It’s a strange time in the economy. Wages are on the rise, but so is inflation. Jobs are increasing, but maybe not fast enough. Drop-out rates are at an all-time high in the 21st century. We don’t know what a trend is, what a blip is, what a transition is and what is now normal. And all as the virus continues to stalk us and we deal with the trauma of the past 18 months.
“We’re all going to have different times in our lives where we stop and say, ‘Whoa, am I going in the right direction? Is this the right profession for me? Should I do something different? ‘ Says Betsey Stevenson. “But I can’t think of another time when it was a correlated shock across the country, where we were all faced – no, forced – to ask questions.”
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Stevenson is a very accomplished economist and economist. She was chief economist at Barack Obama’s Department of Labor and later a member of the Obama Council of Economic Advisers. Today, she is a professor of public policy and economics at the University of Michigan, as well as co-host of the “Think Like an Economist” podcast. She has a rare talent for combining a rigorous approach to the economics of the labor market with the recognition that people – our psychologies, our fears and our dreams – matter and that they shape our economic decisions. Especially now.
So I invited Stevenson to the show to discuss the big picture of what’s going on in the U.S. economy right now – wages, jobs, inflation, and animal spirits foremost. She did not disappoint. I came out of this conversation much less confused than when I entered it.
You can listen to our entire conversation by following “The Ezra Klein Show” on Apple, Spotify, Google, or wherever you get your podcasts.
(A full transcript of the episode will be available at noon on the Times website.)
“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact check by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.