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Recovery Tracker Posts Gains: In the past seven weeks, Americans ramped up spending on travel and leisure, while businesses spent more on production and hiring. U.S. Recovery Tracker posted strong gains (see chart). With health conditions continuing to improve and vaccination numbers increasing, state recovery is on the uptick. Overall improvement on many fronts proven by the highest level of hotel stays and restaurant outings since the pandemic started. The summer looks hopeful!

Understanding the Employment Situation Report: Each month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its Employment Situation report. The purpose of the report is to help the everyone from economists to the general public understand the health of the nation’s economy. But there’s more to it than simple numbers of who is employed and unemployed. Based on surveys, not actual counts, the report can have sampling errors that affects how we interpret monthly employment numbers. The data is preliminary. June’s data won’t be out until August. This can shift the narrative. With wages slow to recover and persistent differences across racial and educational boundaries, the raw numbers don’t always tell the entire story. In fact, the raw numbers don’t include people who have searched for employment and given up or people in government-run institutions like prisons. In fact, alternative measures of employment are typically higher than the officially reported rate. Our employment and unemployment rates are certainly a barometer for economic health but should be understood with caveats.

The U.S. unemployment rate: simple math. Illustration by Clark Merrefield.

Biden’s Tax Plan Benefits: Intended to help middle class families (defined as those who make $400,000 or less), Biden’s tax plan expands the earned income tax credit and child and dependent tax credit, provides a credit for first time homebuyers, provides tax deferrals on real estate and replaces deductions for retirement accounts. While this plan raises taxes for higher earners, Biden intends to get more money in the hands of middle-class Americans.

Government Debt Snowball: As the world economies crawl out of Covid, one area of consistent concern is the global borrowing spree over the last year. While the US government debt sits at a hefty $27 trillion, when expressed as a percentage GDP (or Gross Domestic Product) the US doesn’t make the top 10. While this can be viewed as good(ish) news, some remain concerned that our continued borrowing will lead to higher interest rates, detracting from economic growth and public sector investment.

Invisible Sculpture Auctioned: Titled “I Am” by artist Salvatore Garau his most recent artistic expression is meant to be viewed in a space that is 4.9 by 4.9 feet. Yet, the sculpture is … invisible. (No, we’re not making this up.) Referring to it as an “immaterial sculpture” the artist says, “[it] will take the most varied forms.” Selling for a whopping $18,300, the proud owner has a certificate of authentication to ensure that the invisible sculpture is what it purports to be. Even though it can’t be seen (but maybe seen in our featured image?).