Bad News and Good News on Productivity

Posted by: Michael Mandel on August 08

The bad news, of course, is the large downward revisions in the productivity growth for 2003, 2004, and 2005. Nonfarm productivity was revised down by about what I said yesterday. Manufacturing productivity was slaughtered in 2004, going from 5.5% to 1.9%. And nonfinancial corporate productivity growth was pushed down about 0.7 percentage points for 2003-2005.

But here’s the good news. The long-term trends of rising productivity are still in place. Here’s the chart of ten-year productivity growth for the nonfarm business sector.

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The ten-year productivity growth rate ending with the second quarter of 2006 is 2.8%, still the highest in more than 30 years.

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Reader Comments

Kartik

August 8, 2006 03:04 PM

What is weird is that if data all the way back to 2003 cane be revised, then the 2005 and 2006 data are not really 'final' until 2008. The 2005 data has many more chances to be revised upward or downward from the current revised level.

1) Does MFP also change? Has that been revised downward?
2) Michael, I was a big fan of your article "Why the Economy is Stronger than you Think" and have bought into the Dark Matter concept. However, these revisions mean that the economy is also 'weaker than we think'. Does one offset the other, or is the whole thing just more ambiguous now?
3) If the trendline is still 3%, then does that mean that Real GDP (aside from trade deficits) should rise at 4% a year as a 'natural' level?

Mike Mandel

August 9, 2006 10:26 AM

The data is subject to revision because new information comes in, including from tax returns (which arrives with a big lag).

And yes, everything moves.

Brandon W

August 10, 2006 08:46 AM

A semi-related question:
If productivity is so high, real wages numbers have been going up for decades, and the US economy is so strong, why are most people struggling on 2 incomes when a 1-income household was completely viable only 25 years ago? The numbers just don't seem to correlate with reality.

PM

August 11, 2006 10:32 AM

Mhmmm.

If the latest productivity figures could be revised downward as well.... what will be left of the long-term trends of rising productivity?

Put differently: could it be that Paul Krugman was right in his scepticism about the productivity miracle?

Brandon W

August 11, 2006 03:52 PM

Whether the numbers are perfectly on, or not (they're not), the trend was for downward productivity growth from 1966 to 1982. I'm curious what was the trend from, say, 1945 to 1966. But the point I was going to make is that this coincides with the start of widespread PC use in business. The trend may have started back down in the early 1990's, except that Windows 95 came out which provided a whole new opportunity for productivity to go up as the GUI brought computer power to a whole new group of users. However, it seems we've reached a saturation point of computers in business; everyone has one. If productivity starts tapering off and trending down again, it may well be a result of this. I don't buy that increased computer power linearly provides boost to productivity. Computers may get more powerful, but a human can only type and read the screen so quickly. We may see a downturn in productivity now that the computer revolution has saturated business. Just an observation based on a review of that graph.

By the way, I'm being sincere with my question above regarding why people seem to be struggling on 2 incomes when 1 used to suffice. I'm genuinely curious what the answer is, I'm not trying to play a game of "gotcha". Something just doesn't add up and I'm curious as to why.

Patrick J. Walker

August 14, 2006 12:44 PM

Brandon, I have two points regarding the one income world of yore vs. the two income world of today. First, I suspect the classic one income family may have been less prevalent in the post-war years as we believe. I don't have any hard data, but that would be an interesting point to pursue. Second, I wonder if our standard of wealth has changed as well. For example, not only have housing prices increased, but houses have grown as well. Thus, what might have passed as middle-class nirvana in 1962 would be barely scraping by in 2006. Taken together, these might make comparisons between the two eras terribly difficult.

Brandon W

August 15, 2006 12:05 AM

Patrick,
I see your point, but I think back to my grandparents who lived post-WWII in a large, beautiful, 4 bedroom brick home with the largest lot in an upper middle class suburb. They had 5 children. My grandmother stayed home, and my grandfather worked a single job as a broadcast engineer for a local TV station. He was not a lawyer or doctor. On that single income they were able to live well and afford the 5 children and a large home in a nice suburb. I recall my parents doing reasonably well on my father's sole income in the early to mid 1970's. As the 1980's progressed suddenly it got harder and harder for my parents to make it on my dad's income. By the late 1980's my mother had to stop being a homemaker and go to work. They're into retirement age now and can not afford to retire. I see this pattern among several people I have known. Can you imagine someone owning a large, 4-bedroom brick home in an upper middle-class neighborhood these days, supporting 5 children, on the income of a broadcast engineer? According to BLS, that job currently has an income of about $43,000/year at the 75th percentile (median is only $25,000). That's not even the national median income.

Something absolutely isn't adding up. And I'm hoping to ask questions until someone figures it out (I'll leave the econometrics to those who enjoy that sort of thing). Either we have a severe problem in our measurements, the government is purposely misleading us (*cough* hedonics?), or there has been a major structural shift that is not accurately reported. I suspect all three. But in what proportion?

Kartik

August 15, 2006 12:45 PM

Brandon,

Yes, in terms of sheer square footage alone, affordability has gone down. This is due to the demographic bulge of baby boomers being in their peak home-buying years right now, combined with the reduction in number of people per household (more people unmarried, plus more people having no children, hence two incomes, increasing their homebuying power).

However, other than home square footage, you are vastly richer than your grandfather in every other way.

1) How much did it cost to make overseas long distance calls in 1960 vs. today?
2) Did his car have anywhere near the features, horsepower, or fuel efficiency as your does?
3) How much did a 27-inch tube TV cost in 1960, relative to a 42-inch plasma TV today?
4) Did he have access to the type of informational tools (like this blog) that you do today?
5) What was the cost of air travel from the East Coast to West Coast in his day, vs. today?
6) How many vinyl records did it take to store 5000 songs, vs. the size of an iPod today?

US Human Development Index has risen a lot from 1975 to today.
http://hdr.undp.org/statistics/data/indicators.cfm?x=15&y=1&z=1

Brandon W

August 15, 2006 02:47 PM

OK, this is where economics starts detaching from reality.
1) I don't make overseas calls, I don't think he did either.
2) His car still got him from point A to point B successfully, and, a lot less expensively.
3) I don't watch TV.
4) People could just as easily read the newspaper and get all the relevant information they needed in 1960.
5) Unless you travel on a very frequent basis, this isn't relevant to the average person and their standard of living.
6) As I sit here listening to my iPod, I can certainly appreciate it. But my quality of life really isn't so substantially better for it.

I go back to the point that when we're talking about quality-of-life to quality-of-life, my grandfather had a large, nice home, a family with 5 children and a wife that stayed home to care for the home and do volunteer work in the community (by the way, what has happened to volunteerism as more wives had to go to work?), and it was all affordable on 1 very modest income. I, and most people I know in their mid-30's, are unable to afford a decent home in a mid-middle-class neighborhood with two income households. When it all comes down to the bottom line, we're not better off.

Mike Mandel

August 15, 2006 03:16 PM

Just on the housing question:

The percentage of Americans who own their own homes is now 68-69%, compared to 64% 40 years ago. Homes have also gotten a lot bigger--1600 square feet in 1978, 2200 square feet in 2005.

So bigger homes, higher homeownership...most people are in fact better off.

The kicker...not true for the young (and mid 30s counts as young here). So your experience, that you've been priced out of the market, is accurate.

Brandon W

August 15, 2006 03:32 PM

Hi Mike,
Your statistics are duly noted. You may wish to read the article in the current Fortune magazine about Gen X and the Gray Ceiling. Here is the online link:
http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2006/08/21/8383654/index.htm

Kartik

August 15, 2006 03:41 PM

Brandon,

You are applying your own examples of not watching TV (even DVD movies?), not traveling by airplane, etc. to brush off my point. This is anecdotal, and thus invalid.

You also avoided acknowledging that cars today have much more safety, better mileage, fewer emissions, a longer life, and cost a smaller percentage of average per capita income, than in 1956.

How about the most important statistic of all, life expectancy? How much was life expectancy in the US in 1956 vs. 2006?

Plus, women didn't work back then because household chores took the whole day. There were not vaccuum cleaners, dish washers, microwaves, etc. The time spent on chores has dropped through technology.

You didn't comment on the rising Human Development Index.

And again, other than square footage, you don't have any other example of how things were better 50 years ago.

Mike Mandel

August 15, 2006 03:57 PM

Brandon..no doubt that the young are getting the short end of the stick, at least for now.

Brandon W

August 15, 2006 04:01 PM

Kartik,
I did point out that the bottom line is this:
1960 Most people did quite well on a single income (even a modest one, as in the case of my grandfather).
2006 Most people can not survive - much less do well - without 2 incomes.

That's the bottom line. And all I'm asking for is an explanation if that substantial difference.

Kartik

August 15, 2006 07:11 PM

But that 'bottom line' itself is in dispute. We have established that purchasing power of housing square footage is the only measure by which people in 1960 had it better.

By alnmost all other measures, they had it worse. You counterpoints are all just anecdotal, not statistically backed.

The life expectancy gains alone from 1960 to 2006 trump everything else as far as which generation 'had it better'. This is beyond dispute.

And are you sure you are comparing your grandfather to yourself in an apples-to-apples way? Comparing what you have at 35 to what he had at age 50 isn't apples-to-apples at all. At any time in the last 50 years, the average net worth of 35 year olds would have been much less than that of 50 year olds. This somewhat captures what Michael is saying.

Brandon W

August 18, 2006 09:11 AM

Kartik (and Mike),
Here is an article on BusinessWeek's own site that helps demonstrate my point nicely:
http://www.businessweek.com/autos/content/aug2006/bw20060818_936204.htm

Pay attention, in particular, to automobile affordability, and such things as average loan period. I know you're going to argue that cars are better now, so they really ought to cost more. Let's say I have a toaster I paid $15 for that makes good toast, and 5 years later I need to replace it. Now, I go to the store, and there are only $60 toasters available. Sure, they now have fancy flashing lights and a hand-guard to protect me from burning myself, but the only real end-benefit is that they make me some toast. Suddenly, I have to spend a lot more money for the same end-benefit. My car now may be a bit safer, and it may have a few more bells and whistles, but the end-benefit - that I get from point A to point B - is the same. However, I'm now pay much, much more for it.

Mike Mandel

August 18, 2006 10:59 AM

I'd say that increased safety was not a minor item. I'd also say that the biggest change between cars now and 20 years ago is increased reliability.

Kartik

August 18, 2006 03:23 PM

Brandon,

Also, the biggest change of all, the increase in life expectancy from your grandfather's generation to yours today, is still something you are not commenting on.

Brandon W

August 19, 2006 11:31 PM

The added lifespan is nice and all - though my grandfather lived to 83 and I'm not convinced I'll live longer than that - but it has little to do with day-to-day living or the cost of living. I find it to be an irrelevant issue at best, and a straw man at worst, that you keep bringing up. I have asked about a very specific issue, and anything outside of that is a diversion.

Kartik

August 21, 2006 04:43 PM

Brandon,

As said in my previous messages, yes, the purchasing power of square footage of housing has gone down over the last 50 years. In every other measure, the standard of living has improved.

Your rebuttals are anecdotal only. Sure, your Grandfather lived to be 83 and you may not, but the average is what matters.

Would you truly prefer to be living in 1956 than 2006? Yes, you would have a bigger house on one income, but you would also have no color films, unsafe cars, very limited access to air travel, no Internet, no PCs (all documents would have to be on typewriters), no calculators (imagine that), you could only trade stocks by writing paper letters to your broker, no cure for small pox, Jim Crow laws, the existence of a military draft, etc.

Would you really rather live them.

I think you are saying the glass is 10% empty, rather than 90% full, by fixating on housing.

Brandon W

August 22, 2006 10:04 AM

Kartik,
If you look at my original post, I didn't even mention housing. The original question is this:
"why are most people struggling on 2 incomes [today] when a 1-income household was completely viable only 25 years ago?"

I've yet to see an answer to that.

Kartik

August 22, 2006 06:31 PM

Brandon,

Once again, they are NOT struggling. Your only basis for that extrapolation is the anecdotal example of your grandfather's house. Hence, your premise itself is very far from sound.

I have explained many times why they are NOT struggling, except in the narrow and limited measure of how much square footage a single income could buy then vs. now.

In every other measure, living standards and purchasing power has increased.

And I ask again, would you really rather be living in 1956, with all the disadvantages I have detailed? You would also have no color films, unsafe cars, very limited access to air travel, no Internet, no PCs (all documents would have to be on typewriters), no calculators (imagine that), no cordless phones, no affordable lon-distance (even domestically), you could only trade stocks by writing paper letters to your broker, no cure for small pox, Jim Crow laws, lynching in the South, the existence of a military draft, etc.

Brandon W

August 22, 2006 08:30 PM

Apparently, a blog full of economists can't answer a simple question, so I went looking for evidence that might help explain why "most people [are] struggling on 2 incomes [today] when a 1-income household was completely viable only 25 years ago?"

Thanks to Brad DeLong's blog (http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/) for referencing this article by David H. Autor, Lawrence F. Katz, and Melissa S. Kearney. They say, "We document that wage inequality in the top half of distribution has displayed an unchecked and rather smooth secular rise for the last 25 years (since 1980). Wage inequality in the bottom half of the distribution also grew rapidly from 1979 to 1987, but it has ceased growing (and for some measures actually narrowed) since the late 1980s. Furthermore we find that occupational employment growth shifted from monotonically increasing in wages (education) in the 1980s to a pattern of more rapid growth in jobs at the top and bottom relative to the middles of the wage (education) distribution in the 1990s. We characterize these patterns as the 'polarization' of the U.S. labor market, with employment polarizing into high-wage and low-wage jobs at the expense of middle-wage work."

Now we might be getting somewhere. What are the implications of this if it continues?

Brandon W

August 23, 2006 07:30 AM

You're assuming NOTHING would change without the economy and job market acting exactly as it has. But I'll play that game for a minute, because it'll amuse me.

Kartik: "...would you really rather be living in 1956, with all the disadvantages I have detailed?"
- Why do you consider these necessarily "disadvantages"?

K: You would also have no color films
- So what? How is "Snakes on a Plane" really contributing to my daily life?

K: unsafe cars
- Drivers are a far greater contributor to "unsafeness"

K: very limited access to air travel
- So what? Write a letter.

K: no Internet
- So what? Write a letter. No Internet would also mean dramatically less identity fraud, far less access for online predators of all sorts, and improved social interaction between people (most importantly, kids) because they would, you know, actually have to look at someone instead of a computer screen.

K: no PCs (all documents would have to be on typewriters)
- So what? Learn to use a typewriter and a file cabinet.

K: no calculators (imagine that)
- So what? Try learning to actually do the math.

K: no cordless phones
- Are you serious? So #*&%ing what?

K: no affordable lon[g]-distance (even domestically)
- So what? Write a letter.

K: you could only trade stocks by writing paper letters to your broker
- Oh no... we have to write? Egads. Well, I suppose we could CALL our broker, who may well live in town so it's not even long distance.


K: no cure for small pox
- Whew... one for you. Cheers!

K: Jim Crow laws, lynching in the South, the existence of a military draft, etc.
- What does this have to do with living-standard economics. I thought your other stuff was overreaching... this is just throwing it out there.

See my previous post from last night (Aug 22, 8:30pm).

Kartik

August 23, 2006 01:19 PM

Brandon,

Yeah, and a person earning in the bottom 20% today still has a cell-phone, internet connection, and color TV, which even the very richest did not have in 1956.

You are trying too hard to find a reason for pessimism (and Brad DeLong is a good place to go to find that), but your premise that living standards have dropped over the last 50 years is false, which is why no one else is engaging you in discussion.

Mike Mandel

August 23, 2006 02:25 PM

This is actually an interesting discussion. Brandon, you are taking the position that widening the choices we have doesn't improve our well-being. In fact, that you could be perfectly happy with our 1956 set of options.

If so, then is there anything that you could consider an improvement to the 1956 possibility set? And if so, what?

Brandon W

August 23, 2006 04:16 PM

I'll address both Kartik and Mike here, as well as add some comments:

Kartik, I disagree, but that discussion is going nowhere so I'm going to move on with where

the discussion HAS gone. I'm actually not trying to be pessimistic. I'm a realist, not a

pessimist. A realist in a bad situation just sounds like a pessimist. The real reason I'm

pushing the question is because 1) I like the debate even if I'm wrong in the end (and I

often like playing Devil's Advocate), and 2) input from everywhere I can get it will help

me understand whatever path we are on so I can financially take advantage of whatever

opportunities will develop from it. However, perpetual bulls have no historical

perspective and don't do much except ignite my desire to argue the other side; unless of

course, their blindness provides me with a money-making opportunity.

On to Mike...
I certainly think that our critical health care improvements have been a benefit to society

(ignoring for now the disaster that is our health care system). They have improved the

length of life and, usually, the quality of life into later years. Having said that, the

other side of it is a major failure in preventative health care which results in horrid

waste of economic energy developing medications that are "band aids" on problems, not

fixes, and in fact carry additionally damaging side-effects.

This brings me to an idea I've been contemplating lately, that a substantial percentage of

our economic growth is based on technological developments that only exist to fix the

after-effects of previous technological developments. Are we really more economically

productive for it? It may be more "economically efficient" to produce food with high

fructose corn syrup. However, this processed food (among others) is responsible for a

number of health problems (obesity and its related issues, as one example). HFCS is made,

and that adds to GDP. The health care problems are treated and this economic output adds

to GDP. Drugs are created and dispensed to put band aids on the health problems, further

adding to GDP. Has all this economic growth really improved the underlying quality of

life? I would argue no. Food could be made out of natural sugars to begin with, which may

be slightly more expensive, but it would not feed this entire chain of "economic

development". As such, what is the real value of this economic growth which wouldn't even

be necessary if the original "technological development" wasn't around? It seems to me

that this chain inflates the economic growth numbers without really economically

benefitting us in the end. I'm sure you can think of many other instances of this same

type of situation. Should systems intended to clean up the after-effects of pollution from

industry be added to GDP? If it weren't for the pollution to start with, it wouldn't be

necessary. Conceivably, economic activity required to "Fix" other economic activity ought

to be DEDUCTED from GDP.

Any thoughts on this?

Heather H.

August 24, 2006 11:47 AM

Pardon me, but I have to agree with Brandon here. I'm one of those struggling 30 year olds you mentioned. My husband is quite a bit older than me, but because I have more education and he works in the lower paying field of fire safety, our incomes are about the same. However, as I found out very quickly upon graduating law school, one income cannot cut it even in the lowest cost of living areas.

I focused my pre-graduation work on an internship with the federal government. Big mistake! A hiring freeze (most likely due in part to an expensive ongoing war diverting funding) meant there was no job for me. Meanwhile, my husband (fiancee at the time), had just recently moved to Athens, GA to take a job at the university where we met. Well guess what? Budget cuts from the governor, coupled with a boss who was threatened because my husband had better qualifications than him, meant that my husband held that job for only 5 months or so. They eliminated the position (rehiring only after a bad arson on campus caused them to wake up to the need for the position). When he moved, he made less money up North but had no debt. The UGA job paid better, but didn't offer relocation, so he had no choice but to put about $1,500-2,000 worth of moving expenses on his credit card.

He was out of work for 8 months, actively looking for a job daily. He took all interviews he was offered, all over the country, except for those where they wanted him to fly out and would not pay for it because he couldn't afford to go. He was making less money on unemployment than he realistically needed to pay his bills monthly. Living around UGA is expensive, but moving wasn't an option without a job. At least the rental office was willing to work with him. But, of course, any unexpected expenses had to go on a credit card--especially gas for long trips to interviews. And credit card companies began to call. He finally found a job in Alabama, at a slight paycut, and moved there. This all happened during my third year of law school.

With no job after graduation, I moved in with him, placing me in the odd situation of living outside the state where I had just taken and passed the bar exam. (Why not live with my parents? Fear for personal safety if my fiancee weren't with me, let's just leave it at that). I sent out 500 blind resumes prior to graduation with a few interviews but no offers. After graduation, I searched job boards and applied all over GA. We got engaged, and the plan was for me to find a job and he would then seek to relocate with me. But we didn't know it would take me a year and a half after graduation to find that first job. In fact, the job I finally got as a law clerk with low pay, was the last job I was going to apply for. If I didn't get it, I was heading to PA to get an advanced legal degree out of desperation. So I was grateful to be working just south of Atlanta.

Just three months before our wedding, my husband was fired. The reasons were fabricated. The real ones were, again, a less qualified boss who was threatened. (I wonder how he felt working as the manager of the safety office with only a bachelor's in political science?). Plus, he was fired on Monday after being asked to prepare an expense report of the safety office spending on Friday. He made a high salary compared to others in the company. And, I think they knew that with a finacee who was a GA attorney, he wouldn't be staying.

He was only out of work for 2 months this time, thankfully. But it was enough to push him into bankruptcy. He was never able to recover from the UGA job loss coupled with the strain of supporting both of us on his one income. He filed the day before our wedding as the new bankruptcy laws were set to go into effect during our honeymoon (which was a gift from my parents, along with the wedding itself).

I know what Kartik would say, too anecdotal and personal. A valid criticism, but only to a point. I know of many others in my class or who graduated around the time that I did who struggled to find jobs. Which only puts us behind once we finally do land one. In fact, UGA delayed posting the employment statistics for my graduating class for a long, long time. They didn't want to admit that my class was having such trouble finding jobs.

Now that we are both employed, we live in an area where the cost of living is estimated at around, if not slightly higher than, what we make. Again, we were both in the positions of having to take the first job that came along, regardless of the income offered. During the time that I lived here while my husband was still in Alabama, neither of us was making it on one income for one person. My parents had to help me out. My husband, without really telling me the dire straights he was in, relied on credit cards.

Now, living together near Atlanta with two incomes, we barely make it month to month. In fact, this month was the first one we didn't make it, as I overdrew my personal bank account by $4. Yes, I had overdraft protection to our tiny savings account. But that was at the beginning of the month after paying our regular bills with a few unexpected ones. My parents had to help out.

The commute in Atlanta is expensive for my husband. He also has a truck payment higher than most. Bad overall, but good that he was able to get out of a lease, lock in a low interest rate in Alabama, and work towards owning a vehicle for the first time. I, of course, have those pesky student loan payments for law school.

With these high expenses, after paying for all living expenses, gas, food, etc. monthly, we have about $500-$700 to spare. And we don't live extravagantly. We never buy clothes until our old ones have holes in them. We go to the movies, plays, etc. only on occassion. But are we able to save that money? Of course not. Either our one pet needs medicine, or the truck (unfortunately a Ford instead of a Toyota) needs a new part, or my husband needs dental work. This month it was dental work ($200) coupled with tuition for his masters program ($700). His last employer paid for education, but not this one!

Our savings have dwindled down to 200 something odd dollars from $1,000 at the most, just after our tax return. My job has absolutely no promotion potential. Until I find something better, my rent will go up but my pay won't, unless the governor decides to raise the pay rate for clerks all over GA. My husband is growing increasingly concerned about his promotion potential. We are trying to move closer to my parents as I fear the only way we'll ever be able to afford a house--of any size--is if we live in their basement or in one of my grandmother's houses for free (or almost free) for a few years.

And that is where we are. Stuck. Barely paying our bills each month. Forget saving. Forget buying a house, let alone a mansion sized home. We are just struggling to get by. And this is a couple who is highly educated. Me with a JD, my husband with much more experience than me, a bachelor's degree, and less than a year away from a master's degree.

No, I would not want to live in the 1950's. I'm a woman and too much of a feminist for that. (Things are bad enough now. In my hometown area of Dalton, GA I experienced gender discrimination first hand. I was practically told to my face that they were not hiring me because I was a woman engaged to a man living out of state. No, I didn't sue for many reasons. One, who wants that hanging over their head when seeking their first job? Two, the federal agency I worked for was the EEOC, so I know how hard it is to prove discrimination.) Still, I wouldn't mind things being a little less expensive and draining these days...

Heather

Brandon B.

September 3, 2006 04:43 PM

I'm glad that Heather does mention that her story is ancedotal. It's sad to hear about Brandon and Heather and the troubles they've had. My family was in a similar situation. My father was a payphone collector and my mother a public school teacher in a very low salary state - NC. Their combined income has never been above $60,000. My father recently retired and my mother is two years away. They put me through Davidson College (average 35,000 tuition which they paid entirely for, no merit based aid or student loans) then two years of Masters work at a local university. My brother is still in college at a similar university. My mother did stay home for 5 years to take care of her children, and my father was laid off twice during his career. But yet their current net assets exceed $2,000,000. (I know because I invest their money for them.) How is this possible??? It's quite simple, they lived within their means, no credit cards, they never bought a new car, built a small two-bedroom house, and always saved every penny they could muster. Financial independence is within even the lower-middle class' reach, you just have to be wise with your spending. As for me, at 23 I already have 20,000 in a Roth IRA, and am currently saving for a house.

-For every ancedotal story, there's another one to match it. If you want to argue either way, argue about data, not personal stories ;)

Heather

September 28, 2006 03:03 PM

Sorry to see you trust computers, data, etc. more than human beings. Data can be manipulated. I've lived through my story and it is every bit as valid as any other. Btw, living within your means isn't possible when your means doesn't provide you with enough to live by, especially in a high cost of living area. So your family was lucky and made it through. Good for them. Not everyone does. You might want to try talking to the homeless sometime. I bet they have stories too. And guess what? They probably aren't included in your precious "data" because they aren't even on the radar screen most of the time.

Reminds me of a recent quote I saw from George Bush, to paraphrase:

"As people start to do better, they vote Republican. Unless they are educated, in which case they vote Democratic."

Thank you for your interest. This blog is no longer active.

 

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Michael Mandel, BW's award-winning chief economist, provides his unique perspective on the hot economic issues of the day. From globalization to the future of work to the ups and downs of the financial markets, Mandel-named 2006 economic journalist of the year by the World Leadership Forum-offers cutting edge analysis and commentary.

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