Daily Bread for 7.11.24: U.S. Inflation Cools Again

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 81. Sunrise is 5:27 and sunset 8:33 for 15h 05m 14s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 28.2 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1796, the United States takes possession of Detroit from Great Britain under terms of the Jay Treaty.

On this day in 1839, the first patent is issued to a Wisconsin resident:

Ebenezar G. Whiting of Racine was issued patent #1232 for his improved plow, the first patent issued to someone from Wisconsin. Whiting’s improvements consisted of making the mold-board straight and flat which, when united in the center with the curvilinear part of the mold-board, would require less power to drag through the dirt. Whiting went on to serve as Vice President of the J.I. Case Plow Company and received another patent for a steel plow in 1876.

Christopher Rugaber reports US inflation cools again, potentially paving way for Fed to cut interest rates soon:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Inflation in the United States cooled in June for a third straight month, a sign that the worst price spike in four decades is steadily fading and may soon usher in interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve.

In a better-than-expected report, consumer prices declined 0.1% from May to June after having remained flat the previous month, the Labor Department said Thursday. It was the first monthly decline in overall inflation since May 2020, when the economy was paralyzed by the pandemic. 

And measured from one year earlier, prices were up 3% in June, cooler than the 3.3% annual rate in May.

The latest inflation readings will likely help convince the Fed’s policymakers that inflation is returning to its 2% target. A brief pickup in inflation early this year had caused the officials to scale back their expectations for interest rate cuts. The policymakers said they would need to see several months of mild price increases to feel confident enough enough to cut their key rate from its 23-year high. 

Whitewater has a chance to make gains in her community during these improving economic conditions. Yesteryear offers no answers for the city, save what not to do this time.

Closest massive black hole to Earth may be in Omega Centauri, Hubble finds:

Hubble Space Telescope observations of the Omega Centauri star cluster, about 18,000 light-years from Earth, has revealed evidence of an intermediate-size black hole.

Daily Bread for 7.8.24: National Labor Market Adds 206,000 Jobs with Slight Rise in Unemployment

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 81. Sunrise is 5:25 and sunset 8:34 for 15h 09m 03s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 7.2 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Planning Board meets at 6 PM.

On this day in 1776, church bells (possibly including the Liberty Bell) are rung after John Nixon delivers the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence of the United States.

On this day in 1850, James Jesse Strang Is Crowned King:

On this date, James Jesse Strang, leader of the estranged Mormon faction the Strangites, was crowned king; the only man to achieve such a title in America. When founder Joseph Smith was assassinated, Strang forged a letter from Smith dictating he was to be the heir. The Mormon movement split into followers of Strang and followers of Brigham Young. As he gained more followers (but never nearly as many as Brigham Young), Strang became comparable to a Saint, and in 1850 was crowned King James in a ceremony in which he wore a discarded red robe of a Shakespearean actor, and a metal crown studded with a cluster of stars as his followers sang him hosannas.

Soon after his crowning, he announced that Mormonism embraced and supported polygamy. (Young’s faction was known to have practiced polygamy, but had not at this time announced it publicly.) A number of followers lived in Walworth County, including Strang at a home in Burlington. In 1856 Strang was himself assassinated, leaving five wives. Without Strang’s leadership, his movement disintegrated. 

Josh Schafer reports US labor market adds 206,000 jobs, unemployment rate rises to 4.1%:

The US labor market added more jobs than expected in June while the unemployment rate unexpectedly rose, reaching its highest level since November 2021, another sign that the job market continues to cool.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Friday showed the US economy added 206,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in June, more than the 190,000 expected by economists.

The unemployment rate rose to 4.1%, up from 4% in the month prior and the highest reading in almost three years. June’s job additions were a slight decline from May, which saw job gains revised down on Friday to 218,000 from the 272,000 initially reported last month

The skill to take advange of job gains (and benefit the city still more if there should be interest rate cuts) will not be found among Whitewater’s self-promoting “action-oriented” types of fifteen or twenty years ago. The sooner the city turns away from their monkey shines the better.

Indeed, the work of that aged and addled cohort has been worse for the city, in concept and execution, than Monkey Shines the 1988 b-movie horror film:

It’s hard to estimate precisely, but a rough guess is that Whitewater would have been 179.6% better off with a killer monkey than that failed group from yesterday.

What is the rarest animal in the world? The 5 most-endangered species:

Daily Bread for 6.21.24: Wisconsin Workers’ Average Pay Increases 5.3% Year Over Year

Good morning.

Friday will be partly cloudy with a possibility of afternoon showers and a high of 88. Sunrise is 5:16 and sunset 8:37 for 15h 20m 19s of daytime. The moon is full with 99.8 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1944, Camp Janesville was established when 250 German POWs arrived in Rock County to help pick and can peas, tomatoes, and sweet corn. The camp was a small town of tents that housed guards and the POWs, many of them from the defeated Afrika Corps led by the “Desert Fox”, Field Marshall Rommel. Another 150 prisoners were assigned to a similar camp in Jefferson. The German POWs were primarily in their mid-20s. They were eventually transferred to an undisclosed camp on September 25, 1944.

On this day in 1945, the Battle of Okinawa ends when the organized resistance of Imperial Japanese Army forces collapses in the Mabuni area on the southern tip of the main island.

Wisconsin workers’ average pay — an average — increased significantly over the last year. David Clarey reports Wisconsin workers’ average pay jumps 5.3% from last year:

Wisconsin workers’ pay rose over 5% from a year ago at this time, slightly outpacing the national average, according to a new report.

The June 5 report from payroll company ADP shows that the median annual pay in Wisconsin in May reached $59,000, up 5.3% from a year ago. That slightly beat out the nationwide median pay of $58,300 and 5% increases.

ADP’s report uses salary data from about 10 million employees over a 12-month period to calculate the data, it said in a media release.


ADP’s figures are slightly higher than what USA TODAY reported in February. That report showed that the average annual salary in Wisconsin was $58,552.

The United States Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported its official statistics for May 2023 in April 2024. At that time, it said the annual average wage was $59,500 out of 2,885,990 workers in Wisconsin. Nationally, the annual average wage was $65,470.

These reported wage increases are averages, and ADP’s method is a private assessment. Even within Wisconsin, there are sure to be significant variations in employment levels and salary gains. Nonetheless, gains in individual and household incomes are a foundational measure of community prosperity. The measure of an advanced, productive market economy is whether it advances personal and household well-being across all parts of a community. In this regard, the goal should be the broader the gains, the better.

Some of us in Whitewater have done well over the last generation, but some of us is an inadequate achievement. How odd that, despite having lived long in this city, a few of us don’t seem to grasp this fundamental economic goal (and moral principle).

Wildfires rage in California and New Mexico:

Daily Bread for 6.12.24: National Inflation Slows

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 87. Sunrise is 5:15 and sunset 8:34 for 15h 18m 33s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 34.5 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Landmarks Commission meets at 6 PM.

On this day in 1889, the worst tornado disaster in Wisconsin history occurs:

The storm virtually leveled New Richmond on the day the Gollmar Brothers Circus came to town. At the time, New Richmond was a prosperous town of 2500 people and one of the most scenic places in Wisconsin. On the day of the storm, the streets were filled with residents and tourists waiting for the afternoon circus parade. Shortly after the circus ended, the tornado passed through the very center of town, completely leveling buildings. Over 300 buildings were damaged or destroyed. Massive amounts of flying debris resulted in multiple deaths in at least 26 different families. In all, the storm claimed 117 lives and caused 150 injuries.

On this day in 1944, American paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division secure the town of CarentanNormandy, France.

Good news on national inflation, as Jeff Cox reports Inflation slows in May, with consumer prices up 3.3% from a year ago:

The consumer price index showed no increase in May as inflation slightly loosened its stubborn grip on the U.S. economy, the Labor Department reported Wednesday.

The CPI, a broad inflation gauge that measures a basket of goods and services costs across the U.S. economy, held flat on the month though it increased 3.3% from a year ago, according to the department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been looking for a 0.1% monthly gain and a 3.4% annual rate.

Excluding volatile food and energy prices, core CPI increased 0.2% on the month and 3.4% from a year ago, compared with respective estimates of 0.3% and 3.5%.


Following the report, stock market futures pushed higher while Treasury yields slid.

Though the top-line inflation numbers were lower for both the all-items and core measures, shelter inflation increased 0.4% on the month and was up 5.4% from a year ago. Housing-related numbers have been a sticking point in the Federal Reserve’s inflation battle and make up a heavy share of the CPI weighting.

(Emphasis added.)

The cost of shelter continues to increase nationally, forcing the many to pay more of their income to the few for a place to live.

What are Joro spiders and are they dangerous?:

Daily Bread for 6.7.24: National Job & Wage Growth Robust in May

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be windy with a high of 75. Sunrise is 5:16 and sunset 8:31 for 15h 15m 15s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 1.5 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1776,  Richard Henry Lee presents the “Lee Resolution” to the Continental Congress:

Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances.

That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective Colonies for their consideration and approbation.

Lindsay Dunsmuir reports US job gains blow past expectations, wage growth quickens:

June 7 (Reuters) – The U.S. economy created far more jobs than expected in May and annual wage growth reaccelerated, underscoring the resilience of the labor market and reducing the likelihood the Federal Reserve will be able to start rate cuts in September.
The Labor Department’s closely watched employment report on Friday also showed the unemployment rate ticked up to 4.0% from 3.9% in April, reaching a symbolic threshold below which the jobless rate had previously held for 27 straight months.

The unexpectedly strong report made plain that while the labor market has softened around the edges in recent months, its still-solid performance is set to keep the Fed on the sidelines and taking its time in deciding when to begin lowering borrowing costs.
Financial markets slashed the odds of a September rate cut, reducing the probability to about 55% from about 70% before the report, based on rate futures contracts.

These are national figures; they are not local measures of progress. Whitewater’s old guard wasted a generation by which our city has lagged our nation.

These types would like to tell the city they have answers for the next generation’s needs.

Admittedly, they’re right — they do have answers for the next generation: answers as wrong and counter-productive as the ones they’ve been giving for decades. (If they’d advised and guided correctly, longtime residents now in need wouldn’t be bartering for diapers and small appliances on social media.) If these men have but one skill, it hasn’t been in getting conditions right, but instead in shameless self-promotion while they’ve been getting conditions wrong.

Whitewater will see widespread prosperity when she moves away from her stultifying past.

Greater Sage-Grouse:

Greater Sage-Grouse are one of the most iconic birds of the American West. Each spring across the sagebrush steppe, they gather at mating grounds, called leks. There, males perform incredible courtship displays for onlooking females. Experience the magic of sage-grouse from inside a photography blind on a lek in southern Wyoming with Audubon Rockies’ communications manager, Evan Barrientos.

Daily Bread for 5.17.24: Wisconsin’s April Employment Numbers

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 78. Sunrise is 5:28 and sunset 8:14 for 14h 45m 29s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 69.5 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1673, the Jolliet and Marquette Expedition gets underway as Louis Jolliet, Father Jacques Marquette, and five French voyageurs depart from the mission of St. Ignace, at the head of Lake Michigan, to reconnoiter the Mississippi River. The party traveled in two canoes throughout the summer of 1673, traveling across Wisconsin, down the Mississippi to the Arkansas River, and back again.

On this day in 1973,  televised Watergate hearings begin in the United States Senate.

Eric Gunn reports Wisconsin jobs, employment numbers remained strong in April:

Wisconsin jobs and employment held steady in April, extending a strong economic streak that has been in place for more than two years, according to the state labor department.

“Businesses are still telling us that they are looking for workers,” said Dennis Winters, chief economist at the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD), at a briefing Thursday on the April jobs numbers. “Anybody that’s out there [has] probably got a pretty good chance of getting a job if they’ve got some skills to offer. We expect that to continue, too.”

The projected number of jobs in Wisconsin reached just under 3.05 million in April, while the unemployment rate fell below 3%.

The monthly statistical projections are based on two surveys conducted by the federal government. Projections about the labor force and employment are based on a household survey that asks people whether they are working or looking for work, among other questions. The jobs numbers are projected from a separate survey asking employers how many people are on their payrolls.

Based on the household survey projections, in April nearly 3.14 million Wisconsin residents were in the state’s labor force, either working or actively seeking work, DWD reported Thursday — 65.6% of the state’s population over the age of 16. Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate for the month was almost three percentage points higher than that of the U.S., 62.7%.

What a shame it would be for Whitewater to cling to ideas from her failed past rather than join in the favorable trends that other communities are now enjoying. And yet, and yet a few tired men would like nothing more than that a community of fifteen thousand should live as though it served only a few.

More to come.

A Mission to Better Understand Earth’s Polar Regions:

Daily Bread for 5.15.24: National Inflation Rate Improves Slightly

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 71. Sunrise is 5:30 and sunset 8:11 for 14h 41m 31s of daytime. The moon is in its first quarter with 50.5 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

The Whitewater School Board meets in closed session shortly after 5 PM, to return to open session thereafter this evening. Whitewater’s Parks & Rec Board meets at 5:30 PM.

On this day in 1911,  in Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey v. United States, the United States Supreme Court declares Standard Oil to be an “unreasonable” monopoly under the Sherman Antitrust Act and orders the company to be broken up.

Rachel Siegel reports Inflation improved slightly in April, with timing for rate cuts still uncertain:

Inflation showed some signs of improvement in April, as policymakers grapple with whether their fight against abnormally high price growth is losing ground.

Data released Wednesday from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed prices rose 3.4 percent in April, compared with the year before. That’s down a bit from the 3.5 percent notched in March, and follows months of hotter-than-expected reports. Prices rose 0.3 percent compared with the month before.

In a particularly encouraging note, a key reading of inflation known as “core” — which strips out more volatile categories like food and energy — rose 0.3 percent. That measure was up 3.6 percent on an annual basis, the lowest year-over-year increase since 2021. Policymakers pay close attention to that gauge because it helps them tease out stickier sources of inflation from the kinds of rising prices that typically bounce around month to month.

If conditions improve nationally, and if that national improvement reaches Whitewater, then what will local policymakers make of that improvement? If conditions do not improve nationally, and that lack of improvement besets Whitewater, then how will local policymakers carry on?

Bringing back policymakers from the failed past will only ensure a failed future. Again, a reminder:

The only reason to return to the policies and leaders of the past would be if someone had no hope of either any possible growth or no hope for ameliorating any possible decline. That is, yesterday’s self-promoting mediocrities would be of value to Whitewater only if nothing anyone did would matter.  See Whitewater’s Still Waiting for That Boom and Now is Whitewater’s Time to Seize an Improving National and State Economy. Only hopelessness among many or the selfishness of a few would lead Whitewater to return to her economic past.

People choose freely, sometimes well, sometimes poorly.

Sage the Miniature Poodle wins Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club:

Daily Bread for 5.3.24: National Employment & Inflation

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 73. Sunrise is 5:44 and sunset 7:58 for 14h 14m 44s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 26.3 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1957,  Walter O’Malley, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, agrees to move the team from Brooklyn to Los Angeles.

National job creation slowed last month, with 175,000 additional jobs created. Additional jobs were created, but fewer than the month before. Is there a silver lining in this? Yes, quite possibly. Jeanna Smialek writes The Fed Is Looking for a Job Market Cool-Down. It Just Got One (‘Wage growth and hiring slowed in April, evidence of the job market slowdown that Federal Reserve officials have been waiting on’):

While inflation is the main thing determining when and how much borrowing costs can come down, Jerome H. Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, made it clear this week that central bankers are also watching what happens with hiring and pay.

Mr. Powell emphasized repeatedly this week that the Fed did not specifically target wage growth when setting policy, but he also suggested that pay gains might need to slow further for inflation to come down sufficiently and in a lasting way — which means that Friday’s numbers could be a welcome development.

“We don’t target wages; we target price inflation,” he said. When it comes to cooling the economy, he said, “part of that will probably be having wage increases move down incrementally toward levels that are more sustainable.”

Stock indexes picked up after the report, as investors welcomed the more moderate data as a sign that interest rates may not stay high for as long. Investors in assets like stocks tend to prefer low rates.

These are national job numbers (with implications for the national inflation rate). Overall, these favorable national figures (job creation, relatively low unemployment, and conditions that may cool inflation).

Locally, however, there is a stark truth about municipal economic & development policy: The only reason to return to the policies and leaders of the past would be if someone had no hope of either any possible growth or no hope for ameliorating any possible decline. That is, yesterday’s self-promoting mediocrities would be of value to Whitewater only if nothing anyone did would matter. See Whitewater’s Still Waiting for That Boom and Now is Whitewater’s Time to Seize an Improving National and State Economy.

Only hopelessness among many or the selfishness of a few would lead Whitewater to return to her economic past.

Semi-truck overturns, hits vehicle amid tornado supercell:

Daily Bread for 4.26.24: National Inflation Rate Stays Stubborn

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be cloudy with evening showers and a high of 60. Sunrise is 5:53 and sunset 7:51 for 13h 57m 12s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 93.5 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1865,  Union cavalry troopers corner and shoot dead John Wilkes Boothassassin of President Abraham Lincoln, in Virginia:

Asking that his hands be raised to his face so that he could see them, Booth uttered his last words, “Useless, useless,” and as dawn was breaking he died of asphyxiation as a result of his wounds

Jeanna Smialek and Ben Casselman report Stubborn Inflation Could Prod Fed to Keep Rates High for Longer:

The Federal Reserve’s most closely watched inflation measure remained stubborn in March, the latest evidence that price increases are not fading as quickly as policymakers would like, and another reason that interest rates may stay higher for longer.

Investors came into 2024 hopeful that Fed officials would cut rates substantially this year, but those hopes have been fading as inflation has shown much more staying power than expected. Wall Street increasingly sees lower rates coming much later in the year, if the Fed manages to cut them at all.

The latest Personal Consumption Expenditures index reading could keep the Fed on a cautious path as it considers when to lower borrowing costs.

The overall inflation index rose by 2.7 percent in the year through March, up from 2.5 percent in February and slightly more than economists had expected.


Investors are now betting that the Fed might make its first move in September or later, based on market pricing, and a small but growing share think that it may not manage to cut rates at all this year.

Massive fire burns at Oceanside Pier in California:

Daily Bread for 4.10.24: Inflation Remains Stubborn

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of 66. Sunrise is 6:18 and sunset 7:32 for 13h 13m 48s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 4.4 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1872, the first Arbor Day (in America) is celebrated in Nebraska.

Jeanna Smialek reports Inflation was quicker than expected in March, likely unwelcome news for the Fed:

A closely watched measure of inflation remained stronger than expected in March, worrying news for Federal Reserve officials who have become increasingly concerned that their progress on lowering prices increases might be stalling.

The surprisingly stubborn inflation reading could raise doubts about when the Fed will be able to start cutting interest rates, and how much they will be able to reduce borrowing costs this year.

The Consumer Price Index climbed 3.8 percent on an annual basis after stripping out food and fuel prices, which economists do in order to get a better sense of the underlying inflation trend. That was stronger than the 3.7 percent increase economists expected, and unchanged from 3.8 percent in February. The monthly reading was also stronger than what economists had forecast.

On an overall basis, the inflation measure climbed 3.5 percent in March from a year earlier, up from 3.2 percent in February and faster than what economists have anticipated. A rise in gas prices contributed to that inflation number.

Lower than it was a year ago, higher than consumers (and the Federal Reserve) would like.

Some cats are bigger than others:

Daily Bread for 4.5.24: Before & After the Spring General Election

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 46. Sunrise is 6:27 and sunset 7:26 for 12h 59m 36s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 14.2 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1792, President Washington exercises his authority to veto a bill, the first time this power is used in the United States.

Before the Spring General Election: Economics to Socio-Economics to Chronic Hardship.

After the Spring General Election: Economics to Socio-Economics to Chronic Hardship.

Before the Spring General Election: What Ails, What Heals.

After the Spring General Election: What Ails, What Heals.

There are fundamental conditions and principles, and then there’s everything else. 

The U.S. economy — national totals — added 303,000 jobs in March. No time to waste this time:

Last time in Whitewater before the pandemic: Whitewater’s Still Waiting for That Boom

No reason to rely on the men who have fumbled again and again, for a generation, in this town.  

Daily Bread for 4.4.24: Economics to Socio-Economics to Chronic Hardship

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will see scattered morning snow showers with a high of 41. Sunrise is 6:29 and sunset 7:25 for 12h 56m 44s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 23.6 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

The Whitewater Common Council meets tonight at 6:30 PM

On this day in 1949, twelve nations sign the North Atlantic Treaty creating the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Consider the claim, in a comment at FREE WHITEWATER from two days ago, that some in the retail and service sector in the city (and other area communities) would find lack of confidence akin to low confidence “not in the height of the 2008 recession but certainly in its lingering aftermath.” 

What to make of the claim?

It’s accurate, that’s what.

The Great Recession (2007-2009), more even than the pandemic, was and remains the most important economic event of our time. (The pandemic had immediate and tragic consequences for many lives, but it was the failure to address the Great Recession’s effects that set Whitewater and other places on their economic and socio-economic course.)

Whitewater, in particular, could not have had worse leaders than the ones from that time in grasping and responding to the Great Recession. A few are still around, as feckless and ineffectual as they were then.  

How to think of that time: like a man with a disease untreated, or a broken bone left unset: other maladies or deformities have sprung from the failure to treat effectively the original condition. 

Some of us have, of course, done well even in hard times for others, as an earlier generation did even during the Great Depression. 

Can we who have done well not see that, in our very community, there are longtime residents who through necessity now barter for diapers, baby food, and small appliances? 

That’s hardship for them and policy failure for us. (For advocates of free markets, like this libertarian blogger, these questions arise: did markets reach everyone, if they did not why not, and if they did why were they ineffective in specific cases?)  

Greatly simplified (as these are not wholly separate forces): Economic loss leads to socio-economic dysfunction and socio-economic dysfunction leads to community fragmentation, strife, and chronic hardship.

Daily Bread for 4.2.24: Wisconsin’s Economy and Perceptions of It

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be rainy with a high of 40. Sunrise is 6:32 and sunset 7:23 for 12h 50m 59s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 48 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1865, defeat at the Third Battle of Petersburg forces the Army of Northern Virginia and the Confederate government to abandon Richmond, Virginia.

An improving economy will not reach everyone simultaneously, as quickly as one would hope, or even feel like it has arrived after it does. 

Of those not  reached (and worse for not having been reached), Natalie Eilbert reports Wisconsin’s homeless rate edges upward, after nearly a decade of a downward trend:

Wisconsin’s homelessness population is on the rise for the first time in a decade, a trend that will likely grow as federal pandemic-relief programs end and living costs continue to surge.

The trend, in a report by Wisconsin Policy Forum released Wednesday, appears to be driven by the economic hardships and layoffs that have become synonymous with the pandemic, and consequently, the jump in housing costs in the pandemic’s aftermath.

COVID-19 relief dollars managed to head off the pandemic’s impact on Wisconsin’s homeless rate, but that quickly changed when relief dollars expired and eviction moratoriums lifted, said Don Cramer, the Wisconsin Policy Forum researcher who authored Wednesday’s report.


That translated to a 13% increase in Wisconsin’s homelessness rate between 2021 and 2022, and another 2% increase between 2022 and 2023. To put this into perspective, 6,055 Wisconsinites were registered as homeless in 2014, but by 2021, that number had fallen to 4,237 — a 30% drop. As of 2023, Wisconsin reported 4,861 homeless individuals.

“The lowest (homeless) numbers in 2021 happened when the state got the most funding from relief dollars,” Cramer said. “When different aids start falling away, we see higher homeless rates.”

While Cramer attributes success against homelessness to federal and state relief funds, this approach (however successful, even temporarily) was destined to be limited by the availability of those funds. A funding program may be vital during an immediate crisis but insufficient afterward. To call upon economic growth to uplift the homeless, however, is to call upon powerful forces that do not reach everyone, or for those with several maladies, will not reach them without intermediate growth among supportive professions and sectors of the economy. (A person who needs medical care, even after finding permanent accommodations, needs an economy that produces doctors and the means to reach them. Productive and prosperous economies create diverse opportunities beyond mere employment for one population or within one sector.) 

For many consumers, Casey Quinlan writes Experts say the economy is getting better, but consumers don’t feel that way. Here’s why:

Consumer sentiment, a smaller survey [as against consumer confidence] conducted by the University of Michigan, also gauges people’s sense of the economy overall, the labor market, and how they see inflation. On Thursday, U.S. consumer sentiment jumped to 79.4 from 76.9 in February and 62 a year earlier, making this its highest level since July 2021.

Joanne Hsu, director of the survey, said in the report that this number is an indication that consumers believe the economy is “holding steady.”

“As the election season progresses and debates over economic policy become more salient for consumers, their outlook for the economy could become more volatile in the months ahead,” she added.

Kevin Kliesen, business economist and research officer at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, said consumer confidence and consumer sentiment are still far below pre-pandemic levels and that it’s a puzzle as to why when the economy has “been growing fairly strongly” in the past year and a half. But like Pancotti, he added that high prices at the store compared to pre-pandemic prices may be playing a role in those measures.

“If you’re like me, you look at something, and you go, ‘Oh my gosh. I remember when it was so much less before the pandemic.’ So I think that calls into question, probably, a lot of people’s perceptions of the overall state of the economy and importantly their consumer finances,” he said.

There’s sure to be a debate about whether perceptions of particular costs, for example, accurately reflect consumers’ general, measurable gains of the last few years. It may be puzzling that consumer confidence and sentiment are lower than an economist might expect, but it’s sensible to say that there’s likely to be a cause, important to those with low confidence and sentiments.

Perhaps higher prices, perhaps something else, but unlikely either magic or delusion.  

No sweat: Moisture-wicking device keeps wearable-tech dry:

Daily Bread for 3.10.24: The Positive Outlook for Wisconsin Employment in 2024

 Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 45. Sunrise is 7:12 and sunset 6:56 for 11h 43m 55s of daytime. The moon is new with 0.1 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 241 BC, at the Battle of the Aegates, the Romans sink the Carthaginian fleet bringing the First Punic War to an end.

The latest national job-creation numbers were again impressive. See U.S. Employers Add 275,000 Jobs in Another Strong Month (‘Economists are trying to gauge whether forecasts of a slowing labor market were mistaken or just premature. For now, gains are consistent and strong’). Wisconsin’s 2024 outlook is also positive. Erik Gunn reports DWD economist offers an upbeat picture for jobs, employment in 2024:

Wisconsin’s employment and jobs picture got off to a strong start in January, setting records in the number of jobs, the number of private sector jobs, the number of construction jobs as well as overall employment, the state labor department reported Thursday.

“We’ve been setting new employment records most of all last year and continued into this year,” said Dennis Winters, chief economist at the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), in a briefing Thursday on the January numbers. Looking ahead, there’s “nothing, that seems to us, that’s going to turn things down much.”

Data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that nearly 3.05 million Wisconsin residents were employed in January. The figure is derived from a federal government household survey.

From a separate survey that asks employers how many jobs they have on their payroll, the BLS projected there were nearly 3.03 million jobs in Wisconsin, including more than 2.6 million private sector jobs and 140,000 construction jobs.

All four data points marked new records for the state, Winters said.

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