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  • Smart Brevity™ count: 396 words ... 1½ mins.

1 big thing: Hidden boom

<b style='color: #6533ff'>Personal</b> and <b style='color: #00c46b'>national</b> financial well-being
Reproduced from the Federal Reserve; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Listen to most experts, and you’d think the economy is going up in flames. In fact, tens of millions of U.S. households are thriving more than in decades.

  • Why it matters: High gas prices, stock market volatility and inflation are hiding the reality that the economy is working for a huge swath of Americans — and has richly bolstered their nest eggs.

Here's a rarity — a parade of encouraging news:

  1. Houses: It's hard to find one to buy — and the 66% of Americans who do own houses are seeing their home values soar. The middle class has made a whopping $2.1 trillion from homeownership in the past 10 years, Fortune reports.
  2. Retirement accounts: Despite the recent sell-off, they've been fattened by the stock market. And the share of people who say they expect to work past their early 60s has dropped below 50% for the first time.
  3. Jobs: 11.4 million are open. The unemployment rate is 3.6% — back to pre-pandemic lows.
  4. Safety nets: 68% of Americans say they have cash for a rainy day.
  5. Millennial homeownership: It’s at 43%, up from 37% last year.

Reality check: There's still plenty of pain in this economy — likely with much more to come.

  • The tight housing market is pricing out millions of renters and potential buyers.
  • Rising pricesat the pump and in the grocery store — are draining wallets.

That helps explain one of the bigger polling conundrums we've seen:

  • We think things are going fine for us, but terribly for America. 78% of Americans are confident in their personal financial well-being, but just 24% are confident in the U.S.' financial well-being, per Federal Reserve data reported by the Atlantic's Derek Thompson (see chart above).

The bottom line: Things haven’t been so good for so many in decades, Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research told The New York Times.

  • "You'd have to go back to the late 1990s to find a similar era. Before that, the 1960s."

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💥 Stunning stat

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The bottom 50% of the population now has more than $3 trillion in household wealth — up 55% from before the pandemic.

  • Yet America's pessimism is on the rise.

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