Sooo ... the economy seems to be doing better. Depending on how you look at it.
Here are the Economic Policy Institute's top 10 charts of 2014.
1. Income inequality is flatlining the middle class.
2. People are working A LOT more (for a lot less).
3. The top 1% is doing what they do best: taking all the money.
4. Wages are stagnant for all but the highest earners.
5. CEOs of the largest companies are (still) flush with cash.
6. The minimum wage is way lower than it should be.
7. College students are spinning their wheels on the job.
College women especially.
8. Private-sector employees are getting shafted.
9. Fewer people can afford to go to college.
10. Employers are less likely to offer health insurance to their workers.
This isn't as rosy a picture as we've been getting from the news. But hope should not be lost.
According the the Economic Policy Institute:
"Policy choices led to these trends, and different policy choices can reverse them."
The first policy choice they want to see comes right out of ancient Greece:
Primum non nocere. (First, do no harm.)
By that, they mean the government — the Federal Reserve Bank, specifically — shouldn't do anything that might make the economic situation worse for low- and middle-income people, like raising interest rates and making it harder for people to pay off loans.
They'd also like to see stronger labor standards, wages lifted to where they should be, and a restoration of workers' right to collective bargaining. Because an economy driven by working and middle-class people can't — and shouldn't — carry the weight of a bloated top 1%.