The improving economy and UMD students

By Jessica Stein on October 23, 2013

Sophomore Pat Kendall doesn’t understand how people can say the economy is improving when he’s still poor.

“I’m a college student. I don’t have a steady income, only a steady outcome,” he said with a laugh.

Kendall is one of many people his age too busy with classes to hold a job during the school year. As an unemployed student, he does not think he has been directly affected by the improving economy.

Whether college students see it or not, though, analysts continue to find evidence that the economy is steadily improving.

The 1.1 percent jump in retail sales from Jan. 2013 to Feb. 2013 was the greatest in five months and doubled analysts’ expectations, according to a Los Angeles Times article.

This increase in retail sales explains that when consumers feel wealthier, they tend to spend more, reported the Los Angeles Times.

“Households have the capacity to use more credit, and loans are available for creditworthy households,” said Daniel Meckstroth, the chief economist at Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation, to the Los Angeles Times.

Junior Lindsey Stalnaker has witnessed this spike in spending first-hand.

As a Nordstrom’s salesperson, Stalnaker works for commission, not wages.

“Nordstrom does not sell necessities. It sells luxuries,” she explained. “So when the economy is bad, people don’t shop there as much.”

Though Stalnaker knows the bad economy affected how much money she was making, she admits that it did not affect how much she was spending.

“I’ve always had a shopping problem,” she said with a smile.

Sophomore Reilly Dunn agreed that having a job while at school allows her more freedom with her money.

“I’m definitely spending more this year,” she said, though she isn’t sure if it has as much to do with the improving economy, as the fact that she’s living away from home and forced to pay for more things independently.

Dunn’s parents, however, have felt a much stronger impact of the improving economy.

“They’re in the mortgage industry, like home loans and such, so the upturn in the economy has positively affected them,” she explained. “They’re definitely more comfortable taking vacations and spending money now.”

The following Business Insider graphs illustrate that household net worth reached an all-time high in August of 2012, and job openings have increased steadily from their all-time low in April of 2009.

From Business Insider

From Business Insider

Kendall believes this data suggests that because adults lost more when the economy tanked, they stand to gain more back now.

“It would be different if I was paying taxes or medical insurance,” he said.

Because he is unemployed and claimed as a dependent on all tax forms, Kendall is exempt from many of the expenses that adults have to pay, which might explain why he feels few implications of the improving economy.

“Basically, the improving economy affects independent individuals, and almost universally, college students are considered dependent individuals,” he said.

Jessica is a sophomore majoring in journalism at the University of Maryland. She enjoys reading, current events, and photography. She aspires to write novels.

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