How we’ve changed since the last rate hike, in 8 charts

Tony Wagner Dec 16, 2015

How we’ve changed since the last rate hike, in 8 charts

Tony Wagner Dec 16, 2015

After reading their tea leaves all year, the Federal Reserve finally raised interest rates Wednesday. They’ve been near zero since the recession; the last time the Fed raised rates was June 2006. Our economy and country have changed in ways large and small since then.

The basics

Our biggest tip off comes from those basic economic indicators. The U.S. was near “full employment” in June 2006, and is steadily working its way back again. But the workforce participation rate has fallen slightly too, so those numbers might not be all they’re cracked up to be.


In 2006, “MySpace” was one of the most-searched terms in the world, according to Google Trends, but a couple of years later the site fell to the wayside as Facebook took over.

And the platforms we used to search and post on social media have changed drastically since that time too. Blackberry was dominant in 2006, but the market for smartphones was small. Once Apple introduced consumers to the iPhone, the industry exploded.


In June 2006 Shakira topped the Billboard Hot 100 with “Hips Don’t Lie,” which broke records with 266,500 downloads in the first week.

This week’s number one, “Hello” by Adele, also broke records by selling almost four times that: 1.11 million digital downloads in the first week. That reflects the way we consume music now, but “Hello” could end up just emblematic of a lost era — since the last time the Fed raised rates streaming has been catching up with digital music sales.

Your money

The Fed has been watching inflation as it prepares to raise rates, and things have been mostly flat.

Prices at the pump have fallen well below pre-recession levels to record lows.

What we Googled

Today the entire Kardashian clan is inescapable, but back in 2006 we were just past Peak Paris Hilton, and Kim Kardashian was a bit player on Hilton’s reality show.

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