If economics is all around me, why does it seem so confusing?
That's really the core of why we're here - to help cut through the noise and help Minnesotans understand the economy and their role in it.
Not every conversation about the economy needs to be a lecture, and not every personal finance decision needs to be a learning opportunity. That said, we could all use a refresher on some basic facts about the economy, our personal finances, and how well Minnesota does at teaching these important subjects.
We want to provide some information and directions to other resources to help you be informed when you talk about these issues. We're passionate about this and we hope that you'll come to share our passion after looking through this facts.
Economics at a Glance
- Economics is not about money, it's actually the study of incentives
- Modern economics first emerged in 1776 when The Wealth of Nations was published by Adam Smith
- In the United States, much of the economic policy is set by Congress and the Federal Reserve Bank
- The Federal Reserve Bank was created in 1913 by Congress to serve as the country's independent central bank and has a dual mandate: to maintain maximum employment (which isn't the same as no unemployment) and to keep inflation low
- The Federal Reserve accomplishes this mandate by influencing interest rates, which you've likely read about in the newspaper
- The Federal Reserve Bank has a network of 12 regional banks throughout the U.S., including one in Minneapolis
- Economists study real-world problems and perform research on varied topics, including healthcare, agriculture and the environment, global trade, wages, labor and employment, and education outcomes, and much more
Personal Finance at a Glance
- Personal finance is more than just learning how to balance a checkbook (although, that's still a good idea to learn), it also is about learning to make well-reasoned decisions and considering risk responsibly
- Key to personal finance is understanding opportunity cost: that whenever you do something, you are giving up the ability to do something else instead
- Most Americans lack sufficient savings to cover an emergency expense, such as a surprise hospitalization or car troubles: it's recommended that you save at least six months worth of cash to cover these surprise costs.
Fast Facts about Economics & Personal Finance
- 60% of American workers don't trust themselves to manage their own retirement savings (Source)
- 59% of Minnesotans can't correctly answer more than three basic questions about economics and personal finance (Source)
- Economic and financial education have been linked to reduced rural poverty, increased employment, and greater rates of saving (Source)
- People with lower levels of economic and personal finance knowledge receive worse investment information than people with more knowledge (Source)
- In 2012, Minnesota began requiring that all students receive instruction in economics in order to graduate high school - how those lessons are delivered, though, can vary greatly around the state
- Only 2-3% of social studies teachers in Minnesota have an undergraduate degree in economics and some teachers have only taken one or two economics classes in the past
- 78% of teachers believe they lack the tools to effectively teach economics and personal finance
- A single high school educator can teach approximately 7,400 students over the course of their career and inspire those students to keep studying economics and personal finance or even pursue a career in those fields