It's been four years since the Great Recession officially ended. Stocks have fully recovered, but the job market hasn't. Neither have home prices -- but then again, who wants to get back to that unhealthy boom?
Here are the cold, hard facts on where the economy stands, according to the most recent data:
The S&P 500 lost more than half its value between December 2007 and March 2009. Since then, stocks have not only recovered their recession losses, but have also stretched to new record highs.
The jobs recovery has not been as robust. Rather, it's been a slow, long haul. As the chart above shows, the U.S. economy lost nearly 8.8 million jobs between January 2008 and February 2010, but has since gained back only about 6.2 million jobs.
Meanwhile, the population has grown, and some jobseekers have given up. As of April, 58.6% of the adult U.S. population had a job. The rate has barely budged in the last three years, and the last time it was that low was in 1983.
The average American is not yet earning the same income they did back in late 2007. Americans earned an average $32,700 a year as of April, about $184 less than in December 2007, after adjusting for inflation.
Part of what got us into this mess was the housing bubble. Many Americans were in over their heads, and found they were saddled with underwater mortgages after the bust. Since late 2008, households have been deleveraging. Now, the average American is $46,000 in debt -- the lowest level since 2006. About 71% of that debt is tied up in mortgages.
Part of this deleveraging process stems from foreclosures and defaults on loans. Housing debt is back to its lowest level since 2006, and credit card debt has been declining. Student debt is bucking this trend, rising recently.
The housing market started recovering last year but remains far below boom levels, when average home prices peaked at $254,000 in 2005. The Federal Reserve is hoping record low interest rates will spur more home-buying and boost the broader recovery.
When Suzanne Eva Lain praised Obamacare in a recent CNNMoney article, she never thought it would earn her a ticket to the White House.
But after a member of the Obama administration read that she can't wait for Obamacare to start, officials invited her to attend an event at the White House on Friday at which the president expounded on how the Affordable Care Act has helped women and their families. MORETami Luhby - May 14, 2013 10:42 AM ET
The Labor Department will release its latest update on the U.S. job market Friday morning, and the outlook is neither rosy nor gloom and doom. Economists surveyed by CNNMoney are expecting 140,000 jobs were created in April.
While that would be an improvement compared to the meager 88,000 jobs added in March, it's really not much to write home about either. Over the past 12 months, the U.S. economy added an MOREAnnalyn Kurtz - May 2, 2013 2:58 PM ET
Are China's economic statistics accurate?
Pose this question to a group a China watchers and you're likely to receive a variety of responses. Some observers are convinced that China is cooking its books. Others believe state statistics are largely reliable and useful for drawing conclusions about the world's second largest economy. Still others will debate the accuracy of certain data classes, pointing to more meaningful alternatives.
Now we have an opinion from researchers MORECharles Riley - Mar 26, 2013 6:57 AM ET
Whether you love it or hate it, Valentine's Day is a big business -- and no, not everything is fair in love and war.
Guys plan to spend an average of $108 on their sweethearts this Valentine's Day, twice what women plan to spend on their significant others. Ladies plan to spend only $53, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation.
Flowers and jewelry tend to push up the average costs MOREAnnalyn Kurtz - Feb 14, 2013 9:28 AM ET
As lawmakers bicker over how to spend federal tax dollars, Americans have a few suggestions for them.
According to a recent online survey of 1,000 consumers by TD Ameritrade (AMTD), people clearly want the government to focus even more on health care. Jobs are important as well. And there are some interesting differences between what men would like the government to spend more on and what women view as a priority MORETami Luhby - Feb 12, 2013 9:29 AM ET
Though blacks' job prospects have improved from the depths of the Great Recession, they still suffer from disproportionately high unemployment.
Pegged to Black History Month, the U.S. Congress' Joint Economic Committee put out a stats sheet highlighting the gap. It takes longer, on average, for black workers for find a job, and even having a college degree doesn't help as much as it does for other job-seeking populations. The black unemployment rate MORETami Luhby - Feb 6, 2013 11:14 AM ET
The fiscal cliff deal contains a wide array of tax provisions that will affect taxpayers. Here's the list of what is -- and isn't -- in the agreement:
Payroll taxes: Wage earners will now pay a 6.2% payroll tax on the first $113,700 in wages since the deal did not extend the 4.2% rate that had been in place for two years. That means workers earning the national average salary of MORETami Luhby - Jan 2, 2013 1:00 PM ET
There are some new lines on the Form 1040 thanks to the fiscal cliff. The IRS has had to set aside space for provisions that Congress hasn't approved yet, leaving those lines as "reserved."
Are you a teacher who spent up to $250 on pencils, books or other classroom supplies? Well, you'll find Line 23 now says "reserved" instead of "educator expenses deduction."
Are you a student looking to deduct up to MORETami Luhby - Dec 28, 2012 1:52 PM ET
The National Intelligence Council -- the same thinkers who produce National Intelligence Estimates -- has released an 140-page report that offers a series of prognostications about how the world might change in coming decades.
The report is full of all kinds of fun concepts, like powered exoskeletons designed to help the elderly, bio-based energy and 3-D printing. You can read the full report here.
But one of the biggest economics themes of the report is the MORECharles Riley - Dec 10, 2012 10:46 PM ET
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