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Already thinking about the holidays? You’re not alone.  

Traveling in November and December is almost always expensive, but prices have taken a slight dip this year: The average plane ticket for Thanksgiving travel is currently $268, down 14% year-over-year.  

If you’re planning a holiday getaway, you may want to act fast – some experts say plane ticket prices will start rising significantly in mid-October.* That’s also when you may be able to score a deal on your holiday gift list, if Amazon and Walmart have their way. More on that below.

– The Editors


Let’s pause for a moment: The Fed is pausing interest rate hikes,* announcing it will keep the current target rate between 5.25-5.5%. While higher rates have made some big purchases such as a car or home more expensive,* it also means the yields on high interest accounts are soaring.   New tax rules for tickets: If you resold tickets to see the big three this summer – Beyonce, Taylor, or Messi – you may be receiving a tax bill next year. Online resale marketplaces such as Ticketmaster or StubHub have always been required to share transaction information with the IRS, but the rules on what a seller is taxed on* have changed. Previously sellers were taxed based on their profit, only receiving a bill if they made more than $20,000. Now the IRS looks at the total sales price, not profit, and the threshold has been lowered to just $600.   Return of the retail holiday wars: Amazon and Walmart are going head to head, announcing dueling “Deals Days”* the week of October 9, promising steep discounts reminiscent of an early Black Friday sale. Time will tell if the discounts will be enough to entice Americans: According to a CNBC survey,* 61% of middle-income households (those making between $50,000-$100,000) report feeling the impact of the economy on their finances, and three-quarters say they plan to cut back spending through the holiday season.


Uncle Sam wants YOU to apply

The sector adding the most jobs (and raising pay)? The U.S. government.

Public sector jobs represented close to 20% of all new jobs created in the first eight months of 2023 – compared to private sector jobs, which accounted for just 5%. The U.S. government has ramped up hiring to backfill positions such as teachers and police officers who changed industries during the pandemic.    According to one analysis by ZipRecruiter, government positions are now advertising a 20% higher salary than just a year ago. Some roles even come with a signing bonus of up to $20,000. The Wall Street Journal* reports that this is the highest bump in government hiring since 2001.


The cost of child care

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, annual child care costs in July were up 6% from the year prior,* around twice the pace of overall inflation at 3.2%. The impact is no child’s play: The rise in price can easily make up 20% of a household’s income.*

To put that in perspective, in more than half of states (28/50), child care is outpacing public college tuition and costing on average $1,031 more a year.

In a tight jobs market, generous child care benefits can be a differentiator. A recent McKinsey survey* found that among job-hunting parents with kids under the age of five, 69% said they’d be more likely to choose an employer that offered on-site day care or financial assistance for child care.


The Old World’s newest wine region 

Britain is earning recognition as the world’s fastest growing wine region – and investors are pouring in. 

Jackson Family Wines (parent company of the Kendall-Jackson brand) is the first major U.S. producer to invest in an English vineyard,* with a purchase of 65 acres in Essex this summer. The U.K. is particularly known for its sparkling wine, and as the industry continues to thrive (viticulture is the most rapidly expanding sector of agriculture* in the U.K.), it could become a player in the global wine market.     Despite having renowned wine regions of its own, the U.S. brings in more vino than it exports: According to the USDA,* in 2022 the U.S. imported $7.5 billion of wine, compared to its exports of $1.4 billion.


Poll results: Which apple holds the most appeal? 🥧

Honeycrisp takes the cake, er, pie, with 42% of our readers saying it’s the supreme apple variety in last week’s poll. Pink Lady and Fuji come in next, rounding out at 9% each; and despite its name, Red Delicious was voted least tasty at just 4%.


As of September 27, 2023, EAG holds shares of Amazon (AMZN) and Walmart (WMT) in advisory client accounts and does not hold Ticketmaster (TKTM) or ZipRecruiter (ZIP).

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The Currency editors

Staff contributors

The CurrencyTM, a publication from Empower, covers the latest financial news and views shaping how we live, work, and play. We keep you current on ways to plan, save, and invest for life.

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