Skip to main content
The FRED® Blog

U.S. labor before FRED was born

A happy-birthday backward glance at 1991

Today, FRED celebrates its 28th birthday. On this happy occasion, the whole family (FRED, ALFRED, GeoFRED, and the little one, FREDcast) are gathering to read the 2018 Annual Report of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, much of which is dedicated to FRED.

Let’s look back at the U.S. economy before the birth of FRED (on April 18, 1991) and compare it with the economy of today. The graph above shows the unemployed according to the length of their unemployment spell: We can see there are many more long-term unemployed today. The second graph, which uses a dataset first released right after FRED was born, shows that the U.S. labor force has also become more educated.

We can’t offer our readers any cake, but we do have pie…charts. The two charts below compare men and women in the labor force and show that the share of women has increased a bit in the past 28 years. The change may not be obvious until you hover over the chart to verify it.

How these graphs were created: Start from the Current Population Survey, navigate to the release table you’re interested in, check the series you want displayed, and click “Add to Graph.” For the first two graphs, use the “Edit Graph” panel’s “Format” tab and select graph type “Area” with “Percent” stacked. Adjust the start date for the first graph. For the pie charts, chose graph type “Pie” and adjust the dates.

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann.

View on FRED, series used in this post: LNS11000025, LNS11000026, LNS12027659, LNS12027660, LNS12027662, LNS12027689, UEMP15T26, UEMP27OV, UEMP5TO14, UEMPLT5

Is the rent too high?

Way more than 525,600 minutes of rent data

If you’re a renter and have been complaining that your rent keeps rising, the statistics seem to back you up. In the graph, the purple line shows the evolution of rents in the U.S. as a whole, while the light blue line shows the general price level (CPI). Clearly, rents are increasing faster than prices overall. Of course, location matters for anything related to housing, and there are large regional differences: Rents in the New York and San Francisco areas have clearly appreciated more than average. Rents in the Detroit area have increased but well below the average rate; still, they’re keeping up with general inflation.

Note, however, that the graph shows the evolution of rents, but not their level. It shouldn’t be too surprising that rents in 1984 (the beginning of this sample) were higher in New York and San Francisco than in Detroit. And that gap has increased even more over time.

How this graph was created: Search for “rent CPI CBSA” (which stands for core-based statistical area, a metropolitan area defined around a core) and select the area you want shown. We selected semi-annual data instead of monthly, as these data are not collected every month. Click on “Add to Graph.” Add the remaining two series the usual way: From the “Edit Graph” panel, open the “Add Line” tab, search for “rent CPI” and add it, then search for “CPI” and add it. The last step is to limit the sample period to start on 1984-01-01.

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann.

View on FRED, series used in this post: CPIAUCSL, CUUR0000SEHA, CUUSA101SEHA, CUUSA208SEHA, CUUSA422SEHA

Two trillion dollars in U.S. federal taxes

A breakdown of personal, corporate, and foreign sources of revenue

The deadline for filing personal income taxes is approaching fast, which you probably know. But how much do you know about the big picture for taxes? This FRED graph helps shed some light on the issue by showing the total amounts of federal taxes paid over the past 5 years, separated by the sources of those taxes. As of the fourth quarter of 2018, federal taxes amounted to over $2 trillion. Clearly, personal income taxes are far and away the largest contributor. Production taxes and import tariffs are now in second place, only recently surpassing corporate income taxes, which have decreased recently. In fourth place are taxes from the rest of the world.

Also, in the sample shown here, the recent tax reform is clearly visible, with dips in all sources of taxes from the fourth quarter of 2017 to the first quarter of 2018, with one exception: Production taxes and import tariffs increased from $133 billion to $149 billion, which partly accounts for the change in the rankings noted above.

How this graph was created: From the Federal Government Current Receipts and Expenditures release table, check the relevant series and click “Add to Graph.” Then, from the “Edit Graph” panel, open the “Format” tab, and select graph type “Area” and “Stacked.” You may have to move a series or two up in the order if their last value is missing.

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann.

View on FRED, series used in this post: A074RC1Q027SBEA, B075RC1Q027SBEA, W007RC1Q027SBEA, W008RC1Q027SBEA

Subscribe to the FRED newsletter

Follow us

Back to Top