The fact that the official U.S. government unemployment rate has dipped slightly is good news. However, it is not the "economic turning point" that Barack Obama and others are proclaiming it to be. Rather, what we are in right now is "the calm before the storm". The massive amount of government spending that the U.S. government has done over the past few years and the massive quantities of new dollars that the Federal Reserve has been pumping into the system has bought us all just a little bit of time. Instead of using this brief period of economic stability to party, we should all be using it to prepare for the very hard economic times that are coming. Please do not get fooled when the short-term economic numbers go up or down a little bit. When evaluating the state of the U.S. economy, the key is to look at the long-term trends. The truth is that when you take a longer-term view, it becomes undeniable that the United States is in the midst of a long-term economic decline from which there is no escape.
But how are most Americans responding to the "good news" that the U.S. economy has stabilized for the moment? Many Americans are running right back out and are spending like it is 1999. Many Americans are viewing the slight improvement in some of the economic numbers as a sign that "happy times are here again" and they are behaving just as they did right before the financial crisis of 2008.
Many of us have family or friends that are taking expensive trips, making huge purchases and partying as if the good times are never going to end.
But is this wise?
The fact that the official government unemployment rate declined to 9.4% in December has got a lot of people excited, including Barack Obama....
"The pace of hiring is beginning to pick up."
So is the fact that the unemployment rate declined slightly good news?
Yes, it is good news.
However, there are also a whole lot of reasons not to be so excited about this one piece of unemployment data....
*A big part of the reason why the unemployment figure was down in December was because the government considered 260,000 Americans to have dropped out of the labor force.
*Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says that unemployment is likely to stay very high for four or five more years.
*The 103,000 jobs that were added in December was actually far below the 140,000 to 178,000 jobs that economists were expecting.
*Gallup numbers tell an entirely different story when it comes to unemployment. According to Gallup, the unemployment rate actually rose to 9.6% at the end of December. This was a significant increase from 9.3% in mid-December and 8.8% at the end of November.
*Not only that, but Gallup also says that the underemployment rate is moving up dramatically. According to Gallup, the underemployment rate in the United States increased to 19.0% during December, which was up substantially from 18.5% in mid-December and 17.2% at the end of November.
*The percentage of Americans participating in the labor force is now the lowest it has been since the early 1980s. In December, the Labor Force Participation Rate fell to 64.3%. Over the last twenty years, the Labor Force Participation Rate has usually been around 66 or 67 percent. So do less Americans want jobs today? Of course not. What has happened is that millions of Americans have become so discouraged about the lack of jobs that they aren't even actively searching anymore.
*The number of Americans working part-time for "economic reasons" continues to hover around all-time highs.
*According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of Americans that have been out of work for more than 26 weeks actually increased in December. In November, there were 6.328 Americans in that category, and in December there were 6.441 million Americans in that category.
So, as you can see, there are a whole lot of reasons not to get too excited about the employment numbers.
But has the economic situation in the United States somewhat stabilized in the short-term?
Yes, but this is not going to last forever.
When you look at the longer-term economic trends they just keep getting worse and worse and worse....
#1 Every single month the U.S. government goes into even more debt. The U.S. government is now over 14 trillion dollars in debt and this debt in increasing by about 4 billion dollars every single day.
#2 Even single month state and local governments across the United States go into even more debt. As I have written about previously, our infrastructure is literally crumbling and falling apart from coast to coast but our state and local governments can't do anything about it because they are drowning in a sea of red ink.
#3 Every single month we are getting poorer as a nation. Every month we consume massive amounts of foreign oil and cheap, foreign-made plastic trinkets and we send the rest of the world hundreds of billions of dollars of our money. Unfortunately, very few of our politicians ever even mention this obscene transfer of wealth.
#4 Every single month we send large numbers of our factories and our jobs overseas. Over the past decade, over 42,000 factories in the United States have shut down permanently and millions of good jobs have been outsourced and offshored. Those jobs and those factories are never coming back and America is rapidly becoming a "post-industrial" nation.
#5 Every single month the United States continues to lose not only factory jobs, but also many other types of good paying "middle class jobs". In fact, since the year 2000, we have lost 10% of our middle class jobs. In the year 2000 there were about 72 million middle class jobs in the United States but today there are only about 65 million middle class jobs. Meanwhile, our population continues to grow larger.
#6 Almost every single month the cost of basics such as food, gasoline and health care goes up faster than our incomes do. Inflation is a brutal "hidden tax" which is destroying the standard of living of middle class Americans.
#7 Confidence in the U.S. dollar and U.S. Treasury bonds is starting to rapidly decline. When global confidence in the U.S. dollar and in U.S. Treasury bonds is totally gone, the entire world financial system will be thrown into total chaos and the U.S. economic system will fall like a house of cards.
#8 We are being constantly looted and pillaged by those at the top of the food chain. Every single month the ultra-wealthy and the international banking elite drain even more money out of the system and transfer it to "offshore" banks. At this point, a third of all the wealth in the world is held in "offshore" banks.
Right now we are still able to enjoy relatively good times because the rest of the world continues to loan the U.S. government massive amounts of cheap money and because the Federal Reserve has so far gotten away with printing gigantic piles of new money out of thin air.
But this "can" cannot be kicked down the road forever. At some point, the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world is going to completely burst and the fallout is going to be nightmarish.
So what should we all be doing?
What we shouldn't be doing is partying as if the good times are going to last indefinitely.
What we need to be doing is starting to prepare.
So what are some things that we all can do to prepare for hard economic times? Well, the following are just a few of the columns I have authored in the past about prepping....
Use this brief time of economic stability to prepare - once the economy falls apart it will be too late.
Hopefully some of the readers of this column will be willing to share some of their best preparation tips. If you have got some tips and ideas that you would like to share with the rest of us, please feel free to post a comment below....