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The “Economic Recovery” Continues: Businesses Are Being Destroyed Faster Than They Are Being Created

The Death Of Small Business - Photo by Tina McKimmieWhat would you say about an economy where businesses are shutting down faster than they are opening?  Well, a shocking new study released by the Brookings Institution indicates that this is exactly what is happening in the United States.  We are absolutely killing small businesses and the entrepreneurial spirit in this country, and as you will see below, the number of self-employed Americans has been on a downward trend for a decade even though our population has been steadily growing.  Traditionally, small businesses have been the primary engine of job growth in this nation, so the fact that study after study has found that small business creation is being crippled in the United States is a really bad sign for our economic future.

Personally, I write about our long-term economic decline nearly every day, but even I had no idea that businesses were being destroyed faster than they were being created.  According to the Brookings Institution, this first started happening in 2009

The American economy is less entrepreneurial now than at any point in the last three decades. That’s the conclusion of a new study out from the Brookings Institution, which looks at the rates of new business creation and destruction since 1978.

Not only that, but during the most recent three years of the study — 2009, 2010 and 2011 — businesses were collapsing faster than they were being formed, a first.

And this mirrors an earlier study conducted by economist Tim Kane.  According to his analysis of U.S. Department of Labor data, the following is how the decline in the number of new business jobs per one thousand Americans breaks down by presidential administration

Bush Sr.: 11.3

Clinton: 11.2

Bush Jr.: 10.8

Obama: 7.8

As you can see, this is a problem that has been building for decades and that has accelerated under the Obama administration.

We are strangling small business creation to death, and as a result the number of Americans that are self-employed just keeps going down.  Just check out this chart…

Self-Employed 2014

And keep in mind that throughout this entire time the U.S. population has been growing.  So the numbers in the chart above should be going up steadily as the population grows.  But instead they have just kept going down.

Meanwhile, the “economic recovery” is continuing in the corporate world as well.

On Tuesday, we learned that Office Depot is going to be closing 400 stores.

Why would that happen if the economy was actually getting better?

When this was announced, shares of Office Depot rose about 20 percent.

I can never understand why that happens.  You would think that when a business makes an announcement that essentially says “our business is failing” that it would cause people to dump the stock.

In any event, this comes on the heels of an announcement by Staples back in March that it was going to shut down 225 stores in the United States and Canada.

So where will we buy our pens and paper from now on?

If the economy really was “recovering”, you would think that demand for office supplies would actually be on the rise.

But the only places where the economy is “recovering” is in places such as Washington D.C., New York City and San Francisco.

Those at the top of the pyramid are doing well, but almost everyone else in the country is really suffering right now.

When you kill off small businesses and the entrepreneurial spirit, it tends to increasingly funnel money to the very top of the food chain.  And this is precisely what is happening in America at this point.  In a recent article, Charles Hugh Smith included a chart that shows how average household net worth in the U.S. breaks down by quartile…

Bottom 25%: $4,600
From 25% to 50%: $21,700
From 50% to 75%: $78,900
From 75% to 90%: $242,800
Top 10%: $1,606,600

As you can see, the bottom 50 percent are really not that much above zero at all.  In the old days, it seemed like almost everyone was “middle class” in America, but now that is rapidly changing.

We can see this increasing divide in the real estate market as well.  According to Bloomberg, sales of million dollar homes are booming, but sales of homes at the low end are plunging…

“Million-dollar homes in the U.S. are selling at double their historical average while middle-class property demand stumbles, showing that the housing recovery is mirroring America’s wealth divide.

Purchases costing $1 million or more rose 7.8 percent in March from a year earlier, according to data released last week by the National Association of Realtors. Transactions for $250,000 or less, which represent almost two-thirds of the market, plunged 12 percent in the period”

So this explains why it is almost impossible to find an affordable home in San Francisco, but the overall homeownership rate in the United States has dropped to the lowest level in 19 years.

But even in our wealthy enclaves there are signs of deep economic trouble.  For example, in New York City the number of homeless children has soared to a new all-time high…

They’re just like other kids except they have a secret. They are homeless.  Children are living hidden lives in plain sight. They are part a growing number of low income families who find themselves with no way out but they are working hard to find a solution.

It’s a big issue. And it’s growing. More than 23,000 children sleep in homeless shelters every night, an all-time high, according to the Coalition for the Homeless.

The only “recovery” being experienced in America is the one that is happening on Wall Street, in boardrooms in Silicon Valley and in the halls of power in Washington.

In the rest of the country, retail stores are closing at the fastest pace that we have seen since the collapse of Lehman Brothers, 20 percent of all families do not have a single member that is employed and 49 million Americans are dealing with food insecurity.

There is no way that we are ever going to have a broad-based economic recovery in this nation if we continue to destroy small businesses.  They are the lifeblood of any economy and they are the primary engine of job creation.

Sadly, our politicians seem completely clueless about all of this.  So they will continue to do the same things that they have always been doing and then wonder why the economy never seems to turn around.

The Number Of Working Age Americans Without A Job Has Risen By 27 MILLION Since 2000

Arrow Going UpDid you know that there are nearly 102 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now?  And 20 percent of all families in the United States do not have a single member that is employed.  So how in the world can the government claim that the unemployment rate has “dropped” to “6.3 percent”?  Well, it all comes down to how you define who is “unemployed”.  For example, last month the government moved another 988,000 Americans into the “not in the labor force” category.  According to the government, at this moment there are 9.75 million Americans that are “unemployed” and there are 92.02 million Americans that are “not in the labor force” for a grand total of 101.77 million working age Americans that do not have a job.  Back in April 2000, only 5.48 million Americans were unemployed and only 69.27 million Americans were “not in the labor force” for a grand total of 74.75 million Americans without a job.  That means that the number of working age Americans without a job has risen by 27 million since the year 2000.  Any way that you want to slice that, it is bad news.

Well, what about as a percentage of the population?

Has the percentage of working age Americans that have a job been increasing or decreasing?

As you can see from the chart posted below, the percentage of working age Americans with a job has been in a long-term downward trend.  As the year 2000 began, we were sitting at 64.6 percent.  By the time the great financial crisis of 2008 struck, we were hovering around 63 percent.  During the last recession, we fell dramatically to under 59 percent and we have stayed there ever since…

Employment Population Ratio April 2014

And the numbers behind this chart also show that employment in America did not increase last month.

In March, 58.9 percent of all working age Americans had a job.

In April, 58.9 percent of all working age Americans had a job.

Things are not getting worse (at least for the moment), but things are also definitely not getting better.

The month that Barack Obama entered the White House, we were in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and only 60.6 percent of all working age Americans had a job.

Since only 58.9 percent of all working age Americans have a job now, that means that the employment situation in America is still significantly worse than it was the day Barack Obama took office.

So don’t let anyone fool you with talk of an “employment recovery”.  It simply is not happening.  The official unemployment rate bears so little relation to economic reality at this point that it has essentially become meaningless.

Look, how in the world can we have an “unemployment rate” of just “6.3 percent” when 20 percent of all American families do n0t have a single member that is working?

Here is how that 20 percent figure was arrived at

A family, as defined by the BLS, is a group of two or more people who live together and who are related by birth, adoption or marriage. In 2013, there were 80,445,000 families in the United States and in 16,127,000—or 20 percent–no one had a job.

So if one out of every five families is completely unemployed, then why is the official government unemployment rate not up at Great Depression era levels?

Could it be that the government is manipulating the numbers to make them look much better than they actually are?

Why don’t they just go ahead and get it over with?  They can just define every American that is not working as “not in the labor force” and then we can have “0.0 percent unemployment”.  Then we can all have a giant party and celebrate how wonderful the U.S. economy is.

And don’t be fooled by the “288,000 jobs” that were added to the U.S. economy last month.  For workers under the age of 55, the number of jobs actually dropped by a whopping 259,000.

If we were using honest numbers, the official unemployment rate would look a lot scarier.  John Williams of shadowstats.com has calculated that the unemployment rate should be about 23 percent.  I don’t think that is too far off.

Meanwhile, the quality of the jobs in our economy continues to go down.  The House Ways and Means Committee says that seven out of every eight jobs that have been “added” to the economy under Barack Obama have been part-time jobs.  But you can’t raise a family or plan a career around a part-time job.  To be honest, it is very hard for a single person to even survive on a part-time wage in this economic environment.

As the quality of our jobs goes down, so do our incomes.  The median household income has declined for five years in a row, and the middle class is falling apart.

Without middle class incomes, you can’t have a middle class.  Considering what we have been watching happen, it should be no surprise that the homeownership rate in the United States has dropped to the lowest level in 19 years or that the number of Americans receiving money from the government each month exceeds the number of full-time workers in the private sector by more than 60 million.

For many more statistics like this, please see my previous article entitled “17 Facts To Show To Anyone That Believes That The U.S. Economy Is Just Fine“.

At a gut level, most Americans understand that things are much worse than they used to be.

The Pew Research Center recently asked people what “class” they consider themselves to be.  The results were shocking.

Back in 2008, only 25 percent of all Americans considered themselves to be “lower middle class” or “poor”.

Earlier this year, an astounding 40 percent of all Americans chose one of those designations.

We are in the midst of a long-term economic decline, and no amount of propaganda is going to change that.

But based on the “happy numbers” being trumpeted by the mainstream media, the Federal Reserve is slowly bringing their quantitative easing program to an end.

When quantitative easing is finally totally cut off, we shall see how the financial markets and the U.S. economy perform without artificial life support.

Personally, I don’t think that it is going to be pretty.

This Is What Employment In America Really Looks Like…

Warren Buffett - Photo by Mark HirscheyThe level of employment in the United States has been declining since the year 2000.  There have been moments when things have appeared to have been getting better for a short period of time, and then the decline has resumed.  Thanks to the offshoring of millions of jobs, the replacement of millions of workers with technology and the overall weakness of the U.S. economy, the percentage of Americans that are actually working is significantly lower than it was when this century began.  And even though things have stabilized at a reduced level over the past few years, it is only a matter of time until the next major wave of the economic collapse strikes and the employment level goes even lower.  And the truth is that more good jobs are being lost every single day in America.  For example, as you will read about below, Warren Buffett is shutting down a Fruit of the Loom factory in Kentucky and moving it to Honduras just so that he can make a little bit more money.  We see this kind of betrayal over and over again, and it is absolutely ripping the middle class of America to shreds.

Below I have posted a chart that you never hear any of our politicians talk about.  It is a chart that shows how the percentage of working age Americans with a job has steadily declined since the turn of the century.  Just before the last recession, we were sitting at about 63 percent, but now we have been below 59 percent since the end of 2009…

Employment Population Ratio 2014

We should be thankful that things have stabilized at this lower level for the past few years.

At least things have not been getting worse.

But anyone that believes that “things have returned to normal” is just being delusional.

And nothing is being done about the long-term trends that are absolutely crippling our economy.  One of those trends is the offshoring of middle class jobs.  As I mentioned above, Fruit of the Loom (which is essentially owned by Warren Buffett) has made the decision to close their factory in Jamestown, Kentucky and lay off all the workers at that factory by the end of 2014

Clothing company Fruit of the Loom announced Thursday that it will permanently close its plant in Jamestown and lay off all 600 employees by the end of the year.

The Jamestown plant is the last Fruit of the Loom plant in a state where the company had once been a manufacturing titan second only to General Electric.

This isn’t being done because Fruit of the Loom is going out of business.  They are still going to be making t-shirts and underwear.  They are just going to be making them in Honduras from now on…

The company, owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway but headquartered in Bowling Green, said the move is “part of the company’s ongoing efforts to align its global supply chain” and will allow the company to better use its existing investments to provide products cheaper and faster.

The company said it is moving the plant’s textile operations to Honduras to save money.

So what are those workers supposed to do?

Go on welfare?

The number of Americans that are dependent on the government is already at an all-time record high.

And doesn’t Warren Buffett already have enough money?

In business school, they teach you that the sole responsibility of a corporation is to maximize wealth for the shareholders.

And so when business students get out into “the real world”, that is how they behave.

But the truth is that corporations have a responsibility to treat their workers, their customers and the communities in which they operate well.  This responsibility exists whether corporate executives want to admit it or not.

And we all have a responsibility to our fellow citizens.  When we stand aside and do nothing as millions of good paying American jobs are shipped overseas so that the “one world economic agenda” can be advanced and so that men like Warren Buffett can stuff their pockets just a little bit more, we are failing our fellow countrymen.

Because so many of us have fallen for the lie that “globalism is good”, we have allowed our once great manufacturing cities to crumble and die.  Just consider what is happening to Detroit.  It was once the greatest manufacturing city in the history of the planet, but now foreign newspapers publish stories about what a horror show that it has become…

Khalil Ligon couldn’t tell if the robbers were in her house. She had just returned home to find her front window smashed and a brick lying among shattered glass on the floor. Ligon, an urban planner who lives alone on Detroit’s east side, stepped out and called the police.

It wasn’t the first time Ligon’s home had been broken into, she told me. And when Detroit police officers finally arrived the next day, surveying an area marred by abandoned structures and overgrown vegetation, they asked Ligon a question she often ponders herself: why is she still in Detroit?

Of course this kind of thing is not just happening to Detroit.  The truth is that it is happening all over the nation.  For example, this article contains an incredible graphic which shows how the middle class of Chicago has steadily disappeared over the past several decades.

Once again, even though we have never had a “recovery”, it is a good thing that things have at least stabilized at a lower level for the past few years.

But now there are all sorts of indications that we are rapidly heading toward yet another economic downturn.  The tsunami of retail store closings that is now upon us is just one sign of this.  The following is a partial list of retail store closings from a recent article by Daniel Jennings

  • Quiznos has filed for bankruptcy, USA Today reported, and could close many of its 2,100 stores.
  • Sbarro which operates pizza and Italian restaurants in malls, is planning to close 155 locations in the United States and Canada. That means nearly 20 percent of Sbarro’s will close. The chain operates around 800 outlets.
  • Ruby Tuesday announced plans to close 30 restaurants in January after its sales fell by 7.8 percent. The chain currently operates around 775 steakhouses across the US.
  • An unknown number of Red Lobster stores will be sold. The chain is in such bad shape that the parent company, Darden Restaurants Inc., had to issue a press release stating that the chain would not close. Instead Darden is planning to spin Red Lobster off into another company and sell some of its stores.
  • Ralph’s, a subsidiary of Kroger, has announced plans to close 15 supermarkets in Southern California within 60 days.
  • Safeway closed 72 Dominick’s grocery stores in the Chicago area last year.

And the following are some more signs of trouble for the retail industry from one of my recent articles entitled “20 Facts About The Great U.S. Retail Apocalypse That Will Blow Your Mind“…

#1 As you read this article, approximately a billion square feet of retail space is sitting vacant in the United States.

#2 Last week, Radio Shack announced that it was going to close more than a thousand stores.

#3 Last week, Staples announced that it was going to close 225 stores.

#4 Same-store sales at Office Depot have declined for 13 quarters in a row.

#5 J.C. Penney has been dying for years, and it recently announced plans to close 33 more stores.

#6 J.C. Penney lost 586 million dollars during the second quarter of 2013 alone.

#7 Sears has closed about 300 stores since 2010, and CNN is reporting that Sears is “expected to shutter another 500 Sears and Kmart locations soon”.

#8 Overall, sales numbers have declined at Sears for 27 quarters in a row.

#9 Target has announced that it is going to eliminate 475 jobs and not fill 700 positions that are currently empty.

#10 It is being projected that Aéropostale will close about 175 stores over the next couple of years.

#11 Macy’s has announced that it is going to be closing five stores and eliminating 2,500 jobs.

#12 The Children’s Place has announced that it will be closing down 125 of its “weakest” stores by 2016.

But it isn’t just the retail industry that is deeply troubled.

All over America we are seeing economic weakness.

In this economic environment, it doesn’t matter how smart, how educated or how experienced you are.  If you are out of work, it can be extremely difficult to find a new job.  Just consider the case of Abe Gorelick

Abe Gorelick has decades of marketing experience, an extensive contact list, an Ivy League undergraduate degree, a master’s in business from the University of Chicago, ideas about how to reach consumers young and old, experience working with businesses from start-ups to huge financial firms and an upbeat, effervescent way about him. What he does not have — and has not had for the last year — is a full-time job.

Five years since the recession ended, it is a story still shared by millions. Mr. Gorelick, 57, lost his position at a large marketing firm last March. As he searched, taking on freelance and consulting work, his family’s finances slowly frayed. He is now working three jobs, driving a cab and picking up shifts at Lord & Taylor and Whole Foods.

So what does Abe need in order to find a decent job?

More education?

More experience?

No, what he needs is an economy that produces good jobs.

Sadly, the cold, hard reality of the matter is that the U.S. economy will never produce enough jobs for everyone ever again.

The way that America used to work is long gone, and it has been replaced by a cold, heartless environment where the company that you work for could rip your job away from you at a moment’s notice if they decide that it will put a few extra pennies into the pockets of the shareholders.

You may have worked incredibly hard for 30 years and been super loyal to your company.

It doesn’t matter anymore.

All that matters is the bottom line, and in the process the middle class is being destroyed.  But by destroying the middle class, those corporations are destroying the consumer base that their corporate empires were built upon in the first place.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2014/04/03/3177378/fruit-of-the-loom-to-close-jamestown.html#storylink=cpy
Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2014/04/03/3177378/fruit-of-the-loom-to-close-jamestown.html#storylink=cpy

9 Of The Top 10 Occupations In America Pay An Average Wage Of Less Than $35,000 A Year

CashierAccording to stunning new numbers just released by the federal government, nine of the top ten most commonly held jobs in the United States pay an average wage of less than $35,000 a year.  When you break that down, that means that most of these workers are making less than $3,000 a month before taxes.  And once you consider how we are being taxed into oblivion, things become even more frightening.  Can you pay a mortgage and support a family on just a couple grand a month?  Of course not.  In the old days, a single income would enable a family to live a very comfortable middle class lifestyle in most cases.  But now those days are long gone.  In 2014, both parents are expected to work, and in many cases both of them have to get multiple jobs just in order to break even at the end of the month.  The decline in the quality of our jobs is a huge reason for the implosion of the middle class in this country.  You can’t have a middle class without middle class jobs, and we have witnessed a multi-decade decline in middle class jobs in the United States.  As long as this trend continues, the middle class is going to continue to shrink.

The following is a list of the most commonly held jobs in America according to the federal government.  As you can see, 9 of the top 10 most commonly held occupations pay an average wage of less than $35,000 a year

  1. Retail salespersons, 4.48 million workers earning  $25,370
  2. Cashiers  3.34 million workers earning $20,420
  3. Food prep and serving staff, 3.02 million workers earning $18,880
  4. General office clerk, 2.83 million working earning $29,990
  5. Registered nurses, 2.66 million workers earning $68,910
  6. Waiters and waitresses, 2.40 million workers earning $20,880
  7. Customer service representatives, 2.39 million workers earning $33,370
  8. Laborers, and freight and material movers, 2.28 million workers earning $26,690
  9. Secretaries and admins (not legal or medical),  2.16 million workers earning $34,000
  10. Janitors and cleaners (not maids),  2.10 million workers earning, $25,140

Overall, an astounding 59 percent of all American workers bring home less than $35,000 a year in wages.

So if you are going to make more than $35,000 this year, you are solidly in the upper half.

But that doesn’t mean that you will always be there.

More Americans are falling out of the middle class with each passing day.

Just consider the case of a 47-year-old woman named Kristina Feldotte.  Together with her husband, they used to make about $80,000 a year.  But since she lost her job three years ago, their combined income has fallen to about $36,000 a year

Three years ago, Kristina Feldotte, 47, and her husband earned a combined $80,000. She considered herself solidly middle class. The couple and their four children regularly vacationed at a lake near their home in Saginaw, Michigan.

But in August 2012, Feldotte was laid off from her job as a special education teacher. She’s since managed to find only part-time teaching work. Though her husband still works as a truck salesman, their income has sunk by more than half to $36,000.

“Now we’re on the upper end of lower class,” Feldotte said.

There is a common assumption out there that if you “have a job” that you must be doing “okay”.

But that is not even close to the truth.

The reality of the matter is that you can even have two or three jobs and still be living in poverty.  In fact, you can even be working for the government or the military and still need food stamps

Since the start of the Recession, the dollar amount of food stamps used at military commissaries, special stores that can be used by active-duty, retired, and some veterans of the armed forces has quadrupled, hitting $103 million last year. Food banks around the country have also reported a rise in the number of military families they serve, numbers that swelled during the Recession and haven’t, or have barely, abated.

There are so many people that are really hurting out there.

Today, someone wrote to me about one of my recent articles about food price increases and told me about how produce prices were going through the roof in that particular area.  This individual wondered how ordinary families were going to be able to survive in this environment.

That is a very good question.

I don’t know how they are going to survive.

In some cases, the suffering that is going on behind closed doors is far greater than any of us would ever imagine.

And often, it is children that suffer the most

A Texas couple kept their bruised, malnourished 5-year-old son in a diaper and locked in a closet of their Spring home, police said in a horrifying case of abuse.

The tiny, blond-haired boy was severely underweight, his shoulder blades, ribs and vertebrae showing through his skin, when officers found him late last week.

You can see some photos of that poor little boy right here.

I hope that those abusive parents are put away for a very long time.

Sadly, there are lots of kids that are really suffering right now.  There are more than a million homeless schoolchildren in America, and there are countless numbers that will go to bed hungry tonight.

But if you live in wealthy enclaves on the east or west coasts, all of this may sound truly bizarre to you.  Where you live, you may look around and not see any poverty at all.  That is because America has become increasingly segregated by wealth.  Some are even calling this the “skyboxification of America”

The richest Americans—the much-talked about 1 percent—are a cloistered class. As the Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz scathingly put it, they “have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors, and the best lifestyles, but there is one thing that money doesn’t seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live.” The Harvard political philosopher Michael Sandel has similarly lamented the “skyboxification” of American life, in which “people of affluence and people of modest means lead increasingly separate lives.”

The substantial and growing gap between the rich and everyone else is increasingly inscribed on our geography. There have always been affluent neighborhoods, gated enclaves, and fabled bastions of wealth like Greenwich, Connecticut; Grosse Pointe, Michigan; Potomac, Maryland; and Beverly Hills, California. But America’s bankers, lawyers, and doctors didn’t always live so far apart from teachers, accountants, and small business owners, who themselves weren’t always so segregated from the poorest, most struggling Americans.

Nobody should talk about an “economic recovery” until the middle class starts growing again.

Even as the stock market has soared to unprecedented heights over the past year, the decline of middle class America has continued unabated.

And most Americans know deep inside that something is deeply broken.  For example, a recent CNBC All-America Economic Survey found that over 80 percent of all Americans consider the economy to be “fair” or “poor”.

Yes, for the moment things are going quite well for the top 10 percent of the nation, but that won’t last long either.  None of the problems that caused the last great financial crisis have been fixed.  In fact, they have gotten even worse.  We are steamrolling toward another great financial crisis and our leaders are absolutely clueless.

When the next crisis strikes, the economic suffering in this nation is going to get even worse.

As bad as things are now, they are not even worth comparing to what is coming.

So I hope that you are getting prepared.  Time is running out.

 

29 Percent Of All U.S. Adults Under The Age Of 35 Are Living With Their Parents

Why Are So Many Young Adults Moving Back In With Mommy And DaddyWhy are so many young adults in America living with their parents?  According to a stunning Gallup survey that was recently released, nearly three out of every ten adults in the United States under the age of 35 are still living at home with Mom and Dad.  This closely lines up with a Pew Research Center analysis of Census data that looked at a younger sample of Americans which found that 36 percent of Americans 18 to 31 years old were still living with their parents.  That was the highest level that had ever been recorded.  Overall, approximately 25 million U.S. adults are currently living at home with their parents according to Time Magazine.  So what is causing all of this?  Well, there are certainly a lot of factors.  Overwhelming student loan debt, a depressing lack of jobs and the high cost of living are all definitely playing a role.  But many would argue that what we are witnessing goes far beyond temporary economic conditions.  There are many that believe that we have fundamentally failed our young people and have neglected to equip them with the skills and values that they need to be successful in the real world.

More Americans than ever before seem to be living in a state of “perpetual adolescence”.  As Gallup noted, one of the keys to adulthood is to be able to establish independence from your parents…

An important milestone in adulthood is establishing independence from one’s parents, including finding a job, a place to live and, for most, a spouse or partner, and starting one’s own family. However, there are potential roadblocks on the path to independence that may force young adults to live with their parents longer, including a weak job market, the high cost of living, significant college debt, and helping care for an elderly or disabled parent.

Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly difficult for young people to become financially independent.  While they are in high school, we endlessly pound into their heads the need to go to college.  Then we urge them to take out whatever loans that they will need to pay for it, ensuring them that they will be able to get “good jobs” which will enable them to pay off those loans when they graduate.

Of course a very large percentage of them find that there aren’t any “good jobs” waiting for them when they graduate.  But because of the crippling loans that they have accumulated, they quickly realize that they have decades of debt slavery ahead of them.

Just consider the following numbers about the growth of student loan debt in the United States…

-The total amount of student loan debt in the United States has risen to a brand new all-time record of 1.08 trillion dollars.

-Student loan debt accounted for 3.1 percent of all consumer debt in 2003.  Today, it accounts for 9.4 percent of all consumer debt.

-In the third quarter of 2007, the student loan delinquency rate was 7.6 percent.  Today, it is up to 11.5 percent.

This is a student loan debt bubble unlike anything that we have ever seen before, and it seems to get worse with each passing year.

So when is the bubble going to finally burst?

Meanwhile, our young adults are still really struggling to find jobs.

For those in the 18 to 29-year-old age bracket, it is getting even harder to find full-time employment.  In June 2012, 47 percent of those in that entire age group had a full-time job.  One year later, in June 2013, only 43.6 percent of that entire age group had a full-time job.

And in many ways, things are far tougher for those that didn’t finish college than for those that did.  In fact, the unemployment rate for 27-year-old college dropouts is nearly three times as high as the unemployment rate for those that finished college.

In addition, since Barack Obama has been president close to 40 percent of all 27-year-olds have spent at least some time unemployed.

So it should be no surprise that 27-year-olds are really struggling financially.  Only about one out of every five 27-year-olds owns a home at this point, and an astounding 80 percent of all 27-year-olds are in debt.

Even if a young adult is able to find a job, that does not mean that it will be enough to survive on.  The quality of jobs in America continues to go downhill and so do wages.

The ratio of what men in the 18 to 29-year-old age bracket are earning compared to what the general population is earning is at an all-time low, and American families that have a head of household that is under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.

No wonder so many young people are living at home.  Trying to survive in the real world is not easy.

Many of those that are trying to make it on their own are really struggling to do so.  Just consider the case of Kevin Burgos.  He earns $10.50 an hour working as an assistant manager at a Dunkin Donuts location in Hartford, Connecticut.  According to CNN, he can’t seem to make enough to support his family no matter how hard he works…

He works 35 hours each week to support his family of three young children. All told, Burgos makes about $1,800 each month.

But his bills for basic necessities, including rent for his two-bedroom apartment, gas for his car, diapers and visits to the doctor, add up to $2,400. To cover these expenses without falling short, Burgos would need to make at least $17 per hour.

“I am always worried about what I’m going to do for tomorrow,” Burgos said.

There are millions of young people out there that are pounding their heads against the wall month after month trying to work hard and do the right thing.  Sometimes they get so frustrated that they snap.  Just consider the following example

Health officials have temporarily shut down a southern West Virginia pizza restaurant after a district manager was caught on surveillance video urinating into a sink.

Local media reported that the Mingo County health department ordered the Pizza Hut in Kermit, about 85 miles southwest of Charleston, to shut down.

But as I mentioned earlier, instead of blaming young people for their failures, perhaps we need to take a good, long look at how we have raised them.

The truth is that our public schools are a joke, SAT scores are at an all-time low, and we have pushed nearly all discussion of morality, values and faith out of the public square.

No wonder most of our young people are dumb as a rock and seem to have no moral compass.

Or could it be possible that I am being too hard on them?

Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…

221 Percent Increase In One Year? Why Are So Many People Renouncing American Citizenship?

American FlagThe number of Americans that renounced their citizenship was 221 percent higher in 2013 than it was in 2012.  That is a staggering figure, and it is symptomatic of a larger trend.  In recent years, a lot of really good people with very deep roots in this country have made the difficult decision to say goodbye to the United States permanently.  A few actually go to the trouble to renounce their citizenship, and that is mostly done for tax purposes.  But most willingly choose to leave America for other reasons.  Some were very serious when they said they would leave the U.S. if Barack Obama got a second term, some (such as Jesse Ventura) are dismayed at how our freedoms and liberties are eroding and are alarmed at the rise of the Big Brother police state, some are absolutely disgusted by the social and moral decay that is eating away at the foundations of our society, and there are yet others that consider “the grass to be greener” on the other side of the planet.  Personally, I have a number of friends that have made the very hard decision to relocate their families thousands of miles away because they see what is coming to America and they believe that there isn’t any hope of turning things around at this point.  I also have a lot of friends that are determined to stay in the United States no matter what.  When it comes to the future of America, almost everyone has a very strong opinion, and these are discussions that we need to start having.

Once upon a time, the United States was seen as “the land of opportunity” all over the globe and it seemed like everyone wanted to come here.

But now that is all changing.  As we have abandoned the principles that this country was founded upon, our economy has gone steadily downhill.

As I wrote about the other day, the middle class in America is slowly dying.  As millions of good paying jobs have been shipped out of the country, the competition for the remaining jobs has become quite intense.  At this point, there is even tremendous competition for minimum wage jobs.

Compared to exactly six years ago, 1,154,000 fewer Americans have jobs.  Meanwhile, our population has gotten significantly larger since then.  There simply are not enough jobs for everyone, and we continue to fall even farther behind.  In January, the economy only added 113,000 jobs and in December the economy only added 75,000 jobs.  Both of those figures are well below what we need just to keep up with population growth.

Looking ahead, things look even more troubling.

The number of “planned job cuts” in January was 12 percent higher than 12 months earlier, and it was actually 47 percent higher than in December.

The competition for jobs has also resulted in an extended period of declining incomes in the United States.

As I mention frequently, median household income in the United States has fallen for five years in a row, and the rate of homeownership in the United States has fallen for eight years in a row.

Those that read my articles regularly probably have those facts memorized by now.

In addition, a study that just came out has shown that the number of “low-wage breadwinners” in the United States is at an all-time high

A staggering number of American households are relying on low-wage jobs as their leading or sole source of income.

Meet the low-wage breadwinner. There were about 21 million of them in the United States in 2011, according to a forthcoming study by University of Massachusetts Boston economists Randy Albelda and Michael Carr.

Unlike other studies which often focus just on low-wage workers, the researchers looked at those who also live in low-income households. This way, they were able to strip out the teenager making $8 an hour flipping burgers but still living comfortably with his parents. Or the mom who works a part-time job in retail to supplement her husband’s otherwise ample salary.

For tens of millions of average American families, there simply is not enough money left at the end of each month.

That is why many of them turn to debt to try to make up the difference.  Consumer credit is increasing at an alarming pace once again, and when the next great economic shock arrives many of those families are going to be in for a tremendous amount of financial pain.

In this type of economic environment, it should not be a surprise that anger, frustration and desperation are rising to very dangerous levels.

It was desperation and a fear of losing everything that he had ever worked for that drove one 80-year-old man to become a methamphetamine courier.

It was intense anger and frustration that drove a 58-year-old military veteran to package up cat feces and send it to employers that had turned him down

Rather than simply grumble to himself or complain to others, a St. Louis man aggrieved by a company’s failure to hire him took another approach.

Jevons Brown packaged up cat feces and sent it through the mail.

Brown, 58, was sentenced Friday to two years of probation after pleading guilty in August to a misdemeanor charge of mailing injurious articles.

The plea says Brown, a veteran, became frustrated with his lack of employment opportunities and lashed out at employees of companies that failed to hire him.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

In the years ahead, we are going to see much, much worse.

And if you do lose everything, don’t expect anyone to care very much.  There is already a frightening lack of compassion for those that are down on their luck in the United States today.  For example, in Pensacola, Florida it is actually illegal for homeless people to use blankets or cardboard boxes to shield themselves from the cold…

So there I was with my wife and three kids, all of us huddled under blankets with the fireplace roaring, watching the temperature continue to drop from a comfortable 65 degrees down to 45. But outside it was 17 degrees and raining and sleeting, and if you were homeless, you had to consider that if you used a blanket to shield yourself from the elements, that you might be hauled off to jail for a violation of a local ordinance prohibiting using blankets, cardboard, or newspaper to cover yourself.

Once you lose everything, society just wants you to go away.

And this lack of compassion is going to get a whole lot worse during the very hard times that are coming.

So it is easy to understand why many Americans would want to get out of this country while they still can.

However, the truth is that the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side.

For instance, you may be dreaming of moving to a tropical paradise where you can enjoy the sand and the sun every single day.

In the past, many Americans considered Puerto Rico a good place to relocate to.  After all, it is a United States territory and if you only speak English you can still get around pretty well.

But you wouldn’t want to move down to Puerto Rico these days.  Right now it is in the middle of a full-blown economic collapse

Puerto Rico’s slow-motion economic crisis skidded to a new low last week when both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s downgraded its debt to junk status, brushing aside a series of austerity measures taken by the new governor, including increasing taxes and rebalancing pensions. But that is only the latest in a sharp decline leading to widespread fears about Puerto Rico’s future. In the past eight years, Puerto Rico’s ticker tape of woes has stretched unabated: $70 billion in debt, a 15.4 percent unemployment rate, a soaring cost of living, pervasive crime, crumbling schools and a worrisome exodus of professionals and middle-class Puerto Ricans who have moved to places like Florida and Texas.

In fact, Puerto Rico is a preview of the kind of societal chaos that we could be seeing inside the United States in just a few years

Schools sit shuttered either because of disrepair or because of a dwindling number of students. In this typically convivial capital, communities have erected gates and bars to help thwart carjackers and home invaders. Illegal drugs, including high-level narcotrafficking, are one of the few growth industries.

Well, what about South America?

In recent years, South America has been an extremely popular destination for those wishing to leave the United States.

Unfortunately, many areas of South America are experiencing full-blown economic collapse right now as well.  As I wrote about recently, deteriorating economic conditions have resulted in widespread crime, looting, violence, blackouts, shortages of basic supplies, and runs on the banks in Argentina and Venezuela.  The following is an excerpt from a recent interview with Fernando Aguirre who actually lives down in Argentina

Chris Martenson:  Okay. Bring us up to date. What is happening in Argentina right now with respect to its currency, the peso?

Fernando Aguirre:  Well, actually pretty recently, January 22, the peso lost 15% of its value. It has devalued quite a bit. It ended up losing 20% of its value that week, and it has been pretty crazy since then. Inflation has been rampant in some sectors, going up to 100% in food, grocery stores 20%, 30% in some cases. So it has been pretty complicated. Lots of stores don’t want to be selling stuff until they get updated prices. Suppliers holding on, waiting to see how things go, which is something that we are familiar with because that happened back in 2001 when everything went down as we know it did.

Chris Martenson:  So 100%, 20% inflation; are those yearly numbers?

Fernando Aguirre:  Those are our numbers in a matter of days. In just one day, for example, cement in Balcarce, one of the towns in Southern Argentina, went up 100% overnight, doubling in price. Grocery stores in Córdoba, even in Buenos Aires, people are talking about increase of prices of 20, 30% just these days. I actually have family in Argentina that are telling me that they go to a hardware store and they aren’t even able to buy stuff from there because stores want to hold on and see how prices unfold in the following days.

Well, what about Europe?

Isn’t Europe a lot more stable?

Unfortunately, that is not necessarily true.  In recent years we have seen rioting, civil unrest and Depression-like conditions in Ukraine, Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal.

And now you can add Bosnia to that list…

More than 150 people were wounded in Bosnia on Friday in the worst civil unrest in the country since the 1992-95 war as anger over the dire state of the economy and political inertia boiled over.

Angry protesters set fire to part of the presidential palace in Sarajevo in protests over unemployment and corruption, as well as government buildings in the capital Sarajevo, Tuzla and Zenica.

Just because you move out of the United States does not necessarily mean that you will avoid what is coming.

We are heading for a global economic collapse, and the pain is going to be felt to the farthest corners of the planet.

But of course there are many that will end up leaving the United States and will ultimately thrive.

So what do you think?

Is now a time for people to consider leaving the United States permanently?

Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…

American Flag

28 Signs That The Middle Class Is Heading Toward Extinction

Dilapidated House In IndianaThe death of the middle class in America has become so painfully obvious that now even the New York Times is doing stories about it.  Millions of middle class jobs have disappeared, incomes are steadily decreasing, the rate of homeownership has declined for eight years in a row and U.S. consumers have accumulated record-setting levels of debt.  Being independent is at the heart of what it means to be “middle class”, and unfortunately the percentage of Americans that are able to take care of themselves without government assistance continues to decline.  In fact, the percentage of Americans that are receiving government assistance is now at an all-time record high.  This is not a good thing.  Sadly, the number of people on food stamps has increased by nearly 50 percent while Barack Obama has been in the White House, and at this point nearly half the entire country gets money from the government each month.  Anyone that tries to tell you that the middle class is going to be “okay” simply has no idea what they are talking about.  The following are 28 signs that the middle class is heading toward extinction…

#1 You don’t have to ask major U.S. corporations if the middle class is dying.  This fact is showing up plain as day in their sales numbers.  The following is from a recent New York Times article entitled “The Middle Class Is Steadily Eroding. Just Ask the Business World“…

In Manhattan, the upscale clothing retailer Barneys will replace the bankrupt discounter Loehmann’s, whose Chelsea store closes in a few weeks. Across the country, Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants are struggling, while fine-dining chains like Capital Grille are thriving. And at General Electric, the increase in demand for high-end dishwashers and refrigerators dwarfs sales growth of mass-market models.

As politicians and pundits in Washington continue to spar over whether economic inequality is in fact deepening, in corporate America there really is no debate at all. The post-recession reality is that the customer base for businesses that appeal to the middle class is shrinking as the top tier pulls even further away.

#2 Some of the largest retailers in the United States that once thrived by serving the middle class are now steadily dying.  Sears and J.C. Penney are both on the verge of bankruptcy, and now we have learned that Radio Shack may be shutting down another 500 stores this year.

#3 Real disposable income in the United States just experienced the largest year over year drop that we have seen since 1974.

#4 Median household income in the United States has fallen for five years in a row.

#5 The rate of homeownership in the United States has fallen for eight years in a row.

#6 In 2008, 53 percent of all Americans considered themselves to be “middle class”.  In 2014, only 44 percent of all Americans consider themselves to be “middle class”.

#7 In 2008, 25 percent of all Americans in the 18 to 29-year-old age bracket considered themselves to be “lower class”.  In 2014, an astounding 49 percent of them do.

#8 Incredibly, 56 percent of all Americans now have “subprime credit”.

#9 Total consumer credit has risen by a whopping 22 percent over the past three years.

#10 The average credit card debt in the United States is $15,279.

#11 The average student loan debt in the United States is $32,250.

#12 The average mortgage debt in the United States is $149,925.

#13 Overall, U.S. consumers are $11,360,000,000,000 in debt.

#14 The U.S. national debt is currently sitting at $17,263,040,455,036.20, and it is being reported that is has grown by $6.666 trillion during the Obama years so far.  Most of the burden of servicing that debt is going to fall on the middle class (if the middle class is able to survive that long).

#15 According to the Congressional Budget Office, interest payments on the national debt will nearly quadruple over the next ten years.

#16 Back in 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance.  Today, only 54.9 percent of all Americans are covered by employment-based health insurance.

#17 More Americans than ever find themselves forced to turn to the government for help with health care.  At this point, 82.4 million Americans live in a home where at least one person is enrolled in the Medicaid program.

#18 There are 46.5 million Americans that are living in poverty, and the poverty rate in America has been at 15 percent or above for 3 consecutive years.  That is the first time that has happened since 1965.

#19 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the number of Americans on food stamps has gone from 32 million to 47 million.

#20 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the percentage of working age Americans that are actually working has declined from 60.6 percent to 58.6 percent.

#21 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the average duration of unemployment in the United States has risen from 19.8 weeks to 37.1 weeks.

#22 Middle-wage jobs accounted for 60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession, but they have accounted for only 22 percent of the jobs created since then.

#23 It is hard to believe, but an astounding 53 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year in wages.

#24 Approximately one out of every four part-time workers in America is living below the poverty line.

#25 According to the most recent numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, an all-time record 49.2 percent of all Americans are receiving benefits from at least one government program each month.

#26 The U.S. government has spent an astounding 3.7 trillion dollars on welfare programs over the past five years.

#27 Only 35 percent of all Americans say that they are better off financially than they were a year ago.

#28 Only 19 percent of all Americans believe that the job market is better than it was a year ago.

As if the middle class didn’t have enough to deal with, now here comes Obamacare.

As I have written about previously, Obamacare is going to mean higher taxes and much higher health insurance premiums for middle class Americans.

Not only that, but millions of hard working Americans are going to end up losing their jobs or having their hours cut back thanks to Obamacare.  For example, a fry cook named Darnell Summers recently told Barack Obama directly that he and his fellow workers “were broken down to part time to avoid paying health insurance“…

And the Congressional Budget Office now says that Obamacare could result in the loss of 2.3 million full-time jobs by 2021.

Several million people will reduce their hours on the job or leave the workforce entirely because of incentives built into President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday.

That would mean job losses equal to 2.3 million full-time jobs by 2021, in large part because people would opt to keep their income low to stay eligible for federal health care subsidies or Medicaid, the agency said. It had estimated previously that the law would lead to 800,000 fewer jobs by that year.

But even if we got rid of Obamacare tomorrow that would not solve the problems of the middle class.

The middle class has been shrinking for a very long time, and something dramatic desperately needs to be done.

The numbers that I shared above simply cannot convey the level of suffering that is going on out there on the streets of America today.  That is why I also like to share personal stories when I can.  Below, I have posted an excerpt from an open letter to Barack Obama that a woman with a Master’s degree and 30 years of work experience recently submitted to the Huffington Post.  What this formerly middle class lady is having to endure because of this horrible economy is absolutely tragic…

Dear Mr. President,

I write to you today because I have nowhere else to turn. I lost my full time job in September 2012. I have only been able to find part-time employment — 16 hours each week at $12 per hour — but I don’t work that every week. For the month of December, my net pay was $365. My husband and I now live in an RV at a campground because of my job loss. Our monthly rent is $455 and that doesn’t include utilities. We were given this 27-ft. 1983 RV when I lost my job.

This is America today. We have no running water; we use a hose to fill jugs. We have no shower but the campground does. We have a toilet but it only works when the sewer line doesn’t freeze — if it freezes, we use the campground’s restrooms. At night, in my bed, when it’s cold out, my blanket can freeze to the wall of the RV. We don’t have a stove or an oven, just a microwave, so regular-food cooking is out. Recently we found a small toaster oven on sale so we can bake a little now because eating only microwaved food just wasn’t working for us. We don’t have a refrigerator, just an icebox (a block of ice cost about $1.89). It keeps things relatively cold. If it’s freezing outside, we just put things on the picnic table.

You can read the rest of her incredibly heartbreaking letter right here.

This is not the America that I remember.

What in the world is happening to us?

32 Statistics That Obama Neglected To Mention During The State Of The Union Address

Barack Obama State Of The UnionShow this article to anyone that believes that the economy has actually improved under Barack Obama.  On Tuesday evening, Barack Obama once again attempted to convince all of us that things have gotten better while he has been in the White House.  He quoted a few figures, used some flowery language and made a whole bunch of new promises.  And even though he has failed to follow through on his promises time after time, millions upon millions of Americans continue to believe him.  In fact, you can find a list of 82 unfulfilled promises from his previous State of the Union addresses right here.  Soon we will have even more to add to that collection.  At this point, you have to wonder if Obama even believes half the stuff that he is saying.  Of course it is extremely unlikely that he is going to come out and admit that he has failed and that he has been lying to us this whole time, but without a doubt the gap between reality and what he is saying to the public is becoming ridiculously huge.  To say that his credibility is “strained” would be a massive understatement.  No, things have not been getting better in America.  In fact, they continue to get even worse.  The following are 32 statistics that Obama neglected to mention during the State of the Union address…

#1 According to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, only 28 percent of all Americans believe that the country is moving in the right direction.

#2 In 2008, 53 percent of all Americans considered themselves to be “middle class”.  In 2014, only 44 percent of all Americans consider themselves to be “middle class”.

#3 In 2008, 25 percent of all Americans in the 18 to 29-year-old age bracket considered themselves to be “lower class”.  In 2014, an astounding 49 percent of them do.

#4 Right now there is approximately a billion square feet of vacant retail space in the United States.

#5 There are 46.5 million Americans that are living in poverty, and the poverty rate in America has been at 15 percent or above for 3 consecutive years.  That is the first time that has happened since 1965.

#6 Barack Obama says that the unemployment rate has declined to 6.7 percent, but if the labor force participation rate was at the long-term average it would actually be approximately 11.5 percent, and it has stayed at about that level since the end of the last recession.

#7 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the number of Americans on food stamps has gone from 32 million to 47 million.

#8 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the percentage of working age Americans that are actually working has declined from 60.6 percent to 58.6 percent.

#9 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the average duration of unemployment in the United States has risen from 19.8 weeks to 37.1 weeks.

#10 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, social benefits as a percentage of real disposable income has risen from about 17 percent to nearly 21 percent.

#11 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the rate of homeownership in the United States has fallen to levels that we have not seen in nearly two decades.

#12 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, median household income in the United States has fallen for five years in a row.

#13 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the average cost of a gallon of gasoline has gone from $1.85 to $3.27.

#14 At the end of Barack Obama’s first year in office, our yearly trade deficit with China was 226 billion dollars.  Now it is over 300 billion dollars.

#15 Workers are taking home the smallest share of the income pie that has ever been recorded.

#16 Sadly, 1,687,000 fewer Americans have jobs today compared to exactly six years ago even though the population has grown significantly since then.

#17 One recent study found that about 60 percent of the jobs that have been “created” since the end of the last recession pay $13.83 or less an hour.

#18 Only 47 percent of all adults in America have a full-time job at this point.

#19 It is hard to believe, but an astounding 53 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.

#20 The Obama years have been absolutely brutal for small businesses.  According to economist Tim Kane, the following is how the number of startup jobs per 1000 Americans breaks down by presidential administration

Bush Sr.: 11.3

Clinton: 11.2

Bush Jr.: 10.8

Obama: 7.8

#21 You can still buy a house in the city of Detroit for just one dollar.

#22 The U.S. cattle herd is at a 61 year low.

#23 It is being projected that health insurance premiums for healthy 30-year-old men will rise by an average of 260 percent under Obamacare.

#24 According to the most recent numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, an all-time record 49.2 percent of all Americans are receiving benefits from at least one government program each month.

#25 When Barack Obama was first elected, the U.S. debt to GDP ratio was under 70 percent.  Today, it is up to 101 percent.

#26 The U.S. national debt is on pace to more than double during the eight years of the Obama administration.  In other words, under Barack Obama the U.S. government will accumulate more debt than it did under all of the other presidents in U.S. history combined.

#27 Right now, there are 1.2 million students that attend public schools in the United States that are homeless.  That number has risen by 72 percent since the start of the last recession.

#28 Only 35 percent of all Americans say that they are better off financially than they were a year ago.

#29 Only 19 percent of all Americans believe that the job market is better than it was a year ago.

#30 According to a recent CNN poll, 70 percent of all Americans believe that “the economy is generally in poor shape”.

#31 According to a recent Pew Research survey, only 19 percent of all Americans trust the government.   Back in 1958, 73 percent of all Americans trusted the government.

#32 According to another poll that was recently released, 70 percent of all Americans do not have confidence that the government will “make progress on the important problems and issues facing the country in 2014.”

Barack Obama State Of The Union

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