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3 trends I learned this year that totally shook my understanding of the American economy

I learn new big foundational truths every year. Yet for some reason, three trends in particular that I learned this year meaningfully shifted how I understood my country, in particular the work I do in reporting and organizing around economic development.

They’re so important and telling that I admit I’m a little embarrassed I only really understood them this year.

(1) Despite hype around startups, we are challenged by a lack of new businesses. The number of new firms created between 2009 and 2011 in the United States was lower than between 1978 and 1980, according to Brookings. I wrote a lot about that here.

(2) Despite hype around a mobile workforce, we are challenged by immobility. Americans are moving less for work than at any since at least 1948. In the mid-1960s, one in five Americans moved in any given year. Today that’s closer to 10 percent, according to reporting from the New York Times. It’s part of a lack of firm investing.

(3) Despite hype around free trade benefiting only the wealthy, the poorest Americans have gained the most. If trade borders were closed, “the poorest 10 percent of consumers would lose 63 percent  of their spending power, because they buy relatively more imported goods” than their wealthier neighbors, according to reporting by The Economist. I totally ‘grammed that.

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