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Some Insightful Graphs: We often find that the most helpful economic data can be easier to understand when displayed graphically. Here are a few charts we found interesting this week regarding daily economic indicators:

Weekly economic indicators:

For more charts showing data from various sectors to help understand the difficulties of our economy or the pockets of economic health, check out these.

Social Security Redesign: If you have not noticed, the Social Security website underwent a major facelift. The site is now more user-friendly and accessible to those who need it the most. As 10,000 baby boomers retire every day, the average time a caller waits on the phone before connecting with a Social Security representative has increased from less than five minutes to more than half an hour. The wait is expected to worsen as the agency’s staff and budget have declined by more than 15%. But with the new website redesign, you should be able to bypass most of those phone calls. A few key ingredients of the new site:

  • If you are approaching retirement age or like to think ahead, you can use the newly designed site to help you prepare for retirement, checking what your benefits will be.
  • If you are in the group of baby boomers finding their way to retirement each week, you can use the site to apply for your benefits.
  • You can manage your account, request new cards, update your bank information, change any personal information and even download and print your 1099/1042s.

It is worth some time to navigate through and familiarize yourself with the updated site.

Business Briefing

  • Economy Growth: The U.S. economy grew at a faster-than-expected 2.9 percent annualized pace in the fourth quarter of 2022, down from 3.2 percent the previous quarter, according to Commerce Department data released Thursday. For the full year, gross domestic product grew 2.1 percent. (Bloomberg, Reuters)
  • U.S. States Sue Google: The Justice Department and eight states, including New York, California, and Virginia, filed a lawsuit against Alphabet’s Google on Tuesday, accusing the internet search giant of illegally monopolizing the digital advertising market. The suit seeks to break up Google’s ad unit, Bloomberg reported. (Bloomberg)
  • Raising Minimum Wage: Walmart announced Tuesday it was hiking its minimum wage by $2 an hour to a range of $14 to $19 an hour, depending on the location. The raise will lift the retail giant’s average wage to $17.50 an hour from $17 starting with March 2 paychecks, Walmart said. The change affects about 340,000 workers at roughly 3,000 stores. Walmart still lags behind other rivals like Amazon, Costco, and Target. (Reuters)

Picking up a New Hobby: A new survey of over 2,000 adults over 50 found that 62 percent are keen to embrace things now, more than they used to. Forty-seven percent have a new outlook on life, taking up hobbies like writing a book, skiing, conquering a mountain, learning a language, and maybe even getting a tattoo. At least 53 percent of respondents agreed that “age is just a number.” Attributing their newfound zeal to things like spare time, retirement, and empty nesting, over a third of those in the survey said they aren’t afraid to try something new, considering themselves “young” at age 75. So, what’s your new hobby? What will you conquer in 2023? Be inspired by these over 50’s learning to ski for the first time.