🎈 Going up


The S&P 500 index ballooned 10.16%,* soaring to its strongest first quarter in five years. 

Jobs are also rising, with 303,000* added last month, and the unemployment rate lowered to 3.8%, floating for the twenty-sixth straight month below 4%. 

Will the gains buoy optimism? Recent Empower research shows that 70% of Americans are still concerned about inflation’s impact on their wallets – which may be due in part to the 3.5%* pop in consumer prices year-over-year.  

Let’s take off into this week’s money news.

— The Editors


🐂 A bullish breakaway: Bitcoin, the biggest cryptocurrency by market value, recently rose past $72,000.* Consumer interest in bitcoin may also be climbing again: More than a third (36%) of Americans believe crypto and NFTs will surpass fiat currency in popularity.  

🐝 Top o’ the charts: Beyoncé’s eighth No. 1 album is soaring on the Billboard 200 chart: “Cowboy Carter” sold 407,000* units in the U.S., breaking records as Billboard’s Top Country Album. Her hit "Levii's Jeans," helped boost the denim brand’s stock, which rose 20%* shortly after the single’s debut.  

🚘 A toll lift off: For the first time in the U.S., New York City will introduce congestion pricing and start charging vehicles upwards of $15* to drive through Manhattan’s central business district during peak hours. This dynamic-pricing setup aims to raise $1 billion annually to fund public transit improvements. The toll varies by vehicle type and time of day and includes surcharges for rideshares.  

💸 Floating tax funds: With April 15 behind us, there’s one more tax-related number to check. The IRS has more than $1 billion* in unclaimed refunds for the 2020 tax year, and those eligible still have until May 17 to file a return and claim their refund. According to a new Empower study, 57% of Americans expect a tax refund of less than $3,000 this year. 


Job markets rising to the top 

U.S. workers flocked to the Mountain West and Sunbelt last year to make Salt Lake City and four Florida metros among the best job markets in 2023, as ranked by The Wall Street Journal.*  

Privately held food giant Mars Inc., which makes $47 billion* in annual sales, is set to stand up a 339,000-square-foot baking facility in Salt Lake City to produce Nature’s Bakery snacks. It’s estimated to create close to 200 new jobs once fully operational in July 2025. Additionally, women-owned business openings in Salt Lake City rose by 26%* year-over-year in 2023. 

Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa and Miami are among the hottest cities in the job market, all snagging top spots on the list. In addition to remote employees working for Florida-based companies, travel and tourism in the Sunshine State generated $73 billion* in wages in 2022, and one out of every six private sector jobs were supported by tourism that year. 

The labor market is one element of the wider picture American workers see: Empower’s capital markets perspective dives deeper into how wages, the economy, and cost of living intersect. 


👀 Job sights: What do you consider the most important in a new job market?  

  • Housing prices 

  • Salary 

  • Transportation expenses 

  • State taxes 

  • Childcare costs

Savers also have their eyes on the future: Last week’s poll showed 40% would invest a $1 million windfall, and 33% would add the funds to their retirement savings.



Game on for big money 

In a deal worth a reported $100 million,* MrBeast, one of the top content creators on YouTube, is heading to Amazon Prime with a new reality show that includes 1,000 contestants and boasts “the biggest single prize in the history of television and streaming” at $5 million.*  

The Gen Z star is part of the Creator Economy, an industry valued around $250 billion.* With more than 245 million subscribers on YouTube, his following has helped him generate up to $700 million in yearly revenue and big business opportunities, including a $10 million* snack line featuring chocolate bars and cookies, as well as a burger venture with $150 million* in revenue.  

If you’re pondering how you’d spend a windfall of prize money, you could join the 65% of Americans who say they’d make saving or investing the funds a priority, according to Empower research. 


Listen up  

Have you heard? Music giants are blasting ahead with new offerings in books and changing some tunes. Spotify is evolving its pricing models to offer customers new plans, including for its popular audiobook category. Off the back of the announcement, the streaming giant’s shares rose 4.6%.* 

As of 2022, 53%* of U.S. adults said they’d listened to an audiobook, and that year, Amazon-owned Audible claimed more than 63%* of the audiobook market.  

With competitors keeping an ear to the ground, the story is changing: Spotify launched audiobooks in late 2023 and now holds an estimated 11%* market share. In the past few months, Spotify users have listened to more than 90,000 individual titles. 

All those listening hours help boost the bottom line: Digital audio grew more than 500% between 2013 and 2022, climbing to $839 million in revenue, according to industry reports. For some book titles, such as celebrity memoirs or self-help genres, sales of audio versions can match or surpass their print sales. 

Get the scoop on your money.

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As of April 12, 2024, EAG holds shares of Alphabet Inc Class A (GOOGL), Amazon.com, Inc (AMZN) in advisory client accounts and does not hold Spotify (SPOT). 

*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. 

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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.

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. 

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