Economists Place Their Bets for 2012

Pundits can't decide whether the future looks bright for the American economy, or the new year will bring doomsday. On the positive side, unemployment compensation claims are at their lowest levels in more than three years, housing sales are up, the stock market is making a comeback, and confidence in the economy is growing. On the negative side, there's Europe. If the continent drops into a big recession, the United States is in danger of losing the small economic gains it won in the past year.

Many Americans have already taken matters into their own hands. People have started fleeing New York, New Jersey, California, and Massachusetts for cheaper-living states like Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Utah and Idaho—states which grew at twice the national pace and happen to have considerably lower taxes and housing costs, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. “If you move from New York to Houston, you just gave yourself a gigantic raise,” said Joel Kotkin, author of The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050. “As the country has become more stressed, people have to move to those places where they can achieve a middle-class lifestyle at a lower cost.”




This chart highlights the fact that women are choosing to go back to school rather than be underemployed during the economic stagnation. Women (the yellow line in the graph on the left) are dropping in numbers in the labor force while men are getting more jobs for the first time in many months. The lighter line in the graph on the right represents women enrolled in school, while the darker line represents women in the labor force. 


Female comic lovers are taking a long-overdue stand against the male-dominated production of comics (women represent 1% of comic book creators)—a new hotly anticipated "southern gothic horror" comic book is illustrated by an all-female team of artists. Female fans are also trying to prevent harassment at comic conventions, and pushing for female comic characters who are more than sexualized sidedishes to the male main event.