Derek Thompson
Derek Thompson
Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the media. He is the author of Hit Makers.
  • Jim Young / Reuters

    The Economy Is ​Great; the​ Economy Is Terrible

    Journalists and policy makers can have a hard time describing the economy when “average” departs so markedly from what's normal.

  • Does America Really Need More Entrepreneurship?

    My recent A&Q on entrepreneurship in the U.S. questioned several common ideas for increasing the number of startups, such as cutting taxes, building a safety net to reduce the risk of leaving a company to start one’s own business, and investing in regional clusters. The following reader proposes another solution, followed by my reply:

    ANSWER

    Most startups fail. The success rate for venture capital funded companies is about 10 percent. And those are the ones that got funded. For each of those, there are about 100 proposals. For more ordinary businesses, the typical lifespan of a new restaurant is under three years. So it's not clear that more startups help much.

    QUESTION

    Why do we need startups if most startups fail? Well, suppose this were a question about species and longevity. Why must species adapt if most of them go extinct? The answer is that evolution serves an excellent purpose for later generations of life, because the surviving species tend to be stronger, healthier, and more resilient than their ancestors.

  • Nati Harnik / AP

    Trump vs. Clinton: A Battle Between Two Opposite Americas

    The presumptive presidential nominees are winning and losing almost all of the same states. But their coalitions couldn’t be more different.

  • Brendan McDermid / Reuters

    Too Many Elite American Men Are Obsessed With Work and Wealth

    And it’s making the pay gap worse.

  • Ricardo Moraes / Reuters

    The Average 29-Year-Old

    Forget media archetypes of older Millennials as college-educated singles living in cities. The typical 29-year-old is living with a partner in the suburbs—without a bachelor’s degree.

  • Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters

    Why Don’t Americans Save More Money?

    Maybe the only way to make people richer in the long run is to take their money away from them.

  • Matthias Ritzmann / Corbis / Zak Bickel / ...

    How Can the U.S. Create More Start-Ups?

    Some people think they can encourage more would-be entrepreneurs to strike out on their own using national and local policy. Can they?

  • Lucas Jackson / Reuters

    Why the Poor Die Young

    A massive study of health and income found that smoking, obesity, and exercise are the most important determinants of longevity. Poor neighborhoods score worse in all of them. What’s going on?

  • Susanne Nilsson / Flickr

    The Science of Smart Hiring

    Finding great new workers is hard. A little bit of empiricism can help.

  • Otay Mesa / Reuters

    How Can a Jobs Recovery So Historic Be So Disappointing?

    It’s well understood among experts that the economy is returning to normal and workers aren’t getting raises. Both stories might be wrong in significant ways.

  • Brian Snyder / Reuters

    Total Inequality

    Researchers know that it’s expensive to be poor. But they are only beginning to understand the sum of the financial, psychological, and cultural disadvantages that come with poverty.

  • Wikimedia

    American Cities Are Booming—For Rich Young College Grads Without Kids

    Everybody else is moving to the suburbs.

  • Suzanne Tucker / Shutterstock

    The 10-Second Tax Return

    Letting the government do its citizens’ taxes is cheap, efficient, and accurate. Naturally, the United States won’t do it.

  • The 2011 Survey That Eerily Predicted Donald Trump

    Donald Trump at CPAC in February, 2011 AP / Alex Brandon

    White men without a college degree are the most likely demographic to support Donald Trump. But who could have foreseen that they would reject the GOP to side with a political outsider who built his campaign around economic anxiety, racial resentment, and a bleak assessment of America's future?

    Well, how about anybody who read the Washington Post on February 22, 2011?

  • Wikimedia

    It's 2006 All Over Again

    Expensive coastal cities are emptying out. Americans are moving to sunbelt suburbs.

  • Is America's Skills Gap for Real?

    My recent A&Q on middle-class stagnation questioned these proposed solutions to the problem: build more housing to bring down the cost of real estate, raise taxes on the rich, reduce the size of the social safety net, bring back unions, repeal NAFTA, and use the Fed to keep interest rates extremely low. The following reader proposes another solution, followed by my reply:

    ANSWER

    The problem isn't that workers aren't being paid fairly; it's that they don't have the skills needed to get paid more. We need a national apprenticeship program starting in high school so that people will be valued workers even without a college or technical degree.

    QUESTION

    Is America’s skills gap for real?

    On the one hand, you would think so, with tales of star computer programmers pulling down vertiginous salaries in the Bay Area. This is exactly what one would expect from a skills shortage in any occupation. That job's wages would gallop ahead of the rest of the country, as business demand for a skill outpaces supply of workers who can do it.

    But nationwide, programmer salaries haven't grown much more than average, even when you zoom into Boston, Dallas, or Austin. More computer scientist majors are graduating than the labor market is placing in jobs. In short, there just isn't much clear evidence of a skills shortage that would be easily repaired by forcing lots of marginal liberal-arts graduates into a vocational program for coding.

  • Gary Cameron / Reuters

    Can Paul Ryan's Pleasant Language Sell His Divisive Policies?

    If your ideas hurt people, it doesn’t matter what you call them.

  • Patrick Tehan / ZUMA Press / Corbis / ...

    What’s the Solution to Middle-Class Stagnation?

    Economists have considered the implications of building more housing, raising taxes on the rich, expanding unions, and reducing social safety nets. Is there an answer we haven’t considered yet?

  • Wikimedia

    Making America Great Again Is a Local Job

    Housing supply can have a big influence on families' economic fortunes, but it's determined block by block, city by city—not by presidents.

  • Chris Keane / Reuters

    How Donald Trump Can Beat Hillary Clinton

    He spent years as a moderate. He spent years as a nationalist. Why can’t he spend six months being a moderate nationalist?