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Work in the United States is a mixed bag: in many cases, you can get a job if you want one, even if you're a convicted felon, a former opioid addict, or have no resume to speak of. But if you are outside higher-skilled occupations, don't expect much in the way of outsize wages — or pay increases as time passes.
What's happening: In reports today, the government said the U.S. economy is roaring into 2019 — but not wages.
And the economic expansion is now just five months shy of a record. As one example, factory production picked up steam last month, rising to 56.6 on the Institute for Supply Management Index (above 50 means expansion), up from 54.2 in December.
But, but, but: Though wages grew by 3.2%, or 1.3% after accounting for inflation, that is about half what it should be, said Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM.
Like a growing number of economists, Brusuelas blames monopoly wage-setting power enjoyed by large companies that dominate metropolitan population areas. "They are so large, they are able to set a prevailing wage" that other companies then follow, he said.
The bottom line: "Large behemoths essentially set wages," Brusuelas said. "This creates a ceiling that wages are simply not going to move above."
The now-empty Landmark Mall, Alexandria, Virginia. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty
In a twist of the knife, developers are turning defunct malls and failed big-box stores into warehouses — for e-commerce businesses, among other uses.
Erica writes: Since 2016, 7.9 million square feet of U.S. retail space has been turned into warehouses, according to a new analysis from CBRE, the research firm.
"We’ve got a recession coming, and that’s likely to further widen that gap," says Ellen Dunham-Jones, a Georgia Tech professor who tracks obsolete malls. "I expect we’re going to see more malls and strip malls go under."
The big picture: At 28 square feet per capita, the U.S. has 20 times more mall space than the world average, and the repurposing of dead malls goes beyond warehouses. Of the 1,000 or so malls open today, around a quarter are at risk of shuttering in the next five years, per Credit Suisse's analysis.
Paula Radcliffe of Great Britain, after running 10,000 meters. Photo: Shaun Botterill/Allsport/Getty
Feel like you ran a marathon this week? Catch up on this week's Future.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Companies draw up Brexit emergency plans (Ruth Bender — WSJ)
Tech giants are the new gatekeepers (Scott Rosenberg — Axios)
Australia sheds money in politics ("Reportermate" - The Guardian)
The white flight from football (Alana Semuels — The Atlantic)
Vaccinating mice may slow Lyme disease (Angus Chen — Scientific American)
Beware the smart mirror in this dystopian game. Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty
The first four times I tried to leave the apartment this morning, I was arrested for sleeping in, killed by food poisoning, possessed by the ghost of Mark Zuckerberg, and attacked by the flat itself.
Kaveh writes: No, this didn't actually happen — this was a game. These are but a handful of the perils of getting ready for work in a fictional AI-run mini-world constructed by The Verge's Adi Robertson.
Explore the dystopia in Robertson's old-school text adventure.