The Markets

Among other things, Congress asks the Federal Reserve to use its tools to promote price stability and maximum employment. Last week, economic data provided information about both.

Inflation Continued to Increase

Price stability means ensuring the prices of goods and services increase at a slow and stable pace. Last week, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that consumer prices rose 5.4%, year-over-year in February, excluding food and energy. When food and energy were included, inflation increased 6.4%.

Personal income increased, too, but not quite as quickly as inflation did.

The Fed’s target for inflation is 2%. To bring inflation into line, the Fed has begun tightening monetary policy. So far, it has ended asset purchases and started raising the federal funds target rate. Next, it will begin to shrink its balance sheet. However, the war in Ukraine and a new COVID-19 outbreak in China are complicating the Fed’s inflation calculations.

Unemployment Remained Low

Maximum employment is “…the highest level of employment the economy can sustain without generating unwelcome inflation It describes an economy in which nearly everyone who wants to work has a job, reported Lorena Hernandez Barcena and David Wessel of Brookings.”

Not everyone who wants a job has one, but last week’s employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the unemployment rate was quite low at 3.6%, overall. When the statistic is viewed by gender and race:

  • Men have a 3.1% unemployment rate with 70.6% participation,
  • Women a 2.8% unemployment rate with 57.2% participation,
  • Asian people a 2.8% unemployment rate with 64% participation,
  • White people a 3.2% unemployment rate with 60.3% participation,
  • Hispanic people a 4.2% unemployment rate with 66.4% participation, and
  • Black people a 6.2% unemployment rate with 62.1% participation.

Major stock indices finished the week mixed, reported Ben Levisohn of Barron’s. The Treasury yield curve inverted last week with the yield for a 10-year Treasury dropping below the yield for a 2-year Treasury.

Data as of 4/1/22 1-Week Y-T-D 1-Year 3-Year 5-Year 10-Year
Standard & Poor's 500 Index 0.1% -4.6% 13.1% 16.6% 14.0% 12.4%
Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index 0.8 -6.5 -4.9 4.9 4.4 3.2
10-year Treasury Note (yield only) 2.4 N/A 1.7 2.5 2.4 2.2
Gold (per ounce) -1.3 6.0 11.8 14.3 9.1 1.4
Bloomberg Commodity Index -4.6 24.9 47.8 14.9 7.9 -1.4

S&P 500, Dow Jones Global ex-US, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.

Sources: Yahoo! Finance, MarketWatch,, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, London Bullion Market Association.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.

An Update on the Gender Wage Gap

The gender wage gap is closing for young women in a few cities across the United States. Overall, in 2019, women earned about 82% of what men earned. However, women under 30, who worked full time, year-round, earned as much or more than men of the same age and employment status in a few places, according to a new survey from Pew Research. The gender wage gap had closed or reversed in 22 of 250 cities reviewed.

In several cities, younger women earned more than younger men. Here are the cities where women had made the biggest gains, as well as the median annual earnings for women (in parentheses):

  • Wenatchee, WA: 120% ($30,363)
  • Morgantown, WV: 114% ($32,373)
  • Barnstable Town, MA: 112% ($36,652)
  • Gainesville, FL: 110% ($28,000)
  • Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, FL: 108% ($29,830)

The cities where women earned the least relative to what men earned were:

  • Elkhart-Goshen, IN: 67% ($26,634)
  • Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX: 68% ($25,899)
  • Odessa, TX: 68% ($26,634)
  • Mansfield, OH: 69% ($22,373)
  • Decatur, IL: 70% ($24,077)

The cities where women had the highest median earnings were San Francisco/Oakland/Hayward ($50,000, 98% of men’s earnings) San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara ($47,941, 88% of men’s earnings), and Washington/Arlington/Alexandria ($43,500, 102% of men’s earnings).

It remains to be seen whether improved wage parity can be sustained as women age. Richard Fry of Pew Research reported, “…history suggests that [women] may not maintain this level of parity with their male counterparts. For example, in 2000, the typical woman age 16 to 29 working full time, year-round earned 88% of a similar young man. By 2019, when people in this group were between the ages of 35 and 48, women were earning only 80% of their male peers, on average. Earnings parity tends to be greatest in the first years after entering the labor market.”

Weekly Focus – Think About It

“It takes time to create excellence. If it could be done quickly, more people would do it.”

—John Wooden, NCAA basketball coach

Wishing you and your families well,
Sean M. Dowling, CFP, EA
President, The Dowling Group Wealth Management

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  • Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value. However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.
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