers of young, middle-class and older Americans.

“There are troubling indicators,” said Aparna Mathur, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

While nationwide unemployment is down to 4.3 percent and the Dow Jones is on a bender, policy experts and economists like Mathur warn of disturbing signs in the real world of business and human enterprise.

One is the weak long-term labor force participation rate. That translates into about 30 percent of the US population not working, or actively seeking a job.

“It is still of concern to us as economists,” Mathur said. “Because if fewer people are working, we are less productive.”

But there are other dark holes as new data shed fresh light on America’s economy. Salaries for the average American worker have barely grown for decades, well-paid middle-class jobs are disappearing, and many of the new jobs are in the low-wage sector.

It partly explains why the American population grew at a tiny 0.7 percent last year, the lowest increase since the Great Depression, say analysts.

The official explanation, according to the American Community Survey, attributes it largely to declining birth and immigration rates.

Other analysts who have studied the data closely don’t mince their words. “The trend around recessionary times in our economy is for the birth rate to actually drop,” said Russ Zalatimo, managing partner at HudsonPoint Capital.

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