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Retail sales remain strong

December retail sales were lower than expected, but hiccups like that are to be expected every now and then in this series. The bigger picture is still one of recovery, as the chart above shows. Adjusted for inflation, retail sales are up 3.9% in the past year, and have almost returned to their pre-recession highs, despite the fact that 6 million fewer people are working today than were at the peak. That's pretty impressive, and a sign of rising incomes, increased confidence, and strong productivity gains.

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