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A newsletter featuring an essay on economic policy issues of regional or national interest.

Last Updated: 02/04/16

Chicago Fed Letter

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No. 354

Labor Issues Facing Agriculture and the Rural Midwest

David B. Oppedahl

For years the rural Midwest has faced concerns about its falling population, waning work force vitality and increasing health problems—all of which have contributed to slower economic growth relative to that of the region’s urban areas. The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and the W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research held a conference on November 16–17, 2015, to address labor-related issues confronting the Midwest’s rural economy and, in particular, its agricultural sector.

No. 353

How Much Debt Does the U.S. Government Owe?

Rebecca A. Friedman and Mark L. J. Wright

The U.S. government is often referred to as the world’s biggest debtor. But how much debt does it owe? A visit to the website of the U.S. Department of the Treasury yields a bewildering array of different measures of U.S. federal government debt. Although the gross debt of the U.S. federal government is approaching $18 trillion, the debt that is subject to the debt limit is a few billion dollars smaller, while debt in the hands of the public is less than $13 trillion.