I’m not an economist, and I don’t play one on TV. But it seems to me that the so-called recovery is taking a long time. Or maybe, it isn’t a recovery after all.
Virtually every week there’s some new study out, showing that more Americans are struggling financially. Are Americans getting poorer? Is this the new normal? Is the Middle Class shrinking in our time? Jesus said, the poor you will always have with you, but now we apparently have more of them.
There’s a human price to all this, with millions of fellow Americans struggling to get by. People strive to find work. With Obamacare looming, full-time employees are being reduced to part-time status. Many college grads, saddled with school debt, live in their parents' basements.
I know of a young man who graduated from college with high honors in December 2008. But his degree was not in engineering or accounting, but more of a general field. He couldn’t find a job, any job, so he hopped on a bicycle and basically rode from south Florida to Los Angeles---keeping his parents on his knees in prayer the whole time. He found work in California; but if he had been forced to do this, it would have been "cruel and unusual punishment."
Melville D. Miller Jr., the president of Legal Services of New Jersey, said, "The Great Recession was the worst major economic event since the early ’30s....It’s taken longer for the U.S. to come out of it." (Brent Johnson of the Star-Ledger, "Poverty in N.J. reaches 52-year high, new report shows," nj.com, 9/8/13). Have we fully come out of it?
Writing for the LA Times, Emily Alpert notes there is a "small but surging share of Americans who identify themselves as 'lower class.' Last year, a record 8.4% of Americans put themselves in that category—more than at any other time in the four decades that the question has been asked... " (Emily Alpert, "Amid slow economic recovery, more Americans identify as 'lower class,'" LATimes.com, 9/15/13).
The Associated Press notes that unemployment for those who make under $20,000 a year has now exceeded 21 percent---a statistic akin to the Great Depression.
They add, "The gap in employment rates between America's highest- and lowest-income families has stretched to its widest levels since officials began tracking the data a decade ago, according to an analysis of government data conducted for The Associated Press." (Hope Yen, "Employment Gap Between Rich, Poor Widest on Record," AP, 9/17/13).
The Census Bureau reports 6.6 million more people as poor, up to a record 46 million Americans. That's basically 1 out of 6 of us. (Terrence P. Jeffrey, CNSnews.com, 9/17/13).
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