☀️ Rise and shine

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Daylight Savings: This week marks the start of the bi-annual time change when we fall back one hour, though 80% of our readers say it’s time to stop turning the clock and 11% say their sleep schedule always takes a spin.  

Despite the name, by some calculations the act of setting back our timepieces costs the nation $1.7 billion* a year in productivity. 

When it comes to a count of Americans’ personal savings rates (how much people save as a percentage of their disposable income), new data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis is less sunny than in recent years: The rate was 3.9% in August,* which ticks well below the 8.9% average the country has been maintaining for decades.   

Our market commentary has some words of wisdom for those feeling uncertainty: Ready and steady.  

 – The Editors


📈 Inflation insulators, I bonds, are back up: The Department of Treasury announced a new rate for I bonds issued between November 2023 and April 2024: 5.27%,* up from the previous rate of 4.30%. To help protect savers from inflation, I bond rates are recalculated every six months based on the latest economic factors. While the current yield falls below the record-breaking 9.62% rate reached in May 2022, it’s still historically high. Investors looking for a safe, long-term hedge against rising prices may have a good reason to invest in I bonds. Learn more about how series I savings bonds work on The Currency™.   ⚽ The power of pink: Does Pantone 1895C mean anything to you? If not, you may need to read up on the “Messi effect” after just one Miami summer: The star soccer player’s electric pink No. 10 jersey leads the list of highest-selling* league jerseys in 2023. Sports apparel store Fanatics says no athlete has ever sold more jerseys on its site in the first 24 hours.* Some analysts say the power of pink will score a win for Adidas’ revenue, too: Experts estimate* it will grow 9% and 10% per year in 2024, 2025, and 2026, a faster pace than top competitors.  💼 Unemployment creeps up in October: According to the Labor Department,* the unemployment rate rose to 3.9% as 96,000 people reported being out of work – a high not seen since 1997 and likely due to strikes and labor disputes. While hiring slowed to 150,000 jobs last month, it's not yet time for concern: Economists looking at the three-month average of 204,000 jobs say it’s a robust pace by historical standards. Of note, the U.S. has generated job gains for 34 consecutive months.   💸 The 411 on new 401(k) contribution limits: Retirement savers will be able to contribute $500 more* to a 401(k) plan in 2024 vs. this year for a total of $23,000. It’s worth noting the increase is below the record $2,000 jump in 2023. Additionally, income limits to claim the saver’s credit ($38,250 for individuals and $76,500 for couples), along with the employer and employee contribution limits ($69,000) and the compensation limit ($345,000), will increase next year. Empower research shows that 48% of unengaged participants* aren’t maxing employer matching. See if your savings are on track with this 401(k) calculator


On second thought: side hustles soar  

According to the Labor Department, nearly 8.4 million* people held multiple jobs in October. Making up 5.2% of the workforce, the number of Americans working two or more jobs has reached its highest level since the pandemic start in January 2020.  

Nearly 5 million Americans held one full-time and one part-time job. Roughly 2 million held two part-time gigs. Another 1.1 million said they held jobs where the hours varied and just under 400,000 held two full-time jobs. 

Experts say people may be taking on extra work due to inflation, bracing for possible layoffs, or saving up for holiday spending. Remote work may also be contributing, which allows more flexibility for people looking to take on a second job.

For those feeling the job market squeeze, here are some tips for managing inflation.


No such thing as a free … return 

Online shopping may look a little different in the near future: Many retailers are saying bye, bye, bye to free returns for customers.  

During the pandemic, when online shopping reached new peaks, the return rate increased from 10.6% in 2020* to 16.5% in 2022. According to the National Retail Federation, the cost for retailers was more than $800 billion.  

When 63% of consumers say they order multiple sizes or versions of the same item, the price starts to add up when factoring in packaging, freight and labor costs.   

Experts are saying the shift from “fitting room to living room” is causing many companies to rethink their policies. Now, more than 40% of retailers are charging for returns. Time will tell if passing along shipping expenses to consumers will affect holiday shoppers. 


Top cities for working Americans and retirees 

Cost of living (55%) was the highest priority for working adults when choosing where to live, followed by being close to family (30%), safety (28%), and employment opportunities (27%), according to new research from Empower. 

With the cost of living on the rise and record-breaking mortgage rates, many Americans are on the hunt for the most affordable places to live in the U.S. Cities topping the list for working adults include: Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Springfield, Illinois; and Wichita, Kansas.  

In addition to tax friendliness and healthcare, one third (33%) of retirees are looking for destinations based on weather considerations, like highest number of sunny days per year, making Las Vegas, Nevada hit high marks.  

Want to see where your city ranks? Visit The Currency™ for a full list


🦃 🍽️ For those already counting down, it’s almost Thanksgiving time! Though turkey prices are down 13%* as of October 30, don’t expect to spend less this month. Experts are saying food-at-home prices will still gobble-gobble up your budget, up 2.4% compared to this time last year. Which traditional table fixin’ are you willing to pardon to stay on budget? 

  • Cranberries can go 
  • Sorry, veggies (turkey and stuffing are a top priority) 
  • Turkey it’s not all about the bird 
  • It’s holiday time, I’m splurging


As of November 7, 2023, EAG does not hold shares of Adidas AG (ADDYY) in advisory client accounts.

*Third-party data is obtained from sources believed to be reliable; however, Empower cannot guarantee the accuracy, timeliness, completeness, or fitness of this data for any particular purpose. Third-party links are provided solely as a convenience and do not imply an affiliation, endorsement, responsibility, or approval by Empower of the contents on such third-party websites.



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.

The content contained in this blog post is intended for general informational purposes only and is not meant to constitute legal, tax, accounting or investment advice. You should consult a qualified legal or tax professional regarding your specific situation. No part of this blog, nor the links contained therein is a solicitation or offer to sell securities. Compensation for freelance contributions not to exceed $1,250. Third-party data is obtained from sources believed to be reliable; however, Empower cannot guarantee the accuracy, timeliness, completeness or fitness of this data for any particular purpose. Third-party links are provided solely as a convenience and do not imply an affiliation, endorsement or approval by Empower of the contents on such third-party websites. 

Certain sections of this blog may contain forward-looking statements that are based on our reasonable expectations, estimates, projections and assumptions. Past performance is not a guarantee of future return, nor is it indicative of future performance. Investing involves risk. The value of your investment will fluctuate and you may lose money. 

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. (CFP Board) owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® (with plaque design), and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it authorizes use of by individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements. 

Advisory services are provided for a fee by Empower Advisory Group, LLC (“EAG”). EAG is a registered investment adviser with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and subsidiary of Empower Annuity Insurance Company of America. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training.