Thursday, January 14, 2016

Have We Turned a Corner?

The Great Recession officially ended in June 2009, but a number of vital socioeconomic indicators—such as household income, household spending, births, and homeownership—continued to decline. Until now. The latest data suggest we may have turned a corner...

Is median household income making a comeback? Median household income in 2014 was still below the median of 2007, after adjusting for inflation. But in November 2015, median household income finally surpassed the December 2007 median, according to monthly household income estimates by Sentier Research.

Is household spending growing? Average household spending peaked in 2006, according to the Consumer Expenditure Survey. Then the Great Recession hit, and spending fell 9 percent between 2006 and 2013, after adjusting for inflation. But spending grew 3 percent between 2013 and 2014, and many categories in long-term decline began to grow—including apparel, food away from home, alcoholic beverages, and household furnishings.

Is the baby bust over? The number of births in the United States climbed 1 percent between 2013 and 2014, according to the National Center for Health Statistics—the first increase since 2007. Even more important, the fertility rate—the number of births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 inched up from the all-time low of 62.5 in 2013 to 62.9 in 2014.

Are Millennials buying? The homeownership rate of householders aged 30 to 34 climbed to 46.8 percent in the third quarter of 2015, according to the Census Bureau. This was 1.6 percentage points higher than the all-time low of 45.2 recorded in the second quarter of 2015.

As new data emerge over the next few months, we'll find out whether we have indeed turned a corner or hit another dead end. Stay tuned.

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