U.S. unemployment rate
The biggest, and most ignored, trend in the U.S. economy is the ongoing divide between the wealthiest members of society and the average American worker.
Real wages are falling, while unemployment is stagnant. Politicians blame greed, but that's because class warfare is a valuable tool to gain power.
I argue instead that disruptive technologies have accelerated this divide.
Just recently, I noted that the U.S. wage-productivity gap has been driven heavily by the use of automation and technology in the U.S. economy, which is displacing workers at a faster pace than new jobs and job categories have been created.
Put a different way, robots are taking our jobs.
U.S. Unemployment: Three Million Jobs in America are Waiting to be Filled
There is another side to the U.S. unemployment problem: Believe it or not, there are three million jobs going unfilled.
Employers can't seem to find the right match for more than 200,000 manufacturing jobs alone.
The transportation, utilities and trades sectors have almost half a million jobs open, waiting for the right applicant.
These positions are for vocational or skilled workers, who are in short supply.
Has Sequestration Saved the U.S. Economy?
There's a Jamaican saying, "the higher the monkey climbs up the tree, the more his butt is exposed."
The point being that the more we rise, the more vulnerable we become.
That has truly come to pass for a pair of superstars of the dismal science. And it could have a big impact on how successfully (or unsuccessfully) we can get the U.S. economy back on the rails.
Can Wall Street Continue to Rally Without the U.S. Economy?
We haven't stepped into the Twilight Zone, but it certainly seems that way when stocks are hitting historic highs yet the economy is still so weak that the Federal Reserve is printing money like a Third World nation.
It has the makings of a great prize fight between the largest market in the world and the largest economy in the world.
Can we keep this up? Is this titanic battle going to last like the decades-long Japanese recovery? Will stocks punch themselves out? Can slowing earnings keep stocks soaring?
Here's the blow by blow so far on what's causing what I call the Great Discrepancy. Let me know who you think is going to overtake the other.
Below, I tell you what I think is underway.
U.S. Economy to Get Jolt from 1.2 Million Homebuilding Jobs
An accelerating rebound in new home construction over the next two years should finally give the U.S. economy the jump-start it needs to progress toward a truly robust recovery.
New home construction continues to bounce back from the lows of 2009, after the housing bubble burst, but still has a long way to go.
With housing one of the prime drivers of the U.S. economy - historically construction accounts for 5% of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) and related economic activity another 13% - a spike of activity in this area could drive the growth that's long been lacking from the recovery.
"A revival in new home construction will have a huge stimulative effect on the larger economy," Brad Hunter, chief economist for housing research firm Metrostudy, told Bloomberg News. "When home construction goes up, so does demand for furniture, tile, lumber, concrete, draperies, paint and appliances of all sorts."
U.S. Jobs Report: How Unemployment is Really 14%
Employers added just 88,000 jobs in March, according to the U.S. jobs report released Friday, hiring at the slowest pace since June 2012.
The number was a huge miss. Analysts expected a gain of 200,000.
"We all over shot it," Austan Goolsbee, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors in U.S. President Barack Obama's first administration, said on CNBC. "This is a punch to the gut. I mean, this is not a good number."
Since the government's way of calculating unemployment is frighteningly inaccurate, even with such a small amount of jobs added the unemployment rate fell from 7.7% to 7.6%.
That's because the labor force participation rate slipped from 63.5% to 63.3% -- the lowest level since 1979.
The Great American Rebound Has Just Begun
The U.S. manufacturing renaissance is not just a fantasy - it is actually happening. Jobs that had been outsourced to China and elsewhere really are returning to the United States.
Believe it or not, this "reshoring" already has reversed the long, steady decline of manufacturing jobs in the U.S.
In fact, since 2010 America has added roughly 500,000 manufacturing jobs, an increase of 4.3%.
The economic and investment implications of this reversal are considerable to say the least.
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U.S. Economy: "Recovery" Doesn't Fool Struggling Americans
The government's numbers - primarily the monthly data on unemployment and inflation - tell the story of a slow but gradual recovery by the U.S. economy.
But the experience of millions of Americans tells a far different story.
According to a new national survey conducted by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, many Americans continue to suffer from the impact of the Great Recession.
What's more, more than half of those surveyed believe the U.S. economy will not fully recover for another six years, and nearly one-third said the U.S. economy will never fully recover.
"Millions of households were affected to some extent by the layoffs that occurred four years ago," Mark Szeltner, the lead researcher for the Rutgers survey, told The Daily Ticker.
The Rutgers survey backs up what some other surveys have said.
Last August, in a Pew Research survey of middle-class Americans, 42% said they were worse off than they were in 2008.
A Rasmussen survey taken earlier this month showed that only 39% believed the U.S. economy would be stronger in five years - the first time, Rasmussen said, that figure had ever dipped below 40%.
The Frightening Financial Crisis Facing Young Americans
Young Americans are falling deeper and deeper into a financial crisis that will be nearly impossible to escape from in their lifetimes.
Unfortunately, the problems start at a very young age. Not only do a record number of school-age children live in poverty, but the number of homeless children in the public school system has reached an all-time high.
Even young adults who are able to attend college have trouble supporting themselves after graduation. Students take on mountains of debt to pay for school, but all too many of them can't find a decent job that covers their bills and their loans.
And those who do find jobs will likely be working for many more years than previous generations. That's because Social Security is expected to run out well before today's youngest workers retire. Those who have failed to save enough will end up working into their 60s, 70s and 80s.
"We don't know how the story ends, but we know how the story is beginning," Paul Taylor, executive vice president of the Pew Research Center, told CNN. "At the beginning, today's young people are not doing better than yesterday's young adults."
Here are 14 startling statistics painting a bleak financial picture for many young Americans.
Here's What a Jump in Pickup Sales Says About the U.S. Economy
The pickup sales growth is one of those unconventional economic indicators that can give investors a deeper insight into what's really happening in the U.S. economy.
That's because most pickup trucks are purchased by people working in the construction trades or agriculture.
So better pickup sales are a good indication of long-term confidence in construction activity by those working in the construction trades and, for farmers, a belief that crop prices will remain higher for another few years.
Along with Ford, GM and Chrysler also have reported growing pickup sales.
Sales of Ford's F-Series pickups in December 2012 totaled 68,787, the best December since 2006 and the 17th consecutive year-on-year increase in monthly F-Series pickup sales. (The Ford F-150 has been the best-selling pickup in North America since 1976 and the best-selling vehicle in North America since 1981.)