Dec 21, 2023 - Economy

The misery index says the worst is over

Data: FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals

The misery index — the sum of the unemployment rate and the inflation rate — is ending 2023 at 6.8%. That's its lowest point since the pandemic hit in March 2020 and well below the 8.3% average for the century to date.

Why it matters: Unemployment and inflation are the two great causes of real (rather than merely vibes-based) economic misery.

The bottom line: The double whammy wrought by COVID-19 — first a huge spike in unemployment, and then a big rise in inflation — now seems to be over, with both indicators reverting to low levels indicative of a healthy economy.

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