“We are very lucky right now given the situation of many others during the pandemic,” said McCauley, 36, who works for a data orchestration company. “Somehow we’re doing even better financially, and that seems a bit awkward.”
Even for those who are doing well, the economy seems precarious. The University of Michigan’s venerable consumer sentiment index fell in March to the same levels as in 1979, when the inflation rate was 11%, before rising again in April.
Politicians are mostly silent in the face of the boom.
“Republicans aren’t eager to give President Biden credit for anything,” said Mr. Baker, the economist. “Democrats might brag about how many people have gotten jobs and strong growth in bottom-end wages, but they seem reluctant to do so knowing that many people are being hurt by inflation.”
The initial coronavirus outbreak ended the longest US economic expansion in modern history after 128 months. A dramatic downturn has begun. The federal government stepped in, handing out money generously. Spending habits changed as people stayed home. The recession ended after two months and the boom resumed.
Jerome H. Powell, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, recently warned that there were too many employers chasing too few workers, saying the labor market was “tight at an unhealthy level”. But for workers, it is rewarding to have the upper hand in finding a new position or a new career.
“My husband and I were able to make job changes that doubled our income from five years ago,” said Lindsay Bernhagen, 39, who lives in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, and works for a startup . “It feels like mostly stupid luck.”
Ten years ago, the housing market was chaotic. Between 2007 and 2015, more than seven million homes were foreclosed, according to Black Knight. Some of these were speculative purchases or second homes, but many were primary residences. Encouraged by lenders, people lived in houses they could not easily afford.