🖤 Donations of all sizes power our public service journalism Give Now
All the single ladies … in the U.S. economy
Mar 9, 2023
Episode 877

All the single ladies … in the U.S. economy

HTML EMBED:
COPY
Cue Beyoncé.

The majority of women in the United States are single, and they’re becoming a big force in our economy. Single women now make up a significant share of the job market, homeowners and college graduates. But we’ll get into why that doesn’t necessarily amount to a boon for women’s wealth and wages. Also, business owners are coming clean about price-raising strategies, dubbed excuseflation. Plus, how mending your clothes became a hot fashion trend.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Shared parking spaces allow renters to pay less if they have a hybrid work schedule. (Kimberly Adams / Marketplace)

It’s our March Fundraiser! Help us meet our goal so we can cover our costs and plan for the future: https://support.marketplace.org/smart

Make Me Smart March 9 2023 Transcript

Note: Marketplace podcasts are meant to be heard, with emphasis, tone and audio elements a transcript can’t capture. Transcripts are generated using a combination of automated software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting it.

Kai Ryssdal 

Well done Jay Siebold. Well done. Hey everybody Im Kai Ryssdal! Welcome back to Make Me Smart where we make today make sense.

Kimberly Adams 

And I’m Kimberly Adams, thank you for joining us on this Thursday. Today is one of those days we did the news fix and a make me smile, and then let you all off on your merry way. So shall we begin? Go Kai.

Kai Ryssdal 

We shall. You want me to go? Alright, I’ll go. Two things. One sort of observational and one, I guess a little more substantive. And I’ll start with a substantive. So House Republicans are, as we know, going to have approximately 11 de gajillion hearings into the Biden administration and and its environs over the next few years. And that’s all well and good, because that’s what happens when you get the majority, even though a lot of those hearings, as I think is universally accepted are grounded in in baseless assertions of fact, or non fact. One of the hearings they are going to have though, and in fact, the first of which kicked off yesterday was a hearing into the departure from Afghanistan that the Biden administration engineered in August of 2021, which I recall watching on television over the course of a weekend. It was horrible. The the aftermath has been terrible, as we know. And House Republicans are rightly going to hold the Biden administration accountable and one hopes the Trump administration as well for its part in in setting the deadlines and negotiating an agreement that led to that pull out. But I just I think everybody ought to read the article that we’re going to put on the how page. It was in the Washington Post, the New York Times has had pieces. Follow these stories, because these are real stories of human tragedy, of valor by American service people and of a policy decision that while perhaps not misguided, it was time for us to leave Afghanistan after 20 years, the execution of it was terrible. Was terrible. And, you know, we all heard the stories of the, I think it was 13 American service members killed in that evacuation at Kabul airport. And the the baseless drone attack thereafter that The New York Times uncovered. Read these pieces, understand them because it’s the end of a war that went on too long that left a lot of people really wondering what the hell happened. So that’s, that’s item one for me. I would just encourage everybody to follow this story, because it’s a it’s a very, very real story. The second one is a story in Bloomberg and note it because I noted this when I was in Washington a couple of weeks ago. So the DC Bureau is at what Kimberly? Connecticut and like M-ish.

Kimberly Adams 

I mean if you want to send everybody there. It’s near Dupont Circle I’ll say that.

Kai Ryssdal 

Near Dupont circle. It’s near Dupont Circle let’s say that. Look, I mean, you know, our address in LA is a matter of public record, and nobody shows up here. So anyway. Anyway, the area around the bureau is, was last time I was there, I don’t want to say hopping, but it was kind of, it was doing really well. It was it was sort of busy-ish at noontime. I went across the street to get a sandwich. It was there was a line. It was great. That’s in stark contrast to a year and a half ago, the last time I was there, or 15 months ago, last time I was there, when downtown DC or the Dupont Circle area anyway, was dead. It was terrible. It was sad. It was really, really just just empty and it bummed me out because I really liked Washington as a town. And of course, a lot of that emptiness is because the government, the federal government has not instituted formally a back to work policy. And so a lot of the people that work in and around the government and adjacent to the government aren’t going back either. Anyway, a story in Bloomberg coming out soon-ish. I think it’s actually it’s it’s dated March the ninth which is not where we are yet, right? Check my calendar. Oh, today’s March the ninth. So sorry. We are here. All right. So it is March ninth, coming out March the ninth. The headline is “Washington suffers as federal employees work from home. Quiet streets in downtown DC have the city’s Democratic mayor joining Republicans in a call to end teleworking.” And I just thought that was interesting. I just thought that was interesting.

Kimberly Adams 

That’s interesting, because… Well, but there was already quite a bit of teleworking going on with federal workers before the pandemic. There are a lot of people who had like, three days on, two days off, or two days on, two days off situation anyway. I suspect that the bigger issue is everybody else in Washington teleworking. Like, there’s a lobbyist who lives in my building who they’ve given up their office, and the other people in the building with the DC Bureau, they are barely there. And these are businesses and offices that had people there for, you know, industry groups, for like political consultants, for lawyers that had people in the office every single day. And now it’s a ghost town in there. And I suspect that it’s probably less, I mean, I’m sure they did their research for this story. But what I have seen is a bigger shift in the sort of government adjacent telework. But to… Yeah, to emphasize your point, I was walking near the bureau actually on my way back from dinner with some of our lovely colleagues. And I passed a sign and I took a photo of it, and I can put it on the show page. And it’s one of the parking garages near the office, had a sign out that was offering “hybrid parking products.” And one of them is a buddy pass that allows customers to share a permit with a colleague. So they’re not paying for more than they need. A 10 day pass. This 10 Day Pass lets customers park any 10 days within the month, giving them the flexibility to park when and how they need to since people weren’t buying the monthly passes anymore. And so even the parking garages are trying to find ways to adapt to the fact that there are fewer people there. Yeah, that’s why I took a picture because I was like “we should do a story on this.”

Kai Ryssdal 

For sure. That’s so interesting.

Kimberly Adams 

Oh, I’ll give it to Marissa so that she can put it on the show page.

Kai Ryssdal 

Yeah. Anyway, there you go. So those are my news items.

Kimberly Adams 

Yeah, okay, well, mine um, because I like to throw in a little self serving story every so often is another Washington Post story, which the headline is, “single women take an outsize role in the workforce and the economy.” So all the single ladies queue Beyonce in your head. “A record 52% of women in the United States are unmarried but a stubborn wage gap means they have less spending power and wealth.” So you have… it says more women than ever are single and it has a big implication for the economy, because you have all of the single, unmarried women who are more likely to buy houses, who are more likely than married women to be working. But and so they could be, we could be having a bigger influence and a bigger effect on the economy. But the wage gap is preventing us from being more I guess, of an economic stimulator. And so, yet another reason to address the gender wage gap. But another line in the story that really boggled my mind was this, right? “The majority of women in the United States, a record 52% were unmarried and 2021 according to a report released Wednesday by Wells Fargo. The Census Bureau has been tracking Americans marital status since at least 1900 when just 7% of surveyed women were single.”

Kai Ryssdal 

Okay, wait. So say that again? 52%?

Kimberly Adams 

Yeah, so 52% of women are single, in 2021. In 1900, the Census Bureau of the women that were surveyed by the Census Bureau in 1900, just 7% of those women were single. Which basically means that all of the adult women were married by the time that they were, I guess, old enough to be census surveyed. And now most of us are not.

Kai Ryssdal 

Yeah. Huh

Kimberly Adams 

And there has been a 20% increase over the last decade in the number of women who have never married. Anyway. It’s a very interesting piece.  It is, isn’t it? Okay. So my other story is something that we have gotten so many letters, and so many tweets, and so many messages about, and it’s another Bloomberg piece, and they’ve given a name to this, this thing that has been happening, and they’re calling it “Excuseflation” and the headline is “How Excuseflation is keeping prices and corporate profits high.” Because basically there are starting to be business owners who are going on the record, saying, “Yeah, whenever there’s a big news story about bird flu or war in Ukraine or something that might, you know, impact the supply chain, we just raise prices because we can even if we don’t need to.” And, you know, companies are, as it says, “a growing body of analysts and researchers see this pattern playing out across corporate America with companies using unusual disruptions as an excuse to raise prices for their goods and services, thereby allowing them to expand profit margins.” So it is happening.

Kai Ryssdal 

Fascinating. That’s kind of wild.

Kimberly Adams 

Because they can. Because they can. Because they can (transition music plays). Jay is like “I don’t want to hear about this anymore”

Kai Ryssdal 

Okay, so this is mine is, my make me smaile is not so much make me smile “haha” it’s to make me smile “huuuhhh”. Saw this in the Wall Street Journal today and it and it kind of boggled my mind. Elon Musk reports the Wall Street Journal is playing

Kimberly Adams 

That’s not a great photo

Kai Ryssdal 

Oh I know you got to see this photo. We’ll, we’ll we’ll put it up on the show page. “Elon Musk” the headline says “is planning a Texas Utopia, his own town. The entrepreneur is laying plans for a new community outside Austin next to Boring and SpaceX facilities.” boring as his tunneling company, “dubbed Snailbrook.” So I will… Okay, so number one, read the article. Number two “Elon Musk is planning to build his own town on part of 1000s of acres of newly purchased pasture and farmland outside the Texas capital according to deeds and other land records and people familiar with the project.” Good on the journal for digging into this. I will go just just one more sentence. “In meetings with landowners and real estate agents, Mr. Musk and employees of his companies have described his vision as a sort of Texas Utopia along the Colorado River where his employees could live and work.” Elon Musk is building a company town. And if you know anything about the working conditions at companies like Twitter and Tesla, and the connotation of company town, none of that is good. It’s cray cray. Are you kidding me? This is just wild. I mean. I mean, look, I’ve said this before, I will say it again, if he does what he is planning and hoping and so far demonstrating he can do with SpaceX and Tesla, Elon Musk will change humanity. But oh my lord. Oh my lord. That’s what I’ve got. I just I just can’t. I just can’t.

Kimberly Adams 

You know, looking at these plans and the layout, it reminds me of when Disney tried to make its own town. It didn’t go well. But obviously this is different because these are workers but hmm, that will be fascinating. Okay, well, speaking of a throwback since we’re talking about company towns, and I guess a returned to the olden days. There’s a lovely article in Southern Living magazine about mending clothes, and the headline is “Does anyone mend clothes anymore?” And it’s funny, I posted it on in in the random channel on Slack today. And so many people responded in the company. And they’re like, “I’m in my clothes. I started darling. I started sewing. I’ve got like a crochet kit.” And I was just like, whoa. And this article caught my eye because this past weekend, I was mending some of my clothes. I had a pair of pants that I really liked. And it had a rip on the seam and I sewed that sucker up and I had a sweater where the little I guess the knit of it was coming loose. And I took my little hook that I usually use to do my hair actually, and used to kind of hook a little yarns back together in a very non organized way. But it did the job. But this article is talking about how mending clothes used to be a sign that you couldn’t afford new clothes. But now it’s kind of being embraced by Millennials and Gen Z as a sustainability choice and something that you’re doing as sort of a backlash against fast fashion and this disposable culture. And you know, take a tour around TikTok or Instagram and you’ll find all these accounts of people mending clothes or having really cute little patterns of sewing to you know, fix a button hole or how to darn a sock or something whatever. And it’s like a thing now. And I just thought that was super cool. That made me smile because it was random that I happened to be mending my clothes over the weekend and then I saw this clothes about millennials mending clothes. So on brand.

Kai Ryssdal 

That’s awesome. Very on brand. Very on brand. We are done I do believe for today. Back tomorrow for economics on tap. 6:30 Eastern 3:30 out here on the West Coast. There are going to be drinks, news, we’ll play a round of half full/half empty as well with Drew Jostad.

Kimberly Adams 

Yes. And in the meantime, please keep sending us your thoughts, comments, questions. We take them all! At 508-U-B-SMART and at makemesmart@marketplace.org. Coming in early with the music Jay.

Kai Ryssdal 

There you go. That’s Jay. Make Me Smart is produced by Courtney Bergsieker. Today’s episode was engineered by Jay Siebold. Go ahead. Go ahead. Come on ask us how we knew it was Jay. Ask us how you knew it was Jay. You can tell if you’ve been paying attention.  Our intern is Antonio Barreras.

Kimberly Adams 

Ellen Rolfes writes our newsletter. Marissa Cabrera is our acting Senior Producer. Bridget Bodnar is the director of podcast and Francesca Levy is the Executive Director of Digital

None of us is as smart as all of us.

No matter how bananapants your day is, “Make Me Smart” is here to help you through it all— 5 days a week.

It’s never just a one-way conversation. Your questions, reactions, and donations are a vital part of the show. And we’re grateful for every single one.

Donate any amount to become a Marketplace Investor and help make us smarter (and make us smile!) every day.

The team

Marissa Cabrera Senior Producer
Marque Greene Associate Producer