When Will The Economy Get Better?

Job seekers in line at a job fair in Michigan.

Job seekers in line at a job fair in Michigan. Paul Sancya/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Paul Sancya/AP

Unemployment is still dangerously high. But things are looking up for both households and companies.

On today's Planet Money, economist Mark Zandi says households have been steadily reducing their debt over the past few years.

The number of credit cards outstanding, bank cards, retail store cards, peaked at almost 600 million back in August of 2008. As of the end of May, we are down to less than 500 million.

As for companies, slashing 8.5 million jobs in this recession has sent their productivity soaring.

Their profit margins are extraordinarily wide, they are record wide and if mix in just a little bit of sales growth, you don't need a whole lot, with those wide margins you generate tremendous corporate profits growth. In fact, corporate profits grew economy wide...25 to 30 percent last year.

One thing that Zandi is still worried about: the federal government's long-term deficit.

Subscribe to the podcast. Music: tUnE-YarDs's "Bizness." Find us: Twitter/ Facebook.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.