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Posted on Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 10:30 a.m.

2013 Forecast: Economy-out of the woods yet?

By Wayne Baker

Thumbnail image for 0118 Gallup chart.jpg

See the entire report here.

Editor's note: This post is part of a series by Dr. Baker on Our Values about core American values. This week Dr. Baker is discussing future hot button issues.

Is the economy out of the woods? If you visit the 2013 North American International Auto Show, opening this week in Detroit, you would think so. This year’s mega exhibition exudes optimism about the future. In 2012, U.S. carmakers sold 14.5 million cars and trucks—the best year in the last five. They expect to sell 1 million more than that in 2013.

But if you look at other aspects of the economy, it’s clear that we are still in the woods, and it may be a long way out. Since early January, the U.S. payroll to population employment rate — a critical economic indicator tracked by Gallup — has been declining. It’s lower now than it was a year ago. Companies may be restraining their hiring due to uncertainty about the fiscal cliff, the debt ceiling and other politicized issues.

For these reasons, the economy is my final pick this week for five top values issues in 2013. The peculiarity of our mixed economic recovery is that it benefits some more than others. For example, it’s increasing the plight of the working poor, also one of my picks for 2013. The rolls of the working poor are increasing because many Americans who lost middle-income jobs are finding new employment in low-wage jobs.

Meaningful gun control is another of my top values picks for 2013. Since discussing it this week, the president has announced 23 executive orders on gun control and asked the Congress to enact restrictions on guns and ammunition. The National Rifle Association fired back, airing a controversial video that called the president an elitist and hypocrite because his kids have armed guards at their schools.

Other top issues for 2013 including the continuing battles over ‘Obamacare’ and extreme weather and climate change.

This time last year, I picked these five issues: the troubled economy, the rising wealth gap, healthcare reform (and the then-looming U.S. Supreme Court decision), the political match up of the century between Obama and Romney, and an issue that summed it all up: the continuing culture war in America.

Do you agree or disagree with my list of top values issues?

What's missing?

What's on your top list?

Wayne Baker is a sociologist on the faculty of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Baker blogs daily at Our Values and can be reached at ourvaluesproject@gmail.com or on Facebook.

Comments

TB

Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 3:58 p.m.

I demand free birth control!