If you had to make a sudden visit to the emergency room, would you have enough money to pay for it without selling something or borrowing the funds from somewhere? Most Americans may not realize this, but this is something that the Federal Reserve has actually been tracking for several years now. And according to the Fed, an astounding 47 percent of all Americans could not come up with $400 to pay for an emergency room visit without borrowing it or selling something. Various surveys that I have talked about in the past have found that more than 60 percent of all Americans are living to paycheck to paycheck, but I didn’t realize that things were quite this bad for about half the country. If you can’t even come up with $400 for an unexpected emergency room visit, then you are just surviving from month to month by the skin of your teeth. Unfortunately, about half of us are currently in that situation.
Earlier today someone pointed me toward an excellent article in The Atlantic that discussed this, and I have to admit that The Atlantic is one of the last remaining bastions of old school excellence in journalism that you will find in the mainstream media. Of course I don’t see eye to eye with them on a lot of things philosophically, but there are some really hard working journalists over there.
The article where I found the 47 percent figure comes from The Atlantic, and it is entitled “The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans“. It was authored by Neal Gabler, and he says that he can identify with the 47 percent of Americans that don’t have $400 for an unexpected emergency room visit because he is one of them…
I know what it is like to have to juggle creditors to make it through a week. I know what it is like to have to swallow my pride and constantly dun people to pay me so that I can pay others. I know what it is like to have liens slapped on me and to have my bank account levied by creditors. I know what it is like to be down to my last $5—literally—while I wait for a paycheck to arrive, and I know what it is like to subsist for days on a diet of eggs. I know what it is like to dread going to the mailbox, because there will always be new bills to pay but seldom a check with which to pay them. I know what it is like to have to tell my daughter that I didn’t know if I would be able to pay for her wedding; it all depended on whether something good happened. And I know what it is like to have to borrow money from my adult daughters because my wife and I ran out of heating oil.
To me, this is yet more evidence that the middle class in America is dying.
Last year, it was reported that middle class Americans make up a minority of the population for the very first time in our history.
But back in 1971, 61 percent of all Americans lived in middle class households.
So what happened?
Well, the big corporations started shipping millions of good paying manufacturing jobs overseas. Millions of other good paying jobs were replaced by technology, and the competition for the good jobs that remained became extremely intense.
During the good times, the U.S. economy still created new jobs, but most of those jobs were low paying service jobs.
At this point, a majority of American workers have jobs that would be considered low paying. In fact, 51 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year according to the Social Security Administration.
And once you account for inflation, the truth is that our incomes have been going down for years. According to a study that was released by Pew Charitable Trusts, median household income in the United States decreased by 13 percent between 2004 and 2014.
That isn’t “progress” any way that you slice it.
If you go all the way back to 1970, the middle class took home approximately 62 percent of all income in the United States.
Today, that number has fallen to just 43 percent.
So the fact that 47 percent of Americans can’t even pay for an unexpected emergency room visit is not exactly a surprise. To be honest, a whole host of other surveys have come up with similar numbers. Here is more from Neal Gabler…
A 2014 Bankrate survey, echoing the Fed’s data, found that only 38 percent of Americans would cover a $1,000 emergency-room visit or $500 car repair with money they’d saved. Two reports published last year by the Pew Charitable Trusts found, respectively, that 55 percent of households didn’t have enough liquid savings to replace a month’s worth of lost income, and that of the 56 percent of people who said they’d worried about their finances in the previous year, 71 percent were concerned about having enough money to cover everyday expenses.
What all of these numbers tell us is that the middle class is disappearing. I tend to compare it to a game of really bizarre musical chairs. With each passing month more chairs are being pulled out of the circle, and those members of the middle class that haven’t fallen into poverty yet are just hoping that a chair will still be there for them when the music stops.
Even during the “Obama recovery”, we have seen poverty in America absolutely explode. In fact, some brand new numbers just came out that are quite startling. The following comes from another author for The Atlantic named Gillian B. White…
Recently, the Brookings Institution published a report looking at the same idea but giving it a different name. The paper, builds on research from the British economist William Beveridge, who in 1942 proposed five types of poverty: squalor, ignorance, want, idleness, and disease. In modern terms, these could be defined as poverty related to housing, education, income, employment, and healthcare, respectively. Analyzing the 2014 American Community Survey, the paper’s co-authors, Richard Reeves, Edward Rodrigue, and Elizabeth Kneebone, found that half of Americans experience at least one of these types of poverty, and around 25 percent suffer from at least two.
To underscore this point, let me just run five quick facts about the growth of poverty in this country by you…
–The number of Americans that are living in concentrated areas of high poverty has doubled since the year 2000.
–In 2007, about one out of every eight children in America was on food stamps. Today, that number is one out of every five.
–46 million Americans use food banks each year, and lines start forming at some U.S. food banks as early as 6:30 in the morning because people want to get something before the food supplies run out.
–The number of homeless children in the U.S. has increased by 60 percent over the past six years.
–According to Poverty USA, 1.6 million American children slept in a homeless shelter or some other form of emergency housing last year.
That last number really gets me every time.
How can “the wealthiest and most powerful nation on the planet” have more than a million homeless children?
This is one of the reasons why I hammer on our ongoing economic collapse over and over and over. It is affecting real families with real children that have real hopes and real dreams.
This is not the way our country is supposed to work.
It is supposed to be “the land of opportunity”.
It is supposed to be a place where anyone can live “the American Dream”.
But instead it has become an economic wasteland where the largest and most prosperous middle class in the history of the world is being systematically eviscerated.
So no, the U.S. economy is not doing “just fine” – anyone that tries to tell you that lie is simply peddling fiction.
*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*
For the first time ever, total credit card debt in the United States is approaching a trillion dollars. Instead of learning painful lessons from the last recession, Americans continue to make the same horrendous financial mistakes over and over again. In fact, U.S. consumers accumulated more new credit card debt during the 4th quarter of 2015 than they did during the years of 2009, 2010 and 2011 combined. That is absolutely insanity, because other than payday loans, credit card debt is just about the worst kind of debt that consumers could possibly go into. Extremely high rates of interest, combined with severe penalties and fees, can choke the financial life out of almost any family in no time at all.
These days, most Americans use credit cards for various purposes, and they can be very convenient.
And if you pay them off every single month, they don’t become a problem.
Unfortunately, a lot of people are not doing this. According to CNBC, total U.S. credit card debt rose by an astounding 71 billion dollars last year alone…
Last year, credit card debt in the U.S. surged by approximately $71 billion to $917.7 billion, according to a new study from CardHub.com. The research also found that most of the debt accrued in 2015 came in the fourth quarter, when Americans tacked on more than $52 billion.
“With 7 of the past 10 quarters reflecting year-over-year regression in consumer performance, evidence is mounting to support the notion that credit card users are reverting to pre-downturn bad habits,” CardHub CEO Odysseas Papadimitriou said in a statement.
And as noted above, things were particularly gruesome during the 4th quarter of last year.
According to Alternet, Americans added more credit card debt during those three months than during the entire years of 2009, 2010 and 2011 combined…
Not since we headed into the Great Recession of 2008 have we been quite so loosey-goosey with our credit cards, racking up debt with stunning speed. Of our 4Q totals, CardHub notes, “during this one quarter, we added more debt than in 2009, 2010 and 2011 put together.” That brings dollars owed to credit card companies by each debt-saddled American family up to $7,879, the highest since the Great Recession.
I can’t even begin to describe how unwise this is. When I was in my twenties, I made the same mistakes that so many other Americans are making right now. I very foolishly racked up large balances on my credit cards, and it took years of extremely painful payments to fix those mistakes.
In America today, 37 percent of all households maintain credit card balances from month to month, and the average level of credit card debt for those households is $15,700. The following comes from CBS Minnesota…
According to NerdWallet, 37 percent of American households have credit card debt, which is defined as not paying off the full balance every month. Using data from the Federal Reserve of New York, U.S. Census and its own poll, NerdWallet found the average balance for those in credit debt is $15,700.
What most people don’t realize is that by letting balances run from month to month, you can end up paying just about as much in interest as you did for the original purchases.
Here is one credit card repayment scenario that comes from NerdWallet…
For the sake of simplicity in calculating the cost of the average credit card debt, let’s assume an APR of 16% and a fixed payment. We’ll also assume a minimum payment of 2% of the principal balance of $15,762, the average as of the end of 2015, or $315.
Based on those terms — and assuming you don’t add any more to your credit card balance — it would take 84 months, or seven years, to pay off the balance in full. During that time, you’ll pay $10,402 in interest — about two-thirds of the original balance — for a total of $26,164. This averages out to about $124 in interest per month.
The scenario above assumes that all payments are made on time. But a single late payment can trigger higher interest rates, penalties and fees that can be absolutely suffocating.
In fact, some people end up paying back three, four or five times as much as they originally borrowed to the credit card companies.
If you use credit cards for convenience or to buy things online or to automatically pay bills, that is fine. Just don’t let balances accumulate. As you can see, that can be financial suicide.
And as we head into a new global recession, you definitely don’t want to be saddled with high levels of debt. All of us have little luxuries that we can cut back on, and now is not the time to be living on the financial edge.
Just look at some of the troubling signs that we have seen in the news in recent days…
-The U.S. oil and rig count just dropped to the lowest level ever recorded
-One Houston CEO told employees that he was laying off that we have entered a “depression”
-It is being reported that 35 percent of all oil and gas companies around the world are at risk of falling into bankruptcy
-Unemployment in Canada just hit a three year high
-The number of job cuts in the United States skyrocketed 218 percent during the month of January according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas
-U.S. manufacturing activity has been in contraction for four months in a row
-U.S. factory orders have now fallen for 15 months in a row
-Subprime auto loan delinquencies have hit their highest level since the last recession
-Orders for Class 8 trucks in the United States dropped by 48 percent on a year over year basis in January
-The Restaurant Performance Index in the United States has dropped to the lowest level that we have seen since 2008
-Major retailers all over America are shutting down hundreds of stores
And this list does not even include all of the signs of severe economic trouble from around the rest of the planet that I have been writing about lately.
Credit card debt truly is financial poison, and it is not something that you want to have during the hard times that are coming.
Unfortunately, most Americans never learn, and they continue to rack up credit card debt as if there is no tomorrow even as the global economy starts to spiral downhill all around them.
What you are about to see is more evidence that the growth of poverty in the United States is wildly out of control. It turns out that there is a tremendous amount of suffering in “the wealthiest nation on the planet”, and it is getting worse with each passing year. During this election season, politicians of all stripes are running around telling all of us how great we are, but is that really true? As you will see below, poverty is reaching unprecedented levels in this country, and the middle class is steadily dying. There aren’t enough good jobs to go around, dependence on the government has never been greater, and it is our children that are being hit the hardest. If we have this many people living on the edge of despair now, while times are “good”, what are things going to look like when our economy really starts falling apart? The following are 21 facts about the explosive growth of poverty in America that will blow your mind…
#1 The U.S. Census Bureau says that nearly 47 million Americans are living in poverty right now.
#2 Other numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau are also very disturbing. For example, in 2007 about one out of every eight children in America was on food stamps. Today, that number is one out of every five.
#3 According to Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer, the authors of a new book entitled “$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America“, there are 1.5 million “ultrapoor” households in the United States that live on less than two dollars a day. That number has doubled since 1996.
#4 46 million Americans use food banks each year, and lines start forming at some U.S. food banks as early as 6:30 in the morning because people want to get something before the food supplies run out.
#5 The number of homeless children in the U.S. has increased by 60 percent over the past six years.
#6 According to Poverty USA, 1.6 million American children slept in a homeless shelter or some other form of emergency housing last year.
#7 Police in New York City have identified 80 separate homeless encampments in the city, and the homeless crisis there has gotten so bad that it is being described as an “epidemic”.
#8 If you can believe it, more than half of all students in our public schools are poor enough to qualify for school lunch subsidies.
#9 According to a Census Bureau report that was released a while back, 65 percent of all children in the U.S. are living in a home that receives some form of aid from the federal government.
#10 According to a report that was published by UNICEF, almost one-third of all children in this country “live in households with an income below 60 percent of the national median income”.
#11 When it comes to child poverty, the United States ranks 36th out of the 41 “wealthy nations” that UNICEF looked at.
#12 The number of Americans that are living in concentrated areas of high poverty has doubled since the year 2000.
#13 An astounding 45 percent of all African-American children in the United States live in areas of “concentrated poverty”.
#14 40.9 percent of all children in the United States that are being raised by a single parent are living in poverty.
#15 An astounding 48.8 percent of all 25-year-old Americans still live at home with their parents.
#16 There are simply not enough good jobs to go around anymore. It may be hard to believe, but 51 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.
#17 There are 7.9 million working age Americans that are “officially unemployed” right now and another 94.7 million working age Americans that are considered to be “not in the labor force”. When you add those two numbers together, you get a grand total of 102.6 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now.
#18 Owning a home has traditionally been a signal that you belong to the middle class. That is why it is so alarming that the rate of homeownership in the United States has been falling for eight years in a row.
#19 According to a recent Pew survey, approximately 70 percent of all Americans believe that “debt is a necessity in their lives”.
#20 At this point, 25 percent of all Americans have a negative net worth. That means that the value of what they owe is greater than the value of everything that they own.
#21 The top 0.1 percent of all American families have about as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent of all American families combined.
If we truly are “the greatest nation on the planet”, then why can’t we even take care of our own people?
Why are there tens of millions of us living in poverty?
Perhaps we really aren’t so great after all.
It would be one thing if economic conditions were getting better and poverty was in decline. At least then we could be talking about the improvement we were making. But despite the fact that we are stealing more than a hundred million dollars from future generations of Americans every single hour of every single day, poverty just continues to grow like an aggressive form of cancer.
So what is wrong?
Why can’t we get this thing fixed?
Tell us what you think we should do as a nation to solve this problem by posting a comment below…
Those that run food banks all over America say that demand for their services just continues to explode. It always amazes me that there are still people out there that insist that an “economic collapse” is not happening. From their air-conditioned homes in their cushy suburban neighborhoods they mock the idea that the U.S. economy is crumbling. But if they would just go down and visit the local food banks in their areas, they would see how much people are hurting. According to Feeding America spokesman Ross Fraser, 46 million Americans got food from a food bank at least one time during 2014. Because the demand has become so overwhelming, some food banks are cutting back on the number of days they operate and the amount of food that is given to each family. As you will see below, many impoverished Americans are lining up at food banks as early as 6:30 in the morning just so that they can be sure to get something before the food runs out. And yet there are still many people out there that have the audacity to say that everything is just fine in America. Shame on them for ignoring the pain of millions upon millions of their fellow citizens.
Poverty in America is getting worse, not better. And no amount of spin from Barack Obama or his apologists can change that fact.
This year, it is being projected that food banks in the United States will give away an all-time record 4 billion pounds of food.
Over the past decade, that number has more than doubled.
And that number would be even higher if food banks had more food to give away. The demand has become so crushing that some food banks have actually reduced the amount of food each family gets…
Food banks across the country are seeing a rising demand for free groceries despite the growing economy, leading some charities to reduce the amount of food they offer each family.
Those in need are starting to realize what is going on, so they are getting to the food banks earlier and earlier. For example, one food bank in New Mexico is now getting long lines of people every single day starting at 6:30 in the morning…
“We get lines of people every day, starting at 6:30 in the morning,” said Sheila Moore, who oversees food distribution at The Storehouse, the largest pantry in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and one where food distribution has climbed 15 percent in the past year.
Does that sound like an “economic recovery” to you?
Just because your family doesn’t have to stand in line for food does not mean that everything is okay in America.
The same thing that is happening in New Mexico is also happening in Ohio. Needy people are standing in line at the crack of dawn so that they can be sure to get something “before the food runs out”…
Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Food Banks, who has been working in food charities since the 1980s, said that when earlier economic downturns ended, food demand declined, but not this time.
“People keep coming earlier and earlier, they’re standing in line, hoping they get there before the food runs out,” Hamler-Fugitt said.
And keep in mind that we are just now entering the next global financial crisis and the next major recession.
So how bad will things be when millions more Americans lose their jobs and millions more Americans lose their homes?
Rising poverty is also reflected in the number of Americans on food stamps. The following graph was posted by the Economic Policy Journal, and it shows how food stamp use has absolutely exploded in the five most populated states…
I don’t see an “economic recovery” in that graph, do you?
Instead, what it shows is that the number of Americans on food stamps continued to rise for years even after the recession ended.
Sadly, things are only going to get worse from here. Eventually, the kinds of things that we are seeing happen in places such as Venezuela will be coming here as well. At this point, young mothers in Venezuela are sleeping outside of empty supermarkets at night in a desperate attempt to get something for their families when morning arrives…
As dawn breaks over the scorching Venezuelan city of Maracaibo, smugglers, young mothers and a handful of kids stir outside a supermarket where they spent the night, hoping to be first in line for scarce rice, milk or whatever may be available.
Some of the people in line are half-asleep on flattened cardboard boxes, others are drinking coffee.
Most Americans cannot identify with this level of suffering, but it is coming to our country someday too. Here is more from Reuters…
“I can’t get milk for my child. What are we going to do?” said Leida Silva, 54, breaking into tears outside the Latino supermarket in northern Maracaibo where she arrived at 3 a.m. on a recent day.
Just a couple of days ago, I wrote about how the number of Americans living in concentrated areas of high poverty has doubled since the year 2000.
In case you are wondering, that is not a sign of progress.
Just because you might live in a comfortable neighborhood that does not give you the right to look down on those that are suffering.
And when you add increasing racial tensions to the mix, it becomes easier to understand why there is so much anger and frustration in our urban areas. According to Business Insider, the percentage of Americans that consider race relations to be in good shape in this nation has dropped precipitously…
Over the last two years there has been a 23% drop in the number of Americans who see relations between blacks and whites as “very good” or “somewhat good.”
Today, only 47% of Americans see black-white relations positively, according to a Gallup poll, the lowest it has been in the last 14 years.
The poll also showed that blacks see the relations more positively (51%) than whites (45%), but both percentages experienced sharp declines in the last two years.
All of the ingredients are there for civil unrest to erupt in cities all over the United States.
When the next major economic downturn happens, anger and frustration are going to flare to extremely dangerous levels. At this point, it will not take much to set things off.
Desperate people do desperate things, and desperation is rising even now in this country.
So how did things get so bad?
Stupid decisions lead to stupid results, and very soon we will start to pay a very great price for decades of incredibly stupid decisions.
Could you imagine being a single parent and trying to survive in America today on $10.50 an hour? For a moment, I want you to imagine that you are living in a moldy apartment that is so badly maintained that rain seeps in whenever it rains. You are employed, but you are completely dependent on government programs such as food stamps and Medicaid in order to make ends meet. Sometimes you would really like to take your small child somewhere fun, like a movie theater, but you can’t really afford the gas money. You are working as hard as you can, but you never seem to get anywhere, and you feel trapped because nobody seems to want to hire you for a better job. What I have just described for you is real life for a 22-year-old single mother from Chicago named Adriana Alvarez, but there are tens of millions of other Americans that have similar stories. If every day seems like it is a soul-crushing struggle for you, I want you to know that you are not alone. The long-term economic collapse that I chronicle on my website is not just about facts and figures. It is about real people that are quietly leading lives of silent desperation, and by now it has becoming exceedingly apparent that our politicians, the mainstream media and the gigantic corporations that dominate our economy do not really care much about the rest of us at all.
Life fundamentally changes once you become a parent. Instead of living just for yourself, all of a sudden you have a precious little child that is completely and totally dependent on you. And it is absolutely heartbreaking for any parent to look into the eyes of a little child and try to explain why there is not enough food or why they can’t afford a better place to live.
With that in mind, I want you to read an excerpt from Adriana’s recent blog post entitled “What It’s Really Like To Support Yourself On McDonald’s Pay“…
I’m a single mom with a three-year-old son named Manny. To support him, I work full-time as a cashier at a McDonald’s in Chicago.
I’ve worked at McDonald’s for five years, but still make only $10.50 an hour. The only way my son and I can make it is with food stamps, Medicaid, and a child care subsidy. Most of my coworkers are in the same boat, no matter how long they’ve held their jobs.
With child care, transportation to work, food, rent, and our other basic expenses, there’s no money left over for living. Every time I think about taking Manny somewhere fun, like to a movie, I have to think about whether we can really afford the gas.
When you only make $10.50 an hour and you have a child to take care of, you are obviously very limited as far as where you can live, and where Adriana lives sounds extremely depressing…
We live in a basement apartment, because it’s all I can afford. When it rains, water seeps into the apartment. This wetness brings mold, and I can’t get rid of the smell. We can’t even leave anything on the floor, which is tough with a three-year-old. Toys or anything else on the floor may get ruined when the water comes in.
So what is the solution for Adriana?
Well, she is taking part in nationwide strikes to try to force McDonald’s to pay workers like her a livable wage.
Unfortunately, that simply is not going to happen. McDonald’s restaurants are already experiencing a sales downturn, and if they raise wages substantially they will get crushed by the competition.
And of course those jobs were never meant for people that are trying to raise families. When I was growing up, it was teenagers and senior citizens that worked at McDonald’s. I know, because I was one of those teenagers.
But now millions upon millions of Americans in their prime working years are doing these kinds of jobs. As good jobs have disappeared from our economy, the competition for the jobs that remain has become extremely intense. It is really easy to tell Adriana that she should “get a better job”, but that can be extremely difficult in this economy, especially if you don’t have much education.
I know a lot of sharp, talented, responsible people that have been unemployed for a very long time or that are working at places like McDonald’s because nobody else will hire them. I am amazed that there is not a place for their talents and abilities in the “greatest economy on Earth”. But you know what? Things are about to get a whole lot worse out there.
A few months ago, I wrote that the crashing price of oil was going to cause massive job losses in the energy industry, and now it is happening.
According to Yahoo, more than 100,000 layoffs have already been announced, and this could be just the tip of the iceberg…
Since crude prices began tumbling last year, energy companies have announced plans to lay off more than 100,000 workers around the world. At least 91,000 layoffs have already materialized, with the majority coming in oil-field-services and drilling companies, according to research by Graves & Co., a Houston consulting firm.
And remember, these are not $10.50 an hour jobs. Many of these jobs pay well into the six figures annually. These are exactly the kinds of jobs that the U.S. economy simply cannot afford to lose.
Meanwhile, Barack Obama is colluding with Congress to push through the next great job killing trade agreement. The following was in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday…
Lawmakers introduced fast-track trade legislation into the House and Senate Thursday that could pave the way for President Barack Obama to conclude a major agreement with 11 nations around the Pacific.
This agreement is called “The Trans-Pacific Partnership”, and it would result in millions more good jobs being sent overseas. For much more about this shocking betrayal of the American people, please see my previous article entitled “Obama’s Secret Treaty Would Be The Most Important Step Toward A One World Economic System“.
What our economy desperately needs is more jobs, not less jobs.
And traditionally, small businesses have been the primary engine of job growth in this country.
Unfortunately, our politicians have been absolutely killing small businesses for decades. Just look at the chart below. It comes from the U.S. Census Bureau, and it is extremely alarming. Back in 1980, nearly half of all firms in America were considered to be “young”, and those young firms accounted for almost half of all job creation. Since that time, there has been a slow, steady, depressing decline…
And as I discussed the other day, more businesses have closed in the United States than have opened for each of the past six years.
Prior to 2008, that had never happened before in all of American history.
Thank you Barack Obama.
When I talk about our “long-term economic collapse”, I am not exaggerating.
Our economy is literally dying right in front of our eyes, and it is people like Adriana Alvarez that are paying the price.
We desperately need to go back and start doing the things that once made this country so great, but unfortunately we continue running in the other direction as fast as we can.
So in the end, things are going to get much, much worse.
Things did not have to turn out this way, but these are the choices that we have made, and now we get to live with them.