An Economic Vibe Check
February 2, 2024
Promising jobs and consumer sentiment numbers will require effort to sustain.
The Roosevelt Rundown features our top stories of the week.
Amid Hopeful Economic Indicators, Policymakers’ Work Must Continue
Today’s jobs report, indicating that the economy added a whopping 353,000 jobs in January, pairs nicely with another good piece of economic news: The consumer sentiment index jumped to its highest level since July 2021—increasing by 28.5 percent over the last two months and representing the largest gain since 1991.
This growth in Americans’ optimism about the economy wouldn’t have happened without broad economic policies enacted to ease the shock of the pandemic recession, writes the Roosevelt Institute’s Alí Bustamante in a new blog post.
But growth takes time to reach all parts of the economy, and for a while Americans were struggling with high inflation, interest rate hikes, and suppressed wages, even in broader positive conditions. “A big reason for the disconnect is the unevenness in how different cities and states have recovered,” Bustamante told CNBC this week. “When you delve in deeper in some areas, you see a lot of variation [in] how communities are recovering.” (Roosevelt explored some of these geographic disparities in economic recovery last month.)
“[I]n order for consumer sentiment to improve,” Bustamante writes in the new piece, “Americans must experience economic conditions that both restore their economic well-being and instill optimism about future economic gains.” In contrast to the sluggish recovery after 2008’s Great Recession, the government’s investments in the COVID era—like the American Rescue Plan—have helped boost a crisis-battered economy, and consumer sentiment is now following suit.
“Policymakers must now stay the course and continue to deliver broad and sustained improvements in economic conditions in order to carry forward public opinion,” Bustamante writes. Read more in “Americans Are Starting to Feel the Economic Recovery.”
Listen: How a New Economics Went Mainstream
This week, Roosevelt’s think tank vice president, Suzanne Kahn, joined the Pitchfork Economics podcast to discuss the changing tide of economic policy and Roosevelt’s recent report, Sea Change: How a New Economics Went Mainstream.
“I do think we are at this moment where people are questioning neoliberalism and the dominant policy frame in a way that has not happened in 30, 40 years,” Kahn told host Nick Hanauer. “[A]t a moment when things are up for grabs, it’s so important that we are trying to ensure and [put] forward a vision that can shape a whole range of public policies that move us in a more progressive direction.”
What We’re Talking About
🔈Practical Radicals Podcast is live!
If you liked #HTSAC, check out this new podcast with @dbhargava68
& @stephanie_luce_, based on their new book. New episodes are biweekly and will feature conversations with leading progressive organizers & thinkers. https://t.co/CDxutMBVhm
— Roosevelt Institute (@rooseveltinst) January 31, 2024
What We’re Reading
How Do We Build Back Better after a Crisis? [podcast] – feat. Roosevelt’s Todd N. Tucker – Gates Cambridge
Discussing Tax Trends around the Country with the Roosevelt Institute [podcast] – feat. Roosevelt’s Emily DiVito – WHBY