If you’re out of work or your hours have been drastically reduced, then I don't have to tell you about the recession. Likewise, if you’ve lost your home, you know we’re far from out of the woods. But if you’re among the lucky ones who have been fortunate enough to avoid the pain that millions of Americans are experiencing, this column may provide food for thought.
The official unemployment rate is 10%, but when you factor in the number of underemployed (working part-time but in need of full time employment) and unemployed who don’t appear in the official statistics (either because they are so discouraged they’ve stopped looking for work or because they’ve used up their benefits), the rate is 17.2%. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we are beginning to add jobs, yet each week hundreds of thousands of newly unemployed Americans trudge to state unemployment offices to sign up for benefits. In fact, new claims for unemployment benefits rose by 17,000 just last week, to 474,000.
Nevertheless, the stock market continues to rally and the pundits say good times are about to return. I, for one, certainly hope so. But I worry about a double dip recession.
Consumers aren’t spending and that spells trouble. Our economy has moved from manufacturing to service, and thus we rely upon consumers to consume. However, it is increasingly difficult to provide services to those who don’t need them, can’t afford them, or are trying to o without them.
How many millions have lost their homes or are about to and don't see any reason for hope? These people aren’t interested in identifying the origins of their financial problems. They need help. The president explaining to factory workers that we need jobs is akin to the captain of the Titanic telling passengers that they needed lifeboats. Does the word "action" as in “actions speak louder than words” mean anything?
We are told unemployment is down from 10.2% to 10%. This type of announcement merely masks the problem by encouraging us to believe that the solution is either here or nearby. It doesn't really appear that way to me. In talking with bankers, small business owners, and employees of businesses large and small across the country, I hear the same message -- business is bad, collections are slow, credit is tight. Everyone is trying to hang on and hoping for a better tomorrow.
It will take more than hope to bring back the nation’s health. Let me propose some remedies:
Roger Schlesinger's Mortgage Minute is heard on hundreds of radio stations and daily on the Hugh Hewitt radio show and Michael Medved shows. Roger interacts with his hosts and explores the complicated financial markets in order to enlighten his listeners and direct them along their own unique road to financial freedom.