From the Washington Post:
William Gibson’s observation about the future was a reference to the idea that people have different access to new technology based on wealth and location. That visionary quote kept coming to mind as I have been traveling around the United States to meet with clients this past year. My itinerary gave me a good perspective on the U.S. economic recovery.
Like the future, it, too, is not evenly distributed.
Why is that? The economy is, in a word, “lumpy.” It is strong in some regions, anemic in others. Strength by economic sector varies widely. There are myriad reasons for this: Some parts of the country were much harder hit by the real estate collapse; some sectors naturally rebound more quickly; some innovations lend themselves to more rapid growth.
The kind of recovery that you personally are experiencing is highly dependent upon many factors, but today I want to focus on three: education, market sector and geography. The data suggest these elements matter a great deal. Look closely, and you can see how your personal economic recovery is doing — and why.
Let’s take a closer look at what matters most:
• Education: If there is a single lesson you need to learn from this crash and recovery, it is that education matters a lot. The data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics makes clear the direct correlation between increased education and lower unemployment rates and higher wages.
We have a full year’s worth of data for 2014. Across all workers (over age 25 and working full time), the unemployment rate was 5 percent. For workers who had a high school degree or some college, the unemployment rate was a little higher than average (6 percent); with an associate’s degree, it was a little lower (4.5 percent). Schooling is where we really see a difference: Workers without a high school diploma had an unemployment rate of last year of 9 percent, double the average of workers with an associate’s degree.
Have a bachelor’s degree? Great, your peer group had an unemployment rate of only 3.5 percent. Master’s degree holders saw that fall to 2.8 percent, while doctoral graduates were at only 2.1 percent unemployment. Professional degree holders’ unemployment rate was the lowest at 1.9 percent.
Anyone who believes school doesn’t matter should recognize that enormous unemployment range of 1.9 to 9.0 percent.
If that does not convince, then look at compensation. Weekly wages are very similar in their distribution to unemployment: the average was $839 per week for all workers, but only $488 for those without a high school diploma. Those who held a professional degree averaged more than triple that amount at $1,639 per week. Bachelor’s degree holders averaged more than double at $1,101 per week.
New York: Following a huge collapse, there is nothing like a trillion-dollar bailout to jump-start your economic recovery. In the face of an AWOL Congress whose fiscal stimulus was marginal by historical crisis standards, the Federal Reserve became the only game in town. Between TARP, ZIRP and QE, the Big Apple has been the recipient of much taxpayer largesse. Even Fed money that was destined for the rest of the country still passed through NYC. That worked to the advantage of the owner of the corner deli and the Porsche dealer alike.
The actions of the Fed not only cushioned the blow from the collapse but set the stage for the next round of expansion. In particular, finance and real estate sectors have been on fire in New York. Note that this is a theme in every city experiencing a boom. There always seem to be at least two hot sectors: (1) real estate and (2) something else. One drives the other.