Here Are 15 Numbers That Show How The Global Economy Is Performing, And All Of Them Are Bad

Global economic activity has already been slowing down dramatically, and the U.S. trade war with China is just going to make things worse.  In so many ways, what we are witnessing in 2019 is quite reminiscent of what we witnessed as the last recession was beginning.  Global exports are absolutely plummeting, auto sales are way down all over the globe, debt delinquencies are way up, and retailers are closing stores at a record pace.  Even if the U.S. and China were getting along, things would be rough for the global economy in the months ahead, but a full-blown trade war between the two largest economies on the entire planet has the potential to be absolutely disastrous.  We are truly in uncharted waters, and many believe that events are going to start accelerating very rapidly now.

Even though I write about this stuff on a daily basis, I have been surprised by how poor the global economic numbers have been lately.

And remember, earlier this month the global media were convinced that the U.S. and China were about to finalize a trade deal.  Now that negotiations have completely broken down, we should expect that these numbers will soon get even worse.

The following are 15 numbers that show how the global economy is currently performing…

#1 Global exports are absolutely crashing and have now fallen to the lowest level since 2009.

#2 U.S. auto dealers are dealing with a backlog of 4.2 million unsold vehicles.

#3 Auto sales in Europe have fallen for seven months in a row.

#4 Chinese auto sales fell a whopping 16.6 percent in the month of April.

#5 Overall, Chinese auto sales have now fallen for 11 months in a row.  That is a new all-time record.

#6 U.S. auto loan delinquencies have reached the highest level since the last recession.

#7 U.S. credit card delinquencies have hit the highest level in eight years.

#8 In April, U.S. manufacturing activity unexpectedly declined 0.5 percent.

#9 Thanks to the trade war, the price of soybeans just dropped to the lowest level since 2008.

#10 Party City just announced that it will be closing 45 stores.

#11 Fred’s just announced that they will be closing 104 more stores.

#12 In April, U.S. retail sales declined for the second time in three months.

#13 According to the Atlanta Fed’s latest forecast, U.S. GDP growth is expected to fall to just 1.2 percent in the second quarter of 2019.

#14 According to a new study just released by the Urban Institute, 40 percent of all Americans “sometimes struggle to afford housing, utilities, food or health care”.

#15 Overall, 59 percent of all Americans are currently living paycheck to paycheck according to a survey that was just conducted by Charles Schwab.

Leaders from both the U.S. and China are trying to act tough and say the right things, but everyone knows that this trade war is going to hurt both countries.

Economic numbers from both nations have been troubling lately, and one expert that was just interviewed by CNBC says that “it could get a lot worse”

Consumer and industrial activity in both the U.S. and China slowed in April, even before the world’s two biggest economies entered the latest phase of an escalating trade war that could take a bite out of global growth.

“The real message today is that both the economic data from the U.S. and China have disappointed. They’re like two boys in the sandbox that are spitting on each other, and it could get a lot worse,” said Marc Chandler, global market strategist at Bannockburn Global Forex.

In the short-term, it would greatly help if the U.S. and China could find a way to agree to a trade deal.

Unfortunately, the events of the past 48 hours have made that a lot less likely.

As I discussed yesterday, President Trump essentially took a sledgehammer to Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.  When the Commerce Department put Huawei on the “Entity List”, it essentially banned the company from buying much needed parts and components from U.S. firms.  Some have described this as “the nuclear option”, and I think that description is quite accurate.  In the end, this move is going to be absolutely devastating for Huawei.

Of course the Chinese are absolutely furious about this.  Huawei is viewed with great national pride in China, and this move is considered to be a direct insult to Chinese national honor.  Most Americans are not paying too much attention to the details of the trade war, but in China this is a really big deal and people are extremely angry.  In fact, there has apparently been a run on “Donald Trump toilet brushes” in China in recent days because the Chinese are so angry.

Following my recent article about Huawei, a number of readers complained that I was being too soft on China.  Of course that is not true at all.  Long before Donald Trump ran for president, I was writing about how China was lying, cheating, stealing our technology and robbing us blind.  I was literally begging for our politicians to stand up and do something, and I was thrilled when Trump started talking tough about China because I knew that he really understood these issues.

But I also want everyone to understand that trying to decouple from the Chinese economy would be extremely painful even in the most optimistic scenario.  Our two economies have become extremely integrated, and we have become very dependent on China in many different ways.  They buy our soybeans, they provide us with rare earth elements, and they own more than a trillion dollars of our debt.  Looking at it from the Chinese perspective, they have countless ways that they can hurt us, and the angrier we make them the more likely it will be that they will lash out at us.

When negotiating with China, you need to be tough but you also need a lot of finesse.  Taking a baseball bat and slamming it into their kneecaps is not going to work.

If we destroy our relationship with China, that is going to result in us going down a very dark path.  Yes, China is an evil empire that has no respect for human rights at all.  There is no freedom of speech in China, over the past year they have been shutting down lots of churches and burning lots of Bibles, and they have been systematically throwing members of other religious minorities into concentration camps.

So I don’t have any sympathy for the communist Chinese government at all.  I just want all of you to understand that they are a very dangerous adversary, and a protracted trade war could be truly disastrous for the entire global economy.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

I Dare You To Tell Me The Economy Is “Booming” After Reading This List Of 19 Facts About Our Current Economic Performance

After taking an honest look at the facts, I don’t know how anyone can possibly claim that the U.S. economy is “booming”.  I really don’t.  We hear this sort of rhetoric from the mainstream media all the time, but it doesn’t make any sense.  As I discussed yesterday, nobody should be using the term “booming” to describe the state of the U.S. economy until we have a full year when GDP growth is 3 percent or better, and at this point we haven’t had that since the middle of the Bush administration.  And as you will see below, the latest numbers are clearly telling us that the U.S. economy is not even moving in the right direction.  Economic conditions are getting worse, and they weren’t that great to begin with.  According to the calculations that John Williams has made over at shadowstats.com, the U.S. economy is already in a recession, but of course the Federal Reserve will continue to tell us that everything is just fine for as long as they possibly can.  Unfortunately for them, they can’t hide the depressingly bad numbers that are coming in from all over the economy, and those numbers are all telling us the same thing.

The following are 19 facts about our current economic performance that should deeply disturb all of us…

#1 In April, U.S. auto sales were down 6.1 percent.  That was the worst decline in 8 years.

#2 The number of mortgage applications has fallen for four weeks in a row.

#3 We just witnessed the largest crash in luxury home sales in about 9 years.

#4 Existing home sales have now fallen for 13 months in a row.

#5 In March, total residential construction spending was down 8.4 percent from a year ago.

#6 U.S. manufacturing output was down 1.1 percent during the first quarter of this year.

#7 Farm incomes are falling at the fastest pace since 2016.

#8 Wisconsin dairy farmers are going bankrupt “in record numbers”.

#9 Apple iPhone sales are falling at a “record pace”.

#10 Facebook’s profits have declined for the first time since 2015.

#11 We just learned that CVS will be closing 46 stores.

#12 Office Depot has announced that they will be closing 50 locations.

#13 Overall, U.S. retailers have announced more than 6,000 store closings so far in 2019, and that means we have already surpassed the total for all of last year.

#14 A shocking new study has discovered that 137 million Americans have experienced “medical financial hardship in the past year”.

#15 Credit card charge-offs at U.S. banks have risen to the highest level in nearly 7 years.

#16 Credit card delinquencies have risen to the highest level in almost 8 years.

#17 More than half a million Americans are homeless right now.

#18 Homelessness in New York City is the worst that it has ever been.

#19 Nearly 102 million Americans do not have a job right now.  That number is worse than it was at any point during the last recession.

But at least the stock market has been doing well, right?

Actually, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has been down for two days in a row, and investors are getting kind of antsy.

Hopes of a trade deal with China had been propping up stocks in recent weeks, but it looks like negotiations may have hit “an impasse”

The latest round of US-China trade talks may have hit an impasse, raising doubts about the chances of an early trade deal between the world’s two leading economies, Chinese official media reported on Thursday.

Unlike the previous negotiations, the 10th round of high-level economic and trade talks, which concluded here on Wednesday, had fewer details about specific discussions and results, state-run Global Times reported.

I warned my readers repeatedly that this would happen.  The Chinese are going to negotiate, but they are going to drag their feet for as long as possible in hopes that the U.S. will free Meng Wanzhou.

Of course that isn’t going to happen, and so at some point the Chinese will have to decide if they are willing to move forward with a trade deal anyway.

But if the Chinese drag their feet for too long, Trump administration officials may lose patience and take their ball and go home.

In any event, the truth is that the U.S. economy is really slowing down, and no trade deal is going to magically change that.

And a lot of other pundits are also pointing out that a substantial economic slowdown has now begun.  For example, the following comes from Brandon Smith’s latest article

The bottom line is, the next crash has already begun. It started at the end of 2018, and is only becoming more pervasive with each passing month. This is not “doom and gloom” or “doom porn”, this is simply the facts on the ground. While stock markets are still holding (for now), the rest of the system is breaking down right on schedule. The question now is, when will the mainstream media and the Fed finally acknowledge this is happening? I suspect, as in 2008, they will openly admit to the danger only when it is far too late for people to prepare for it.

Hopefully things will remain relatively stable for as long as possible, because nobody should want to see a repeat of 2008 (or worse).

Unfortunately, we can’t stop the clock.  We are already more than a third of the way through 2019, and we will be into 2020 before we know it.

It has been an unusual year so far, but I have a feeling that it is about to get much, much more interesting.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

Nearly 102 Million Americans Do Not Have A Job Right Now – Worse Than At Any Point During The Last Recession

Wouldn’t it be horrible if the number of Americans without a job was higher today than it was during the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009?  Well, that is actually true.  As you will see below, nearly 102 million Americans do not have a job right now, and at no point during the last recession did that number ever surpass the 100 million mark.  Of course the U.S. population has grown a bit over the last decade, but as you will see below, the percentage of the population that is engaged in the labor force is only slightly above the depressingly low levels from the last recession.  Sadly, the truth is that the rosy employment statistics that you are getting from the mainstream media are manufactured using smoke and mirrors, and by the time you are done reading this article you will understand what is really going on.

Before we dig into the long-term trends, let’s talk about what we just learned.

According to CNBC, initial claims for unemployment benefits just rose by the most that we have seen in 19 months

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits jumped 37,000 to a seasonally adjusted 230,000 for the week ended April 20, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The increase was the largest since early September 2017.

And considering all of the other troubling economic signs that we have been witnessing lately, this makes perfect sense.

In addition, we need to remember that over the last decade lawmakers across the country have made it more difficult to apply for unemployment benefits and have reduced the amount of time that unemployed workers can receive them.  In reality, the unemployment situation in this nation is far worse than the mainstream media is telling us.

When a working age American does not have a job, the federal number crunchers put them into one of two different categories.  Either they are categorized as “unemployed” or they are categorized as “not in the labor force”.

But you have to add both of those categories together to get the total number of Americans that are not working.

Over the last decade, the number of Americans that are in the “unemployed” category has been steadily going down, but the number of Americans “not in the labor force” has been rapidly going up.

In both cases we are talking about Americans that do not have a job.  It is just a matter of how the federal government chooses to categorize those individuals.

At this moment, we are told that only 6.2 million Americans are officially “unemployed”, and that sounds really, really good.

But that is only half the story.

What the mainstream media rarely mentions is the fact that the number of Americans categorized as “not in the labor force” has absolutely exploded since the last recession.  Right now, that number is sitting at 95.577 million.

When you add 6.2 million “officially unemployed” Americans to 95.577 million Americans that are categorized as “not in the labor force”, you get a grand total of almost 102 million Americans that do not have a job right now.

If that sounds terrible to you, that is because it is terrible.

Yes, the U.S. population has been growing over the last decade, and that is part of the reason why the number of Americans “not in the labor force” has been growing.

But overall, the truth is that the level of unemployment in this country is not that much different than it was during the last recession.

John Williams of shadowstats.com tracks what the real employment figure would be if honest numbers were being used, and according to him the real rate of unemployment in the United States at the moment is 21.2 percent.

That is down from where it was a few years ago, but not by that much.

Another “honest” indicator that I like to look at is the civilian labor force participation rate.

In essence, it tells us what percentage of the working age population is actually engaged in the labor force.

Just before the last recession, the civilian labor force participation rate was sitting at about 66 percent, and that was pretty good.

But then the recession hit, and the civilian labor force participation rate fell below 63 percent, and it stayed between 62 percent and 63 percent for an extended period of time.

So where are we today?

At this moment, we are sitting at just 63.0 percent.

Does that look like a recovery to you?

Of course not.

If you would like to claim that we have had a very marginal “employment recovery” since the last recession, that is a legitimate argument to make.  But anything beyond that is simply not being honest.

And now the U.S. economy is rapidly slowing down again, and most Americans are completely and totally unprepared for what is ahead.

The good news is that employment levels have been fairly stable in recent years, but the bad news is that unemployment claims are starting to shoot up again.

A number of the experts that I am hearing from expect job losses to escalate in the months ahead.  Many of those that are currently living on the edge financially suddenly won’t be able to pay their mortgages or their bills.

Just like the last recession, we could potentially see millions of middle class Americans quickly lose everything once economic conditions start getting really bad.

The economy is not going to get any better than it is right now.  As you look forward to the second half of 2019, I would make plans for rough sailing ahead.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

Just Before The Great Recession, Mountains Of Unsold Goods Piled Up In U.S. Warehouses – And Now It Is Happening Again

When economic conditions initially begin to slow down, businesses continue to order goods like they normally would but those goods don’t sell as quickly as they previously did.  As a result, inventory levels begin to rise, and that is precisely what is happening right now.  In fact, the U.S. inventory to sales ratio has risen sharply for five months in a row.  This is mirroring the pattern that we witnessed just prior to the financial crisis of 2008, and it is exactly what we would expect to see if a new recession was now beginning.  In recent weeks, I have been sharing number after number that indicates that a serious economic slowdown is upon us, and many believe that what is coming will eventually be even worse than what we experienced in 2008.

And even though I write about this stuff every day, I was stunned by how rapidly inventory levels have been rising recently.  The following numbers come from Peter Schiff’s website

This comes on the heels of the largest gain in wholesale inventories in more than five years in December.

Inventories rose 7.7% from a year ago in January. Meanwhile, sales only rose by 2.7%. Overall, total inventories were $669.9 billion at the end of January, up 1.2% from the revised December level.

The increase in durable goods inventories at the wholesale level was even starker. These inventories were up 11.7% from January a year ago, and are up 17% from January two years ago, hitting $415 billion, the highest ever.

Businesses don’t like to have excess inventory, because carrying excess inventory is expensive and cuts into profits.  So they try very hard to manage their inventories efficiently, but if the economy slows down unexpectedly that can catch them off guard

There are few indications of economic slowing that are more convincing than an unwanted build in inventories — and that apparently is what’s underway in the wholesale sector.

When inventory levels get too high, businesses often start reducing the amount of stuff they are ordering from manufacturers.

So we would expect the numbers to indicate that manufacturing output is down, and that is precisely what we have witnessed over the last couple of months

U.S. manufacturing output fell for a second straight month in February and factory activity in New York state hit nearly a two-year low this month, offering further evidence of a sharp slowdown in economic growth early in the first quarter.

If manufacturers are making and sending less stuff to businesses, and if businesses are selling less stuff to their customers, then we would expect to see less stuff moved around the U.S. by truck, rail and air.

And wouldn’t you know it, the numbers also tell us that this has been happening too.  The following comes from Wolf Richter

Now it’s the third month in a row, and the red flag is getting more visible and a little harder to ignore about the goods-based economy: Freight shipment volume in the US across all modes of transportation – truck, rail, air, and barge – in February fell 2.1% from February a year ago, according to the Cass Freight Index, released today. The three months in a row of year-over-year declines are the first such declines since the transportation recession of 2015 and 2016.

So there you have it.  Anyone that tries to tell you that the U.S. economy is “booming” is simply not being accurate.

And when you throw in the fact that we just witnessed one of the worst disasters for U.S. agriculture in all of U.S. history, it is easy to understand why the economic outlook for the remainder of 2019 is rather bleak.  One agribusiness company just announced that it will have “a negative pretax operating profit impact of $50 million to $60 million for the first quarter” as a result of all the flooding…

Already suffering from low crop prices and the U.S.-China trade war, Mother Nature has delivered yet another blow to the beleaguered American farmer. Growers in the heartland this year have seen arctic cold blasts, been blanketed by snow and just in the last week were inundated by floods. Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., one of the world’s biggest agribusinesses, said Monday that it expects weather disruptions to have a negative pretax operating profit impact of $50 million to $60 million for the first quarter.

Korth said he fears the worst for local farmers, citing a friend who lost 85 cows to flooding and another who sells seeds and has already seen order cancellations.

“It’s going to put a lot of people out of business,” Korth said. “It’s just a terrible deal.”

Unfortunately, the flooding in the middle portion of the country is just getting started.  According to the National Weather Service, we are going to see more catastrophic flooding for the next two months.

As you can see, the elements for a “perfect storm” are definitely coming together, and I encourage everyone to get prepared for rough times ahead.

But many people are not that concerned about a new crisis, because they remember that global central banks were able to pull us out of the fire last time around.

Unfortunately, they may not be able to do it this time.  Just consider the words of the deputy director of the IMF

Major financial institutions may be powerless to prevent the next global economic downturn from tuning into a full-blow recession, the International Monetary Fund has warned.

In a speech on the future of the eurozone, the IMF’s deputy director David Lipton, warned of the depleted power of central banks and governments to combat another sharp economic shock.

“The bottom line is this: the tools used to confront the global financial crisis may not be available or may not be as potent next time” he said.

But I am sure that global central banks will try to patch the system back together again, and at certain moments it may even look like they are having some success.

In the end, however, they will not be able to stop the “Bubble To End All Bubbles” from completely bursting.

It has taken decades of exceedingly foolish decisions to get us to this point, and there is simply no way that we can avoid the day of reckoning that is coming.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

As The Perfect Storm Approaches, Most Americans Are Partying Instead Of Preparing

I can’t think of a time when Americans were more apathetic about getting prepared, and yet this is exactly the time when the urgency to get prepared should be at the highest.  Earlier today, my wife Meranda and I were discussing the fact that every single element of “the perfect storm” is coming together just as we had anticipated.  One by one, the pieces are all falling into place, and I share the most recent things that my research has uncovered with all of you on a daily basis.  Unfortunately, most Americans are absolutely convinced that there is no reason to get prepared for hard times because everything is going to be just great.  In America today, most people either believe that the future is going to be totally wonderful or that the future will be totally wonderful once we get rid of Trump.  Because so many of us have adopted one of these false narratives, most Americans are partying instead of preparing, and that is going to mean big trouble when things really start going haywire.

Are you familiar with “the rule of three”?  I just looked it up on Google, and this is how it is defined…

“You can survive for 3 Minutes without air (oxygen) or in icy water. You can survive for 3 Hours without shelter in a harsh environment (unless in icy water) You can survive for 3 Days without water (if sheltered from a harsh environment) You can survive for 3 Weeks without food (if you have water and shelter)”

Of course these numbers are not exact.  For example, many have gone without food for more than 3 weeks without serious problems.  But in general, this is a pretty good guideline for survival.

Sadly, if a major emergency were to hit this country tonight, most Americans would be completely unprepared when it comes to even the most basic essentials.  In fact, one survey found that only 39 percent of Americans have any sort of an “emergency kit” whatsoever…

When it comes to being prepared for an emergency, 39% say they have an emergency kit, while another 39% have a non-perishable food stock. A little less than one-third (28%) of people have stockpiles of water, and one in four people (25%) have an evacuation plan.

Of those who have an emergency kit, the most common items to have in the kit are: a first-aid kit (86%), flashlights or other light sources (83%), food (65%), water (63%), and blankets (62%).

Those are depressingly low numbers.

So what are all of those people going to do when things hit the fan and the government is not there to rescue them?

Needless to say, a lot of people will really freak out when they can’t get what they need.

But as long as things are relatively “normal”, this astounding lack of preparation will not be a problem.  And right now, Americans are acting as if things will be “normal” for the foreseeable future.  In fact, most of us are partying like it’s 1999 all over again.  According to CNBC, U.S. consumer debt just surpassed the four trillion dollar mark for the first time ever…

As of this month, outstanding consumer debt exceeded $4 trillion for the first time, according to the Federal Reserve.

Relatively strong holiday spending, particularly in November, and increasing credit card debt added more than $41 billion in outstanding balances at the end of 2018, according to LendingTree, a loan comparison website, which analyzed the data from the Fed.

We are spending money as if there is no tomorrow, and that would be fine if tomorrow never arrived.

Of course we really shouldn’t be spending money so wildly anyway, because many of us are already completely drowning in debt.  For example, auto loan delinquencies are already far higher than they were during the peak of the last recession.  The following comes from NBC News

At least 7 million Americans were in serious delinquency on their car loan — 90 or more days behind — at the end of 2018, according to data released Tuesday by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

That’s 1 million more than at the end of 2010, after the recession.

And student loan delinquencies also just shot up to the highest level ever.  We have never seen anything like this before in modern American history, and yet the party continues to roll on.

For now.

Unfortunately, all parties eventually come to an end, and the end of this one is going to be particularly painful.

When disaster strikes, most Americans are going to be out of resources very, very rapidly.  One survey found that 78 percent of all American workers are living paycheck to paycheck.  That number is a little higher than other figures that I have seen, but everyone agrees that a solid majority of the country is barely scraping by each month.

When things get really bad, I honestly don’t know how most people are going to make it.

A number of years ago, a survey asked Americans how long they thought they would survive if the electrical grid went down for an extended period of time.

Nearly 75 percent said that they would be dead before the two month mark.

Hopefully you are more resourceful than that.  But without a doubt all of us are going to stand a better chance of surviving what is ahead if we make some basic preparations.  In particular, I would encourage everyone to stock up on some emergency food and make sure that you have a Berkey water filter.  It’s isn’t rocket science, but if you choose to do nothing because you have blind faith in the system, then you and your entire family could find yourselves in a world of hurt when things start getting really crazy out there.

If we had made different choices as a nation, we could have had a very different future.

Sadly, our self-destructive behavior continues to get even worse, and a day of reckoning for America is fast approaching.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

Two-Thirds Of Americans Think That They Are Middle Class – But Millions Of Them Are Dead Wrong

The middle class has been steadily shrinking, but most Americans still believe that they are a part of it.  Perhaps this is due at least in part to the egalitarian values which have been pounded into our heads for most of our lives.  Very few Americans would have the gall to define themselves as “upper class”, and I have never met anyone that would describe themselves as “lower class”.  In place of “lower class”, many politicians now like to use the much more politically correct term “working class”, but a more apt description might be “the working poor”.  Today, half of all American workers make less than $30,533 a year, and you certainly cannot support a middle class lifestyle for a family with children on that kind of income.

Our incomes have stagnated as the cost of living has soared, and the middle class has experienced steady erosion as a result.  But despite all that, 68 percent of all Americans still consider themselves to be “middle class”

That’s according to new data from Northwestern Mutual’s 2018 Planning & Progress Study, which found that 68 percent of Americans consider themselves middle-class, down 2 percent from last year. However, because of the fuzziness of the definition, far more Americans consider themselves middle-class than technically qualify based on income.

In reality, the middle class now makes up just over 50 percent of the total U.S. population, according to a recent report from Pew Research Center, which used 2016 data. That’s compared to 61 percent in 1971.

So according to that survey, somewhere around 18 percent of all Americans wrongly believe that they belong to the middle class.

There are 325 million people living in the United States today, and so we are potentially talking about 58 million people that think that they are middle class but really aren’t.

Other surveys have come up with similar numbers.  For example, one recent survey discovered that 22 percent of non-middle income Americans identified themselves as middle income

Overall, 22 percent of the non-middle-income Americans surveyed incorrectly classified themselves as middle income. The majority of those people are actually lower-income, with approximately 19 percent of the low-income Americans surveyed defining themselves as middle income. Only approximately 2 percent of upper-income Americans mistakenly defined themselves as middle income.

Of course even if someone can be defined as “middle income” does not necessarily mean that things are going well.

Today, most Americans are living paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time.  Living on the edge financially can be a constant source of stress, and it can easily start taking over your entire life.  To illustrate this point, I would like to share with you a short excerpt from a recent article by Lauren Wellbank

Like so many Americans, we struggle to get by each and every month. The compounding interest we rack up by always being a breath away from being broke plays a large role in that. We pay interest on purchases that we can’t afford to pay out of pocket in the moment (like our electric bill when my pay was short last month), and then we pay late fees when we have to take advantage of that grace period. Our monthly payments never go down because we can’t get out in front of any of it.

All of this has a psychological and emotional impact. I’m constantly running our budget through my mind, trying to reassure myself that the numbers will work out this month. I’m never not thinking about money. I dread going to the store or having to buy gas because each purchase moves us closer back down to that zero balance. The anxiety over our finances never goes away.

Have you ever been there?

Perhaps you are there right now.  If so, you are definitely not alone.  Most American families are deeply struggling, and it is getting worse with each passing year.

Meanwhile, the folks at the very top of the pyramid have been thriving.  In fact, one study discovered that the gap between the wealthy and the poor in the United States is the largest that it has been since the 1920s.

We truly are living in a “new Gilded Age”, and the biggest winners have been those in the “top 0.1 percent”.  The following comes from Matthew Stewart

It is in fact the top 0.1 percent who have been the big winners in the growing concentration of wealth over the past half century. According to the UC Berkeley economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, the 160,000 or so households in that group held 22 percent of America’s wealth in 2012, up from 10 percent in 1963. If you’re looking for the kind of money that can buy elections, you’ll find it inside the top 0.1 percent alone.

It has been said that money cannot buy happiness, and that is true.

But without a doubt the numbers show that there are some tremendous disadvantages to being poor.  Here is more from Stewart

Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and liver disease are all two to three times more common in individuals who have a family income of less than $35,000 than in those who have a family income greater than $100,000. Among low-educated, middle-aged whites, the death rate in the United States—alone in the developed world—increased in the first decade and a half of the 21st century. Driving the trend is the rapid growth in what the Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton call “deaths of despair”—suicides and alcohol- and drug-related deaths.

Unfortunately, economic conditions are starting to deteriorate once again, and it is those at the bottom of the totem poll that are going to feel the pain first.

The period of relative stability that we had been enjoying is rapidly ending, and just about everyone can see that hard times are ahead of us.

A new survey of corporate CFOs was just released that contains some eye-popping numbers.  It turns out that 49 percent of them believe that a recession will start by the end of next year, and a whopping 82 percent of them believe that a recession will have started by the end of 2020

Considering that major corporations have been busy shedding workers, it follows that corporate finance leaders see a U.S. recession ahead. Evidence of a slowing economy has been popping up, including recent large-scale cuts in head count by U.S. corporations such as General Motors and Verizon.

Eighty-two percent of chief financial officers polled believe a recession will have started by the end 2020, and nearly 49 percent think the downturn will arrive sometime next year, according to the Duke University/CFO Global Business Outlook, released Wednesday.

This is yet another example of the major psychological shift that is taking place in our nation.  The overwhelming consensus is that economic activity is going to slow down, and it won’t be people with millions of dollars in their bank accounts that will be suffering.

No, once again it will mostly be people that are barely getting by that will be losing their jobs and their homes, and nobody is going to come riding to their rescue.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

If America Is Such A Happy Place, Why Is The Suicide Rate Up 34% Since The Year 2000?

What in the world has happened to us?  Despite our ridiculously high standard of living compared to the rest of the world, America is a deeply unhappy place.  When I was growing up, there were no “smart phones”, the Internet did not exist, if you wanted to buy something you had to actually go to a store and hunt for it, and most vehicles were pieces of junk that completely broke down after a few years.  Today, we have hundreds of television channels, we have more movies than we could ever possibly watch, video games have become wildly creative and there is an app for almost anything that you could possibly need on your phone just a few clicks away.  We are literally drowning in entertainment, and yet we are far less happy than previous generations.  In fact, the CDC says that the suicide rate in the United States has risen by 34 percent since the year 2000…

Men who work in construction and extraction had the highest rates of suicide in the United States, according to a report published Thursday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For women, suicide rates were highest among those who work in arts, design, entertainment, sports and media.

From 2000 to 2016, the suicide rate among the US working-age population — people 16 to 64 — increased 34%, the report says.

It greatly saddened me to learn that construction workers and miners have the highest suicide rates in the entire country.  My grandfather was a construction worker, and he took great pride in his work.  In fact, I still have a wooden bowl that he made for me sitting on my desk as I write this article.

On the other end of the spectrum, suicide rates are lowest among teachers, professors and librarians

For both sexes, the occupational group with the lowest rate of suicides was education, training and library. This includes jobs such as teachers, professors and archivists.

This surprised me, because anyone that has ever spent much time in a classroom understands how much stress a teacher must endure on a daily basis.

But overall, the news is not good.  At a time when the U.S. has been at peace and supposedly “prospering”, our suicide rate has been absolutely skyrocketing.

If this many people are killing themselves now, what is going to happen once things get really, really bad in this country?

Of course the authorities are at a loss as to how to solve this crisis.  They are saying that this rise in suicide is a “tragedy” and that we must increase “prevention efforts”

“Increasing suicide rates in the U.S. are a concerning trend that represent a tragedy for families and communities and impact the American workforce,” said Dr. Debra Houry, director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “Knowing who is at greater risk for suicide can help save lives through focused prevention efforts.”

In other words, they want us to throw more money at the problem.

In America today, whenever anything goes wrong the “solution” always seems to be to make the government even bigger and spend more taxpayer money.

But the truth is that big government is not going to save us.  People don’t need more government bureaucrats telling them how to run their lives.  Instead, what people really need is to find meaning and purpose in life, and that is not something that big government is going to provide.

Suicide rates are particularly high in many rural areas.  In fact, a previous CDC report discovered that the suicide rate in rural areas is actually 45 percent higher than in “large urban areas”…

The suicide rate in rural America is 45% greater than in large urban areas, according to a study released last fall by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A more recent CDC report said Montana’s suicide rate leads the nation, coming in at nearly twice the national average. A third long-touted CDC study, currently under review, listed farming in the occupational group, along with fishing and forestry, with the highest rate of suicide deaths.

That occupational study was based on 2012 data, when farming was strong and approaching its peak in 2013, says Jennifer Fahy, communications director for the nonprofit Farm Aid. Farmers’ net income has fallen 50% since 2013 and is expected to drop to a 12-year low this year, the US Department of Agriculture reports.

Without a doubt, things are tough in rural areas all over the nation right now.  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, almost 1 out of every 4 children in rural areas is currently living in poverty.  My wife and I live in a rural area, and there are so many families up here that are deeply struggling right now.

As the middle class has deteriorated, more Americans than ever have been forced to turn to the government for help.  At this point, almost 52 percent of all children live in a home that receives monthly help from the federal government

The Census Bureau has released new data that strengthens the case for calling the current generation of American children “The Welfare Generation.”

Among American residents under 18 years of age in 2017, according to the Census Bureau, 51.7 percent lived in households in which one or more persons received benefits from a means-tested government program.

If the U.S. economy really was in good shape, we wouldn’t have such a dramatic problem with poverty.

And this is something that a lot of Americans are quite concerned about.  The following are some very interesting numbers from a recent MSN poll

  • Approximately 2/3 of people are concerned about the level of poverty in the United States right now.
  • Women are 1.2x more likely than men to be concerned about the issue of poverty.
  • Generally speaking, the more money you make, the less likely you are to care about poverty (although more than half of those making $150K+ are still concerned about the issue).

From those numbers, it looks like men have some work to do in the compassion department.

In the years ahead, poverty is likely to get a whole lot worse in this country.

The suicide rate has already been spiking during “normal times”, and many are deeply alarmed about what might happen once this nation enters a period of utter despair.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

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