According to recently released data, the median real household income in the U.S. jumped 5.2% or $2,800 in 2015. During that time, the nation’s poverty rate dropped from 14.8% to 13.5%, the largest percentage point drop since 1999. Although gains were made, the incomes of low-wage and middle income earners remain lower than before the financial crisis. The troubling inequality trend remained unbroken as the incomes of the richest Americans continued to accelerate, pulling ahead of the rest of the wage earners.
According to recent estimates, the world economy grew by 2.7% in the second quarter of 2016. India was in the lead with a growth rate of over 7%. India and China together accounted for 63% of second quarter worldwide economic growth. When compared to a year earlier, the second quarter growth rate in the U.S. was an estimated 1.2%. The American economy is now expected to grow 1.5% for the year.
Drug-resistant infections are on the increase around the world. They are estimated to be killing over 700,000 people per year. Because the number of doses of antibiotics increased 50% between 2000 and 2014, medical personnel believe the growing resistance problem is due to the overuse of antibiotics by people and agricultural animals. If not checked, the number of deaths caused by drug-resistant infections could reach 10 million a year by 2050.
In China, rural villages have been emptying as people move to the cities to find work. The share of the population working in agriculture dropped from 65% to 48% in the ten years between 2000 and 2010. The Chinese views on sex are rapidly changing. A recent study found that nearly 60% of those born after 1985 moved in with their partner before marriage. The cohabitation rate of Chinese young people now equals the rate found in in America. The reasons for the change in social mores are much the same: growing individualism, the empowerment of women, deferral of marriage and a decline in the taboos on sex before marriage.
President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party won a victory in September. It won 75% of the 450 contested seats in Russia’s parliamentary election. The 48% voter turnout was, however, at an all-time low. It is another indication that the Russian Duma is ceasing to be a democratic forum, it is reverting to a sterile body that approves the Kremlin’s policies. Analysts note that Russia’s economically active urban middle class has almost no real representation in the Duma. Although the threat of HIV/AIDS is receding in most Western countries, it is growing in Russia. Through May of 2016, there were 51,000 new cases reported. The problem is caused by poor policies and neglect as Putin tightens his grip on Russian political life.
The World Bank estimates that 767 million of the planet’s people live in extreme poverty, earning less than $1.90 per day. Although high, the number of extremely poor people is trending downward. Between 1993 and 2013, the number of poor fell by over a billion. A big part of the reduction is credited to improving economic conditions in India and China. By the end of 2016, approximately 3.5 billion people, or 45% of the planet’s population will be using the internet. The two countries with the largest populations, India and China, are at the top of the online user rankings.
Mr. Trump’s strident election rhetoric is having a chilling effect on Mexico’s economy. The Mexican peso has lost 12% of its value against the dollar so far this year. Analysts see some connection between jittery Mexican investors, the value of the peso and Mr. Trump’s rabid anti-Mexican election campaign stance.