The Morning Economic Report | WYPR

The Morning Economic Report

Monday-Friday at 7:33 am

Anirban Basu, Chairman Chief Executive Officer of Sage Policy Group (SPG), is one of the Mid-Atlantic region's leading economic consultants.  Prior to founding SPG he was Chairman and CEO of Optimal Solutions Group, a company he co-founded and which continues to operate. Anirban has also served as Director of Applied Economics and Senior Economist for RESI, where he used his extensive knowledge of the Mid-Atlantic region to support numerous clients in their strategic decision-making processes.  Clients have included the Maryland Department of Transportation, St. Paul Companies, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Players Committee and the Martin O'Malley mayoral campaign.

He is the author of numerous regional publications including the Mid-Atlantic Economic Quarterly and Outlook Maryland. Anirban completed his graduate work in mathematical economics at the University of Maryland.  He earned a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University in 1992.  His Bachelors in Foreign Service is from Georgetown University and was earned in 1990.

The Rise in Contract Employees

Feb 17, 2017
Kathryn Decker/flickr

Even as hiring activity remains brisk and more firms spend resources training employees, many American companies are activity planning to hire fewer people in the future. As indicated by writer Lauren Weber, the outsourcing wave that moved thousands of apparel manufacturing jobs to China and dozens of call center operations to India remains just as likely to happen within companies across the U.S. and in virtually every industry.

Job Training

Feb 16, 2017

With the economy approaching completion of its eighth year of recovery, employers large and small are complaining that they can’t find workers with the right skill sets. Skilled workers in manufacturing, construction, logistics, finance, technology and other industries have been steadily scooped up as the economy has expanded. The result is that more businesses are now spending resources to train people to satisfactorily fill available job openings.

Job Growth

Feb 15, 2017
Jeremy Sternberg/flickr

Many economists have been indicating that the economy is approaching full employment. This doesn’t mean that the unemployment rate will soon be zero – it means that we are approaching a situation in which a tighter labor market will eventually translate into more inflation, which in turn will produce higher interest rates.

Jon Welsh/flickr

Economists generate lots of forecasts. Usually, we offer many caveats along with our estimates, indicating that the accuracy of our forecasts is threatened by a set of risks. Risks can take many forms, including geopolitical risks like war or terror, policy risks such as unanticipated actions by the Federal Reserve or a presidential administration, or sudden financial market corrections.

The Global Economy

Feb 13, 2017

The global economy is one massive riddle. For instance, in a world characterized by sluggish economic growth, why are companies around the world hiring so aggressively, and why hasn’t the demand for workers translated into faster wage growth? As pointed out by writer Tom Fairless, from Tokyo to London, unemployment rates have declined. In America and in the United Kingdom, the official unemployment rate has been below five percent recently. In the 19 nation Eurozone, the unemployment rate just hit a seven year low.

Female Homeowners

Feb 10, 2017

You’ve heard it before. Women earn less than men – they pay harsher penalties in the workplace when pursuing parenthood – they also often struggle more with debt and save less for retirement. But as pointed out by Bloomberg, there’s at least one area of personal finance in which single women are outpacing their male counterparts in America – homeownership.

Pachakutik ../flickr

Who does one consider to be the head of a particular household? Economic circumstances have much to do with that designation. As pointed out Janet Adamy, a century ago, father’s were typically considered to be the head of household. That status often derived from dad’s role as the sole breadwinner.


One of our contemporary conventional wisdoms is that healthcare spending is surging because of our expanding life spans. As indicated by writer Austin Frakt, the average American lives three years longer today – reaching nearly 79-years-old, than in 1995. The median age in the U.S. is set to rise to about 40 by 2040, up from less than 38 years today.

Aging and Economic Growth

Feb 7, 2017

For years, economists have fretted that rapidly aging populations in the developed world will suppress global economic growth. As reported in The Wall Street Journal, a new working paper released by the National Bureau of Economic Research challenges that view. The paper, authored by economists from MIT and Boston University, argues that aging population have not had a negative effect on the growth of per capita gross domestic product.

Dan DeLuca/flickr

There has been a lot of discussion regarding America’s sagging labor force participation rate. The participation rate, which reflects the proportion of adults who are working or looking for work, stands only a few tenths of a percentage point above a multi-decade low. Men have been at the center of much of the discussion, including those living in rural areas or in Rust Belt cities. Male labor force participation has been declining for some time, but the economic impact was less apparent when women were entering the labor force in large numbers.

The chief economist at the job site Indeed, Jed Kolko, utilized Census Bureau data to dissect the educational, occupational, and geographical background of immigrants in the U.S. As reported in the Wall Street Journal, Kolko’s analysis indicates that Americans most recent arrivals – those who came to the U.S. over the past five years – have been gravitating to jobs as medical researchers, software developers, physicists and economists.

Global Growth

Feb 2, 2017
Scott Akerman/flickr

The International Monetary Fund recently stated that the U.S. economy would expand faster than previously expected in both 2017 and 2018. The upward revision in the IMF’s forecast is based on the Trump Administration’s stated tax and spending plans. However, the IMF kept its global growth forecasts unchanged due to weakness in some key emerging markets.

A little less than two week ago, President Barack Obama spent his final day in the White House. We can now reflect upon his eight years in office, including with respect to the performance of the U.S. economy during those years. One word of caution is in order. Economists generally resist giving American presidents too much credit or blame for economic performance. Many factors influence economic outcomes, and many are not susceptible to the influence of policymakers.

Vehicle Deaths

Jan 31, 2017
Michael Gil/flickr

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, traffic deaths surged about 8 percent during the first nine months of last year. As reported by the New York Times, that represents a continuation of an upward spiral that may be partially explained by the presence of more Americans on the roads due to the ongoing economic recovery. Low gas prices are also inducing more driving.

Kathryn Decker/flickr

Judging by key headline numbers, the U.S. labor market remains in good shape. Unemployment remains below five percent and there are indications of faster wage growth. However, there are certain key metrics that suggest that the pace at which the job market has been improving is no longer accelerating.

Rising Down Payments

Jan 27, 2017

Saving a down payment for a house is a big deal. According to an analysis by Zillow, a median-priced home in the U.S. now costs more than $192,000, which means that buyers have to come up with more than $38,000 to put 20 percent down. That translates into about two-thirds of the average household income. As indicated by CNN Money, that down payment figure fails to include the added expenditures associated with purchasing a home like inspections, closing costs and moving expenses.

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According to a new report from Bankrate, nearly six in ten Americans do not have enough savings to cover an unexpected $500 expense. Only 41 percent of adults report having enough in their savings accounts to cover a surprise bill of this magnitude. As reported by CNN Money, a little more than one in five said that they would put the expense on a credit card. Another one in five would have to reduce their spending while 11 percent would turn to friends and family for financial assistance.

Vanishing Hospitals

Jan 25, 2017

Yesterday, we discussed the disappearance of the American mall. Today, we discuss the vanishing American hospital. According to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, America is the most expensive country in the world for hospital care.

Rene Schwietzke/flickr

The American mall appears to be fading. Already this year, we have heard Macy’s announce another round of store closures. Sears has, too, and The Limited has announced that it is closing all of its brick and mortar stores to focus upon its online business.

Our Expanding Economy

Jan 23, 2017
Michael Daddino/flickr

Despite setbacks from burst real estate bubbles, costly wars, deep recessions and disappearing industries, the U.S. economy has still managed to expand significantly over the past three and a half decades. As indicated by writer Patricia Cohen, the real economy has more than doubled in size over that period. The public sector now uses a substantial share of output to hand over as much as $5 trillion to assist working families, the elderly, disable, and unemployed to finance a home, visit a doctor, or put their children through school.


You probably like some of your colleagues, and can’t even stand to look at others. But imagine if some of your colleagues were robots. Would that be better or worse? One suspects that that will depend upon whom is replaced.


The economic recovery that began in mid 2009 is at long last showing up more meaningfully in the paychecks of average Americans. The Labor Department recently reported that average hourly earnings have risen 2.9 percent over the past year – that’s the best annual performance since the economic recovery began seven and a half years ago.

Examining the Economy

Jan 18, 2017

As of this moment, the U.S. economy seems to be in pretty decent shape. Odds of a near-term recession appear low. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, the economy has expanded for the past 11 quarters.  Hiring remains stable. Home prices have been rising. Private construction spending has been expanding. Consumer spending is up, particularly in the form of online sales. However, there were moments in 2016 when things didn’t look quite so good.

Work-Related Injuries

Jan 17, 2017
Esther Max/flickr

In 2015, there were more than 4800 fatal work-related injuries in America not counting active members of the U.S. armed forces. As reported by CNBC, 10 industries in particular experienced the highest rates of death per 100 thousand workers. Most of these jobs are filled by men.

Men in the Workforce

Jan 16, 2017
M State/flickr

For much of the past decade, the labor market has arguably been friendlier to women seeking employment than men. That’s because the jobs that have been disappearing in large numbers, like machine operator, are predominantly male oriented while occupations that have been expanding, like health aide, mostly implicate women.

Richard Elzey/flickr

If you are driving right now, you might be able to spot a Ford F-150 pickup truck. In fact, you may be driving one. Since 1977, Ford has sold enough F-series trucks to circle the earth more than three times. As reported by CNN Money, the F-series has been America’s best-selling truck 40 consecutive years. Ford recently announced that it has sold more than 26 million units since the model line’s introduction. Analysts say that the F-series has become more popular due to cultural factors.

Miranda Granche/flickr

Economists have suffered enormous difficulty trying to explain why productivity has failed to expand as rapidly as it has in the past. A recent report supplied by the polling company Gallup singles out anti-competitive and wasteful practices by teachers unions, associations of physicians, universities and local governments. Researchers tracked health, education and housing costs from 1980 to 2014. They find that the combined spending in these three areas rose from 25 percent to 40 percent of GDP since 1980 without commensurate improvements in quality.

Education Deserts

Jan 11, 2017

In Baltimore and in many other communities, it is common for people to identify and speak of food deserts – places where it is challenging for residents to purchase nutritious food. According to the Urban Institute, there are also education deserts – places that are many miles away from a community college or other places where one can obtain needed skills training.

Children and Income

Jan 10, 2017
Jon Grainger/flickr

A recent study by the public policy organization, Demos, indicates that the financial burden of having young children can substantially reduce a family’s income and increase its chances of falling into poverty.

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Maybe you had a terrific 2016 or maybe you didn’t. Companies can also have good or bad years. According to CNN Money, here are some of the companies that had a terrible year and hope to bounce-back in 2017.