Tea Leaf: Happy talk about the U.S. economy

Published: Tuesday, March 29 2011 4:00 p.m. MDT

The "dismal science" of economics typically focuses on "bad" news. We clearly face many significant challenges. However, there are also many favorable developments taking place within the U.S. economy. This is our semi-annual update of "Happy Talk." This Tea Leaf focuses ONLY on the "good" news.

 Roughly 90 percent of the states have added jobs during the most recent 12-month period. Formerly, every state had dealt with recession at some point during the past three years.

 For every dollar of U.S. economic output generated today, we burn less than half as much oil as 30 years ago.

 The 0.9 percent decline in the nation's unemployment rate during the past three months was the sharpest three-month fall in 28 years.

 The Dow average has rebounded 87 percent since its low in early March 2009, with similar gains by other measures.

 U.S. exports to China have risen roughly 24 percent per year since 2001, making China the fastest-growing market for U.S. goods.

 The upward "mobility" of the typical American remains the greatest in the world. Why? The U.S. economy "rewards" the combination of hard work and educational achievement more than ever before — and more than any other country in the world.

 Roughly 80 percent of companies that suspended or reduced their 401(k) matches during the past two to three years reinstated them in 2010 or will do so in 2011.

 Women now make up a record 46 percent of global MBA candidates. More than 70 percent of students surveyed name the U.S. as the top MBA study destination.

 Fatal car crashes involving teen drivers fell by one-third in the latest five-year period and have been declining since 1996.

 Energy-efficient appliances, cars, buildings and other technologies that already exist could lower U.S. energy usage 30 percent by 2030.

 Roughly 47 percent of science and engineering degrees of those ages 25 to 39 are held by women, compared with 21 percent among those 65 and older.

 U.S. economic growth has now been positive for seven consecutive quarters.

 Average U.S. life expectancy has reached 78.2 years (men 75, women 80), the highest ever. This compares to 76 years in 1995, 68 years in 1950, and 47 years in 1900.

 The number of American volunteers rose 2.6 percent to 63.4 million in 2009.

 The value of a university education for American men and women in terms of future earnings power is nearly twice that of those in the average rich nation.

 Violent crime in the U.S. declined during 2010's first half, following three consecutive years of decline.

 Since 2006, the percentage of incoming freshmen who abstain from alcohol has jumped from 38 percent to 62 percent.

 U.S. airlines did not have a single fatality last year, the third of the past four years with no deaths.

 The addition of 97,000 net new manufacturing jobs in recent months was the strongest three-month rise in 16 years.

 Even as U.S. economic output (GDP) has climbed by more than 210 percent since 1970, aggregate emission of six principal air pollutants has plunged by 60 percent.

 The infant mortality rate in the U.S. hit a record low in 2009.

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