If there was any doubt left, 2020 taught us that it’s impossible to predict the future. And things that we thought we had control over (like how we work, how we go to school, and even how we interact with our loved ones), we really didn’t! With those lessons fresh in our minds, most of us entered 2021 with more than a little bit of apprehension.
Now, halfway through the year, it seems we’re all starting to breathe a bit easier as we move back to some sort of normalcy. This 2021 midpoint is the perfect time to review what’s happened so far in 2021 as we continue recovering—emotionally and economically—from the pandemic.
Stock Market Performance
As vaccine rollouts have allowed many businesses to return to normal, some experts believe we may be entering a booming economy. (1) Stock market performance has been mildly volatile in the first half of this year with an overall trend toward growth. The S&P 500 reached its highest level this year on May 7, with a year-to-date return of 14% as of June 4. (2) The Dow Jones has also shown overall growth this year and is up 15% as of June 4. (3)
Meanwhile, the NASDAQ has shown greater volatility with a yearly low of -2.17% in early March, up to 9.7% at the end of April, and ending at 8.79% as of June 4. (4) Many experts have warned that while they are optimistic about market performance in 2021, that performance will likely be riddled with volatility throughout 2021 and in the coming years. (5)
A Shaky Return To Normal Employment Levels
It has been generally expected that as businesses reopen to full capacity, the number of unemployment claims and levels of unemployment will return to normal. As many of us have seen in the news, however, this is currently not the case. (6) Along with other businesses in the hospitality industry, restaurants are especially struggling to replace their workers and remain understaffed in the face of increasing demand from consumers.
Some commentators believe workers are reluctant to return to work because of continued unemployment assistance from federal and state governments. Others argue that many workers are unable to return to work yet because they are still wary of the coronavirus, are unable to find affordable childcare, or now have the time to look for more stable, higher-paying work outside of the hospitality industry.
Whatever the reason for the worker shortage, worker benefits and wages may undergo drastic changes in 2021 and beyond as the economy returns to normal. In any case, getting workers back into the workforce remains a key component of the U.S. recovery plan.
Interest Rates & The Federal Reserve
Interest rates continue to remain low, as the Federal Reserve has promised. In an effort to encourage consumers to keep borrowing, the Fed has kept interest rates near zero since the onset of the pandemic. They have stated they will likely not raise rates again until 2023, when it is more likely that inflation rates will reach desired targets. (7)
For now, the near-zero interest rates may be attracting first-time homebuyers who have been able to weather the economic pressures from the pandemic. However, home prices have surged 13.2% over the past year, (8) igniting some fears that a housing bubble may be looming.
How Should You Respond?
We’ve always said that market performance is impossible to predict with accuracy. As 2020 and 2021 have taught us, market performance may be impossible to predict at all.
But Abraham Lincoln said that the best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time. So although you don’t know what lies ahead, now more than ever, it’s important to take steps every day to protect yourself and move toward your goals—and financial freedom. At 1on1 Financial, we specialize in helping our clients reach financial independence using sound financial strategies that align your day-to-day decisions with your long-term financial plan. If you’d like to see how we can help you, call our office today at 909-981-1720 or simply click here to schedule a free 15-minute introductory phone call!
About 1on1 Financial
1on1 Financial is an independent financial advisory firm specializing in guiding working and retired professionals, executives, and business owners along the path to financial well-being. Founded in 1997, we use a team approach to help our clients accumulate wealth, generate income, preserve their life savings, and strategically plan for the distribution of their estate. With more than 50 years of combined experience in the financial services industry, we remain true to our fundamental mission: to provide personalized guidance, treatment, care, and service so our clients can gain control of their future and feel confident in their financial life.