15 Economic Statistics That Just Keep Getting Worse

A little over a week ago, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner penned an article for the New York Times entitled “Welcome To The Recovery” in which he touted the great strides that the U.S. economy was making.  But with unemployment still dangerously high and with foreclosures and personal bankruptcies continuing to set all-time records, should we really be talking about a “recovery”?  The truth is that the numbers don’t lie, and statistic after statistic shows that the economic fundamentals continue to get progressively worse.  The U.S. government can continue to try to pump up with economy with more debt, but the reality is that there is not going to be a legitimate “recovery” until consumer spending rebounds.  Consumer spending makes up the vast majority of U.S. GDP.  But without good jobs, consumers are not going to be able to spend money.  Unfortunately, our jobs base continues to be erode as millions upon millions of middle class jobs are shipped over to China, India and dozens of third world nations by the global predator corporations that now dominate the world economy.

The U.S. government cannot create real wealth out of thin air.  It can borrow even more money and flood the economy with even more paper currency, but the short-term “buzz” that creates does absolutely nothing to solve our long-term economic problems.

It is the private sector that actually creates wealth.  But unfortunately, over the last several decades we have allowed that wealth to become highly concentrated.  Now the giant global predator corporations have decided that American workers aren’t really that desirable after all.  They are slowly taking away their factories and their offices and they are moving them to where people are willing to work for one-tenth the pay. 

So where does that leave middle class American “consumers”?

Well, it leaves us in a world of hurt.

The following are 15 key economic statistics that just keep getting worse and which reveal the horrific economic plight in which we now find ourselves…. 

1 – The number of Americans who are receiving food stamps rose to a new all-time record of 40.8 million in May.  The number of Americans receiving food stamps has set a new all-time record for 18 months in a row.  But there is every indication that things are going to get even worse.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that the number of Americans on food stamps will increase to 43 million in 2011. 

2 – The U.S. economy lost 131,000 more jobs during the month of July.  But the truth is that the U.S. economy has been bleeding jobs for a long time.  According to one analysis, the United States has lost 10.5 million jobs since 2007.  Meanwhile, immigrants (both legal and illegal) continue to pour into this nation in unprecedented numbers.

3 – Americans who are out of work are finding it incredibly difficult to get back into the workforce.  In the United States today, the average time needed to find a job has risen to an all-time record of 35.2 weeks.

4 – The U.S. government keeps trying to pump up the economy with debt, and in the process things are getting wildly out of control.  According to a U.S. Treasury Department report to Congress, the U.S. national debt will top $13.6 trillion this year and climb to an estimated $19.6 trillion by 2015.

5 – The interest on all of this debt is becoming increasingly oppressive.  As of July 1st, the U.S. government had spent $355 billion so far in 2010 on interest payments to the holders of the national debt.  The total for 2010 should be somewhere in the neighborhood of $700 billion.  According to Erskine Bowles, one of the heads of Barack Obama’s national debt commission, the U.S. government will be spending $2 trillion just on interest on the national debt by 2020.  Keep in mind that the entire U.S. government budget is less than $4 trillion for the entire year of 2010.

6 – If the U.S. government was forced to use GAAP accounting principles (like all publicly-traded corporations must), the annual U.S. government budget deficit would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 trillion to $5 trillion.

7 – Social Security will pay out more in benefits in 2010 than it receives in payroll taxes.  This was not supposed to happen until at least 2015.  In the years ahead, these new “Social Security deficits” are projected to be absolutely catastrophic

8 – There are simply far too many retirees and not nearly enough workers to support them.  Back in 1950 each retiree’s Social Security benefit was paid for by 16 workers.  Today, each retiree’s Social Security benefit is paid for by approximately 3.3 workers.  By 2025 it is projected that there will be approximately two workers for each retiree.

9 – Wealth continues to become highly concentrated at the top.  Since 1973, the average CEO’s salary has increased from 26 times the median income to over 300 times the median income.

10According to a poll taken in 2009, 61 percent of Americans “always or usually” live paycheck to paycheck.  That was up significantly from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.

11 – The Mortgage Bankers Association recently announced that more than 10% of all U.S. homeowners with a mortgage had missed at least one mortgage payment during the January to March time period.  That was a new all-time record and represented an increase from 9.1 percent a year ago.

12 – A recent survey of last year’s college graduates found that 80 percent moved right back home with their parents after graduation.  That was up substantially from 63 percent in 2006.

13 – During the first quarter of 2010, the total number of loans that are at least three months past due in the United States increased for the 16th consecutive quarter.

14 – The total number of U.S. bank failures passed the 100 mark in July of this year.  In 2009, the total number of U.S. bank failures did not pass the century barrier until October.

15 – The U.S. dollar continues to rapidly decline in value.  An item that cost $20.00 in 1970 would cost you $112.35 today.  An item that cost $20.00 in 1913 would cost you $440.33 today.

Any rational observer (and clearly U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner does not qualify) can see that the foundations of the U.S. economy are coming apart.  The rapidly accumulating mountain of debt that has fueled our “prosperity” is impossible to repay and is going to progressively choke the life out of our economic system.  The good jobs that we have allowed to be shipped out of our country are never coming back.  Every single day, more wealth flows out of this country than flows into it.

Anyone who claims that things are getting “better” is either ignorant, completely deluded or is purposely lying. 

The U.S. economy is not getting “better”.

The U.S. economy is dying.

You should adjust your plans accordingly.

Foreclosures Continue To Dramatically Increase In 2010

In a very alarming sign for the U.S. economy, foreclosures have continued to dramatically increase in 2010.  But there has been a shift.  Back in 2007 and 2008, experts tell us that most foreclosures were due to toxic mortgages.  People were being suckered into mortgages that they couldn’t afford with “teaser rates” or with payments that would dramatically escalate after a few years, and when those mortgages reset, the people who had agreed to them no longer could make the payments.  But now RealtyTrac says that unemployment has become the major reason for foreclosures.  Millions of Americans have become chronically unemployed during the economic downturn and many of them are losing their homes as a result.  But whatever the cause, one thing is certain – foreclosures have continued to skyrocket at a staggering rate.

According to a new report from RealtyTrac, foreclosure filings climbed in 75% of the nation’s metro areas during the first half of 2010.  At a time when the Obama administration believes that we are “turning the corner”, things just seem to get even worse. 

Some areas of the country continue to be complete and total disaster areas when it comes to real estate.  For example, you have got to feel really sorry for anyone trying to sell a house down in Florida right now.  According to RealtyTrac, Florida led the way with nine of the top 20 metro foreclosure rates in the country during the first half of 2010.

Ouch.

But the worst city for foreclosures continues to be Las Vegas.

According to RealtyTrac spokesman Rick Sharga, unemployment has replaced bad loans as the number one cause of foreclosures there….

“Las Vegas has seamlessly shifted from having a high level of foreclosures due to bad loans to defaults caused by a high level of unemployment.”

But other cities with high unemployment rates are having huge problems as well.

For those who believe that the economy is supposed to be “improving”, it must seem really odd that foreclosure rates in major cities such as Chicago continue to soar.

RealtyTrac says that foreclosure filings in Chicago have increased 23 percent year-over-year to one out of every 48 households.

But it isn’t just cities like Las Vegas and Chicago that are nightmares right now.

The truth is that this is a national crisis.

The Mortgage Bankers Association recently announced that more than 10% of all U.S. homeowners with a mortgage had missed at least one mortgage payment during the January to March time period.  That was a new all-time record and represented an increase from 9.1 percent a year ago.

Unfortunately, new all-time records are being set all over the place….

*The number of home foreclosures set a record for the second consecutive month in May.

*Banks repossessed 269,962 U.S. homes during the second quarter of 2010, which was a new all-time record.

*As of March, U.S. banks had an inventory of approximately 1.1 million foreclosed homes, which was a new record and which was up 20 percent from a year ago.

So is there any hope that things are going to get better soon?

Well, according to RealtyTrac’s CEO James Saccacio, that depends on the U.S. economy….

“The fragile stability achieved in many local housing markets hinges on improvements in the underlying economy, specifically job growth. If unemployment remains persistently high and foreclosure prevention efforts only delay the inevitable, then we could continue to see increased foreclosure activity and a corresponding weakness in home prices in many metro areas.”

Without good jobs, the American people are not going to be able to pay their mortgages.

So are the millions upon millions of jobs that have been lost coming back soon?

No, unfortunately they are not.

As we discussed at length in a previous article, the big global corporations that dominate our economy are figuring out that they don’t really need the rest of us anymore.  The American worker is becoming obsolete.  After all, why pay an American ten times as much to do the same job?  Big corporations can hire two people in China or India to do the same job and still pocket 80% of the difference.

In addition, big corporations don’t really need the headache of making employer contributions to Social Security, setting up benefit packages and pension plans or of trying to comply with the thousands upon thousands of ridiculous regulations that the U.S. government continues to spew out.

At this point, the American worker has become extremely unattractive for large corporations, and so jobs will continue to migrate to other areas of the world.

We allowed our politicians to merge us into a “global economy”, so now we are all going to have to deal with being part of a “global workforce”.

As jobs continue to be offshored and outsourced, more Americans are going to become unemployed and the foreclosure crisis is going to continue to be a nightmare.

It would be nice to put a positive spin on all of this, but there isn’t one.

It’s A Great Time To Be A New College Graduate: High Unemployment, Crappy Service Jobs And Crippling Student Loan Debt

Today, America’s best and brightest are graduating from college full of hopes and dreams, but cold, hard economic reality is rapidly crushing many of them.  Record numbers of college graduates cannot find jobs.  Hordes of others have been forced to take very low paying service jobs.  At the same time, student loan debt loads have become more crushing than ever.  The truth is that it is a really, really bad time to be a fresh college graduate.  After spending tens of thousands of dollars and investing four (or more) years of their lives in an education, millions of recent college graduates find themselves waiting tables, tending bar, delivering pizzas and working next to (or subordinate to) people who never even went to college.  At one time, a college degree was an automatic ticket to the middle class, but now for many Americans all a college degree means is crushing loan payments, sleepless nights and mind-numbing frustration.   

We were always told that a college degree was supposed to prepare us for life in the real world.  But today, the vast majority of college graduates end up moving back in with their parents.

In fact, a recent survey of last year’s college graduates found that 80 percent moved right back home with their parents after graduation.  That was up substantially from 63 percent in 2006.

So why are 80 percent of our college graduates moving back in with their parents?

Well, because they can’t get jobs.

Two million recent college graduates are unemployed, and millions of others are working in fast food joints, at big box stores and in other very low paying service positions.

The stories that some recent college grads tell are so bizarre that they border on the unbelievable.

The Huffington Post recently featured the story of Kyle Daley – a highly qualified UCLA graduate who has been unemployed for 19 months….

I spent my time at UCLA preparing for the outside world. I had internships in congressional offices, political action committees, non-profits and even as a personal intern to a successful venture capitalist. These weren’t the run-of-the-mill office internships; I worked in marketing, press relations, research and analysis. Additionally, the mayor and city council of my hometown appointed me to serve on two citywide governing bodies, the planning commission and the open government commission. I used to think that given my experience, finding work after graduation would be easy.

At this point, however, looking for a job is my job. I recently counted the number of job applications I have sent out over the past year — it amounts to several hundred. I have tried to find part-time work at local stores or restaurants, only to be turned away. Apparently, having a college degree implies that I might bail out quickly when a better opportunity comes along.

The sad thing is that so many of these recent college graduates can’t even get hired for retail jobs.  A reader of my column on The American Dream blog named Kate is a recent college graduate who is experiencing the kind of extreme frustration that so many new graduates are going through right now….

I just graduated college in May… Moved to a new state and am now living with my boyfriend who should not and cannot continue to have to pay everything because i just plain can’t get a job.

I’m over qualified for retail survivor jobs… so I lie on my application. But then retail stores just plain don’t hire full time. So even if I could get a job as a cashier someplace… I’d only work enough hours to maybe pay for my car payment/ car insurance/ gas…. and my half of rent/electric and such is out of the question… not to mention charged to the limit credit cards from being unemployed and student loans that will hit in just a matter of months.

Any other jobs either don’t exist or they just ALL want 5 years professional experience…. which is impossible for someone who just graduated and has been working part time retail jobs since high school.

But it just isn’t college graduates that are suffering.  The truth is that this economic downturn has been hurting everyone….

*According to a recent Pew Research poll, approximately 37% of all Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 have either been unemployed or underemployed at some point during the recession.

*A different Pew Research survey found that 55 percent of American workers have experienced either unemployment, a pay decrease, a reduction in hours or an involuntary move to part-time work since the recession began.

*According to another survey, 28% of all U.S. households have at least one member that is currently looking for a full-time job.

For many U.S. households, the person looking for a job is a recent college graduate.

As you read this, hordes of highly qualified college grads are out applying for jobs as waitresses, pizza delivery men, grocery checkout clerks and hamburger flippers.

Even those who are able to get decent jobs are finding themselves disappointed.  Starting salaries for college graduates across the United States are down in 2010.

But why shouldn’t starting salaries be down?  It is the employers that hold all the leverage – not the new graduates.

Meanwhile, many of these college graduates are graduating with crushing student debt loads.  Today, many students borrow 10, 20 or even 30 thousands dollars per year while they are in school.

Federal statistics reveal that only 36 percent of the full-time students who began college in 2001 received a bachelor’s degree within four years.

That is a very sad statistic.

The truth is that college courses have become so “dumbed down” in 2010 that even the family dog should be able to graduate from most U.S. colleges in four years.

Even after 6 years, that same group’s graduation rate was still only 57 percent.

Very sad.

But getting back to the point, every single one of those years most college students are racking up huge amounts of debt.

Today, approximately two-thirds of all U.S. college students graduate with student loans

Student loan balances of over $50,000 are becoming quite common among our college grads.  In fact, some students end up with over $100,000 in student loan debt by the time they are done.

Unfortunately, student loan debt is some of the cruelest debt out there.

Federal bankruptcy law makes it nearly impossible to discharge student loan debts, and many recent grads end up with loan payments that absolutely devastate them financially at a time when they are struggling to get on their feet and make something of themselves.

So what do you think?  Can you identify with this article?  Are you a recent college graduate or do you have a recent college graduate living back at home?  If so, please feel free to share your story in the comments section below….

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