However, according to the report, unemployment has increased by 1.2%, significantly higher than last year's projection. "The major factor here," said Dr. Bickner Haegelsten, an economist at Carrington University, "is the increase of what we call 'metacognitive productivity enhancement' -- that is, the ability of a synthetic or a hypercortical or someone with major neuro-enhancements to perform jobs more efficiently. One person takes a position where otherwise two or three would be employed." The creep of unemployment has led to increases in demand for government assistance programs such as Employment Assurance and Social Wage, as well as longer waiting lists for vocational training and elective augmentation procedures. "The budget is under a strain, and InterBank is getting nervous about keeping inflation under control," warns Dr. Haegelsten. "I see rising taxes in our future."
The report shows the centres of economic activity continuing to shift out into the FAP, the Jovian complex and the Saturnine Confederacy, with the growth of the inner system slowing. Sentiment analysis of the twitter feeds of economic analysts policy-makers shows strong belief in the connection between the individualistic, laissez-faire ethos of the Libertarian-dominated outer system and the heavily-regulated, Technocratic-leaning Earth-Mars-Venus triumvirate. Dr. Haegelsten cautions skepticism on this point. "Historically, vibrant economies create winners, and winners dislike taxes and regulations. The strengthening of Libertarian ideology in the outsystem is probably a response to rather than a driver of their increasing growth, which I believe is caused primarily by increased immigration and population density."
Significantly, despite rising unemployment, real wages have held steady and the system-wide Gini Coefficient in incomes has dropped by 0.03, welcome news for the lower socio-economic classes. The most robust growth is occurring in the Digital Services, Nanofacturing, Resource Processing, and Entertainment sectors.
Economic Hot Spots
- The jobs capital of the system is Cleveland Station, orbiting Io, which has seen an influx of wage-labour seekers responding to Pompeii Mining's announcement of a major new project. The station has had to add a third toroid to handle the load; rents and food prices are rising quickly.
- Chronically high unemployment in the city of Mangala in Lowell, Mars has been reduced by heavy migration from the city into other major urban centres, encouraged by the city's audacious 'emigration subsidy'. The population of Mangala has dropped by over 10% in 2056.
- Spurred by the surging success of the massive reforestation program and related wild-gathered food, medicinal and timber industries, rapid and by all accounts sustainable economic growth has made Timbuktu, in the Sahara district of Earth, one of the planet's few success stories.