Economic Trends

By any measure, the U.S. economy is massive. Like the sea, our economy is swept by cross currents and changed by forces beyond its control. Yet, its sheer size means that those forces – increased productivity, rising unemployment, dropping interest rates, global competition — may only be felt months and often years after they are first sighted. Economic Trends tries to track those forces so IAM members can prepare their families for what lies just over the horizon …

 Links to Information on Economic Trends and Issues Affecting IAM Members Everyday

Pinklining: How Wall Street’s Predatory Products Pillage Women’s Wealth, Opportunities & Futures by Suparna Bhaskaran ( June 2016)

Shorter Life Expectancy Reduces Projected Lifetime Benefits for Lower Earners by the United States Government Accountability Office (March 2016)

An increase in average life expectancy for individuals in the United States is a positive development, but also requires more planning and saving to support longer retirements. At the same time, as life expectancy has not increased uniformly across all income groups, proposed actions to address the effects of longevity on programs and plan sponsors may impact lower-income and higher-income individuals differently.

The State of American Retirement: How 401(K)s Have Failed Most American Workers 

by Monique Morrissey, Economic Policy Institute (March 2016)

Today, many Americans rely on savings in 401(k)-type accounts to supplement Social Security in retirement. This is a pronounced shift from a few decades ago, when many retirees could count on predictable, constant streams of income from traditional pensions. This chart book assesses the impact of the shift from pensions to individual savings by examining disparities in retirement preparedness and outcomes by income, race, ethnicity, education, gender, and marital status.


The Graying of American Debt by Meta Brown, Donghoon Lee, Joelle Scally, Katherine Strair, and Wilbert van der Klaauw (February 24, 2016) The U.S. population is aging and so are its debts. This post looks at how debt is changing as baby boomers reach retirement age and millennials find their footing.

What Do Unions Do for the Middle Class?  

By Richard Freeman, Eunice Han, Brendan Duke, and David Madland (January 13, 2016)

Balancing Paychecks and Public Assistance: How Higher Wages Would Strengthen What Government Can Do 

by David Cooper (February 3, 2016)

Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement: Currency Manipulation, Trade, Wages, and Job Loss 

by Robert E. Scott (January 13, 2016)

A Tale of Two Retirements: One hundred CEOs have as much in retirement assets as 41 percent of American families. By the Center for Effective Government and the Institute for Policy Studies (October 28, 2015)  Click here for the full report.

Long-Termism or Lemons-The Role of Public Policy in Promoting Long-Term Investments

By Marc Jarsulic, Brendan V. Duke, and Michael Madowitz of the Center for American Progress (October 2015)

The U.S. middle class is stuck in a rut: The U.S. Census Bureau recently revealed that real median household income failed to grow between 2013 and 2014—the fifth consecutive year in which it either shrank or did not grow. Despite six years of economic growth, the share of prime-age workers with a job fell, and real median household income did not grow past its 2000 level during that expansion.  One of the primary reasons for anemic middle-class income growth in both post-2001 recoveries is a retreat in business investment, which has remained well below its historic trend. This is especially perplexing because corporate profits are robust and borrowing costs are historically low . . .


The Excise Tax on High-Cost Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage: Background and Economic Analysis 

by Sean Lowry, Analyst in Public Finance of the Congressional Research Service (August 2015)


This report gives a brief description of the Cadillac tax. It discusses the legislative origins of the tax and provides an analysis of the revenue effects of the tax. It then analyzes health insurance premium data to provide insights into what share of health insurance plans could exceed the Cadillac tax threshold and how the threshold could affect more health plans over time. This report also analyzes the Cadillac tax using standard economic criteria of efficiency, equity, and administrative simplicity.

Understanding the Historic Divergence Between Productivity and a Typical Worker’s Pay: Why It Matters and Why It’s Real

Wage stagnation experienced by the vast majority of American workers has emerged as a central issue in economic policy debates, with candidates and leaders of both parties noting its importance. This is a welcome development because it means that economic inequality has become a focus of attention and that policymakers are seeing the connection between wage stagnation and inequality. Put simply, wage stagnation is how the rise in inequality has damaged the vast majority of American workers. By Josh Bivens and Lawrence Mishel (September 2015)


An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2015 to 2025 by the Congressional Budget Office (August 2015)

Fed Policy, Inequality, & Equality of Opportunity  by Joseph E. Stiglitz (August 2015)

Employers in the manufacturing sector who pay workers more than others enjoy higher productivity, according to a report from the Commerce Department’s Economics and Statistics Administration. August 2015

The Benefits of Collective Bargaining

Wages have been stagnant for a generation despite sizable increases in overall productivity, incomes, and wealth. For instance, our nation’s output of goods and services per hour worked (productivity, net of depreciation) grew 64 percent from 1979 to 2014, while the inflation-adjusted hourly wage of the typical worker rose by just 6 percent. The single largest factor suppressing wage growth for middle-wage workers has been the erosion of collective bargaining – by The Economic Policy Institute (April 2015).

2014 Continues a 35-Year Trend of Broad-Based Wage Stagnation

Last year was yet another year of poor wage growth for American workers. With few exceptions, real (inflation-adjusted) hourly wages fell or stagnated for workers across the wage spectrum between 2013 and 2014—even for those with a bachelor’s or advanced degree. By Elise Gould, February 19, 2015

 The Reality of the Retirement Crisis

The consequences of growing retirement savings shortfalls could be severe for both American families and the national economy, as a large share of households may be forced to significantly reduce consumption in retirement and will have to rely heavily on their families, charities, and the government for help to make ends meet. Rather than staying in control of their economic lives, millions of Americans may be forced to muddle through their final years partially dependent on others for financial support and to accept a standard of living significantly below that which they had envisioned.  By Keith Miller, David Madland, and Christian E. Weller – January 26, 2015

Union Membership and Life Satisfaction

The authors uncover evidence that union members are more satisfied with their lives than those who are not members and that the substantive effect of union membership on life satisfaction rivals other common predictors of quality of life. Moreover, the authors find that union membership boosts life satisfaction across demographic groups regardless if someone is rich or poor, male or female, young or old, or has a high or low level of education. These results suggest that organized labor in the United States can have significant implications for the quality of life that citizens experience – October 2014

Unemployment Rate Edges Down to 5.6 Percent, but Wages Stagnate 

The unemployment rate edged down to 5.6 percent in December from 5.8 percent in November. However, the main reason was that 273,000 workers reportedly left the labor force. The employment-to-population ratio (EPOP) was unchanged at 59.2 percent, roughly 4.0 percentage points below the pre-recession level. By Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research – January 2015


From the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor & Statistics
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Economic Facts and Figures: Monthly stats on employment, earnings, trade, prices and more. (DOL, BLS)


From the AFL-CIO

AFL-CIO General Press Releases on Current Topics: More from the AFL-CIO Press Room

AFL-CIO Executive Paywatch 2016:  Check out what the Top 1 Percent is making and how you compare.

Get the Facts: Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement (AFL-CIO, 2014)


From the Center for American Progress
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The Effect of Rising Inequality on Social Security by Rebecca Vallas, Christian E. Weller, Rachel West and Jackie Odum – February 10, 2015  The nation’s Social Security system has long been a bedrock of economic security, protecting nearly all American workers and their families in case of retirement, disability, or the death of a primary breadwinner. Over the past three decades, however, rising inequality has increasingly threatened the notion of shared economic security.


Report of the Commission on Inclusive Prosperity by the Center for American Progress (1/15) Today, the ability of free-market democracies to deliver widely shared increases in prosperity is in question as never before. For the first time since the Great Depression, many industrial democracies are failing to raise living standards and provide opportunities for social mobility to a large share of their people. This is an economic problem that threatens to become a problem for the political systems of these nations—and for the idea of democracy itself.

Keep Calm and Muddle Through Ignoring the Retirement Crisis Leaves Middle-Class Americans with Little Economic Control in Their Golden Years: Retirement Crisis Report. (August 2014)

How the Government Subsidizes Wealth InequalityRenowned French economist Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century thoroughly documents how those at the very top of the income distribution are pulling away from the rest of us. (June 25, 2014)

Unions Make Democracy Work for the Middle Class:
A special report from the Center for American Progress Action Funds American Worker Project: How organized labor helps ordinary citizens participate more and have a greater say. (1/2012)


From the Center for Economic Policy Research

Failing on Two Fronts: The US Labor Market Since 2000 – For almost four decades and by almost all available measures, economic inequality has been increasing in the United States. The long-standing rise in inequality, now joined by an extended period when the economy has been unable to generate jobs for the country’s growing population, constitutes a deep failure on two fronts: steeply rising inequality combined with a poor employment performance. This paper argues that a key driver of both of these developments is conscious economic policy, with a particularly important and under-appreciated role for macroeconomic policy. (CEPR, 1/2015)

Making Jobs Good: This report by John Schmitt and Janelle Jones, evaluates the likely impact of several policies that seek to address job quality, including universal health insurance, a universal retirement system (over and above Social Security), a large increase in college attainment, a large increase in unionization, and gender pay equity. (CEPR, 4/2013)

The Chained CPI: A Painful Cut in Social Security Benefits and a Stealth Tax Hike: A report by Alan Barber and Nicole Woo (CEPR, 12/2012)

Protecting Fundemental Labor Rights: Lessons from Canada for the United States: A report by Kris Warner. (CEPR, 8/2012)

Where Have Good Jobs Gone?: A study that links the decline in “good jobs” with deterioration of worker bargaining power. (8/2012)



From the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities
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Special Series: Economic Recovery Watch


From the Economic Policy Institute
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The erosion of collective bargaining has widened the gap between productivity and pay (1/15). Click here to read more on this subject. 

Raising the Federal Minimum Wage to $10.10 Would Save Safety Net Programs Billions and Help Ensure Businesses Are Doing Their Fair Share: More than five years have passed since the federal minimum wage was raised to its current level of $7.25 per hour (10/14).

CEO Pay Continues to Rise as Typical Workers Are Paid LessThe 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s were prosperous times for top U.S. executives, especially relative to other wage earners and even relative to other very high wage earners. (June 12, 2014)

Economic Indicators: Timely analysis of economic trends affecting IAM members.

The Economic Policy Institute Newsroom

The State of Working America: An ongoing analysis published since 1988 by the Economic Policy Institute. Includes a wide variety of data on family incomes, wages, jobs, unemployment, wealth, and poverty that allow for a clear, unbiased understanding of the economy’s effect on the living standards of working Americans.

Raising America’s Pay – 2014 Report: Why It’s Our Central Economic Policy Challenge: This report is the first in a series from Raising America’s Pay, a multiyear research and public education initiative of the Economic Policy Institute to make wage growth an urgent national policy priority. Raising America’s Pay identifies broad-based wage growth as the central economic challenge of our time—essential to alleviating inequality, expanding the middle class, reducing poverty, generating shared prosperity, and sustaining economic growth. (EPI, 6/4/2014)

The Top 1 Percent’s Share of Income from Wealth Has Been Rising for Decades: Economic Snapshot on Inequality and Poverty. Article by Josh Bivens (EPI, 4/23/2014)

CEO Pay in 2012 Was Extraordinarily High Relative to Typical Workers and Other High Earners (EPI, 6/2013)




From the Washington Center for Equitable Growth
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Article Links


From the United States Government


The Congressional Budget Office

The Joint Economic Committee of The United States Congress

Weekly Economic Digest 

The Economic Costs of Debt-Ceiling Brinkmanship

The U.S. Government Accountability Office

The U.S. Library of Congress – Congressional Research Service

The U.S. Census Bureau

My Congresssional District Search Tool: Gives you quick and easy access to selected statistics collected by the U.S. Census Bureau through the American Community Survey which provides updated detailed demographic, social and economic statistics every year for the nation’s communities.

Income and Poverty in the United States, 2013: Webinar (US Census, 9/2014) 

Health Insurance in the United States, 2013: (US Census, 9/2014)

Click Here for the Full Current Population Reports: (US Census, 9/2014)

The U.S. Department of the Treasury 

The Potential Macroeconomic Effect of Debt Ceiling Brinkmanship (US Dept. of Treasury, 10/2013)




Additional Publications with Reports, Articles and Helpful Information by Topic


The Economy


The Economic Policy Institute Blog: Working Economics-EPI’s experts opine daily on a wide range of current economic issues.

The Upshot: Explaining the Science of Everyday Life (The New York Times)

WONKBLOG (The Washington Post)

The Roosevelt Institute’s Daily Digest

The Wall Street Journal – Real Time Economics 

Economic Trends and Forecasts     


The Future of Work in the Age of Machine 

Recent developments in technology, including the proliferation of smart machines, networked communication, and digitization have the potential to transform the economy in groundbreaking ways. But whether this rapid technological change will lead to increased economic prosperity that is broadly shared is far from clear.  By Melissa S. Kearney, Director of the Hamilton Project and Brad Hershbein, Visiting Fellow at the Hamilton Project – February 2015

For detailed graphs of the latest data on the national economy from the Federal Reserve:  Click Here.  For a weekly update, click here.

A $15 U.S. Minimum Wage: How The Fast-Food Industry Could Adjust Without Shedding Jobs  By Robert Pollin and Jeannette Wicks-Lim of the Department of Economics and Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) University of Massachusetts-Amherst (January 2015)

The Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI) Economic Forecast:  “U.S. Industrial Outlook: Widespread Growth Ahead” (12/2014)

The Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI) Economic Forecast: MAPI Foundation Economic Forecast: Jobs, Replacement Demand Highlight Growth” (11/2014)

Good News on The Labor Market Front! Unemployment to Steadily Drop Over Next Six Months: Unemployment should decline by more than 0.1 percent per month over the next six months and to fall below 6.5 percent—the Fed’s unemployment threshold—by February 2014.” A Brookings Blog Post by Regis Barnichon that discusses a monthly update of the Barnichon-Nekarda model. (Barnichon and Nekarda developed a model to forecast unemployment based on labor force flows—the number of workers moving into and out of unemployment each month.) (Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, 11/2013)

Data Brief – The Low Wage Recovery: Industry Employment and Wages Four Years into the Recovery, 2014 Report: (NELP, 4/2014)

Where Poor and Uninsured Americans Live:The 26 Republican-dominated states not participating in an expansion of Medicaid are home to a disproportionate share of the nation’s poorest uninsured residents. Eight million will be stranded without insurance(The New York Times, 10/2013)

Prosperity Economics: Building an Economy for All: A report in which the authors, Jacob S. Hacker (Director of ISPS) and Nate Loewentheil (Yale), lay out an alternative to austerity economics, one based on our history, the successful experiences of other nations, and recent currents of research and theoryin economics and allied fields called. They call this model “prosperity economics.” (8/2012)

Closing the Jobs Gap: Each month, The Hamilton Project examines the “jobs gap,” which is the number of jobs that the U.S. economy needs to create in order to return to pre-recession employment levels while also absorbing the people who enter the labor force each month.


Globalization and Trade

TTIP – Is it a good deal?  Since mid-2013, the United States and the European Union have been negotiating a so-called free trade agreement, by now labeled “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership” or TTIP in short. (Policy note by Werner Raza, Austrian Foundation for Development Research (ÖFSE); Lance Taylor, The New School for Social Research; Bernhard Tröster, (ÖFSE); and Rudi von Arnim, University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Published by the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis – December 2014)


Job Watch

Unemployment steady at 5.5% in March, to reach 4.7% by September

Unemployment To Continue To Drop, Hitting 5.2 Percent by June (Feb 2015)

Blogs on the Latest Job Numbers from the Brookings Institution 



The July 2015 Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicates that business conditions improved slightly for New York Manufacturers.  Click here for the monthly survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. 

Manufacturing Barometer: Business Outlook Report, January 2015

Highlights from this quarter’s report:

    • Economic sentiment is up among US industrial manufacturers across a range of key indicators.
    • Aiming to fill the skill gap, the majority of respondents plan to hire new workers.

    • Concerns regarding legislative/regulatory pressures dropped.

PwC’s Manufacturing Barometer is a quarterly survey of US-based executives in large, multinational industrial manufacturing businesses. The survey captures participants’ assessments of the direction of the US and world economies and their company’s performance and expectations in such areas as revenue growth, margins, inventory, and costs. Other sections explore plans for investment, mergers and acquisitions, and hiring, as well as potential barriers to growth and much more.

Manufacturing Low Pay:  Declining Wages in the Jobs That Built America’s Middle Class (12/2014)

Manufacturing jobs were once a ticket to the American middle class, but today these jobs are adding to the nation’s low-wage crisis. NELP’s latest report, Manufacturing Low Pay: Declining Wages in the Jobs That Built America’s Middle Class, tells the story of a rebounding manufacturing sector where jobs are growing again but wages are rapidly shrinking.

Manufacturing workers used to earn wages well above the U.S. average. In the mid-1980s, they earned 50 percent more than the average private-sector worker, but by 2013, they were earning 7.7 percent less. Today, one in four manufacturing workers is paid less than $11.91 per hour. The wage declines are exacerbated by manufacturing firms’ increasing reliance on staffing and “temp” agencies to fill factory jobs.

Read more about NELP’s report in The New York Times.


National Economic Indicators


For a snapshot of national indicators, click here. 

               Click here for a US Economy Snapshot from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York which is updated monthly – July 2015.

National Economic Indicators


Health Care

Bitter Pill:Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us: A special report by Time Magazine’s Steven Brill (2/2013)


Pension Retirement & Security Issues

Explaining the Decline in the Offer Rate of Employer Retirement Plans Between 2001-2012:  Workplace retirement plans (Defined Contribution and Defined Benefits) help workers save for retirement conveniently, consistently, and automatically. But retirement account offer rates are steadily declining. Between 2001-2003 and 2010-2012, the retirement plan offer rate dropped from 63% to 55%. Article by Teresa Ghilarducci and Joelle Saad-Lessler (SCHWARTZ CENTER FOR ECONOMIC POLICY ANALYSIS – July 2014)


Right to Work (for less) 

“Right to Work” Is the Wrong Answer for Wisconsin’s Economy – by Gordon Lafer (January 23, 2015)

FREE-RIDER STATES: How Low-Wage Employment in “Right-to-Work” States Is Subsidized by the Economic Benefits of Collective Bargaining (08/28/2014)

Right to Work: A Failed Policy (2/2012)

What ‘Right-to-Work’ Means for Indiana’s Workers – A Pay Cut: An article that looks at what happens in states with this anti-worker legislation. (1/2012)

Working Hard to Make Indiana Look Bad: The Tortured, Uphill Case for ‘Right-to-Work’: A report that looks at the lies in a study used to support this anti-worker legislation. (1/2011)


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