How low unemployment rate, inflation have changed the US workforce and economy

Retired MSU economics professor doesn’t expect the U.S. to fall into a recession.

Stock photo of inside a bar.

The Department of Labor recently announced that the unemployment rate is at 3% — the lowest it’s been in over five decades. This comes as inflation has cooled to 6%, down from a high of 9% last summer.

But what do these numbers mean for workers and our broader economy?

It’s hard to understate the importance of work in American life. When people aren’t sufficiently employed, they often lack life necessities such as money, food, transit, healthcare and housing. Many other aspects of American life are connected to work.

Retired MSU economic professor Charles Ballard joined Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson to explain how the U.S. achieved such a low unemployment rate and how it connects to inflation.

Listen: How low unemployment rate, inflation changed the U.S. workforce and economy


Charles Ballard is a retired professor of economics at Michigan State University. He says the tight labor market is caused by a combination of President Joe Biden’s spending bills, younger people reevaluating the meaning of work in their lives, and baby boomers retiring from the workforce.

“A lot of older workers are now retired, and most of them are not coming back into the labor force,” says Ballard.

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  • Detroit Today
    Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.
  • Sam Corey
    Sam Corey is a producer for Detroit Today on 101.9 WDET, which includes finding and preparing interesting stories for radio. He enjoys salsa dancing — and actual salsa.