Friday, May 27, 2011
Why does the economy still suck? Some questions and answers...
The following are some of the kinds of questions that the American people are asking about the economy these days....
Why does it seem like it is harder to get a job today than it used to be?
Well, it is because there are far fewer jobs available and far fewer people are getting hired. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average of about 5 million Americans were being hired every single month during 2006. Today, an average of about 3.5 million Americans are being hired every single month.
Is there much hope that the unemployment rate will start to decline significantly?
Unfortunately there does not appear to be much reason for optimism. Initial weekly unemployment claims have been above 400,000 for 7 weeks in a row. The "jobs recovery" we have been promised simply is not materializing. Only 66.8% of American men had a job last year. That was the lowest level that has ever been recorded. At the rate we are going things are going to be about the same this year.
So where did all of the jobs go?
They are being sent overseas at a blistering pace. The United States has lost an average of 50,000 manufacturing jobs per month since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, and the U.S. trade deficit with China is now 27 times larger than it was back in 1990. Amazingly, the United States has lost a staggering 32 percent of its manufacturing jobs since the year 2000.
Why does it seem like nearly all of the jobs that are available right now are crappy, low paying jobs?
Well, because most of the jobs that are available are crappy, low paying jobs. The following is a brief excerpt from a recent article posted on Tomdispatch.com.....
According to a recent analysis by the National Employment Law Project (NELP), the biggest growth in private-sector job creation in the past year occurred in positions in the low-wage retail, administrative, and food service sectors of the economy. While 23% of the jobs lost in the Great Recession that followed the economic meltdown of 2008 were “low-wage” (those paying $9-$13 an hour), 49% of new jobs added in the sluggish “recovery” are in those same low-wage industries. On the other end of the spectrum, 40% of the jobs lost paid high wages ($19-$31 an hour), while a mere 14% of new jobs pay similarly high wages.
Why are so many Americans afraid to start businesses?
Maybe it is because the overregulation of business in this country has now reached extreme levels. For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently slapped a fine of $90,000 on one family from Missouri because they sold more than $500 worth of rabbits in a single year. The $4,600 in rabbits that they sold ended up netting the family only $200 in profits.
If people are not able to make a decent living, then how are they providing for their families?
Sadly, an increasing number of Americans are simply not able to put food on the table anymore. Today, one out of every eight Americans is on food stamps and one out of every four American children is on food stamps.
For the first time ever, more than a million American homes were repossessed during 2010. So is there any sign that this will turn around in the years ahead?
Sadly, things could get even worse. Today, there are 6.4 million homeowners that are delinquent on their mortgages or in foreclosure. Of those, 675,000 have not made a payment in at least two years.
Will the U.S. housing market ever recover?
Hopefully we will see some sort of a recovery at some point, but right now things don't look good. In April, signed contracts to buy homes fell to a 7-month low. There are 120 million more people in the U.S. than there were in 1963, but home purchases are currently at about half the level they were back then. The truth is that there are dozens of indications that the U.S. real estate crisis may get even worse before things start getting better.
Why does it seem like health care costs so much these days?
Sadly, it is because the entire U.S. health care industry has become a giant money making scam. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, health care costs accounted for just 9.5% of all personal consumption back in 1980. Today they account for approximately 16.3%. One study found that approximately 41 percent of working age Americans either have medical bill problems or are currently paying off medical debt. Health care costs continue to increase far faster than the general rate of inflation and so this crisis is going to continue to get worse.
Is "retirement" rapidly becoming a luxury that only the wealthy can enjoy?
According to stunning new research, 54 percent of all American workers plan to keep working after they retire. A different study found that American workers are $6.6 trillion short of what they need to retire comfortably.
Why does it seem like U.S. companies are hiring so many temporary workers?
It is because American businesses are hiring them by the bushel. A whopping 26 percent of all the workers hired in 2010 were temporary workers. That is way, way above historical norms. Temporary workers are far cheaper and much easier to get rid of.
Is the gap between the rich and the poor growing in America?
Yes, it most certainly is. Between 1979 and and 2007, the average household income of the top 1% of Americans soared from $346,600 to $1.3 million. During that same time period the average household income for middle class Americans increased only slightly. At this point, the poorest 50% of all Americans collectively own just 2.5% of all the wealth in the United States.
Does how much money you make tend to alter your view of how well the economy is doing?
Well, according to recent Gallup polling, 46% of those Americans that make less than $30,000 a year believe that we are in a depression right now, while only 23% of those making $75,000 or more believe that we are currently in a depression.
Why do members of Congress seem to care so little about average American workers?
Perhaps it is because 58 percent of the members of Congress are millionaires while only about 1 percent of the general population is made up of millionaires.
So if the economy is in such bad shape why do we still have such a high standard of living?
Sadly, the truth is that we have only been able to maintain our incredibly high standard of living by going into massive amounts of debt. The U.S. national debt is now more than 14 times larger than it was when Ronald Reagan took office. America has become absolutely addicted to government money. Any politician that threatens to reduce government payouts usually gets voted out of office fairly quickly. 59 percent of all Americans now receive money from the federal government in one form or another. U.S. households are now actually receiving more income from the U.S. government than they are paying to the government in taxes. In 1980, government transfer payments accounted for just 11.7% of all income. Today, government transfer payments account for 18.4% of all income. As long as the American people continue to be addicted to receiving government payouts the federal government will continue to be drowning in debt...