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Westlake Legal Group > Millennial Generation

How Millennials Could Make the Fed’s Job Harder

Westlake Legal Group 23millennial-econ-facebookJumbo How Millennials Could Make the Fed’s Job Harder United States Economy United States Savings Pensions and Retirement Plans Millennial Generation Labor and Jobs Interest Rates Inflation (Economics) Federal Reserve System Banking and Financial Institutions

WASHINGTON — “They say millennials are lazy,” billboards plastered across 15 major cities declared last summer. “Retire early and prove them right.”

That sentiment, reflected in ads for the investment manager Prudential, is the stuff of a 30-year-old’s fantasy — and the Federal Reserve’s nightmare.

A young generation of aggressive savers could leave central bankers with less room to cut interest rates, which they have long done to boost growth in times of economic trouble.

To leave the work force early, millennials would need to build up massive retirement funds and consume less in the process. That hit to demand could slow growth and force rates to drop ever lower to entice spending. And if today’s workers actually managed to retire young, it would exacerbate the situation by shrinking the labor force, further weighing on the economy’s potential.

Millennials, who are roughly between the ages of 24 and 39 and have not lived through pronounced price spikes, already have the lowest inflation expectations of any adult generation. Their belief that costs will not increase could eventually slow actual price gains by making it hard for businesses to charge more. The Fed’s main interest rate includes inflation, so that would leave it with even less room to cut.

It may not come to this. Millennials could become more worried about inflation as they age, giving companies more room to lift prices. Their difficult post-recession entry into the labor market means many are laden with student debt, so it’s unclear if they will be able to retire young. But many indicate that they want to leave the work force early — an ambition that economists say could spell macroeconomic trouble if realized.

“It would lower interest rates — that’s certainly true,” said Joseph Gagnon, an economist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “It would be a double whammy: It directly raises savings” and “it would further reduce the need to invest in factories and offices for these people.”

Interest rates have been falling for decades, and demographics are a major factor in that decline, economists say. Once people are past middle age, they are living longer without working correspondingly later in life, so they have been saving heavily to fund extended retirements.

Millennials, already accused of killing everything from paper napkins to mayonnaise, would happily exacerbate the drop in interest rates, which baby boomers have driven to date.

Of millennial workers with an active 401(k), 43 percent expect to retire before the age of 65, based on data from T. Rowe Price. For Generation X — often defined as those aged 40 to 55 — that figure is 35 percent. While the T. Rowe Price survey targeted a privileged group, broader polls have turned up similar findings.

Members of Gen X are short on savings, so they may need to work further into old age. But younger people have time to turn things around: While they got a slow start, they are still under the age of 40. Millennials have begun saving more as they work in greater numbers and benefit from a record-long economic expansion.

There’s even a movement — Financial Independence, Retire Early, or “FIRE” — dedicated to frugality in pursuit of quitting the work force as soon as possible.

Scott Rieckens, 36, and his wife Taylor, 35, began following a FIRE plan in 2017. The couple, who have one child, ditched their leased cars and $3,000-a-month apartment in San Diego to move to Bend, Ore. They save more than 50 percent of their income and aim to have the $1.7 million they think they’d need to retire by their early 40s, though Mr. Rieckens doesn’t plan to completely stop working then.

He recently produced a documentary on the FIRE movement, released last year, which drew more than 10,000 people to screenings in over 200 cities. The audience skewed younger, Mr. Rieckens said, explaining that FIRE appeals to millennials partly because they have faced precarious jobs without pensions.

“You start to get this sense of lack of control, and fear,” he said. “You can take control of your life.”

The Rieckens may be extreme savers, but many millennials with means are prioritizing saving. According to a recent Bank of America survey, 25 percent of millennial savers had amassed more than $100,000, up from 16 percent in 2018.

They have good reason. Millennials have grown up with dire warnings that Social Security will be exhausted by the time it is their turn to use it. They came of age in the worst downturn since the Great Depression, so they are no strangers to economic insecurity.

But there’s a paradox to thrift: Saving, even if virtuous on an individual level, can cause economic trouble en masse. If ambitious cash stockpiling were to catch on, it could exacerbate secular stagnation, a term that the Harvard University economist Lawrence H. Summers repopularized to describe the low-growth, low-inflation state of many advanced economies.

When consumers save a big portion of their income, they are not spending as much on dinners out, movie nights and cars. Businesses respond by investing less in equipment and technology, and productivity stalls. Bosses are unwilling to pay their workers more for the same output, and weak pay gains further restrain spending.

Retirement saving behavior is not the only driver causing economic torpor and lower rates. Inequality has left a small number of people with more money than they can realistically spend. Slower labor force growth and more iterative technological improvements could also have an impact.

The lower interest rates that result from high and unequal saving might sound great — think cheaper mortgages — but they leave economies vulnerable to shocks. In the United States, for example, rates are now in a range of just 1.5 percent to 1.75 percent, leaving the Fed room for about six quarter-point rate cuts in a downturn. Headed into the last recession, rates topped 5 percent.

Fed officials think mass bond-buying and promises to keep rates low for longer can give them power to fight a slump. But the jury is out on whether such alternatives will add enough ammunition to make up for lost room on interest rates.

Even Ben S. Bernanke, a former Fed chair with an optimistic take on the central bank’s ability to prop up the economy in a downturn, says officials could end up in a tight spot if rates drop substantially lower.

It is anyone’s guess whether they will stabilize at low levels, rise or resume their descent.

“A continued downtrend is as likely as reversion to normal,” Mr. Summers said. “Lots of the structural forces that are driving this seem likely to continue.”

That’s what makes millennial retirement behavior so interesting: It is a wild card still, one that could slightly lift or substantially lower rates going forward.

Policy could influence how things play out. The government could nudge workers toward later retirement or ramp up deficit spending on old-age benefits. Mr. Summers’s research shows that fiscal spending is already propping rates up. Alternately, uncertainty about the fiscal future — like whether the present complacency over large deficits continues — could spur millennials to save more now.

What is clear is that rates are unlikely to head higher soon. That makes maintaining slow but stable inflation more important than ever.

Doing so is proving difficult. The Fed’s preferred inflation index accelerated just 1.6 percent over the past year. It has never sustainably topped 2 percent since the Fed formally adopted that goal in 2012.

That shortfall is threatening to derail inflation expectations. Americans who lived through the great inflation of the 1970s remember an era when services and goods were rapidly increasing in price, and they tend to have a higher outlook for future prices.

Millennials and Generation Z are a different story. Rents and tuition have gotten pricier, but computing power worth millions of dollars a generation ago now fits into a $600 phone. Free entertainment abounds. As America’s collective memories of breakneck price gains fade, the nation’s younger people have become an anchor that threatens to drag down overall expectations.

John C. Williams, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said in a speech last month that “there is still time to avert this fate.” Moving inflation up and keeping it there could convince millennials, he said.

“In this case, it’s fortunate that the young are impressionable.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Study Examines Why Black Americans Remain Scarce in Executive Suites

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It is no secret that the corporate world has a diversity problem. A company where everyone brings fresh and exciting ideas to the table and has an equal opportunity to succeed is the dream for many executives, and a lack of diversity in the top ranks consistently places high on the list of roadblocks keeping that dream from being realized.

When it comes to African-Americans in the corporate world, the situation looks especially grim. Only four companies in the Fortune 500 — Merck & Co., TIAA, Tapestry and Lowe’s — now have a black chief executive, down from seven less than a decade ago.

Experts are scratching their heads about why corporate efforts to bring more women into the executive ranks have made progress in recent years, while increased racial diversity has remained stubbornly out of reach. But a new report makes clear that current methods are either accomplishing too little or are not working at all.

The report, “Being Black in Corporate America,” comes from the Center for Talent Innovation, a nonprofit group that is focused on workplace diversity and is sponsored by large companies including Morgan Stanley, Pfizer and Disney. The center surveyed 3,736 full-time professionals of all races, and found that today’s diversity and inclusion efforts are failing African-American professionals.

If corporate America wants to create a more equitable and inclusive workplace, the report concludes, it needs not a band-aid but an intervention. Here are highlights of what the authors say is at stake.

The study found that only 8 percent of people employed in white-collar professions are black, and the proportion falls sharply at higher rungs of the corporate ladder, especially when jumping from middle management to the executive level.

Doubts about the effectiveness of current diversity and inclusion programs are driving more black professionals to give up on the corporate ladder and pursue autonomy and their own businesses instead.

“Despite being ambitious, having strong professional networks and being career driven, black professionals face slow career advancement, which makes them more likely to leave,” the report notes.

The study found generational differences in those attitudes. Baby Boomers and Gen Xers tended to be more comfortable with the status quo than millennials.

According to the survey, black millennials are more likely than the black professionals who came before them to feel they have a responsibility to represent their race, and they are more likely to feel they should bring their authentic selves to the office.

They are also more likely to be dreaming about leaving their current job if the one they have does not offer fair and ample opportunities for growth, creating the risk of a costly brain drain.

Black professionals do not want to be lumped under the umbrella of “people of color.” Not only does it flatten their experience within the wider pool of underrepresented groups, the study says, it assumes that all black people in the workplace experience it the same way.

The black immigrant population in the United States has increased fivefold since 1980, and black immigrants often have different perspectives than American-born black people on what it means to be black in America. According to the report, white people tend to prefer and give better opportunities to Afro-Caribbeans over African-Americans, and African-Americans are more likely than immigrants from Africa to say that colleagues have underestimated their intelligence.

Full-time professionals of Afro-Caribbean descent are more likely than those with African or African-American roots to have access to senior corporate leaders, the study found. “Heritage shapes black professionals’ experience of the workplace in profound ways,” the report says, contributing to hierarchies that are rarely discussed.

A Pew Research Center survey this year found that half of white Americans agreed with the statement, “There is too much attention paid to race and racial issues in our country these days.” The new study cites that finding repeatedly to reinforce one of its major points: that while most black professionals are keenly aware of inequities that slow their advancement, many of their white peers are largely ignorant of them.

Black professionals surveyed for the new study were more likely than white professionals to say that the primary beneficiaries of diversity and inclusion efforts have been white women. And “very few respondents — including white employees — think that white women are using their power to advocate for other underrepresented groups,” the report notes.

The study argues that the measures that have achieved some success in addressing gender discrimination in the workplace may not work on racial discrimination, in part because white employees tend not to understand the challenges faced by black co-workers as well as they do those faced by women.

“Focusing on women first echoes Angela Davis’s account of the history of the feminist movement, in which white women consistently deprioritized issues of race,” the report notes, referring to the longtime political activist, academic and author.

Race is still a “third rail” — an unwelcome and dangerous subject — in many corporate settings, the study says. Employee resource groups may offer a safe space for black professionals and other underrepresented groups to talk about workplace issues, the authors say, but too often that is where the conversations end.

Black employees go back to their desks feeling that the burden remains on them to make white co-workers comfortable with their presence and aware of their unique experiences, the authors say, and black employees are still asked to “offer solutions to solve their own problems.”

The study recommends that companies conduct audits of how black employees are faring and feeling, and then take steps to address “mismatches in perception of racial equality” between employees of different races. That, the authors argue, will lay the necessary groundwork for the company’s diversity and inclusion programs to be more successful.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Will the Millennials Save Playboy?

LOS ANGELES — “This is a full nude shoot to be conducted underwater,” a woman said into a phone, her voice carrying across a row of cubicles.

“Right, that’s right,” she continued. The person on the other end didn’t seem to quite get it. “As in, it won’t be on land.”

It was a Tuesday morning at the Westwood headquarters of Playboy Enterprises,, and editors were preparing to close their summer issue. Gathered between a velvet love seat and a view of Santa Monica, they discussed upcoming stories — a piece on B.D.S.M., a profile of Pete Buttigieg — while in the kitchen, a barista stenciled bunny ears into latte foam.

In his office, Shane Singh, Playboy’s executive editor, explained that the underwater photo shoot, to be photographed that weekend, was for the magazine’s cover — but not in the way that older, leering readers might expect.

“The water is meant to represent gender and sexual fluidity,” Mr. Singh said, seated beneath a 1988 Herb Ritts portrait of Cindy Crawford. The women who would pose in that water — their limbs wrapped around one another in a balletlike pose — were not simply models but activists. One uses performance art and digital media to share stories about the H.I.V. epidemic. Another is an underwater dancer who promotes ocean conservation. The third, a Belgian artist, recently filmed herself walking naked through a Hasidic neighborhood of Brooklyn during a sacred holiday. (An angry mob chased her out.)

“When they called me for this shoot, I thought there must be some kind of mistake,” Ed Freeman, the fine art photographer who created the cover image, later told me. “I hadn’t paid attention to Playboy for many years, since I was a kid. And I thought: ‘Wait, they’re hiring me to shoot the cover? Do they know I’m gay?’”

This is a newer, woke-er, more inclusive Playboy — if you believe what company executives tell you, and if you are inclined to give an aging brand yet another chance at reinvention.

Even before the #MeToo movement, there had long been debate over whether a publication with the tag line “Entertainment for Men” had any place in an equitable world. But when Playboy’s founder, Hugh Hefner, died in 2017, that argument grew louder: Had Mr. Hefner been a forward-thinking voice for sexual liberation and free speech, or a creepy old lech who fostered a culture of misogyny?

At the time, Playboy was in a dizzying sequence of revival attempts. In recent years, the company has cut the magazine’s circulation; reduced its frequency; stopped printing ads; replaced chief executives; and, most notably, briefly banned nudity — before bringing it back, with the tag line “Naked is normal.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_158434395_4038ec42-7b5b-4bef-a0c2-5a4114e6d523-articleLarge Will the Millennials Save Playboy? Women and Girls Playboy Magazine Playboy Enterprises Millennial Generation Magazines Hefner, Hugh #MeToo Movement

The Playboy team includes, from left, Anna Wilson, photo editor; Erica Loewy, creative director; Anita Little, features editor; Shane Singh, executive editor; and Rachel Webber, marketing chief.CreditNathan Bajar for The New York Times

Early last year, Ben Kohn, a financier who had helped take Playboy private in 2011 and is now chief executive, told The Wall Street Journal that he was considering getting rid of the magazine, in order to focus on licensing and joint ventures. But instead, Playboy was quietly relaunched this year — this time as a thick-stock, matte-paper, ad-free quarterly. It is edited by a millennial triumvirate: the openly gay Mr. Singh, 31; Erica Loewy, 26, the creative director; and Anna Wilson, 29, who oversees photography and multimedia. There had been women in the latter two positions before, but never both at the same time.

The result is a magazine that is virtually unrecognizable from the one Mr. Hefner created — and, for the first time in Playboy’s history, with no Hefners involved. Not Hugh, of course, nor his daughter, Christie, who was chairwoman and chief executive from 1988 through 2008, nor his son Cooper, who stepped down as chief creative officer in April. (He said he would start his own adult content portal, HefPost.) A Playboy spokeswoman said the Hefner family no longer had a financial stake in the company.

The summer issue, out now, features an interview with Tarana Burke, the activist who founded the MeToo movement, conducted by Dream Hampton, whose documentary about R. Kelly led to multiple charges against the singer. There is a queer cartoon and a feature on gender-neutral sex toys. The fall issue will feature a photo feature by the artist Marilyn Minter celebrating female pubic hair.

“We have red hair, blond hair, black hair — it’s basically every color of the rainbow,” said Liz Suman, 35, the magazine’s arts editor. She added that elsewhere in the publication, “I’ve been sneaking in some penises, too.”

“Stuff like that wouldn’t have happened a year ago, for sure,” she said. “Or maybe it would have — but it wouldn’t have been celebrated in the same way.”

During its heyday in the 1960s and ’70s, Playboy represented, to a certain breed of male consumer, a lifestyle: lavish, aspirational, sexually adventurous. Reaching nearly seven million subscribers at its peak, the magazine published the work of Andy Warhol, Margaret Atwood and Hunter S. Thompson, as well as interviews with the likes of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Fidel Castro. Soon there were clubs and resorts and casinos, as well as a “Big Bunny” jet with a discothèque inside.

But then came more explicit national magazines like Penthouse and Hustler, video pornography that made those magazines seem tame and the internet, which derailed both paid smut and print publishing by making it all free.

Mr. Hefner sold the jet, and executives experimented with ways to enliven the brand, including an E! reality show, “The Girls Next Door,” which followed the exploits of a pajama-clad Mr. Hefner and his multiple live-in girlfriends. (One of the women, Holly Madison, later wrote a book in which she described Mr. Hefner as emotionally manipulative and said the women were expected to have group sex.)

But the company was losing money. It sold its TV and digital operations to an internet porn outfit, and in 2011, Mr. Hefner secured financing to take the company private.

The summer issue. “I hadn’t paid attention to Playboy for many years, since I was a kid,” said Ed Freeman, a fine art photographer. “And I thought: ‘Wait, they’re hiring me to shoot the cover? Do they know I’m gay?’”CreditPlayboy

“I was there for sort of the last gasp, the last hurrah,” said Jimmy Jellinek, a former Maxim editor who served as Playboy’s chief content officer from 2009 to 2015. “We always believed in what I called ‘death with dignity.’ We never saw any way out of the spiral that we were in — no amount of reinvention, of taking out the nudity, of making it more interesting to millennials. So we decided let’s be as good as we can be, in the context of what we are.”

While the magazine withered, certain aspects of the Playboy brand remained viable business lines. Mr. Kohn, the chief executive, refers to it as the “world of Playboy”: branded spirits, furniture and perfume, fashion collaborations, a casino in London, pop-up events, a recently reopened nightclub in New York and more — especially in China. There, the brand has more than 3,000 stores selling suits, leather goods, luggage and outdoor clothing, Mr. Kohn said.

Playboy no longer publishes its financial results, but Mr. Kohn said consumers spend some $3 billion on the company’s products and services each year. Relaunching the magazine, he said, made sense as a kind of “brand extension.” He likened the future of the company to Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop.

This newer, socially conscious version of Playboy has meant some changes to the vernacular that has long defined it.

Bunnies — the restaurant servers who work in the Playboy Clubs — are now “brand ambassadors.” Playmates — the women who appear as nude centerfolds — are no longer Miss September, for example, but the September Playmate. (There are three in each quarterly edition.) They are paid as freelancers, and often continue to represent Playboy at public events; the company said it was working to provide them with health care benefits.

In the office, members of the staff use terms like “intersectionality,” “sex positivity,” “privileging” and “lived experience” to describe their editorial vision — and tout their feminist credentials. Two editors are former employees of Ms., the magazine co-founded by Gloria Steinem.

The photography looks different, too. Playmates — who no longer appear on the cover — are primarily shot by other women, with artsy angles and intimacy coordinators on the set.

“Something we always say to each other is that we create with intention,” said Ms. Loewy, the creative director, her desk covered with mock-ups for an upcoming shoot. Ms. Loewy was in a red dress and gold hoop earrings, a tiny jewel adhered to one of her front teeth.

“We think about everybody on set,” she continued, “from the P.A.s to the caterers to the makeup artists. Nothing is not considered in the creation of what we make.”

Ana Dias photographing Teela LaRoux, the July Playmate. In the new iteration of Playboy, nude models are primarily shot by women.CreditStephanie Noritz for The New York Times

When Ryan Pfluger, who recently shot Time’s cover of Mr. Buttigieg, was hired to photograph the actor Ezra Miller, he was told to “shoot Ezra Miller — but make it queer,” he said. (Mr. Miller ended up choosing to appear in high heels and bunny ears.) For the issue on stands now, Ms. Loewy reached out to the Spanish artist Carlota Guerrero, the creative director for Solange Knowles. Ms. Guerrero pitched the idea of defying Barcelona’s topless ban by marching a group of seminude women, including transgender women and prostitutes draped in red fabric and red body paint, through the city’s red-light district.

On “a street that is predominantly owned by men and where every girl has a story of fear to tell,” Ms. Guerrero wrote on Instagram, “it was a statement for us to take that space back.”

“We talk a lot about what’s the Playboy gaze and how we need to diversify that,” said Rachel Webber, 37, the chief marketing officer. She joined the company last year from National Geographic in part, she said, because of the opportunity to bring a “heritage” brand into the modern era. “It’s who is behind the camera as much as in front of it.”

“It’s a little like being in a gender studies class,” she added.

It all seems genuine enough. Except for the elephant in the room — which is that Playboy is still a magazine full of nude women, whose chief executive is a straight white male, with a dead man still listed at the top of the masthead as the founding editor in chief.

“Through today’s lens, Hugh Hefner is grotesque and his women victims,” said Joanna Coles, a former editor in chief of Cosmopolitan, when asked if it was possible to reinvent the brand. “They should lay it to rest with Hugh’s smoking jacket.”

Contradiction, though, has always been part of Playboy’s ethos — or what newer employees might call its “brand architecture.” Staff members today proudly recite that in 1955, just two years after Playboy’s debut, Mr. Hefner risked backlash to publish “The Crooked Man,” a short story about an alternate reality where homosexuality is the norm and heterosexuals are persecuted.

At another point, the famed rallying cry “Gay Is Good” first appeared in a headline in the magazine. Playboy was an early backer of abortion rights and donated money to the Equal Rights Amendment campaign, civil rights causes and free speech organizations.

“At Playboy’s height of influence in the 1960s and early 1970s, it was what we might consider the 1960s version of ‘woke,’” said Carrie Pitzulo, a historian at Colorado State University and the author of “Bachelors and Bunnies: The Sexual Politics of Playboy.” “The criticism that it objectifies women, that it privileges white heterosexual men is all true. But there is this other side of Playboy that hasn’t really been widely acknowledged.”

While some aspects of the brand’s history have been burnished over time, others remain a stain. Ms. Steinem’s 1963 exposé of working conditions at the New York Playboy Club is still a scathing read — and relevant in the face of recent criticism of the revamped club, where corseted female workers dress as “bunnies” and are instructed to “dip” when serving drinks.

Reviewing photos of Ms. LaRoux. It is the first time in Playboy’s history that both its creative director and photo editor have been women.CreditStephanie Noritz for The New York Times

And then, of course, there’s the Playboy mansion, with its famous koi pond, exotic zoo animals and hot tubs stocked with Johnson’s Baby Oil. It was sold in 2016 to J. Daren Metropoulos, an heir to the Hostess fortune, but not without a plenitude of ugly stories — and a bacteria buildup in the famous grotto pools that caused an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.

“Playboy wouldn’t exist if women and men were equal in our society,” Ms. Steinem told The New York Times last year. “It’s the gendered version of a minstrel show.”

Playboy’s circulation was last independently measured in December 2017, at just under 400,000, and according to Mr. Kohn the magazine now reaches “a couple hundred thousand” subscribers. The audience is three-quarters male.

Since Mr. Kohn took over two and a half years ago, he said, he has pulled back about $15 million in partnerships and licensing deals for products he believes “no longer represent the brand.” He added that the company was working to expand into cannabis, skin care, sex toys and sexual wellness.

“A phrase you’ll hear a lot around here is that the era of fuzzy dice and mud flaps is over,” said Ms. Webber, the chief marketing officer, pausing over a slice of avocado toast to explain what a mud flap is.

Since January, Ms. Webber had been working with her team to write a mission statement that reflects the company’s new direction. The goal, she said, is ultimately to reach an audience that is 50 percent female. But she’s also realistic about the challenge ahead.

“Look, I think the target audience is ‘Let’s be relevant,’” she said. “But I do think that to be relevant, we’ve got to take a stand on things and appeal equally across all genders.”

According to a memo to partners about Playboy’s new “brand vibe,” that means being “intimate” but not “explicit,” and “cheeky” but not “cheesy.”

“We talk a lot about when something is objectification versus when it is consensual objectification versus when it is art,” Mr. Singh said. “I think objectification removes the agency of the subject. Consensual objectification is the idea of someone feeling good about themselves and wanting someone to look at them. Art means, O.K., we can hang this on a wall. And if it’s both, for us, that’s the major win.”

I asked him to show me the difference, and he shuffled through a stack of Playboy archives. There was one magazine, from around this time last year, whose cover featured a woman in thigh-high black stockings and heels, her butt resting in the curve of a human-size martini glass.

Mr. Singh laughed. “Do I need to explain why putting a woman in a martini glass is probably not something that we would do?”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Pete Buttigieg Is Still Figuring This Out

It was a humid Sunday in June, a quiet afternoon that Pete Buttigieg knew would not remain quiet. “You know, there are always going to be ups and downs,” the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Ind., told me as he puttered through the kitchen of the century-old Victorian home he shares with his husband of a year, Chasten. “You can’t just have an uninterrupted meteoric rise,” he said.

Buddy and Truman, the Twitter-certified “First Dogs of South Bend,” were lounging on hardwood floors as Buttigieg poured coffee into a mug and settled in at his dining-room table. In a few hours, he would be speaking to a noisy town hall at Washington High School, on his city’s predominantly black west side, where he would be called upon — shouted upon — to answer questions about what the cable networks had variously called “Mayor Pete’s Crisis at Home” and the “Nightmare in South Bend.” A week before, a white South Bend Police officer, Sgt. Ryan O’Neill, shot a 54-year-old African-American man, Eric Logan, after the officer responded to a report of a suspicious person going through cars in the parking lot of an apartment complex. O’Neill claimed that Logan approached him with a knife, but his body camera was turned off, so there was no footage to back up his account. Logan was later pronounced dead at Memorial Hospital in South Bend.

The killing set off days of protest aimed at the local police, city officials and Buttigieg, whose unlikely surge into the top tier of Democratic presidential candidates had been blunted by ambivalence from African-American voters, among whom he had been polling close to zero nationally, even before the shooting. No shortage of pundits offered theories on Buttigieg’s “black problem,” as the former chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Marcia Fudge, called it in The Daily Beast after the incident. They posited some combination of Buttigieg’s lesser name recognition; the reluctance of more socially conservative blacks to embrace an openly gay candidate; and the perception that the Harvard- and Oxford-bred sensation was just another privileged white politician in a hurry.

But Buttigieg has also had a fraught relationship with the black community of South Bend for much of his eight years as mayor, especially over matters of policing — a fact that the national media, after months of laudatory coverage of Buttigieg’s mayoral successes, now began to understand. Up to that point, Buttigieg had mostly confronted race-related questions from a safe, aspirational remove. He was quizzed at a Fox News town hall in New Hampshire a few weeks earlier (by a white woman from Vermont) about what he would do to better reach voters of color; the host, Chris Wallace, cited a poll showing that less than 1 percent of nonwhite primary voters supported him. “It’s a really important strategic but also ethical question for our campaign,” Buttigieg ruminated.

He has quoted the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (“Dr. King”) and shared lofty-sounding ideas like his “Douglass Plan” (‘to improve black American prosperity”). He is diligent about promising his friendly white crowds that he understands the urgency of civil rights as an unrealized national goal. “Racial inequality,” he assures his audiences, “either will be solved in our lifetime or it will blow apart the American project.”

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Pete Buttigieg gives a speech in Fresno, Calif.

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Pete Buttigieg gives a speech in Fresno, Calif.

CreditAngie Smith for The New York Times

Buttigieg has a knack for reducing the intractable issues of American life to some academic-sounding “project,” as if racial inequality were just another puzzle for the smart kids at McKinsey — where Buttigieg worked as a consultant after college — to solve. He is also deft about acknowledging that this is exactly what he is doing: noting his own privileged detachment as he is exercising it. “There’s a certain luxury associated with being able to step back and be analytical about any of this,” Buttigieg told me. I had been checking in periodically with Buttigieg through the spring, a period in which said “meteoric rise” would accelerate in earnest. A video clip of him speaking Norwegian was bouncing across social media; the novel concept of supporting “a Maltese-American left-handed Episcopalian gay war veteran mayor millennial,” as he described himself, was proving irresistible to a certain sector of the educated white electorate. He seemed to be living on late-night TV couches when he was not delighting photo-hungry, check-writing crowds. They were not only learning how to pronounce “BOOT-edge-edge” but also chanting the eye-chart name and wearing it on phonetic-spelling T-shirts that I saw several people sporting at a small-donor fund-raiser in Minneapolis in early May. “I see Pete Buttigieg as more of a healer-warrior, and there’s an absence of vitriol with him,” Dave Dvorak, a physician I met there, told me. “And maybe that’s what we need.”

[Read about Buttigieg’s life in the closet.]

The luxury of Buttigieg’s safe remove ended with the shooting of Eric Logan. The mayor woke to the news before dawn on June 16 — Father’s Day, the first since his own father, Joseph Buttigieg, a Maltese immigrant, died in January. That scrambled Buttigieg’s plan to take Sunday off in New York with Chasten to celebrate their first wedding anniversary, which also fell on that day. “The first thing you hear is that there was an officer-involved shooting, which is bad but not the first time it’s happened,” Buttigieg recounted a week later. “Then you hear the guy’s in surgery, then you realize, O.K., he may not live. Then you hear the deceased is black and the cop is white. And you keep getting bits of information, some of it accurate, some you’ve got to run down. And it didn’t take long to realize I needed to get home.”

Buttigieg made his way back to South Bend on Sunday, canceling a Monday appearance at an L.G.B.T.Q. gala in Manhattan and fund-raising events in California that Tuesday and Wednesday. He had planned a return to South Carolina, where the state’s Democratic Party was holding its convention in Columbia, that Friday and Saturday. The weekend featured the World Famous Fish Fry, a sweaty mob scene of a tradition hosted by Representative Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, the House majority whip and the highest-ranking African-American member of Congress, and attended by nearly all of the Democratic presidential hopefuls. But the fish fry conflicted with a hastily scheduled Justice for South Bend march through downtown to honor Logan.

Buttigieg had very much wanted to be in South Carolina, the early-voting state in which 60 percent of the party’s primary electorate is African-American — the place, as Buttigieg put it, “where most Democratic candidates try to find their voice on race.” Instead, South Bend’s black community was calling for the mayor to stay home and listen. “You got a plane to catch somewhere?” one angry rally-goer yelled at the grounded candidate, one of many who would taunt his higher ambitions. Here was Buttigieg being laid low by the same riddle of race relations in America that has stymied generations of well-meaning progressive mayors that came before him.

“You can seek to do the right thing,” Buttigieg said, “and be reasonably confident you made the less bad choice and get your ass handed to you all the same.” That was the nature of being a mayor, he added — a far more tactile and hands-on job than, say, being a member of Congress, for whom running for president would not necessarily entail more than missing a few floor votes. “A lot of it is just being there to absorb a lot of pain,” Buttigieg said of his ultimate decision to attend the rally in South Bend. “It’s not like Eric Logan’s mother is going to be happy about anything we come up with.”

“I’ve been here my whole life, and you all don’t do a damn thing about me or my son or none of these people out here,” Logan’s mother, Shirley Newbill, told Buttigieg at the rally. Latisa McKinney, an African-American woman from South Bend told me at the town hall there on Sunday: “Ain’t nothing gonna change for us. Ain’t nothing gonna change for us after Mayor Pete’s gone, either.” It was maybe some small solace to Buttigieg that even a frustrated constituent respected his brand, taking care to address him by his folksy small-town moniker, “Mayor Pete.”

“You can seek to do the right thing,” Buttigieg said, “and be reasonably confident you made the less bad choice and get your ass handed to you all the same.”CreditAngie Smith for The New York Times

Some of Buttigieg’s giddier supporters and profilers have likened him to Barack Obama, not just in his appeal to a new generation of political consumers but also in his intent to create a new way of thinking and discussing politics. He is the next level of anti-politician politician, quintessentially political but running against what he sees as the counterproductive outrage that seems to have taken hold in American politics, particularly in the Trump era. “Our response is going to be to model something completely different,” Buttigieg told me.

And indeed, he possesses an Obama-like ability to wield cool detachment — impassioned and remote at the same time, calmly in a rush. Even his execution of the necessary and grubby candidate activities, like fund-raising, has an earnestly above-it-all air. “Hey,” he began a blast email appeal to his supporters on the eve of the last Federal Election Commission fund-raising deadline. “You know that we don’t subscribe to inauthentic urgency here at Pete for America. That’s not why we’re here. We are here to build trusted relationships.” He then hit up his “trusted relationships” for donations.

[Read about the 23 Democratic candidates running for president.]

Like most presidential candidates, Buttigieg published a book on the eve of his candidacy, part blueprint and part memoir of an ordinary and yet extraordinary life. Unlike most candidates’ books, “Shortest Way Home” is actually a decent read and even seems to have been written by the candidate himself (he confirmed this). In it, Buttigieg describes his rampage through the checkpoints of American high achievement. The son of Notre Dame professors, he attended Harvard, Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship, worked at McKinsey & Company, served as an intelligence officer in the United States Navy Reserves and was deployed in Afghanistan while serving as mayor of his hometown, an office that he was elected to in 2011 at age 29. Beyond the author himself, South Bend is the unquestioned star of the book, the main instrument through which the protagonist tells his coming-of-age story. He purchased his creaky old home, built in 1905, and renovated it himself over two years in the late ’00s. It sits across West North Shore Drive from the swelling waters of the St. Joseph River — a river “in a hurry to get somewhere,” as Buttigieg characterizes it, or projects upon it.

He describes how he first imagined leading an “administration that ran on business principles without abandoning its public character.” Initially, he disdained the ceremonial tasks that filled a mayor’s schedule: the ribbon cuttings, holiday tributes and solemn remembrances. “Shaped by my consulting background, I arrived in office wanting to get concrete, measurable things done,” Buttigieg writes. Eventually, he would learn to embrace that part of the job, equating the simple act of representing a city to a kind of moral position. “The value was not in the cleverness of what I had to say but simply the fact of my being there,” he writes. “Introvert that I am, I even came to love a good parade.”

No sitting mayor has ever been elected president; it’s rare they even seek the office at all, much less from a jurisdiction as little as South Bend, the fourth-largest city in Indiana. Yet the smallness of the town — its flyover-country coordinates, familiar mostly via Notre Dame football on TV — lends it an allegorical credibility. “The Bend” could be anywhere, and that’s the point. In the telling of its most famous current resident, South Bend’s story became an accessible, replicable tale of a proud city that was in touch with its history and confident enough in its future that its mayor was not promising to make anything great again.

Betsy Hodges, a former mayor of Minneapolis and a friend and supporter of Buttigieg, points out that the current president makes a particularly rich foil for a small-town mayor’s story. “I think the Trump agenda and Trump demeanor have increased our capacity to dehumanize one another,” she told me. Social media, she added, has already accelerated this tendency to become detached and alienated from our communities and leaders. In this regard South Bend is small enough to model a civic compact, dramatizing how politicians and people and places should relate to one another. “A mayor’s main agenda is to never forget that a policy is at its core about people,” Hodges said.

This can work in both directions, naturally, and reality does tend to assert itself in unpleasant ways, as inevitably as potholes. “There is tremendous accountability that goes with being a mayor,” said Dan Pfeiffer, a former campaign and White House aide to Barack Obama who is unaffiliated with any 2020 candidate. “Every turd tends to land on your doorstep. And everyone knows where your doorstep is.”

“This hurts,” Buttigieg told me at his home before heading out to the town hall to discuss Eric Logan. “This really hurts.” He seemed to be straining to convince me, acknowledging that he is not always “symptomatic” in exhibiting emotion. He got mixed reviews from theater-critic pundits who found his “performance” at previous Logan-related events to be lacking on the Bill Clinton scale of “I feel your pain” empathy-showing. This is not a new critique of Buttigieg, who has quite clearly contemplated the subject. “I think a lot of time when people are talking about what they want to see you do emotionally, what they really are asking is that they want you to make them feel a certain way.”

He looked momentarily excited, as if a small epiphany had just struck him. “A mayor is sometimes described as having a role of a pastor and a commander in chief all in one,” he told me. “Pastors aren’t always the most emotional, although interestingly it’s certainly an important part of black tradition, and maybe that’s part of why these things sometimes read differently across cultures, right?”

Buttigieg offered his own disposition as being consistent with the aura he wants to project. “A big part of what makes this campaign work is an ability to make people feel things they haven’t felt in a while,” he told me. “One of them is hope. Another one of them is calm.”

Supporters and profilers have likened him to Barack Obama, not just in his appeal to a new generation of political consumers but also in his intent to create a new way of thinking and discussing politics.CreditAngie Smith for The New York Times

Neither quality was in evidence in the crowd at Washington High School. “We’re not running from this,” Buttigieg insisted there. After about 45 minutes, the gathering had pretty much devolved: shouting and cross-shouting and a few near-confrontations where it seemed as if complete bedlam might ensue. No one was asking Mayor Pete to speak Norwegian. “Get back to South Carolina,” a man sitting a few rows behind me in the auditorium yelled at the mayor. Buttigieg took his abuse with hands placed in a prayerlike repose over his lips, sitting perfectly still, except for his shoulders, which rocked ever so slightly.

I caught up with Buttigieg again a few days later in Miami, where he was ensconced in a 17th-floor suite at the downtown Hilton. He would be participating in the second night of the back-to-back Democratic debates, to be held on Thursday; he came down on Monday, the day after the town hall. “We’ve had some supporter events,” he explained, which is usually candidate-speak for “fund-raising.”

South Bend, he told me, was “taking a moment to breathe and process everything.” This was convenient, because Buttigieg has many donors in Miami and the June F.E.C. filing deadline was a few days away. His fund-raising diligence would pay off a few days later when the campaign announced that it had collected $24.8 million from more than 230,000 donors for the three-month period that ended in June. The “Crisis at Home” headlines would soon be replaced with breathless assessments of “Mayor Pete’s Impressive Haul.”

I asked him whether he had ever considered leaving his mayor’s job to focus on his run for president. “I re-evaluate that constantly,” he told me, though not since the recent turmoil began; if anything, it’s more important than ever that he stay in his job and see the crisis through at home.

“Yes, but you’re in Miami,” I pointed out: South Beach, not South Bend.

“Yes,” he acknowledged. “But I’m in charge.”

Buttigieg seemed entirely at home here, surrounded by political tourists, reporters and strategists, some of whom he had known since his days as president of Harvard’s Institute of Politics. Scores of campaign aides and blow-dried TV people and candidates were cavorting in the lobby. The place had a political-summer-camp feel reminiscent of a party convention or caucus night at the bar of the Marriott-Des Moines. Beto O’Rourke walked by on the way upstairs, nursing a venti cup of something. “I think Hick is staying here, too,” Buttigieg said, presumably referring to another fellow camper, the former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper.

Amid the attention paid to Buttigieg’s eclecticisms — his frequent literary references, his ability to speak eight languages, his classical piano training and Radiohead fandom — it’s easy to overlook the fact that he is, at heart, a fairly conventional political animal. Buttigieg is steeped in campaign life, having worked for John Kerry in 2004 and Obama in 2008, and he tends to talk, more than most candidates, like an operative. In 2017, he ran unsuccessfully to be chairman of the Democratic National Committee — a position that is essentially that of a glorified fund-raiser, talking head and political strategist rolled into one. His early ambitions, his methodical climb up the accomplishment ladder and his youthful attention to networking have more in common with Bill Clinton than Obama.

This is relevant, Pfeiffer pointed out, because “Mayor Pete’s message is basically a punditlike critique of politics.” He talks a lot about how Democrats must reach voters in the Midwest, the importance of reaching faith-based citizens and how it’s time for the country to “change the channel” from the tired horror show of our recent political battles. Buttigieg’s campaign has, to this point, been short on policy details and heavy on “laying out the values,” as he often says. In watching Buttigieg, the values are more about the vehicle: that is, Mayor Pete himself. It’s easy to overlook that the campaign has largely been personality-based to this point — much more about the Buttigieg résumé, quirkiness and style than any ideological or policy direction. But part of that style is self-conscious humility, the idea that while the mayor might be a singular generational hope, at least he’s sheepish about it. Buttigieg has perfected the cultivated modesty of the millennial striver.

I talked to Buttigieg for a final time on July 10, a Wednesday, by phone. It had been nearly four weeks since the Logan shooting, and he was about to reveal his oft-mentioned Douglass Plan. It involves measures to “dismantle a fundamentally racist criminal-justice system” and “directly attack the racial wealth gap, building wealth in black communities.” He told me that the Douglass Plan had been in the works for months, though the Logan incident might have given its release more urgency and attention. “I am perhaps the white candidate who will be asked most frequently about race,” Buttigieg told me — a curious statement given that Joe Biden seems to have spent much of the last month being questioned about little else.

Buttigieg told me that if he was not a politician, he might have been a writer. “If I was more creative, I would have been a novelist,” he told me. “I can do the prose, but I just don’t have the imagination that it takes.”

He seems to very much enjoy the narrative journey of campaign life, with its cinematic pace and stranger-than-fiction turns. Best of all is that he gets to be the central player in his story. He used to partake of politics as a spectator sport, as a detached observer. “Well, it’s not so much a refuge from the day to day to be following national matters anymore,” he told me. “If nothing else, being in the middle of this has allowed me to shed a lot of the illusions of how it all works.” How? “Well,” he said. “I’ve discovered that a show like ‘Veep’ is more realistic than most Americans would care to imagine.”

“I am perhaps the white candidate who will be asked most frequently about race.”CreditAngie Smith for The New York Times

Despite all the attention he has received, Buttigieg remains very much a long shot in the race. He has in recent polls dropped solidly behind the top group of candidates: Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, the latter two of whom have inherited the star status Buttigieg enjoyed for much of the spring. His fund-raising ensures he will be around for a while, and his performance in the Miami debate was generally well regarded — especially his blunt assessment of the “mess” he left behind in South Bend. But the joy ride of his early campaign months now calls for a next turn.

In the coming weeks, Buttigieg said he would be releasing more detailed policy plans. “We’ve laid out the values, now we lay out the details,” he said. That will be the next phase, if not the next act. I heard a flurry of screeches and beeping over the phone in the background. The mayor of South Bend was in a hurry, as ever, and announced that he had to jump on another thing. He was in a car, in Washington for the day. He was not sure where they were or were headed, exactly. “I’m glimpsing at some shiny buildings,” he said.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Minority Women Are Winning the Jobs Race in a Record Economic Expansion

The United States economy on Monday hit a milestone, reaching its longest expansion on record. Just a decade ago, the nation was mired in a severe recession that had erased trillions of dollars in wealth and left millions of people out of work.

While the recovery has delivered uneven gains, Hispanic women have emerged as the biggest job market winners in an economy that has now grown for 121 straight months, assuming data released in coming months confirms continued growth.

Employment rates for Hispanic women between 25 and 54, prime working years, have jumped by 2.2 percentage points since mid-2007, the eve of the Great Recession. That’s the most of any prime-age working group. Black women came in second, adding 1.6 percentage points.

While employment rates have risen for minority women, they are far from the expansion’s biggest winners by other measures. The richest 1 percent of earners — who are heavily white and male — have notched outsize earnings throughout the expansion and recovery. The top 1 percent also received nearly 17 percent of the total first-year benefit from the Trump administration’s $1.5 trillion tax cut, according to the Tax Policy Center.

“We have an issue with wage inequality, income inequality and wealth inequality where most of the growth is going to the top,” said Valerie Wilson, director of the Economic Policy Institute’s program on race, ethnicity and the economy. “Those people are less likely to be women, and much less likely to be women of color.”

But the economic and social trends that have long kept minority women from making job and wage gains appear to be shifting. Hispanic women have historically worked less than any other demographic, earned fewer degrees than white and black women, and had among the highest fertility rates. That is changing: Hispanic women have posted a major fertility decline over the past decade and they have steadily raised college attainment.

The recent job gains show that prolonged economic growth, combined with those social changes, has the power to lift long-marginalized minorities. The pattern also offers hopeful news for employers: As these women pour into jobs, they are providing a new source of labor in an economy where workers are increasingly scarce.

The expansion record won’t be official until growth data is reported over the coming months, but America has clearly experienced a long period of job market healing. Unemployment is near its lowest level in 50 years and prime-age employment rates have bounced back after falling off sharply during the 2007-2009 recession and its aftermath.

That progress has allowed the black work force to begin recovering from a painful recession. For Hispanic women, the recent gains are part of a more long-running trend toward higher employment, but one that has recently accelerated.

Starting around 2012 and picking up around 2014, Hispanic women between 25 and 34 began pouring into jobs, contributing heavily to the group’s overall progress. They now work at their highest rates on record. Hispanic women concentrate heavily in service jobs including health care, which have grown throughout the expansion.

“It does seem like there’s something structural happening,” said Ernie Tedeschi, policy economist at Evercore ISI.

Education is a big part of the story. While the share of whites and blacks age 18 to 24 who were enrolled in college actually dropped slightly between 2010 and 2016, the share of Hispanic women going for a degree jumped to 41 percent from 36 percent.

That’s an improvement from a low level — 48.9 percent of white women were enrolled, by way of comparison — but it has major job market implications. Employment rates climb steadily with educational attainment.

Mariah Celestine, 25, is a student at Columbia Business School and the first person in her family to pursue a master’s degree. She has a firsthand view of the cultural shift. Going back to school and leaving her salary at Bank of America was a difficult choice, because she was financially helping an aunt in New York and her extended family in Puerto Rico.

“For us, a lot of times, it’s a balancing act: pursuing that passion but knowing that there will be stability,” she said. “We know that other people will be depending on our success.”

She believes that her peers — often the first generation in their families to be born in the United States and raised in its culture — are watching women succeed on a national stage and trying to follow in their footsteps.

“It’s about investing in yourself and having as many opportunities as possible,” she said. “A lot of the household work and care-taking responsibility have fallen on women in the past, and we don’t see that changing. But I think it’s: What can I do to make my family as comfortable as possible?”

Smaller families might be allowing more Hispanic women time to devote to careers. Age-adjusted fertility rates for Hispanic women plunged between 2008 and 2016, based on an analysis by the Institute for Family Studies.

[Why birthrates among Hispanic Americans have plummeted.]

Both changes — education and fertility — bring Hispanic women more in line with other American racial and ethnic groups. The group’s millennials are more heavily United States-born, so they’ve been raised within American culture, smoothing the way for that convergence.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 01DC-ECONWIN-01-articleLarge-v2 Minority Women Are Winning the Jobs Race in a Record Economic Expansion Women and Girls Wages and Salaries United States Economy Race and Ethnicity Minorities Millennial Generation Labor and Jobs

Workers assembling cars at a newly renovated Ford factory in Chicago last month.CreditJim Young/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

But economic opportunity seems to have been the spark that enabled a long-running cultural change to catch fire. While young women had been improving their education rates and delaying motherhood for years, their employment rate picked up in earnest only midway through the expansion, as available jobs outpaced available workers.

Black workers’ experience underlines the hot labor market’s role. While black women are also having fewer children, the group’s employment has historically moved in lock step with the economy. That pattern has held in this business cycle: As companies hired steadily, black workers’ labor force participation climbed.

Now, the question is whether those gains will prove sustainable. Policymakers sometimes point out that some minorities suffer from a last-hired, first-fired phenomenon. Black women saw their employment rate drop 9.4 percentage points from its peak to its trough in the last crisis. Hispanic women had a similar but more muted response, losing about 6 percentage points.

Even if that pattern repeats itself come the next downturn, the fact that minority women are finding jobs now could leave them with more experience for their future résumés and more money in the bank.

“Shoring up labor market experience and earnings is a good thing,” said Heather Boushey, executive director at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. “I think it is an unambiguous good.”

But it’s up in the air whether minority workers will see their wages catch up. Hispanic women with bachelor’s degrees or higher made $46,237 on average in 2017, compared with $55,450 for non-Hispanic white women and $85,855 for non-Hispanic white men, based on Census Bureau data.

Much of that gap comes from the types of jobs women, and particularly minority women, work in, Ms. Boushey said. They skew heavily toward lower-paying service work. Research suggests career breaks and the lower hours that are sometimes associated with child rearing also play a role.

It’s also unclear what is happening with Hispanic men, and what that might mean for their families and communities. Like white men, Hispanic men are working less across education levels. Before the downturn, the employment rate for 25- to 34-year-old Hispanic men peaked at 91.6 percent. In May, that rate stood at 85.7 percent.

The jobs available in today’s economy may favor women over men — health services, food and leisure jobs, and education have all been hiring heavily and are all female-dominated — and women may be working more to patch up household earnings as men struggle to find their footing.

Regardless, the fact that minority women are steadily joining the ranks of the employed could spell good news for talent-hungry companies. Because the unemployment rate is historically low, economists have been concerned that businesses would run out of applicants, forcing them to abruptly raise wages and prices as they competed for a finite number of would-be employees.

As sidelined groups prove themselves ready to work, they could help to keep widespread labor shortages at bay.

“There is still room for employment-population ratios to grow: These are largely untapped segments of the labor force,” said Ms. Wilson at the Economic Policy Institute. “Since there are more black and brown people in the population, in the labor force, it’s reasonable to think that these are the groups in which you’ll see the growth.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Minority Women Are Winning the Jobs Race in a Record Economic Expansion

The United States economy on Monday hit a milestone, reaching its longest expansion on record. Just a decade ago, the nation was mired in a severe recession that had erased trillions of dollars in wealth and left millions of people out of work.

While the recovery has delivered uneven gains, Hispanic women have emerged as the biggest job market winners in an economy that has now grown for 121 straight months, assuming data released in coming months confirms continued growth.

Employment rates for Hispanic women between 25 and 54, prime working years, have jumped by 2.2 percentage points since mid-2007, the eve of the Great Recession. That’s the most of any prime-age working group. Black women came in second, adding 1.6 percentage points.

While employment rates have risen for minority women, they are far from the expansion’s biggest winners by other measures. The richest 1 percent of earners — who are heavily white and male — have notched outsize earnings throughout the expansion and recovery. The top 1 percent also received nearly 17 percent of the total first-year benefit from the Trump administration’s $1.5 trillion tax cut, according to the Tax Policy Center.

“We have an issue with wage inequality, income inequality and wealth inequality where most of the growth is going to the top,” said Valerie Wilson, director of the Economic Policy Institute’s program on race, ethnicity and the economy. “Those people are less likely to be women, and much less likely to be women of color.”

But the economic and social trends that have long kept minority women from making job and wage gains appear to be shifting. Hispanic women have historically worked less than any other demographic, earned fewer degrees than white and black women, and had among the highest fertility rates. That is changing: Hispanic women have posted a major fertility decline over the past decade and they have steadily raised college attainment.

The recent job gains show that prolonged economic growth, combined with those social changes, has the power to lift long-marginalized minorities. The pattern also offers hopeful news for employers: As these women pour into jobs, they are providing a new source of labor in an economy where workers are increasingly scarce.

The expansion record won’t be official until growth data is reported over the coming months, but America has clearly experienced a long period of job market healing. Unemployment is near its lowest level in 50 years and prime-age employment rates have bounced back after falling off sharply during the 2007-2009 recession and its aftermath.

That progress has allowed the black work force to begin recovering from a painful recession. For Hispanic women, the recent gains are part of a more long-running trend toward higher employment, but one that has recently accelerated.

Starting around 2012 and picking up around 2014, Hispanic women between 25 and 34 began pouring into jobs, contributing heavily to the group’s overall progress. They now work at their highest rates on record. Hispanic women concentrate heavily in service jobs including health care, which have grown throughout the expansion.

“It does seem like there’s something structural happening,” said Ernie Tedeschi, policy economist at Evercore ISI.

Education is a big part of the story. While the share of whites and blacks age 18 to 24 who were enrolled in college actually dropped slightly between 2010 and 2016, the share of Hispanic women going for a degree jumped to 41 percent from 36 percent.

That’s an improvement from a low level — 48.9 percent of white women were enrolled, by way of comparison — but it has major job market implications. Employment rates climb steadily with educational attainment.

Mariah Celestine, 25, is a student at Columbia Business School and the first person in her family to pursue a master’s degree. She has a firsthand view of the cultural shift. Going back to school and leaving her salary at Bank of America was a difficult choice, because she was financially helping an aunt in New York and her extended family in Puerto Rico.

“For us, a lot of times, it’s a balancing act: pursuing that passion but knowing that there will be stability,” she said. “We know that other people will be depending on our success.”

She believes that her peers — often the first generation in their families to be born in the United States and raised in its culture — are watching women succeed on a national stage and trying to follow in their footsteps.

“It’s about investing in yourself and having as many opportunities as possible,” she said. “A lot of the household work and care-taking responsibility have fallen on women in the past, and we don’t see that changing. But I think it’s: What can I do to make my family as comfortable as possible?”

Smaller families might be allowing more Hispanic women time to devote to careers. Age-adjusted fertility rates for Hispanic women plunged between 2008 and 2016, based on an analysis by the Institute for Family Studies.

[Why birthrates among Hispanic Americans have plummeted.]

Both changes — education and fertility — bring Hispanic women more in line with other American racial and ethnic groups. The group’s millennials are more heavily United States-born, so they’ve been raised within American culture, smoothing the way for that convergence.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 01DC-ECONWIN-01-articleLarge-v2 Minority Women Are Winning the Jobs Race in a Record Economic Expansion Women and Girls Wages and Salaries United States Economy Race and Ethnicity Minorities Millennial Generation Labor and Jobs

Workers assembling cars at a newly renovated Ford factory in Chicago last month.CreditJim Young/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

But economic opportunity seems to have been the spark that enabled a long-running cultural change to catch fire. While young women had been improving their education rates and delaying motherhood for years, their employment rate picked up in earnest only midway through the expansion, as available jobs outpaced available workers.

Black workers’ experience underlines the hot labor market’s role. While black women are also having fewer children, the group’s employment has historically moved in lock step with the economy. That pattern has held in this business cycle: As companies hired steadily, black workers’ labor force participation climbed.

Now, the question is whether those gains will prove sustainable. Policymakers sometimes point out that some minorities suffer from a last-hired, first-fired phenomenon. Black women saw their employment rate drop 9.4 percentage points from its peak to its trough in the last crisis. Hispanic women had a similar but more muted response, losing about 6 percentage points.

Even if that pattern repeats itself come the next downturn, the fact that minority women are finding jobs now could leave them with more experience for their future résumés and more money in the bank.

“Shoring up labor market experience and earnings is a good thing,” said Heather Boushey, executive director at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. “I think it is an unambiguous good.”

But it’s up in the air whether minority workers will see their wages catch up. Hispanic women with bachelor’s degrees or higher made $46,237 on average in 2017, compared with $55,450 for non-Hispanic white women and $85,855 for non-Hispanic white men, based on Census Bureau data.

Much of that gap comes from the types of jobs women, and particularly minority women, work in, Ms. Boushey said. They skew heavily toward lower-paying service work. Research suggests career breaks and the lower hours that are sometimes associated with child rearing also play a role.

It’s also unclear what is happening with Hispanic men, and what that might mean for their families and communities. Like white men, Hispanic men are working less across education levels. Before the downturn, the employment rate for 25- to 34-year-old Hispanic men peaked at 91.6 percent. In May, that rate stood at 85.7 percent.

The jobs available in today’s economy may favor women over men — health services, food and leisure jobs, and education have all been hiring heavily and are all female-dominated — and women may be working more to patch up household earnings as men struggle to find their footing.

Regardless, the fact that minority women are steadily joining the ranks of the employed could spell good news for talent-hungry companies. Because the unemployment rate is historically low, economists have been concerned that businesses would run out of applicants, forcing them to abruptly raise wages and prices as they competed for a finite number of would-be employees.

As sidelined groups prove themselves ready to work, they could help to keep widespread labor shortages at bay.

“There is still room for employment-population ratios to grow: These are largely untapped segments of the labor force,” said Ms. Wilson at the Economic Policy Institute. “Since there are more black and brown people in the population, in the labor force, it’s reasonable to think that these are the groups in which you’ll see the growth.”

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For These Women, a FIRE That Burns Too Male and Too White

Westlake Legal Group 06retiring-01-facebookJumbo For These Women, a FIRE That Burns Too Male and Too White Women and Girls Savings Saunders, Kiersten Romzyn, Angela Retirement Millennial Generation Holley, Dawn Hester, Tanja Fickett, Jess

Kiersten Saunders stumbled upon the FIRE movement — an acronym for “financial independence, retire early” — the way most people do: by reading about it online. But also like most people, she couldn’t relate to its membership, which seemed largely white, male and based in Silicon Valley.

“When I first started looking at the FIRE blogs, it was a bit of a culture shock,” says Mrs. Saunders, 34, a marketing director in Atlanta. “As a black American and as a woman, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to replicate exactly what they did.”

FIRE disciples have a reputation as overworked millennials, usually with the word “software” in their job titles, who stockpile 50 percent or more of their six-figure paychecks so that they can quit cubicle life in their 30s. While hyper-frugality is hardly new, the concept recently acquired its catchy name and a cult following on Reddit forums and popular personal finance blogs like Mr. Money Mustache and Early Retirement Dude, both of which are written by white men. Many adherents get competitive, posting monthly spending reports online as they race to hit their FIRE number — a chunk of assets that will theoretically generate enough income through dividends and interest to support them for the rest of their lives.

A central tenet of the movement is that with enough grit, financial savvy, and willingness to eat rice and beans, “anyone” can do it. But that’s simply not true.

“A lot of FIRE blogs, while well intentioned, can be very tone deaf,” Mrs. Saunders says. “They have these lean plans that are like, ‘Oh, we live on Soylent and frozen burritos, and that’s how we’re able to save 50 percent of our income.’ And it’s like, ‘O.K., but what about the other things that life sometimes requires? Where’s the budget for taking care of your mother-in-law?’”

Frustrated by the lack of diversity in the FIRE world, Mrs. Saunders and her husband, Julien, started their own personal finance blog in 2015, Rich & Regular. Today, she is part of a rapidly growing cohort of women who are forging their own FIRE community. While many of them chronicle their progress on the internet, most do so anonymously, wary of risking future job or salary prospects (or a firing of a less desirable kind) if they publicize their plans to cut their careers short. Like Mrs. Saunders, they tend to be the breadwinners in their families. But unlike the FIRE archetype, most of them don’t make six figures, work in tech or want to forgo the occasional bottle of good wine.

“There’s this mind-set in FIRE discussions that you have to cut out everything that’s not essential, but what’s essential to a white male is very different from what’s essential to me,” says Mrs. Saunders, who plans to hit her FIRE number (which she calculated using the 4 percent rule, a popular tactic in which retirees withdraw no more than 4 percent of their total savings each year) in 2021.

“There’s a cost to maintaining this Afro,” she adds. “There’s a cost to taking care of my skin. You don’t have to cut them to be on the FIRE path — it may take you a little longer, but it’s not a competition.”

Another leader of this group is Angela Rozmyn, 31, who lives in Kirkland, Wash., and works as a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) professional for a construction company. About a year and a half ago, she saw that a prominent figure in the FIRE movement had created a list of his favorite FIRE bloggers — with only one woman on it. So Ms. Rozmyn posted a list of her female peers on her website, Tread Lightly, Retire Early.

“I published it and went to bed. When I woke up the next morning, I was blown away by the response it had gotten,” she says. “It was very clearly needed and wanted.”

Ms. Rozmyn’s list has grown to over 100 names from its initial 30 and now includes different categories: single women without children, single women with children, married women, and so on.

“I wanted to split it up so that anyone can read through and find who might resonate better with them,” she says. (If you’re wondering, she’s on track to retire by 45 at the latest, when her son turns 18.)

If the FIRE women have a matriarch, it’s Tanja Hester, 39, who retired from her job as a political consultant at 38. She wrote a book about her experience, “Work Optional,” and founded Cents Positive, a retreat for women in the FIRE movement in Denver in November. The inaugural gathering was supposed to be capped at 75 people, but demand was so high that she let in 85. (There was still a waiting list of several dozen.) She plans to host another one this year, possibly two, and expand into Canada in 2020.

While none of these women have a silver bullet for saving money, they tend to practice similar habits. They drive old cars, eschew restaurants and bars, turn down social outings, make food from scratch, shop at thrift stores (if at all) and institute “no-spend weeks” (just what they sound like). For fun, they entertain at home or do free activities like hiking.

They’re also quick to point out the obvious: Bigger paychecks make all the difference, even when the job isn’t ideal. Dawn Holley, 39, who writes the blog Stepping Stones to FI, commutes up to three hours a day to and from a job as a medical imaging technician in the Bay Area — which pays more than if she worked closer to home. It’s a far cry from her life as a stay-at-home mother before she was widowed 11 years ago.

“I know what financial insecurity feels like, and I don’t ever, ever want to be in that position again,” she says. “One of my motivations for reaching my FIRE number is to have more time to help other women, especially single moms, do the same thing.”

Other FIRE bloggers have had to make even bigger sacrifices. When “Ms. FAF,” who anonymously writes the blog Frugal Asian Finance, had her first child, she and her husband were in graduate school and couldn’t afford child care, so they sent their baby to stay with her in-laws in China for a year. She now works as a research analyst for a nonprofit organization and has two children who live with her in Washington.

“I consider myself to be part of the FIRE movement, but early retirement is not my ultimate goal,” she says. “I’m more interested in being free from financial worries.”

Born in Vietnam, she is expected to send money back to her parents and take care of them when they get older. As a result, her FIRE number is higher than it would be if she and her husband were saving just for themselves. They haven’t pinpointed an exact amount yet, she says, but it’s probably around $2 million. They’ve saved about $400,000 so far.

Ms. FAF isn’t the only woman in the FIRE space who doesn’t plan to stop working just because she can. Instead, many just want the flexibility to do what they want, regardless of whether it pays.

For Jess Fickett, an editor from Colorado, the ideal retirement looks just as busy as her current life. She and Lauren Torres, both 32, write the blog Bitches Get Riches, where Ms. Fickett goes by “Piggy” and Ms. Torres is “Kitty.”

“I’m not going to sit around all day,” Ms. Fickett says. “I want to volunteer and start a business.”

The ability to do so, she adds, is what financial independence is all about.

“I think the real heart of the FIRE movement is about strategically maximizing your limited time on the planet so that you can do the things you find meaningful,” she says. “You don’t have to be a filthy rich Silicon Valley guy to take a hard look at how you spend your money and make sure that it aligns with the kind of life you want to live.”

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They Got Rich Off Uber and Lyft. Then They Moved to Low-Tax States.

AUSTIN, Tex. — Brian McMullen’s only plan on a Thursday afternoon in March was to watch as many college basketball games as possible. Parked inside his neighborhood bar and grill and eating brunch tacos, he followed one game on the restaurant’s TV screen while another streamed on his iPhone.

As the games played out, Mr. McMullen talked about his new life in Austin, Tex., where he had moved last October from San Francisco. Some of his biggest activities since then: reading the Harry Potter series for the first time and spending more than 100 hours completing “Dragon Quest,” a role-playing video game. He was also working out a lot, he said, and teaching himself a coding language to create his own games.

For his medium-term goals, Mr. McMullen said, he and his new wife had been planning to honeymoon in Japan for a month. But they decided to cut the trip short to fly to San Francisco to meet friends for the opening night of “Avengers: Endgame” in April, at one point discussing whether to rent out an entire showing. (They did not.)

“I’m currently taking time off for myself,” he said.

Mr. McMullen, 33, is part of an exclusive club: the semiretired tech millennial who left California after getting rich. Like many in this group, he is a newly minted multimillionaire who became wealthy by working for high-profile San Francisco start-ups like Uber and Lyft, which are now about to go or have just gone public. Once their wealth was assured, these tech workers quit the companies and fled California, which has the nation’s highest state income tax, at more than 13 percent, to reside in lower-tax states like Texas and Florida, where there is no personal state income tax.

“There are a number of places people could go where there’s tax benefits,” said Mr. McMullen, who joined Uber in 2011 and is tallied in the company’s system as employee no. 16. “The timing is good in terms of relocating prior to I.P.O.”

He ticked off Washington and Florida as places where people could have also saved on taxes. Uber employees who have decamped from San Francisco to Austin stay in touch through an email list called “Camp Austin”; they recently discussed visiting the rodeo, he said.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 09uberrich4-articleLarge They Got Rich Off Uber and Lyft. Then They Moved to Low-Tax States. Uber Technologies Inc Taxation States (US) Start-ups Millennial Generation Lyft Inc Initial Public Offerings Income Tax Car Services and Livery Cabs Brian McMullen Austin (Tex)

Brian McMullen, a former Uber employee, in 2011. “I’m currently taking time off for myself,” he said.CreditRobyn Twomey/Redux Pictures

In fleeing California, these millennial millionaires are following a well-worn tradition. Over the years, many who made a fortune off Silicon Valley skedaddled to lower-tax locations where they could better protect their wealth. After the late 1990s dot-com frenzy, Jim Clark, a founder of Netscape, relocated to Florida. Eduardo Saverin, a Facebook co-founder, departed the United States altogether: He moved to Singapore and gave up his American citizenship before the social network’s 2012 initial public offering.

J.T. Forbus, a tax manager at Bogdan & Frasco in San Francisco, said he has been fielding more questions from tech workers about how moving out of state could help sidestep high taxes, especially as their companies stampede toward the stock market. Many tech workers are compensated with stock, which is generally doled out over four years but can trigger a hefty tax bill when it “vests,” or is earned, and when it is sold.

“It seems to be a question that kind of pops up when an I.P.O. is happening and someone has substantial shares and could have millions of dollars coming their way,” Mr. Forbus said.

The sheltering move is well known by the California Franchise Tax Board, the state agency responsible for tax collection. In its guide for Californians who are compensated with equity and plan to move out of state, it walked people through various potential tax scenarios using low-tax states like Texas, Florida and Nevada as examples.

To avoid paying California taxes when they eventually sell their shares, residents truly have to move out of state. California imposes an income tax on shares vested in the state, but does not tax stock that is sold after someone moves away.

Some tech employees wrongly assume that simply setting up a P.O. box in another state will be enough to lower their tax bill, Mr. Forbus said. Others who choose to split their time between a low-tax state and Silicon Valley end up keeping detailed calendars and flight logs, in case they have to prove their whereabouts during an audit. Mr. Forbus said he has ended up advising some techies to leave California to decrease their tax bill, such as one couple who struggled to find a home in their preferred location within their $2.5 million price range.

The New York Times recently interviewed seven former Uber and Lyft employees who moved to lower-tax locales. Some declined to speak on the record, citing concerns that talking frankly about their finances would hurt their chances with future tech employers, or make them audit targets. (Uber and Lyft declined to comment.)

Nathan Rodriguez, one of Lyft’s first 50 employees, last year traded San Francisco for Austin, Tex.CreditCayce Clifford for The New York Times

Many argued that their primary motivation for leaving was a disillusionment with tech-obsessed San Francisco, and that taxes were not their main concern. Still, none had chosen to move to a high-tax jurisdiction like New York or Massachusetts. In a recent study of California tax data, Stanford University researchers found that high tax rates alone do not cause millionaires to leave the state, and that migration increases during stressful lifestyle changes.

Most of the people The Times spoke to were putting their new wealth to use, buying houses and planning vacations. Several had made vanity purchases, such as Teslas. One had acquired an artsy dance hall in Texas as a residence, which included a bathtub in the middle of a bedroom. Most were taking long sabbaticals from work and experimenting with new diets, exercise and meditation. A few had launched their own start-ups.

“It’s almost a new generation of millennial retirement,” said Tyler Mann, 31, who worked at file-hosting service Dropbox and made several hundred thousand dollars from the company, which went public last year. He moved to Austin 18 months ago and has since founded his own start-up.

Many tech millennial millionaires said they were relieved to be out of San Francisco, which has gotten increasingly expensive, crowded and filled with carbon-copy tech bros who drone on about their start-ups. They talked about how they were resetting their lives, how stressed they had been in tech and how they were getting over burnout. They talked about the tech parties they had attended and complained that the celebrations revolved around work.

“It got monotonous,” said Nathan Rodriguez, 30, one of Lyft’s first 50 employees, who last year traded San Francisco for Austin. “I got tired of the keeping-up-with-the-Joneses feeling you have in that kind of environment.”

Mr. Rodriguez left Lyft in 2017 after working there for four years, during which the company’s valuation shot up more than 38,200 percent. He then took 10 months off work and went on cross-country road trips. He said he made less than $1 million from Lyft and briefly became a cryptocurrency millionaire before the crypto market crashed in early 2018. He recently joined a start-up in Austin because, he said, he liked the feeling of having a big impact at a small company, and because he has hefty medical bills to pay after a bike accident.

Mr. McMullen, a Northern California native, moved to San Francisco eight years ago from the coastal town of San Luis Obispo, Calif., when a then tiny start-up called Uber offered him a job in marketing. He had been working at an Apple Store. His co-workers warned him that start-ups often tank and urged him to stick with his stable job and benefits.

Some millennial tech workers have moved to low-tax Austin after getting rich in California.CreditTamir Kalifa for The New York Times

Mr. McMullen said he didn’t listen because he wanted to move to San Francisco. “There was a romantic notion of what San Francisco was,” he said.

At the time, Uber was only in a few markets and about to launch its ride-hailing service in New York. The company was valued at $60 million by private investors. Its employees were given relatively low salaries and incentivized with generous stock options.

Mr. McMullen became an Uber community manager, a role that involved promoting Uber to riders and drivers in San Francisco with promo codes and other tactics. He later became a brand strategist, planning marketing campaigns and establishing a voice for the company.

Uber quickly ballooned into a behemoth. Its imminent public offering could bring a valuation of around $86 billion, meaning that the company and the stock options it issued to early employees like Mr. McMullen would likely have increased in value by more than 140,000 percent.

Along the way, Mr. McMullen cashed out some of his Uber shares when the company let employees sell their stock to private investors. After working at Uber for so long, he said, he was motivated to leave and go somewhere he could have a bigger impact.

“I wasn’t really feeling like I had the same role in contributing as in earlier, smaller Uber,” he said, adding that the growth of the company paralleled San Francisco’s transformation into “a homogeneous tech city.”

Although Mr. McMullen has now not worked for seven months and jokes with friends about being semiretired, he said he plans to work again.

Uber’s I.P.O. could bring a valuation of around $86 billion. That means the company — and the stock options it issued to early employees — have likely increased in value by more than 140,000 percent since 2011.CreditRyan Young for The New York Times

“The idea of retirement as sitting on a sandy beach somewhere, I don’t think is on any millennial’s mind,” he said. Instead, he added, his generation is focused on seeking fulfillment, searching for the kind of career that doesn’t feel like work. His goal was to “realign life,” he said.

Before leaving San Francisco, Mr. McMullen had drinks with another former Uber employee — Alex Priest, 30, who had also become a millionaire from working at the company. As the two caught up, they discovered that they had both decided to move to Texas.

“Ninety-five percent of our conversations up to that point would be talk about the weather for five minutes and then talk about Uber for three hours,” Mr. Priest said. “This was the first conversation we’d had where we talked about Uber for five seconds and then our lives for three hours.”

Last May, Mr. McMullen purchased a San Francisco home for $1.9 million; he said the property was an investment. In Austin, where his wife has family, he also bought a home, which Zillow lists as sold for $620,000. It is in a rapidly growing neighborhood where small ranch-style homes are being replaced with multistory condos, packed two per lot.

He planned his wedding and got married. And he played a lot of video games, including “Frog Detective,” in which a player assumes the role of a frog on an island as it tries to solve a mystery.

Last month, Mr. McMullen was back in San Francisco to watch “Avengers: Endgame.” He said he saw it three times in three days with different groups of friends. Each showing fulfilled his expectations, he said.

But being back in San Francisco reminded him of why he had left and made him excited to return to Texas. “Maybe we don’t want to be there our entire lives,” he said of Austin. Still, he said, it felt like a good start.

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