New Numbers Confirm That The Global Economy And The U.S. Economy Are The Weakest They Have Been Since The Last Recession

Even mainstream economists are admitting that economic activity is slowing down.  And at this point that fact would be very difficult to deny, because the numbers are very clear.  We haven’t faced anything like this in a decade, and many are deeply concerned about what is coming next.  Will it be just another recession, or will it be an even greater crisis than we faced in 2008?  According to Bloomberg Economics, the global economy experienced a “sharp loss of speed” over the course of 2008 and global economic conditions are now “the weakest since the global financial crisis”…

The global economy’s sharp loss of speed through 2018 has left the pace of expansion the weakest since the global financial crisis a decade ago, according to Bloomberg Economics.

Its new GDP tracker puts world growth at 2.1 percent on a quarter-on-quarter annualized basis, down from about 4 percent in the middle of last year. While there’s a chance that the economy may find a foothold and arrest the slowdown, “the risk is that downward momentum will be self-sustaining,” say economists Dan Hanson and Tom Orlik.

This is definitely the worst condition that the global economy has been in since I started The Economic Collapse Blog, and I am personally very alarmed about where things are heading.  The tremendous economic optimism of early 2018 has given way to a tremendous wave of pessimism, and the speed at which the economic environment is changing has stunned a lot of the experts.

In fact, Bloomberg economists Dan Hanson and Tom Orlik openly admit that they are “surprised” by how quickly the global economy has shifted…

“The cyclical upswing that took hold of the global economy in mid-2017 was never going to last. Even so, the extent of the slowdown since late last year has surprised many economists, including us.

Of course the U.S. has not been immune from the changes.  The U.S. economy is rapidly slowing down as well, and this is something that I have been heavily documenting on my website.

And now we have just received more confirmation that the economy is decelerating.  The Atlanta Fed has just updated their GDPNow model yet again, and with this new revision they are now projecting that the U.S. economy will grow at a rate of just 0.2 percent during the first quarter of 2019…

Moments ago we got another confirmation of this, when following the latest retail sales report which saw a dramatic cut to December retail sales even as January surprised modestly to the upside, the Atlanta Fed slashed its Q1 GDP nowcast, and after rebounding modestly from 0.3% to 0.5% a week ago, it has once again slumped, and is now at the lowest recorded level, and just 0.2% away from economic contraction.

This is how the AtlantaFed justified its latest Q1 GDP cut, which as of March 11 was just 0.2 percent, down from 0.5 percent on March 8: “After this morning’s retail sales report from the U.S. Census Bureau, the nowcast of first-quarter real personal consumption expenditures growth declined from 1.5 percent to 1.0 percent.”

In other words, we are just a razor thin margin away from entering an economic contraction.

Last week, we learned that U.S. job cut announcements were up 117 percent in February when compared to last year.  All of the economic momentum is in a negative direction right now, and it is going to be exceedingly difficult to avert a recession at this point.

And of course a lot of analysts believe that what is coming will be a whole lot worse than just a recession.  The greatest debt bubble in the entire history of our planet is in the process of bursting, and the consequences are going to be absolutely horrific.  I really like how financial expert Egon von Greyerz recently made this point

People must understand that the world has never faced risk of this magnitude. We are now in the final seconds of the global mega bubble, the likes of which the world has never seen before. What will happen next will be worse than the fall of the Roman Empire, much worse than the South Sea and Mississippi Bubbles, and will create a disaster that will dwarf the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The problem is simple to define and is all based around debts and liabilities. At the beginning of this century, global debt was $80 trillion. When the Great Financial Crisis started in 2006, global debt had gone up by 56% to $125 trillion. Today it is $250 trillion.

There is no way that a 250 trillion dollar bubble is going to burst in an orderly fashion.  Essentially, we are looking at the sort of apocalyptic financial scenario that I have been warning about for a long time, and most people have no idea that it is coming.

And if people only listened to the financial authorities, it would be easy to get the impression that everything is going to be just fine.

For example, Fed Chair Jay Powell just told 60 Minutes that the outlook for the U.S. economy “is a favorable one”.  The following comes from Fox Business

Jay Powell, the head of the Federal Reserve, says he does not see a recession hitting the U.S. economy anytime soon.

“The outlook for our economy, in my view, is a favorable one,” Powell said Sunday in an interview with CBS’s Scott Pelley for “60 Minutes.”

If you are tempted to believe Powell, let me remind you of what former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke told Congress in early 2008

“The U.S. economy remains extraordinarily resilient,” the U.S. central bank chief said in answering questions after testifying before the House of Representatives Budget Committee.

Bernanke added that growth will be worse this year. “We currently see the economy as continuing to grow, but growing at a relatively slow pace, particularly in the first half of this year,” he said.

Of course we all remember what happened next.  The U.S. economy plunged into the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and we are still dealing with the aftermath of that crisis to this day.

Nobody is going to ring a bell when the next recession starts.  It is just going to happen, and just like last time, most Americans are going to be blindsided by it.

About 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.

U.S. Job Cut Announcements Rise 117 Percent To The Highest Level That We Have Seen In More Than 3 Years

We have not seen anything like this since the last recession.  Layoff announcements are coming fast and furious now, and the speed at which workers are being laid off is shocking a lot of people.  In this day and age, big companies have absolutely no loyalty to their workers.  The moment it becomes financially advantageous for them to start laying off employees, most of them will do it in a heartbeat.  I personally know someone that was an extremely hard worker and that put in extra time and effort for his company for many, many years, but he was just laid off because that is what the number crunchers determined was the right move.  It is a cold, cruel world, and as we witnessed back in 2008, job losses can occur at a pace that is absolutely breathtaking when a recession strikes.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been documenting the numbers that indicate that a major economic slowdown has begun, and we may have gotten the biggest one so far on Thursday.

According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the number of job cut announcements in February was up 117 percent compared to the same period last year.  The following comes from Fox Business

While many experts and investors are eagerly awaiting data on status of the labor market Opens a New Window. to be released by the government on Friday, a new report shows U.S. employers cut more jobs Opens a New Window. last month than they have in the past 3.5 years.

Even though it is the shortest month of the year, U.S. employers announced plans to cut 76,835 jobs last month, according to a report from Challenger, Gray & Christmas. That’s a 117 percent year-over-year increase, and a 45 percent increase over January’s numbers.

You have to go all the way back to 2015 to find a month that was as bad as February.

Are you starting to see that the momentum for the economy has clearly shifted?

The economic news just keeps getting worse and worse as we roll through 2019, and the retail sector is being hit harder than just about anyone else.

In fact, retailers announced more job cuts in February than any other sector did

The retail sector had the most planned job cuts, with 41,201 so far this year – the highest January-February total since 2009. The industrial goods sector – including some manufacturers – followed with nearly 32,000 cuts announced during the same time period.

The primary reasons employers cited for eliminating positions were restructuring and bankruptcy.

This is being called a “retail apocalypse”, and we are on pace to absolutely shatter the all-time record for store closings in a single year.

At this point, retailers have already announced the closure of more than 5,300 stores.  The following list of retailers that have announced that they are shutting down at least 10 locations comes from Business Insider

Payless ShoeSource: 2,500 stores
Gymboree: 805 stores
Family Dollar: 390 stores
Shopko: 251 stores
Chico’s: 250 stores
Gap: 230 stores
Performance Bicycle: 102 stores
Charlotte Russe: 520 stores
Sears: 70 stores
Destination Maternity: 42-67 stores
Victoria’s Secret: 53 stores
Kmart: 50 stores
Abercrombie & Fitch: 40 stores
Christopher & Banks: 30-40 stores
JCPenney: 27 stores
Beauty Brands: 25 stores
Henri Bendel: 23 stores
Lowe’s: 20 stores

And that list doesn’t even include the fact that Amazon is closing all 87 of its pop-up stores.

I have repeatedly warned that we will be facing a future of boarded up windows, empty retail stores and abandoned malls, and it is happening right in front of our eyes.

Of course it isn’t just the retail industry that is rapidly laying off workers.  Here are just a few of the highlights from the workforce reduction announcements that we have seen in recent days…

-Tesla continues to struggle, and they have already laid off 8 percent of their entire workforce.

-Microsoft is cutting approximately 200 jobs in their commercial sales business.

-JP Morgan is steadily shutting down bank branches in lower income neighborhoods.

-We Work has announced that they have let 300 employees go.

-Devon Energy is eliminating about 200 workers.

-Whole Foods is cutting back worker hours.

-Encana has announced that it is laying off 274 workers in the Houston area.

-In North Carolina, Duke Energy has eliminated 1,900 positions.

-Ocwen Financial is planning to lay off approximately 2,000 workers over the course of 2019.

And in my article yesterday, I noted that General Motors is shutting down four major production plants this year.

It’s really happening.

The bubble of debt-fueled false prosperity that we have been enjoying is disappearing, and the road ahead is going to be really rough.

On Thursday we also learned that U.S. household wealth has been plummeting.  In fact, the fourth quarter of 2018 was the worst quarter for household balance sheets since the last financial crisis

Americans’ net worth fell at the highest level since the financial crisis in the fourth quarter of 2018 as sliding stock market prices ate into the household balance sheet.

Net worth dropped to $104.3 trillion as the year came to an end, a decrease of $3.73 trillion from the third quarter, according to figures released Thursday by the Federal Reserve. The fall amounted to a drop of 3.4 percent.

An increasing number of families are feeling financially squeezed these days, and many of them are accumulating large amounts of debt as they attempt to keep things going.

But for a lot of Americans that are currently drowning in debt, the end of the road has already been reached.

In an article that I posted yesterday, I noted that an all-time record 7 million Americans are behind on their vehicle payments, 37 million credit card accounts are considered to be “seriously delinquent”, and 166 billion dollars worth of student loans are now in the “seriously delinquent” category.

This is a consumer debt crisis that already surpasses the numbers that we witnessed during the last recession.

Nobody is quite sure what is going to happen next.  This is very much a developing story, and I will share new numbers with you as I get them in.

We haven’t experienced anything quite like this since 2008, and most Americans are completely unprepared for a new economic downturn.

About 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.

Job = Just Over Broke

Jobs - Public DomainIf you are fortunate enough to have a job in America today, the phrase “just over broke” probably describes you.  Yes, there are a handful of jobs that certainly pay very well, but most Americans that work for somebody else are just barely making it from month to month.  More than half of all working Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and more than half of all working Americans make less than $30,000 a year.  That is an amazing statistic but it is actually true.  Once upon a time, anyone that was responsible and that was willing to work hard could get a good job in America.  But now those days are long gone.  Instead, we live at a time when good jobs are disappearing and when the middle class is getting smaller with each passing year.  In some homes, the husband and the wife are both working multiple jobs and they can still barely pay their bills.  Something has gone horribly wrong, and yet our leaders just keep telling us how wonderful our economy is.

One of the biggest things that has killed jobs in this country is the fact that the U.S. economy has been steadily merged into the emerging one world economic system over the past several decades.  They call it “free trade”, but they never told us that we would be merged into a single global labor pool where we would be competing directly for jobs with workers on the other side of the planet that live in nations where it is legal to pay slave labor wages.

According to Gallup, only about 1.3 billion people around the world work full-time for an employer at this point.

But overall there are more than 7 billion people.

That means that there are a whole lot of really poor, really desperate people that need to be employed.

This has been wonderful for the big corporations.  They can just take jobs away from American workers and give them to people who are willing to work for less than a tenth of what an American worker would make.  This has resulted in the systematic deindustrialization of the United States and horrific decline in dozens of formerly great manufacturing cities.

At the same time, we have also been losing millions of middle class jobs to technology.  At this point, robots are even starting to replace warehouse workers and fast food employees.  As robots become even more advanced and become even cheaper to produce, there will be less jobs available for the rest of us.

And what happens when robots can do everything better than us?

Because there are fewer middle class jobs available, the competition for the remaining jobs has become incredibly intense.  In recent years, millions of Americans have been forced to take just about anything that they can get.  For those Americans, “just over broke” has become “just trying to survive” as they scratch and claw their way through life.

A recent CNBC article profiled one such individual.  His name is Ken Bowman, and his job at a guitar shop just barely enables him to pay his rent and feed himself…

Ken Bowman joins the line for a free lunch in the Youngstown Salvation Army canteen, just like he does every Friday.

Looking younger than his 21 years, his hair dyed jet black and wearing big, battered boots, Bowman plays heavy metal on his cell phone. He chooses a seat at the end of a table and sits hunched over his tray, his blues eyes furtively sweeping the room. The others sit in packs, regulars who’ve formed lunchtime friendships over their burnt coffee and peppered corn, discussing the jobs they once had and the government benefits they no longer get.

Bowman is sensitive to the stigma of accepting handouts like lunch. “[It] doesn’t mean you’re homeless or poor, people have standards but they struggle,” he said, his chin jutting out, his eyes glowering.

After paying his rent, Bowman says his job in a guitar shop leaves him with $50 a month to live on — if he can get shifts. He is one of America’s “underemployed,” a group of as many as 11 million Americans struggling to survive in society’s shadows on wages that put them below the federal poverty line.

There are millions of others out there just like Bowman.  In fact, as I mentioned in a previous article, one out of every four part-time workers in America is living below the poverty line.  The “working poor” is a phrase that describes a very large segment of the U.S. population today.

And the cold, hard truth of the matter is that most of the country is steadily getting poorer.  According to a study recently discussed in the New York Times, the “typical American household” is now worth 36 percent less than it was worth a decade ago.  That is a staggering decline in just ten years.

Meanwhile, the cost of living continues to rise.  This is something that I have discussed repeatedly, but sometimes a picture can say things far better than any words can.

The photo posted below has been floating around on Twitter.  It is of a McDonald’s menu from the 1960s.  As you can see, prices have gone up a little bit since then…

Inflation - McDonald's

Most people think that I am crazy when I tell them that I can remember a cup of coffee being sold for a quarter when I was young.  But it is true.  Over the long-term, our purchasing power has been systematically destroyed by the insane polices of the Federal Reserve.

Sadly, most Americans don’t understand any of this.  They just trust that our leaders actually know what they are doing.  Meanwhile, they just keep on struggling to survive in an economic system that is stacked against them.

According to one recent study, 40 percent of all households in the United States are experiencing financial stress right now and the homeownership rate for Americans under the age of 35 is at an all-time low.

In the old days, if you got your education, worked hard and did all the right things, it was just about an automatic ticket to the middle class.

Today it doesn’t work like that.

Instead, more Americans than ever are being forced to become dependent on the government.  If you can believe it, Americans received more than 2 trillion dollars in benefits from the federal government last year alone.

So it astounds me whenever I hear anyone say that the economy is in “good shape”.

How can it be in “good shape” when one out of every three adults in the United States has an unpaid debt that is “in collections” and there are 49 million Americans that are dealing with food insecurity?

The truth is that we are in the midst of a long-term economic decline that is the result of decades of incredibly foolish decisions.

Until the American people start understanding what has happened to us, they are never going to demand real change that actually accomplishes something.

Will The Bottom Fall Out? 15 Signs That Layoffs And Job Losses Are Skyrocketing

If you still have a good job, you might want to hold on to it very tightly because there are a whole bunch of signs that unemployment in the United States is about to start getting worse again.  Over the past several weeks, a substantial number of large corporations have announced disappointing earnings for the third quarter.  Many of those large corporations are also loaded up with huge amounts of debt.  So what is the solution?  Well, the favorite solution on Wall Street these days seems to be to lay off workers.  In fact, it is almost turning into a feeding frenzy.  Since September 1st, we have seen more job cuts announced than during any other two month period since the start of 2010.  These announcements represent future layoffs and job losses which are not even showing up in the unemployment numbers yet.  So needless to say, things don’t look very promising for the end of 2012 or for the beginning of 2013.  If this race to eliminate jobs becomes a stampede, will we see the bottom fall out of the employment market?

If you are concerned about whether or not you will still have a job 12 months from now, you might find the numbers posted below to be quite alarming.  We have not seen layoff announcements come this fast and this furious since the gloomy days of the last recession.

According to Bloomberg, job cuts are well ahead of the pace set last year…

North American companies have announced plans to eliminate more than 62,600 positions at home and abroad since Sept. 1, the biggest two-month drop since the start of 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Firings total 158,100 so far this year, more than the 129,000 job cuts in the same period in 2011.

So what happens if the economy really starts sliding rapidly and this loss of jobs becomes an avalanche?

Can the U.S. economy and the American people handle another major economic downturn?

Some of the biggest names in the business world have announced job cuts in recent weeks.  The following are 15 signs that layoffs and job losses are skyrocketing…

1. Dow Chemical has announced that it will be closing about 20 plants and will be letting about 2,400 workers go.

2. Colgate-Palmolive has announced that they will be eliminating about 2,300 jobs.

3. DuPont has announced plans to eliminate about 1,500 jobs.

4. Ford has announced that it will be eliminating 6,200 jobs and will be reducing production capacity in Europe by 18 percent.

5. Hewlett-Packard announced last month that they plan to eliminate 29,000 jobs.

6. Chip maker AMD has announced that they will be getting rid of about 15 percent of their workers.

7. Sony has announced plans to reduce their workforce by about 2,000 workers.

8. Electronics manufacturer Sharp reportedly plans to eliminate 11,000 jobs.

9. Engine maker Cummins Inc. has announced that they plan to get rid of about 1,500 jobs by the end of 2012.

10. Earlier this month Applied Materials announced a plan that will eliminate up to 1,300 jobs.

11. Zynga (known for making video games for Facebook such as FarmVille) has announced that they are reducing their workforce by about 5 percent.

12. Lattice Semiconductor has announced plans to eliminate about 13 percent of their jobs.

13. Alcatel-Lucent recently announced a plan to eliminate more than 5000 jobs all over the globe.

14. Siemens AG has announced that the number of positions being eliminated may reach 10,000 by the end of the year.

15. Banking giant UBS plans to eliminate up to 5,000 jobs.

Please keep in mind that these job cuts do not show up in the unemployment numbers yet.  When big corporations announce the elimination of jobs, it often takes a while before those job losses actually take place.

Sadly, I believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg.  I am convinced that the layoffs and the job losses are going to get a lot worse.

In fact, 2013 is already shaping up to be a very difficult year for the economy no matter how the election turns out.

Those of you that read my articles regularly already know that our economic system is becoming increasingly unstable.  We could literally plunge into another major recession at any moment.

Not that we need any more economic trouble.  Tens of millions of American families are having to fight tooth and nail just to make it from month to month right now.

There aren’t enough jobs and the middle class is rapidly shrinking.  Even if you do have a job, that does not mean that you are doing okay.  About a quarter of all jobs do not even pay enough to lift a family of four above the poverty level, and entry level wages for those with just a high school education have been steadily declining over the past 40 years.  If you doubt this, just check out this chart.

So what is going to happen if we do have another avalanche of job losses like we saw back in 2008 and 2009?

Will even more of us end up dependent on the government?

We are told that we are in the midst of an “economic recovery”, but the number of Americans that are dependent on the government just continues to soar.  In fact, at this point it is at an all-time high.

If the economy is getting better, then why does the number of Americans on food stamps just keep going up?  To get an idea of just how massive the food stamp program has become, just check out this infographic.

One of the most frightening things about the possibility of another major economic downturn is the loss of hope that it could bring.

At this point, most Americans still believe that things will get better eventually.

But what is going to happen when large segments of our population lose all hope?

How desperate will they become?

When people become desperate, they tend to do desperate things.

Just check out what happened to a family down in Woodstock, Georgia the other day.  They had just lost their home to foreclosure, and they were getting ready to move out.  So they posted an ad on Craigslist for people to come over and get some things that they were planning to get rid of.  What happened next is a glimpse into the kind of desperate behavior that we may see during the next major economic downturn…

Their online post was just a well-meaning ad for a giveaway in their driveway outside the small house, a giveaway scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

But big crowds showed up and ended up taking practically everything inside the house, too.

Wednesday night, Michael Vercher walked 11Alive’s Jon Shirek through his family’s almost empty soon-to-be former home.

“Well, when we got to the house, I mean, pretty much — this,” he said as he stepped from the foyer into the living room.

Their home — ransacked, ravaged, raked over.

Almost everything inside — gone.

My wife and I once used Craigslist quite a bit, but incidents like this make one question the wisdom of inviting strangers to come to your home.

Sadly, the truth is that society is rapidly decaying, and the worse unemployment becomes the more desperate people are going to get.

So what do you think about all of this?

Do you have any stories that you would like to share?

Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…

There Are 100 Million Working Age Americans That Do Not Have Jobs ***UPDATED***

The unemployment crisis in America is much worse than you are being told.  Did you know that there are 100 million working age Americans that do not get up in the morning and go to work?  No wonder why it seems like there are so many people that do not have jobs!  According to the federal government, there are 12.6 million working age Americans that are considered to be “officially” unemployed, but there are another 87.8 million working age Americans that are not working either.  The federal government considers those Americans to be “not in the labor force” so they are not included in the unemployment rate.  In fact, this is one of the key ways that the government manipulates the unemployment numbers.  The Obama administration would have us believe that the unemployment rate is going down and that that since the start of the last recession about as many Americans have left the labor force as we saw during the entire decades of the 1980s and 1990s combined.  Of course that is a bunch of nonsense, but that is what the Obama administration would have us believe.  The truth is that the percentage of working age Americans that are employed is just about the same right now as it was two years ago.  It was incredibly difficult to get a job back then and it is incredibly difficult to get a job right now.  So don’t believe the hype that things are getting much better.  If you still do have a good job, you might want to hold on to it tightly, because there is not much hope that things are going to improve significantly any time soon.

The first chart that I have posted below shows the total number of “officially” unemployed workers in America.  According to the Federal Reserve, that number is currently 12,673,000.  This chart makes it look like the employment picture in America is getting significantly better….

But if you dig deeper into the numbers you quickly see that this is not true.  A lot of those workers that were formerly classified as “unemployed” have now been moved into the “not in labor force” category.  Since the start of the last recession, the number of Americans not in the labor force has risen by more than 8 million according to the Obama administration.  The total number of working age Americans not in the labor force now stands at 87,897,000….

So when you add 12,673,000 and 87,897,000, you get a total of 100,570,000 working age Americans that do not have jobs.

Yes, there are certainly millions upon millions of working age Americans that do not have jobs and that do not want jobs.

But you have to be delusional to believe that there are nearly 88 million working age Americans that do not have jobs and that do not want jobs.

The Obama administration tells us that the labor force participation rate is now the lowest it has been since 1984.  But back then, a very large percentage of women were staying home and raising families.  The percentage of stay at home mothers has declined steadily since then.

So the truth is that the employment statistics that we are being fed are not portraying an accurate picture of what is really going on.

As a CNN article recently explained, there are millions of Americans that say that they would like to have a job even though they have not been “actively” looking for one in the past four weeks.  If those people were included in the unemployment rate, it would immediately shoot up to around 11 percent….

About six million people claim they want a job, even though they haven’t looked for one in the last four weeks. If they were to all start applying for work again, the unemployment rate would suddenly shoot up above 11%.

If you want a much more accurate picture of what is really happening to the employment situation in America, the key is to look at the employment to population ratio.  As I have written about previously, the percentage of working age Americans that have jobs is not increasing.

Let’s take a look at the employment to population ratio for the last six years for the month of March….

March 2007: 63.3%

March 2008: 62.7%

March 2009: 59.9%

March 2010: 58.5%

March 2011: 58.5%

March 2012: 58.5%

The percentage of the working age population that had jobs fell rapidly during the recession and it has stayed very low since then.

When Barack Obama tells you that “America is going back to work” he is lying to you.

The cold, hard reality of the matter is that there are millions of hard working Americans that have been sitting at home for years hoping that a new job will come along.

Back in 2007, approximately 10 percent of all unemployed Americans had been out of work for one year or longer.

Today, that figure is above 30 percent.

The average duration of unemployment in the United States today is about three times as long as it was back in the year 2000.

And according to a recent Wall Street Journal article, the number of announced job cuts is actually rising again….

Also, announced jobs cuts rose 7.1% in April, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, to 40,599 — and up 11.2% from last April — another bit of evidence that the jobs market isn’t doing well.

Economic conditions in the United States have been steadily getting worse for quite a while, but that is not the only reason for our employment problems.

There are two other trends that I want to briefly mention.

1) A lot of jobs that used to be very labor intensive are now being replaced by technology.  Thanks to robotics, automation and computers, a lot of big companies simply do not need as many workers these days.  Those are jobs that are never going to come back.

2) As labor has become a global commodity, millions upon millions of U.S. jobs have been sent overseas.  Today, you are not just competing for a job with your neighbors.  You are also competing with workers on the other side of the globe.  Unfortunately, it is legal to pay slave labor wages in many of those countries.  By sending our jobs out of the country, big corporations can also avoid a whole host of rules, regulations, taxes and benefit payments that they would be facing if they hired American workers.

So U.S. workers are at a massive competitive disadvantage.  Why should a big corporation pay 10 or 20 times more for an American worker when they can pad their profits by exploiting cheap foreign labor?

The sad truth is that the value that the marketplace puts on the labor of the average American worker is continually decreasing.

This is making it much more difficult to find a job and it is keeping wages down.

In the old days, pretty much any man that was a hard worker and that really wanted a good job could go out and get one.

But now all of that has changed.  Back in 1950, more than 80 percent of all men in the United States had jobs.  Today, less than 65 percent of all men in the United States have jobs.

And sadly, the vast majority of the jobs that are being lost are good jobs.  As I wrote about the other day, 95 percent of the jobs lost during the recession were middle class jobs.

So how are middle class families making it these days?

Many of them are going into tremendous amounts of debt.  As a recent CNN article detailed, the average debt load being carried by those of us in the bottom 95 percent of all income earners has risen dramatically over the past several decades….

In 1983, the bottom 95% had 62 cents of debt for every dollar they earned, according to research by two International Monetary Fund economists. But by 2007, the ratio had soared to $1.48 of debt for every $1 in earnings.

Unfortunately, many American families are absolutely maxed out at this point.  According to one recent survey, approximately one-third of all Americans are currently paying their bills late.

If your goal is to live a middle class lifestyle, you need to realize that the entire way that the game is being played is changing.

In the old days, you could start out with a company as a young person and stay with that company until you retired.  If you worked hard and you were loyal, there was a really good chance that the company would recognize that and be loyal to you too.

These days, most companies are absolutely heartless when it comes to their workers.  The good job that you have today could be gone tomorrow.  Workers are increasingly being viewed as “liabilities”, and there is a good chance that the moment you become “expendable” to your company you will be kicked out on the street.

That is one reason why I am encouraging people to consider starting their own businesses.  If you work for someone else, your security can be taken away from you at any moment.  But if you work for yourself, you aren’t going to get fired.

Unfortunately, tough economic times are coming and things are not going to be easy no matter what road you take.  It will be imperative to work harder than ever, to stay flexible, and to never, ever give up.

***UPDATE***

Since the monthly jobs numbers were released on Friday I thought I would update this article to reflect the latest figures.

The federal government has announced that the unemployment rate has declined to 8.1 percent.

That certainly sounds like good news.

But knowing better, I immediately went and checked how the employment to population ratio had changed.

Well, it turns out that the employment to population ratio has fallen once again.

That means that a smaller percentage of working age Americans had jobs in April than in March.

The following are the figures for the past three months….

February 2012: 58.6%

March 2012: 58.5%

April 2012: 58.4%

If the percentage of people that have jobs is going down, then how can they claim that things are getting better?

The following are the two Federal Reserve charts posted above after they have been updated with the new numbers.  These charts are very revealing.

1) There are now 12,500,000 workers that are “officially” considered to be unemployed….

2) There are now 88,419,000 Americans that are considered to be “not in the labor force”.  Please note that this number rose by 522,000 in just a single month!….

Okay, so now let’s do the same math that we did before.

12,500,000 unemployed workers plus 88,419,000 Americans that are “not in the labor force” equals 100,919,000 working age Americans that do not have jobs.

That number just continues to climb at a very rapid pace.

When is the mainstream media going to start telling us the truth?

Labor Day 2011: What Are We Celebrating? The Lack Of Jobs In America?

If you still have a good job, you certainly have something to celebrate on Labor Day 2011.  So far you have survived the decline of the U.S. economy.  But your day may be coming soon.  This weekend, there will be millions of Americans that will not be doing any celebrating.  They are not enjoying a break from their jobs because they don’t have any jobs.  In fact, it seems kind of heartless for the rest of us to be celebrating while so many of our countrymen are destitute.  What are we celebrating on Labor Day 2011?  The lack of jobs in America?  At this point, the U.S. economy closely resembles a gigantic game of musical chairs.  Every time the music stops, even more good jobs are pulled out of the game and even more workers are added.  Once upon a time, if you really wanted a job in America you could get one.  But now the competition for even the most basic jobs is absolutely brutal.  If you gathered together all of the unemployed people in the United States, they would constitute the 68th largest country in the world.  It would be a nation larger than Greece.  All of those unemployed people are not going to be taking trips with their families this holiday weekend.  Instead, most of them are going to be trying to figure out what to do with their shattered lives.

With the economy in such a mess, you would think that someone out there would be suggesting that Labor Day 2011 should really be a day of mourning.  This economic downturn has shredded the lives of millions of American families.

Is there any other crisis in recent years that has had more of an impact on a national level?

On Friday, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that no new jobs were created during the month of August and that the official unemployment rate remained steady at 9.1 percent.

Wait, aren’t we supposed to be in the middle of an economic recovery?

Actually, we need at least 125,000 new jobs or so each month just to keep up with the growth of the U.S. population.  So it seems odd that the economy would add zero jobs but the unemployment rate would not increase.

But that is what the government is saying.

In any event, things don’t look good.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the civilian employment-population ratio was at 58.2 percent last month.  This is an incredibly low figure.

In a recent article, John Mauldin explained what would have to happen to return the employment-population ratio to where it was in the year 2000….

The US has roughly the same number of jobs today as it had in 2000, but the population is well over 30,000,000 larger. To get to a civilian employment-to-population ratio equal to that in 2000, we would have to gain some 18 MILLION jobs.

Does anyone have an extra 18 million jobs laying around somewhere?  The following is a chart showing what has happened to the employment-population ratio over the last several decades….

What makes this chart even more startling is that the number of women in the workforce was constantly rising for most of the time period reflected in this chart.  So when you take that into account our current situation is far worse.

For example, back in 1969 95 percent of all men between the ages of 25 and 54 had a job.  Pretty much any man in his prime working years that wanted a job could get a job.

In July, only 81.2 percent of men in that age group had a job.

But that is only part of the story.  Another significant trend has been how flat wages have been.  Average hourly earnings fell 0.1% in August.  Meanwhile, the prices in the stores continue to go up.

In this column, I write a lot about how the middle class is being destroyed in this country.  When you look at the ratio of employee compensation to GDP, it is now the lowest that is has been in about 50 years.  In other words, U.S. workers are taking home a smaller share of the pie than at any other time in modern U.S. history.

But at this point those that still actually do have jobs consider themselves to be the lucky ones.

Tonight, there will be millions of desperate unemployed Americans that will blankly stare at their televisions as they try to figure out how their dreams got flushed down the toilet.

Remember how I mentioned at the beginning of the article that unemployed Americans would constitute a country larger than Greece?  Well, 42 percent of all of those unemployed Americans have been out of a job for 27 weeks or longer.

What would you do if you lost your job and you were unemployed for half a year?

Would you be able to survive?

In America today, the longer that you are unemployed, the harder it is for you to get another job.  If you have been unemployed for at least one year, there is a 91 percent chance that you will not find a new job within the next month.

Out of sheer desperation, many Americans have taken jobs that they never even dreamed that they would take.

Only 47 percent of the U.S. workforce is “fully employed” at this point.  Right now there are hordes of Americans that are waiting tables, flipping burgers or stocking shelves at Wal-Mart because that is all that they can find right now.

Sadly, this is all part of a long-term trend.

Back in 1980, less than 30% of all jobs in the United States were low income jobs.  Today, more than 40% of all jobs in the United States are low income jobs.

This middle class is being pummeled out of existence, and most Americans don’t even understand what is happening.

It certainly does not help that both the Republicans and the Democrats have stood by as millions upon millions of our jobs have been shipped out of the country.

It also certainly does not help that both the Republicans and the Democrats have stood by as millions upon millions of illegal immigrants have taken jobs away from American citizens.

It also certainly does not help that both the Republicans and the Democrats have stood by as U.S. businesses have been absolutely crushed by mountains of nightmarish regulations and have been taxed into oblivion.

The decade that just ended was the worst decade for job growth in America since the Great Depression.  In fact, even though thirty million people were added to the U.S. population during the decade, there was essentially zero job growth.

Sadly, things look like they are going to continue to get even worse.  For example, the United States Postal Service is in such trouble that it is asking Congress to allow it to lay off 120,000 workers. Overall, the Postal Service wants to eliminate 220,000 positions by 2015.

So is this big speech that Obama is going to give on Thursday going to solve anything?

Of course not.

The reality is that if Obama or any of his advisors had any grand ideas for fixing our situation they would have implemented them by now.

And what is the big deal in making us wait until Thursday to hear these “new ideas”?  Why not just tell us now?

Sadly, the truth is that everything that our politicians do now is about setting themselves up for the 2012 election.

Most likely, Obama is just going to take a bunch of tired ideas that do not work and “spin” them into a grand new plan.

Millions of Americans will actually buy into it.

But it is not as if establishment Republican candidates have anything to offer either.

You know, if Obama wanted to do something substantial, one place to start would be to order the Federal Reserve to stop paying banks not to make loans to individual and small businesses.

But just like all of our other weak-minded recent presidents, Barack Obama is not going to confront the Federal Reserve.

In fact, everything that Obama actually does “for the economy” only seems to make things worse.

As I have outlined before, we know exactly why our economy is losing jobs and we know things that we could start doing right now to reverse the long-term trends that are absolutely killing us.

But Barack Obama is not talking about real solutions and neither are the establishment Republican candidates.

So things are going to continue to get worse.  The number of Americans on food stamps has increased 74% since 2007.  Every month we have been setting a new record.  The middle class is going to continue to disappear as the number of good jobs continues to decrease.

So, no, there are not too many reasons to celebrate on Labor Day 2011.  Our economy is dying and millions upon millions of our fellow citizens are deeply suffering.

Urgent action is required in order to prevent our situation from rapidly getting worse, but right now the vast majority of our politicians are asleep at the switch.

So instead of celebrating this Labor Day, why don’t you say a prayer for America instead?

We really could use it.

What Is Outsourcing?

Once upon a time in America, virtually anyone with a high school education and the willingness to work hard could get a good job.  Fifty years ago a “good job” would enable someone to own a home, buy a car, take a couple of vacations a year and retire with a decent pension.  Unfortunately, those days are long gone.  Every single year the number of “good jobs” in the United States actually shrinks even as our population continues to grow.  Where in the world did all of those good jobs go?  Economists toss around terms such as “outsourcing” and “offshoring” to describe what is happening, but most ordinary Americans don’t really grasp what those terms mean.  So what is outsourcing?  Well, it essentially means sending work somewhere else.  In the context of this article I will be using those terms to describe the thousands of manufacturing facilities and the millions of jobs that have been sent overseas.  Over the past several decades, the U.S. economy has become increasingly merged into the emerging “one world economy”.  Thanks to the WTO, NAFTA and a whole host of other “free trade” agreements, the internationalist dream of a truly “global marketplace” is closer than ever before.

But for American workers, a “global marketplace” is really bad news.  In the United States, businesses are subject to a vast array of very complex laws, rules and regulations that make it very difficult to operate in this country.  That makes it very tempting for corporations to simply move out of the U.S. in order to avoid all of the hassle.

In addition, the United States now has the highest corporate tax rate in the entire world.  This also provides great motivation for corporations to move operations outside of the country.

The biggest thing affecting American workers, however, is the fact that labor has now become a global commodity.  U.S. workers have now been merged into a global labor pool.  Americans must now directly compete for jobs with hundreds of millions of desperate people willing to work for slave labor wages on the other side of the globe.

So exactly how is an American worker supposed to compete with a highly motivated person on the other side of the planet that makes $1.50 an hour with essentially no benefits?

Just think about it.

If you were a big global corporation, would you want to hire American workers which would cost you 10 or 20 times more after everything is factored in?

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why millions of jobs have been leaving the United States.

Corporations love to make more money.  Many of them will not hesitate for an instant to pay slave labor wages if they can get away with it.  The bottom line for most corporations is to maximize shareholder wealth.

Slowly but surely the number of good jobs in the United States is shrinking and those jobs are being sent to places where labor is cheaper.

According to the U.S. Commerce Department, U.S. multinational corporations added 2.4 million new jobs overseas during the first decade of this century.  But during that same time frame U.S. multinational corporations cut a total of 2.9 million jobs inside the United States.

So where are all of our jobs going?

They are going to places like China.

The United States has lost an average of 50,000 manufacturing jobs per month since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

In addition, over 40,000 manufacturing facilities in the United States have been closed permanently during the past decade.

What do you think is eventually going to happen if the U.S. economy continues to bleed jobs and factories so badly?

As the U.S. has faltered, China has become an absolute economic powerhouse.

Ten years ago, the U.S. economy was three times as large as the Chinese economy.  At the turn of the century the United States accounted for well over 20 percent of global GDP and China accounted for significantly less than 10 percent of global GDP.  But since that time our share of global GDP has been steadily declining and China’s share has been steadily rising.

According to the IMF, China will pass the United States and will become the largest economy in the world in 2016.

Should we all celebrate when that happens?

Should we all chant “We’re Number 2”?

Our economy is falling to pieces and the competition for the few remaining good jobs has become super intense.

The average American family is having a really tough time right now.  Only 45.4% of Americans had a job during 2010.  The last time the employment level was that low was back in 1983.

Not only that, only 66.8% of American men had a job last year.  That was the lowest level that has ever been recorded in all of U.S. history.

Just think about that.

33.2% of American men do not have jobs.

And that figure is going to continue to rise unless something is done about these economic trends.

Today, there are 10% fewer “middle class jobs” in the United States than there were a decade ago.  Tens of millions of Americans have been forced to take “whatever they can get”.  A lot of very hard working people are basically working for peanuts at this point.  In fact, half of all American workers now earn $505 or less per week.

Things have gotten so bad that tens of thousands of people showed up for the National Hiring Day that McDonald’s just held.  With the economy such a mess, flipping burgers or welcoming people to Wal-Mart are jobs that suddenly don’t look so bad.

Right now America is rapidly losing high paying jobs and they are being replaced by low paying jobs.  According to a recent report from the National Employment Law Project, higher wage industries accounted for 40 percent of the job losses over the past 12 months but only 14 percent of the job growth.  Lower wage industries accounted for just 23 percent of the job losses over the past 12 months and a whopping 49 percent of the job growth.

Thanks to the emerging one world economy, the U.S. is “transitioning” from a manufacturing economy to a service economy.

But it certainly doesn’t help that China is using every trick in the book to steal our industries.  China openly subsidizes domestic industries, they brazenly steal technology and they manipulate currency rates.

A recent article on Economy In Crisis described how the Chinese paper industry has been able to grow by threefold over the past decade while the U.S. paper industry has fallen apart….

From 2002 to 2009, the Chinese government poured $33.1 billion into what should be an unproductive industry. But, with the help of government subsidies, China was able to ride export-driven growth to become the world’s leading producer of paper products.

In the same time frame that China pumped $33 billion into its paper industry, U.S. employment in the industry fell 29 percent, from 557,000 workers to just 398,000.

So why should we be concerned about all of this?

Well, just open up your eyes.  As I have written about previously, our formerly great cities are being transformed into post-apocalyptic hellholes.

In a comment to a recent article, Trucker Mark described what he has seen happen to the “rust belt” over the past several decades….

I am a product of Detroit’s northwest suburbs and the Cleveland, OH area, where together I lived almost 2/3rds of my 54 years. As a 30-year semi driver, I am intimately familiar with large areas of the industrial Midwest, the Northeast, and even much of central and southern California, and everything in-between. I am also college-educated, in Urban Planning and Economics. What has happened to not just Detroit, but to virtually every city in the southern half of Lower Michigan and northern Ohio is mind-boggling. When I was 18, it was quite common to head over to a car plant and get hired immediately into a middle-class job. At one time I had dozens of friends from school working at car plants, dozens more in other large factories, dozens more in major grocery warehousing and distribution, and me, I was a semi driver delivering to all of those places. Between 1979, when I started driving semis, and now, I must have seen 10s of thousands of factories across just the southern Great Lakes region close their doors. Some of them were small, and some of them employed 10,000 workers or more.

The former Packard plant from your photo closed in 1957, and at one time it employed 12,000 workers, and my roommate in 1982 in Birmingham, MI had been laid-off from the old Dodge Main plant in Hamtramck, which once employed over 20,000 workers, which closed in 1981. In 1970 just Chrysler had over 40 plants in the Detroit-area, and now there are just 11 left open. The Willow Run plant, which at one time turned-out a brand-new B-29 bomber every 40 minutes, and employed 50,000 workers, is long dead too, as is the tank plant north of town too. Even fairly new car plants like Novi Assembly are closed, Pontiac’s ultra-modern robotic car assembly plant too. In Cleveland 100 or more huge old plants stand empty, car plants, steel mills, and machine tool builders, in Akron dozens of rubber plants are long gone, Sharon, Warren, and Youngstown have all lost huge numbers of industrial jobs, Canton and Massillon too, where the NFL started, have been reduced to mere shells of their former selves. Along with the plant closings have gone the hopes and dreams of many thousands of retail operators, restaurant owners, and thousands of other small businesses too. Hundreds of entire major shopping malls stand vacant, as seas of potholes consume local roads. The city of Hamtramck, MI a Detroit suburb of 40,000 people, is bankrupt and has had to layoff all but two employees, one of whom works part-time. The traffic lights are shut-off and stop signs now appear at those intersections instead, as the city can’t even pay its power bill. I could go on & on & on for days but I don’t have the time.

I haven’t driven a semi in almost 2 years as my eyesight has begun giving out early. My last 10 years in the industry was spent delivering fresh and frozen meat on a regular multi-stop route through the Chicago-area and throughout southern Michigan. Between 2001 and 2009, my boss lost 14 of 19 major weekly customers in Michigan to bankruptcy, including three major grocery chains, plus numerous less-frequent customers. The Detroit News reported before Christmas of 2007 a 29% unemployment rate within the city limits of Detroit, with an estimated 44% of the total adult population not working, and another news story reported a 1 in 200 chance of selling a house across the entire metropolitan area, which still has 4 million people total. Since 2003, home prices within the city limits of Detroit have fallen by 90%, and today there are thousands of houses in move-in condition on the market there for $5K to $10K. The suburbs are not immune either.

You know what?  Detroit and Cleveland used to be two of the greatest cities in the entire world.

Today very few people would call them great.  They are just shells of their former glory.

Sadly, this cruel economy is causing “ghost towns” to appear all across the United States.  There are quite a few counties across the nation that now have home vacancy rates of over 50%.

Another reader, Flubadub, also remembers how things used to be….

I am also a product of that generation and remember well the opportunities that existed for anyone with even a high school diploma in those days. Just within a reasonable commute to where I grew up we had US Steel, 3M, General Motors Fisher Body, Nabisco, The Budd Co., Strick Trailer and others providing thousands of jobs that enabled you to provide a decent living for your family. There were also plenty of part time jobs to keep high school students busy enough to avoid the pratfalls of idle youth and afford the 28 cent/ gallon gas for their used cars. Most of it is gone now and I don’t blame the Mexicans or the Chinese for stealing it. I blame the greed of the globalists and their flunkies, the phony free trade advocates in office, who’ve spent the last twenty years giving it all away.

Our jobs are being shipped overseas so that greedy corporate executives can pad their bonuses and our politicians are allowing them to get away with it.

According to a new report from the AFL-CIO, the average CEO made 343 times more money than the average American did last year.

Life is great if you are a CEO.

Life is not so great if you are an average American worker trying to raise a family.

Another reader, Itsjustme, says that things are also quite depressing In New Jersey….

I live in northern NJ in a suburb a very short ride from NYC.

Our region was hit very hard — we once had a very prosperous and booming industrial area; mixed use with many warehouses and commercial buildings, hirise and lowrise.

The majority of companies that were in those buildings are gone. Long vacant; the signage is left and nobody is inside them.

One large commercical building with 15 floors now is home to 2 tenants: a law firm and a Korean shipping company.

It’s very sad what’s happened out here.

The only “companies” moving into these buildings are small change tenants that that are usually Chinese or Middle Eastern; you’ll see them subletting out 2 or 3 offices in these buildings and they operate out of those offices. They’re mostly importers of apparel or soft goods.

My guess is that they are there on very short term leases.

This will benefit our local and state economy not. These groups usually send the money home.

If this is the shape of things to come, we can hang it up right now. No viable companies are moving into our area; if anything new is being built it is retail and service industry garbage, like crummy fast food chain restaurants. No livable wage jobs are entering our local economy.

As I have written about previously, the standard of living of the middle class is being pushed down to third world levels.  We have been merged into a “global labor pool”, and what that means is that the standard of living of all workers all over the world is going to be slowly equalized over time.

Our politicians never told us that all of these “free trade” agreements would mean that soon we would be living like the rest of the world.

America used to be the greatest economic machine on the planet.  But now we are just another region of the one world economy that has workers that are too expensive to be useful.

In the end, there is not some great mystery as to why we are experiencing economic decline as a nation.

If millions of our jobs are being shipped overseas, it was basically inevitable that we were going to experience a housing crisis.  Without good jobs the American people simply cannot afford high mortgage payments.

Today we consume far more wealth as a nation than we produce.  We have tried to make up the difference by indulging in the greatest debt binge that the world has ever seen.

We have lived like kings and queens, but our debt-fueled prosperity is not sustainable.  In fact, the collapse of our financial system is a lot closer than most people would like to believe.

Things did not have to turn out like this, but we bought into the lies and the propaganda that our leaders were feeding us.

Now our economy lies in tatters and our children have no economic future.

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