Saturday, July 12, 2014


GDPNow is the new thing from the economic forecasters at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. It’s a real time forecast of real GDP that’s continuously updated (well, as continuously as new data announcements … so pretty much daily).

This gives it a big lead time over — several weeks — over the federal government, whose preliminary estimate comes out 4 weeks after the end of the quarter.

Here’s the forecast for 2014 II as of July 10:

Evolution of Atlanta Fed GDPNow Real GDP Forecast

It’s still 3 weeks until the official number comes out.

Baby Boom Population Cohorts

This is somewhat different than some of my other posts about demographics and labor force participation. This merely shows the population of people with the same age.

But … you can distinctly see that the baby boomers … the generation that started being the major support for the economy in the 70’s is starting peaked out half-way through the Bush administration.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Fascinating Infographic for Students (Not Required)

The possibilities from this are astounding.

The infographic on this site (it’s interactive so you must click through) allows you to:

  • Select a state (or the whole country).

What shows up is a rectangle, divided into smaller rectangles, divided into even smaller rectangles. The area of the rectangles corresponds to the proportion of people working in a particular job description in that state.

Then you can:

  • Choose a point on the income slider

The graphic then shades only the rectangles of those professions where median income is higher than what you selected.


  • Mouseover any rectangle to get the both the median salary for that profession, and the number of people working in that profession in the state.

Most of you are young enough to have a good deal of control of where you end up. Dovetail this with the recent publication indicating that the current income required for “The American Dream” is about $130K per year. The number of professions in Utah that make that possible on one income is very small; the number of professions that can get you half of that (so your spouse can pick up the other half) is still pretty small.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Economics of the Undead

On sale, starting tomorrow:

Chapter 6, entitled “What Happens Next? Endgames of a Zombie Apocalypse” is by myself, my wife Mary Jo Tufte, and SUU’s internationally known pop culture expert Kyle Bishop. Click here for an excerpt.

The book also has a website with a course guide and blog.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Three Variations on Quotes About Micro and Macro

  • From the LSE’s orientation video: “Macroeconomics has all the interesting questions, but no real answers. Microeconomics has all the answers but no interesting questions.”
  • Zach Weiner: “Microeconomics successfully describes situations that never occur. Macroeconomics unsuccessfully describes situations that occur constantly.”
  • Kevin Grier: “Micro has right answers to the wrong questions, while Macro has wrong answers to the right questions.”

Thinking About Graduate School?

FYI: The Complete Guide to Getting Into an Economics Ph.D. Program (or Finance for that matter).

Monday, July 7, 2014

An Urban Myth: Is It a Problem that 20-Somethings Are Living with Their Parents?

Shout out to CB interning at GS: the Census Bureau officially counts you as a slacker, but the rest of us know better.

You know all that stuff about how bad it is that so many 20-somethings are living at home with their parents? What if it was nonsense?

Check out this piece from The Atlantic entitled “The Misguided Freakout About Basement-Dwelling Millenials”.

It turns out that the Census Bureau counts just about any student living away at college (in the dorms, in student housing, and so on) as living in their parents’ home.

That actually makes some sense: it’s not like most college students have established a permanent residence — for the whole year (since we do most demographics on an annual basis) — from their parents, right?

Here’s the charts to help make sense of what this means in the data. First off, 20-somethings are a lot less likely to be married, but more likely to be living every other way:

Do note that there is definitely an uptick in people living at home with their parents since the Great Recession.

But also this note, showing that most of that is because they’re in college:

Note that this is not graduated-from-college-within-the-last-couple-of-years-and-can’t-find-a-job. That’s the bottom shaded area, and it’s declined over the last generation, and the uptick over the last 10 years is pretty modest.

So … lighten up … and tell the old folks to lighten up too. ;)

Having said that, do note that the center section will also include people staying in college because they can’t or won’t find a job and move out. So the millenials are not completely absolved here, but college towns have been full of “permanent students” for a very long time, and there’s little evidence that his phenomenon has gotten worse. And in fact, most universities are actually pushing students harder to get out the door than ever before.

Cross-posted from SUU Macroblog, which is required reading for my students.