The Years of Plenty

Here's some good news to start your week. The American economy isn't just doing well, as has been reported earlier. It's doing spectacularly well, wonderfully well.

Why is euphoria in order? For one thing, last Friday the US Labor Department reported the following:

* The unemployment rate has dropped to a 24-year low of 4.6 percent. Only 1.9 percent of the college-educated are out of work. Even joblessness among those without a high school diploma fell to 7 percent.

* February is the fourth consecutive month in which more than 300,000 new jobs were created, something not matched in a decade.

* Average hourly wages climbed 0.6 percent, up 4.1 percent over last year. Even when adjusted for inflation, that's a 2.5 percent real gain.

"It's the closest thing to worker heaven that we've had in decades," says economist Allen Sinai in Boston.

Meanwhile, the Dow Jones industrial average soared 125.06 Friday to 8569.39, near its record high. The Asian economic turmoil may be having a moderating effect and keeping the US economy from superheating.

Let the good times roll.

Yet one can't help think of a certain biblical economic adviser, Joseph, who warned his boss that during seven years of plenty was the time to prepare for tougher times.

Prudent steps taken now - such as cutting the deficit and putting Social Security on firm footing - while a robust economy is sending extra billions of dollars to Washington in taxes could pay welcome dividends in the years to come.

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