Businesses sell shares of stock to investors as a way to raise money to finance expansion, pay off debt, and provide operating capital. Each share of stock represents a proportional share of ownership in the company. As a stockholder, you share in a portion of any profits and growth of the company. Dividends from earnings are paid to shareholders, and growth is realized by the increase in value of the stock. Stock ownership also generally gives you the right to vote on management issues.
The headline U.S. unemployment rate fell from 6.7% at the end of December 2020 to 3.9% in December 2021, marking the biggest one-year improvement in history. While many workers took advantage of this strong rebound in the job market, companies large and small have been struggling with labor shortages.
After dropping the benchmark federal funds rate to a rock-bottom range of 0%–0.25% early in the pandemic, the Federal Open Market Committee has begun raising the rate toward more typical historical levels in response to high inflation. At its March 2022 meeting, the Committee raised the fund’s rate to 0.25%–0.50% and projected the equivalent of six more quarter-percentage-point increases in 2022 and three or four more in 2023.