Apr 18, 2017

We're taxing the poor to pay for the longer lives of the rich

Americans are living longer on average, but most of that added life expectancy is being lived by the rich. That's according to a new paper released Monday by the National Bureau of Economic research, wherein researchers showed that this trend has helped dramatically increase the Social-security and Medicare benefits paid to the rich, while the poor have seen their benefits decline or stagnate.

Why it matters: Entitlement reformers argue that Medicare and Social Security benefits should be delayed to reflect increases in life expectancy. But these data show that such a reform would disproportionately punish poorer Americans, who are already receiving a smaller share of benefits because life expectancy gains for that group have lagged.

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Data: National Bureau of Economic Research; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

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HBCUs are missing from the discussion on venture capital's diversity

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Venture capital is beginning a belated conversation about its dearth of black investors and support of black founders, but hasn't yet turned its attention to the trivial participation of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) as limited partners in funds.

Why it matters: This increases educational and economic inequality, as the vast majority of VC profits go to limited partners.

Unemployment rate falls to 13.3% in May

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 13.3% in May, with 2.5 million jobs gained, the government said on Friday.

Why it matters: The far better-than-expected numbers show a surprising improvement in the job market, which has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The difficulty of calculating the real unemployment rate

Data: U.S. Department of Labor; Note: Initial traditional state claims from the weeks of May 23 and 30, continuing traditional claims from May 23. Initial PUA claims from May 16, 23, and 30, continuing PUA and other programs from May 16; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The shocking May jobs report — with a decline in the unemployment rate to 13.3% and more than 2 million jobs added — destroyed expectations of a much worse economic picture.

Why it matters: Traditional economic reports have failed to keep up with the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic and have made it nearly impossible for researchers to determine the state of the U.S. labor market or the economy.