The evidence that the middle class in America is dying continues to mount. As you will see below, nearly half the country would be unable “to cover an unexpected $400 expense”, and about two-thirds of the population lives paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time. Of course the economy has not been doing that well overall in recent years. Barack Obama was the only president in all of U.S. history not to have a single year when the economy grew by at least 3 percent, and U.S. GDP growth during the first quarter of 2017 was an anemic 0.7 percent. During the Obama era, it is true that wealthy enclaves in New York, northern California and Washington D.C. did thrive, but meanwhile most of the rest of the country has been left behind.
Today, there are approximately 205 million working age Americans, and close to half of them have no financial cushion whatsoever. In fact, a new survey conducted by the Federal Reserve has found that 44 percent of Americans do not even have enough money “to cover an unexpected $400 expense”…
Nearly eight years into an economic recovery, nearly half of Americans didn’t have enough cash available to cover a $400 emergency. Specifically, the survey found that, in line with what the Fed had disclosed in previous years, 44% of respondents said they wouldn’t be able to cover an unexpected $400 expense like a car repair or medical bill, or would have to borrow money or sell something to meet it.
Not only that, the same survey discovered that 23 percent of U.S. adults will not be able to pay their bills this month…
Just as concerning were other findings from the study: just under one-fourth of adults, or 23%, are not able to pay all of their current month’s bills in full while 25% reported skipping medical treatments due to cost in the prior year. Additionally, 28% of adults who haven’t retired yet reported to being grossly unprepared, indicating they had no retirement savings or pension whatsoever.
But just because you can pay your bills does not mean that you are doing well. Tens of millions of Americans barely scrape by from paycheck to paycheck each and every month.
In fact, a survey by CareerBuilder discovered that 75 percent of all Americans live paycheck to paycheck at least some of the time…
Three-quarters of Americans (75 percent) are living paycheck-to-paycheck to make ends meet, according to a survey from CareerBuilder. Thirty-eight percent of employees said they sometimes live paycheck-to-paycheck, 15 percent said they usually do and 23 percent said they always do. While making ends meet is a struggle for many post-recession, those with minimum wage jobs continue to be hit the hardest. Of workers who currently have a minimum wage job or have held one in the past, 66 percent said they couldn’t make ends meet and 50 percent said they had to work more than one job to make it work.
So please don’t be fooled into thinking that the U.S. economy is doing well because the stock market has been hitting new record highs.
The stock market was soaring just before the financial crisis of 2008 too, and we remember how that turned out.
The truth is that the long-term trends that have been eating away at the foundations of the U.S. economy continue to accelerate, and the real economy is in substantially worse shape this year than it was last year.
Just about everywhere you look, businesses are struggling and stores are shutting down. Yes, there are a few wealthy enclaves where everything seems wonderful for the moment, but for most of the country it seems like the last recession never ended.
In a desperate attempt to stay afloat, a lot of families have been turning to debt to make ends meet. U.S. household debt has just hit a brand new all-time record high of 12.7 trillion dollars, but we are starting to see an alarming rise in auto loan defaults and consumer bankruptcies. This is precisely what we would expect to see if the U.S. economy was moving into another major recession.
In fact, we are seeing all sorts of signs that point to a major economic slowdown right now. Just check out the following from Wolf Richter’s latest article…
Over the past five decades, each time commercial and industrial loan balances at US banks shrank or stalled as companies cut back or as banks tightened their lending standards in reaction to the economy they found themselves in, a recession was either already in progress or would start soon. There has been no exception since the 1960s. Last time this happened was during the Financial Crisis.
Now it’s happening again – with a 1990/91 recession twist.
Commercial and industrial loans outstanding fell to $2.095 trillion on May 10, according to the Fed’s Board of Governors weekly report on Friday. That’s down 4.5% from the peak on November 16, 2016. It’s below the level of outstanding C&I loans on October 19. And it marks the 30th week in a row of no growth in C&I loans.
Perhaps we will be very fortunate and break this pattern that has held up all the way back to the 1960s.
But I wouldn’t count on it. Here is what Zero Hedge has to say about this alarming contraction in commercial and industrial loans…
Here’s the bottom line: unless there is a sharp rebound in loan growth in the next 3-6 months – whether due to greater demand or easier supply – this most accurate of leading economic indicators guarantees that a recession is now inevitable.
We are way overdue for a recession, the hard economic numbers are screaming that one is coming, and the financial markets are absolutely primed for a major crash.
As Americans, we tend to have such short memories. Every time a new financial bubble starts forming, a lot of people out there start behaving as if it can last indefinitely.
But of course no financial bubble is going to last forever. They all burst eventually, and now the biggest one in U.S. history is about to end in spectacular fashion.
Trump will get a lot of the blame since he is the current occupant of the White House, but the truth is that the conditions for the next crisis have been building up for many years, and the horrors that the U.S. economy is heading for were entirely predictable.
Do you remember the old Saturday Night Live sketches in which comedian Chris Farley portrayed a motivational speaker that lived in a van down by the river? Unfortunately, this is becoming a reality for way too many Americans. As the middle class has shrunk and the cost of living has increased, a lot of people have decided to quite literally “live on the road”. Whether it is a car, a truck, a van, a bus or an RV, an increasing number of Americans are using their vehicles as their homes. Just recently, someone that I know took a trip down the west coast of the United States and stayed at a number of campgrounds along the way. What she discovered was that a lot of people were actually living at these campgrounds. Of course there are some that actually prefer that lifestyle, but many others are doing it out of necessity.
Earlier this week, Circa.com posted a story about “the van life”. One of the individuals that they featured was a recent graduate of the University of Southern California named Stephen Hutchins. Without much of an income at the moment, he decided that the best way to cut expenses was to live in his van…
“The main expenses are insurance for the van, which is like $60 a month,” said Hutchins. “Then, I have a storage unit for like $60.”
That puts his monthly rent at $120. The van cost him just $125 at an auction.
Living in a van is certainly not the most comfortable way to go, and many of you are probably wondering how he performs basic tasks such as cooking and bathing. Well, it turns out that he makes extensive use of public facilities…
He showers at the gym, cooks on a portable stove on a sidewalk (he stores his butane at his friends’ place nearby) and uses wifi at nearby coffeeshops.
For a while such a lifestyle may seem like “an adventure”, but after a while it will start to get really old. And not a lot of women are going to be excited about dating a man that lives in a van, and you certainly wouldn’t want to raise a family in a vehicle.
Sadly, just like during the last economic crisis many Americans are getting to the point where staying in their homes may not be an option. Just check out the following excerpt from a recent New York Post article entitled “The terrifying signs of a looming housing crisis“…
The number of New Yorkers applying for emergency grants to stay in their homes is skyrocketing — as the number of people staying in homeless shelters reached an all-time high last weekend, records show.
There were 82,306 applications for one-time emergency grants to prevent evictions in fiscal 2016, up 26 percent from 65,138 requests the previous year, according to the Mayor’s Management Report.
I put a couple of phrases in that quote in bold because I really wanted you to notice a couple of things.
First of all, it is very alarming to hear that the number of New Yorkers staying in homeless shelters “reached an all-time high” last weekend. I thought that we were supposed to be in an “economic recovery”, but apparently things in New York are rapidly getting worse.
Secondly, the fact that applications for emergency grants are up 26 percent compared to last year is another indication of how rough things are right now for average families in New York. We all remember what happened when millions of families lost their homes to foreclosure across the nation during the last financial crisis, and nobody should want to see a repeat of that any time soon.
During this election season, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would like all of us to believe that the economy is doing just fine, but that is not true at all. Even using the doctored numbers that the government gives us, Barack Obama is solidly on track to be the only president in all of U.S. history to never have a single year of 3 percent GDP growth, and he has had two terms to try to do that.
Gallup CEO Jim Clifton is also quite skeptical of this “economic recovery”, and he recently authored an article on this subject that is receiving a tremendous amount of attention. The following is how that article begins…
I’ve been reading a lot about a “recovering” economy. It was even trumpeted on Page 1 of The New York Times and Financial Times last week.
I don’t think it’s true.
The percentage of Americans who say they are in the middle or upper-middle class has fallen 10 percentage points, from a 61% average between 2000 and 2008 to 51% today.
Other surveys have found that it is even worse than that.
For example, a Pew Research Center study from the end of last year discovered that the middle class in America has now actually become a minority in this country.
Here are some other numbers that Clifton included in his article…
- According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the percentage of the total U.S. adult population that has a full-time job has been hovering around 48% since 2010 — this is the lowest full-time employment level since 1983.
- The number of publicly listed companies trading on U.S. exchanges has been cut almost in half in the past 20 years — from about 7,300 to 3,700. Because firms can’t grow organically — that is, build more business from new and existing customers — they give up and pay high prices to acquire their competitors, thus drastically shrinking the number of U.S. public companies. This seriously contributes to the massive loss of U.S. middle-class jobs.
- New business startups are at historical lows. Americans have stopped starting businesses. And the businesses that do start are growing at historically slow rates.
Once upon a time, America was the land of opportunity.
We were the place where anything was possible and where entrepreneurship was greatly encouraged.
But today we strangle small businesses to death with rules, regulations, red tape and taxes.
If we want a stronger middle class, we need to create a much better environment for the creation of small businesses. Small business ownership often lifts individuals into the middle class, and small businesses have traditionally been the primary engine for the growth of good jobs in this country.
If the middle class continues to shrink, poverty will continue to rise. Previously I have written about how the number of homeless children in the United States has shot up by 60 percent since the last economic crisis, and Poverty USA claims that a staggering 1.6 million children slept either in a homeless shelter or in some other form of emergency housing during 2015.
If you will be sleeping in a warm bed in a comfortable home tonight, you should be thankful. An increasing number of Americans are sleeping in tent cities, in their vehicles or on the streets. These hurting people deserve our love, our compassion and our prayers.
Can Donald Trump turn the U.S. economy around? This week Trump unveiled details of his new economic plan, and the mainstream media is having a field day criticizing it. But the truth is that we simply cannot afford to stay on the same path that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and the Democrats have us on right now. Millions of jobs are being shipped out of the country, the middle class is dying, poverty is exploding, millions of children in America don’t have enough food, and our reckless spending has created the biggest debt bubble in the history of the planet. Something must be done or else we will continue to steamroll toward economic oblivion. So is Donald Trump the man for the hour?
If you would like to read his full economic plan, you can find it on his official campaign website. His plan starts off by pointing out that this has been the weakest “economic recovery” since the Great Depression…
Last week’s GDP report showed that the economy grew a mere 1.2% in the second quarter and 1.2% over the last year. It’s the weakest recovery since the Great Depression – the predictable consequence of massive taxation, regulation, one-side trade deals and onerous energy restrictions.
And Trump is exactly right about how weak this economic recovery has been.
So how would he fix things?
The following are 10 things that every American should know about Donald Trump’s plan to save the U.S. economy…
#1 Donald Trump would lower taxes on the middle class
The tax savings under Trump’s plan would actually be quite substantial for middle class families. The following numbers come from a recent Charisma article…
• A married couple earning $50,000 per year with two children and $8,000 in child care expenses will save 35% from their current tax bill.
• A married couple earning $75,000 per year with two children and $10,000 in child care expenses will receive a 30% reduction in their tax bill.
• Married couple earning $5 million per year with two children and $12,000 in child care expenses will get only a 3% reduction in their tax bill.
#2 Donald Trump would lower taxes on businesses
Under his plan, no business in America would be taxed more than 15 percent. Alternatively, Hillary Clinton’s plan would tax some small businesses at a rate of close to 50 percent. So Trump’s plan would undoubtedly be good for businesses, and it would encourage many that have left the country to return.
But where would the lost tax revenue be made up?
#3 Childcare expenses would be exempt from taxation
For working families with children this would be a great blessing. Without a doubt this is an effort to win over more working women, and this is a demographic that Trump has been struggling with.
It is definitely an idea that I support, but once again where will the money come from to pay for this?
#4 U.S. manufacturers will be allowed to immediately fully expense new plants and equipment
This would undoubtedly lead to a boom in capital investment, but it would also reduce tax revenue. As an emergency measure this would be very good for encouraging manufacturers to stay in America, but it would also likely increase the budget deficit.
#5 A temporary freeze on new regulations
Red tape is one of my big pet peeves, and so I greatly applaud Trump for this proposal. I think that Bob Eschliman put it very well when he wrote the following about Trump’s planned freeze on new regulations…
In 2015 alone, federal agencies issued over 3,300 final rules and regulations, up from 2,400 the prior year. Studies show that small manufacturers face more than three times the burden of the average U.S. business, and the hidden tax from ineffective regulations amounts to “nearly $15,000 per U.S. household” annually. Excessive regulation is costing our country as much as $2 trillion dollars per year, and Trump will end it.
#6 All existing regulations would be reviewed and unnecessary regulations would be eliminated
In particular, Trump’s plan would focus on getting rid of regulations that inhibit hiring. The following are some of the specific areas that he identifies on his official campaign website…
- The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, which forces investment in renewable energy at the expense of coal and natural gas, raising electricity rates;
- The EPA’s Waters of the United States rule, which gives the EPA the ability to regulate the smallest streams on private land, limiting land use; and
- The Department of Interior’s moratorium on coal mining permits, which put tens of thousands of coal miners out of work.
#7 Donald Trump would fundamentally alter our trade relationships with the rest of the globe
Donald Trump is the first major party nominee in decades to recognize that our trade deficit is absolutely killing our economy. I write about this all the time, and it is a hot button issue for me. So I definitely applaud Trump for proposing the following…
- Appoint trade negotiators whose goal will be to win for America: narrowing our trade deficit, increasing domestic production, and getting a fair deal for our workers.
- Renegotiate NAFTA.
- Withdraw from the TPP.
- Bring trade relief cases to the world trade organization.
- Label China a currency manipulator.
- Apply tariffs and duties to countries that cheat.
- Direct the Commerce Department to use all legal tools to respond to trade violations.
#8 Donald Trump’s plan would be a tremendous boost for the U.S. energy industry
Barack Obama promised to kill the coal industry, and that is one of the few promises that he has actually kept. Obama also killed the Keystone Pipeline, and right now the energy industry as a whole is enduring their worst stretch since the last recession. To turn things around, Trump would do the following…
- Rescind all the job-destroying Obama executive actions including the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule.
- Save the coal industry and other industries threatened by Hillary Clinton’s extremist agenda.
- Ask Trans Canada to renew its permit application for the Keystone Pipeline.
- Make land in the Outer Continental Shelf available to produce oil and natural gas.
- Cancel the Paris Climate Agreement (limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius) and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs.
#9 Trump would repeal Obamacare
Trump claims that Obamacare would cost our economy two million jobs over the next ten years. And without a doubt, it has already cost the U.S. economy a lot of jobs.
Not only that, but Obamacare has also sent health insurance premiums soaring, and this is putting a tremendous amount of financial pressure on many families.
Trump says that he would “replace” Obamacare, but that is a rather vague statement.
What exactly would he replace it with?
#10 Trump’s plan says nothing about the Federal Reserve
This is a great concern, because the Federal Reserve has far more power over the economy than anyone else does. It is at the very heart of our debt-based system, and unless something is done about the Fed our debt bubble will continue to get even larger.
Since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913, the value of the U.S. dollar has fallen by more than 96 percent and our national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger. For Trump to not even mention the Federal Reserve in his economic plan is a tremendous oversight.
We are in the midst of a long-term economic decline, and things have not gotten better during the Obama years. If you can believe it, a study that was just released by Harvard even acknowledges this…
America’s economic performance peaked in the late 1990s, and erosion in crucial economic indicators such as the rate of economic growth, productivity growth, job growth, and investment began well before the Great Recession.
Workforce participation, the proportion of Americans in the productive workforce, peaked in 1997. With fewer working-age men and women in the workforce, per-capita income for the U.S. is reduced.
Median real household income has declined since 1999, with incomes stagnating across virtually all income levels. Despite a welcome jump in 2015, median household income remains below the peak attained in 1999, 17 years ago. Moreover, stagnating income and limited job prospects have disproportionately affected lower-income and lower-skilled Americans, leading inequality to rise.
That same study found that the percentage of Americans participating in the labor force peaked back in 1997 and has been steadily declining since that time…
If we continue to do the same things, we will continue to get the same results.
Donald Trump is promising change, and many of his proposals sound good, but there are also some areas to be concerned about.
Ultimately, just tinkering with the tax code and reducing regulations is not going to be enough to turn the U.S. economy around. We need a fundamental overhaul of our economic and financial systems, and Trump’s plan stops well short of that. But without a doubt what he is proposing is vastly superior to Hillary Clinton’s plan, and so he should definitely be applauded for at least moving in the right direction.
The critics of Obamacare have been proven right. The Obama administration promised that health insurance premiums would go down. Instead, they have absolutely skyrocketed. The Obama administration promised that Obamacare would not kill jobs. Instead, firms are hiring fewer workers because of suffocating health care costs. As you will see below, even the Federal Reserve is admitting this. The Obama administration also promised that the big health insurance companies would love the new Obamacare plans and would eagerly compete with one another to win customers in the new health insurance marketplaces. Instead, many of the big health insurance companies are now dropping Obamacare plans altogether.
We witnessed the latest stunning example of this phenomenon just a few days ago. It turns out that Aetna has been losing hundreds of millions of dollars on plans sold through the health exchanges, and now they plan to pull out of the program almost entirely…
Earlier this week, Aetna, which covers about 900,000 people through the health exchanges created under Obamacare, announced that it would dramatically reduce its presence those exchanges. Instead of expanding into five new states this year, as the insurer had previously planned, the company said that it would drop out of 11 of the 15 states in which it currently sells under the law.
Aetna’s decision follows similar moves from other insurers: UnitedHealth announced in April that it would cease selling plans on most exchanges. Shortly after, Humana pulled out of two states, Virginia and Alabama. More than a dozen of the nonprofit health insurance cooperatives set up under the law—health insurance carriers created using government-back loans in order to spur competition—have failed entirely. While some insurers are entering the exchanges, even more are leaving.
Another one of “the big five”, UnitedHealth, is going to lose more than half a billion dollars on Obamacare plans. So just a few months ago they also announced that they would be dramatically scaling back their participation in the program.
Because of the ridiculous costs, health insurance companies are either going to have to abandon the exchanges completely or they will have to raise rates substantially.
Needless to say, the people that are going to ultimately feel the pain from all of this are consumers…
Customers who are now forced to obtain insurance or pay a hefty fine that grows more costly over time are being left in a difficult position. Americans are essentially stuck between a rock and hard place, either losing coverage entirely, or having to cough up money for a plan they can’t afford.
“Something has to give,” said Larry Levitt, a healthcare law expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “Either insurers will drop out or insurers will raise premiums.“
On the low end of the spectrum, tens of millions of poor Americans benefit from government programs that provide health care at little or no cost.
On the other end of the spectrum, the very wealthy can afford to pay the ridiculously high health insurance premiums that we are seeing under Obamacare.
So what this means is that the people that are being hurt the most by Obamacare are those that belong to the middle class.
As I mentioned above, employers are now hiring less workers because of Obamacare, and that is very bad news for the middle class. One recent study conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York discovered that nearly one out of every five firms is “employing fewer workers” because of this insidious law…
According to a new survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 20.9% of manufacturing firms in the state said they were employing fewer workers because of the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare law known as Obamacare, while 16.8% of respondents in the service sector said the same.
And middle class Americans that have to pay for their own health insurance are being hit with much higher bills these days. According to one recent study, it is being projected that the average Obamacare premium will go up 24 percent in 2016…
Now, courtesy of a new study by independent analyst Charles Gaba – who has crunched the numbers for insurers participating in the ACA exchanges in all 50 states – we can also calculate what the average Obamacare premium increase across the entire US will be: using proposed and approved rate increase requests, the average Obamacare premium is expected to surge by a whopping 24% this year.
Even NBC News, which is about as pro-Obama as you can get, is reporting on the crippling premium increases that are devastating the middle class…
Millions of people who pay the full cost of their health insurance will face the sting of rising premiums next year, with no financial help from government subsidies.
Renewal notices bearing the bad news will go out this fall, just as the presidential election is in the home stretch.
“I don’t know if I could swallow another 30 or 40 percent without severely cutting into other things I’m trying to do, like retirement savings or reducing debt,” said Bob Byrnes, of Blaine, Minnesota, a Twin Cities suburb. His monthly premium of $524 is already about 50 percent more than he was paying in 2015, and he has a higher deductible.
All over the nation people are getting hit like this.
Personally, my health insurance company wanted to nearly double the rate I was paying when Obamacare fully kicked in. So I searched around and found another plan that was only about a 30 percent increase, but at least it wasn’t nearly double what I had been paying before.
But when the time came to renew that plan, they wanted to jump my premium up another 50 percent per month.
Those of us that are in the middle are being crushed by Obamacare. We aren’t poor enough to qualify for government assistance, and we aren’t wealthy enough for these ridiculous health insurance premiums not to matter.
Just about everything that Barack Obama promised us about Obamacare has turned out to be a lie.
So where in the accountability?
This is one of the big reasons why nearly one out of every five U.S. adults lives with their parents or their grandparents these days. Many young adults cannot afford the basics of life such as health insurance, and so they have got to find a way to cut back expenses somewhere. If that means moving back in with Mom and Dad, that is what some of them are going to do.
I am astounded that our system of health care has become so messed up. But this is just more evidence of how our society is falling apart in thousands of different ways, and I am not optimistic that things will be turned around any time soon.
If you had to make a sudden visit to the emergency room, would you have enough money to pay for it without selling something or borrowing the funds from somewhere? Most Americans may not realize this, but this is something that the Federal Reserve has actually been tracking for several years now. And according to the Fed, an astounding 47 percent of all Americans could not come up with $400 to pay for an emergency room visit without borrowing it or selling something. Various surveys that I have talked about in the past have found that more than 60 percent of all Americans are living to paycheck to paycheck, but I didn’t realize that things were quite this bad for about half the country. If you can’t even come up with $400 for an unexpected emergency room visit, then you are just surviving from month to month by the skin of your teeth. Unfortunately, about half of us are currently in that situation.
Earlier today someone pointed me toward an excellent article in The Atlantic that discussed this, and I have to admit that The Atlantic is one of the last remaining bastions of old school excellence in journalism that you will find in the mainstream media. Of course I don’t see eye to eye with them on a lot of things philosophically, but there are some really hard working journalists over there.
The article where I found the 47 percent figure comes from The Atlantic, and it is entitled “The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans“. It was authored by Neal Gabler, and he says that he can identify with the 47 percent of Americans that don’t have $400 for an unexpected emergency room visit because he is one of them…
I know what it is like to have to juggle creditors to make it through a week. I know what it is like to have to swallow my pride and constantly dun people to pay me so that I can pay others. I know what it is like to have liens slapped on me and to have my bank account levied by creditors. I know what it is like to be down to my last $5—literally—while I wait for a paycheck to arrive, and I know what it is like to subsist for days on a diet of eggs. I know what it is like to dread going to the mailbox, because there will always be new bills to pay but seldom a check with which to pay them. I know what it is like to have to tell my daughter that I didn’t know if I would be able to pay for her wedding; it all depended on whether something good happened. And I know what it is like to have to borrow money from my adult daughters because my wife and I ran out of heating oil.
To me, this is yet more evidence that the middle class in America is dying.
Last year, it was reported that middle class Americans make up a minority of the population for the very first time in our history.
But back in 1971, 61 percent of all Americans lived in middle class households.
So what happened?
Well, the big corporations started shipping millions of good paying manufacturing jobs overseas. Millions of other good paying jobs were replaced by technology, and the competition for the good jobs that remained became extremely intense.
During the good times, the U.S. economy still created new jobs, but most of those jobs were low paying service jobs.
At this point, a majority of American workers have jobs that would be considered low paying. In fact, 51 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year according to the Social Security Administration.
And once you account for inflation, the truth is that our incomes have been going down for years. According to a study that was released by Pew Charitable Trusts, median household income in the United States decreased by 13 percent between 2004 and 2014.
That isn’t “progress” any way that you slice it.
If you go all the way back to 1970, the middle class took home approximately 62 percent of all income in the United States.
Today, that number has fallen to just 43 percent.
So the fact that 47 percent of Americans can’t even pay for an unexpected emergency room visit is not exactly a surprise. To be honest, a whole host of other surveys have come up with similar numbers. Here is more from Neal Gabler…
A 2014 Bankrate survey, echoing the Fed’s data, found that only 38 percent of Americans would cover a $1,000 emergency-room visit or $500 car repair with money they’d saved. Two reports published last year by the Pew Charitable Trusts found, respectively, that 55 percent of households didn’t have enough liquid savings to replace a month’s worth of lost income, and that of the 56 percent of people who said they’d worried about their finances in the previous year, 71 percent were concerned about having enough money to cover everyday expenses.
What all of these numbers tell us is that the middle class is disappearing. I tend to compare it to a game of really bizarre musical chairs. With each passing month more chairs are being pulled out of the circle, and those members of the middle class that haven’t fallen into poverty yet are just hoping that a chair will still be there for them when the music stops.
Even during the “Obama recovery”, we have seen poverty in America absolutely explode. In fact, some brand new numbers just came out that are quite startling. The following comes from another author for The Atlantic named Gillian B. White…
Recently, the Brookings Institution published a report looking at the same idea but giving it a different name. The paper, builds on research from the British economist William Beveridge, who in 1942 proposed five types of poverty: squalor, ignorance, want, idleness, and disease. In modern terms, these could be defined as poverty related to housing, education, income, employment, and healthcare, respectively. Analyzing the 2014 American Community Survey, the paper’s co-authors, Richard Reeves, Edward Rodrigue, and Elizabeth Kneebone, found that half of Americans experience at least one of these types of poverty, and around 25 percent suffer from at least two.
To underscore this point, let me just run five quick facts about the growth of poverty in this country by you…
–The number of Americans that are living in concentrated areas of high poverty has doubled since the year 2000.
–In 2007, about one out of every eight children in America was on food stamps. Today, that number is one out of every five.
–46 million Americans use food banks each year, and lines start forming at some U.S. food banks as early as 6:30 in the morning because people want to get something before the food supplies run out.
–The number of homeless children in the U.S. has increased by 60 percent over the past six years.
–According to Poverty USA, 1.6 million American children slept in a homeless shelter or some other form of emergency housing last year.
That last number really gets me every time.
How can “the wealthiest and most powerful nation on the planet” have more than a million homeless children?
This is one of the reasons why I hammer on our ongoing economic collapse over and over and over. It is affecting real families with real children that have real hopes and real dreams.
This is not the way our country is supposed to work.
It is supposed to be “the land of opportunity”.
It is supposed to be a place where anyone can live “the American Dream”.
But instead it has become an economic wasteland where the largest and most prosperous middle class in the history of the world is being systematically eviscerated.
So no, the U.S. economy is not doing “just fine” – anyone that tries to tell you that lie is simply peddling fiction.
*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*
Barack Obama recently stated that anyone that is claiming that America’s economy is in decline is “peddling fiction“. Well, if the economy is in such great shape, why are major retailers shutting down hundreds of stores all over the country? Last month, I wrote about the “retail apocalypse” that is sweeping the nation, but since then it has gotten even worse. Closing stores has become the “hot new trend” in the retail world, and “space available” signs are going up in mall windows all over the United States. Barack Obama can continue huffing and puffing about how well the middle class is doing all he wants, but the truth is that the cold, hard numbers that retailers are reporting tell an entirely different story.
Earlier today, Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert released a letter to shareholders that was filled with all kinds of bad news. In this letter, he blamed the horrible results that Sears has been experiencing lately on “tectonic shifts” in consumer spending…
In a letter to shareholders on Thursday, Lampert said the impact of “tectonic shifts” in consumer spending has spread more broadly in the last year to retailers “that had previously proven to be relatively immune to such shifts.”
“Walmart, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Staples, Whole Foods and many others have felt the impact of disruptive changes from online competition and new business models,” Lampert wrote.
And it is very true – Sears is doing horribly, but they are far from alone. The following are 13 major retailers that are closing down stores…
#1 Sears lost 580 million dollars in the fourth quarter of 2015 alone, and they are scheduled to close at least 50 more “unprofitable stores” by the end of this year.
#2 It is being reported that Sports Authority will file for bankruptcy in March. Some news reports have indicated that around 200 stores may close, but at this point it is not known how many of their 450 stores will be able to stay open.
#3 For decades, Kohl’s has been growing aggressively, but now it plans to shutter 18 stores in 2016.
#4 Target has just finished closing 13 stores in the United States.
#5 Best Buy closed 30 stores last year, and it says that more store closings are likely in the months to come.
#6 Office Depot plans to close a total of 400 stores by the end of 2016.
The next seven examples come from one of my previous articles…
#7 Wal-Mart is closing 269 stores, including 154 inside the United States.
#8 K-Mart is closing down more than two dozen stores over the next several months.
#9 J.C. Penney will be permanently shutting down 47 more stores after closing a total of 40 stores in 2015.
#10 Macy’s has decided that it needs to shutter 36 stores and lay off approximately 2,500 employees.
#11 The Gap is in the process of closing 175 stores in North America.
#12 Aeropostale is in the process of closing 84 stores all across America.
#13 Finish Line has announced that 150 stores will be shutting down over the next few years.
These store closings can be particularly cruel for small towns. Just consider the impact that Wal-Mart has had on the little town of Oriental, North Carolina…
The Town’n Country grocery in Oriental, North Carolina, a local fixture for 44 years, closed its doors in October after a Wal-Mart store opened for business. Now, three months later — and less than two years after Wal-Mart arrived — the retail giant is pulling up stakes, leaving the community with no grocery store and no pharmacy.
Though mom-and-pop stores have steadily disappeared across the American landscape over the past three decades as the mega chain methodically expanded, there was at least always a Wal-Mart left behind to replace them. Now the Wal-Marts are disappearing, too.
Of course there are many factors involved in this ongoing retail apocalypse. Competition from online retailers is becoming more intense, and consumer spending patterns are rapidly changing.
But in the end, the truth is that you can’t get blood out of a rock. The middle class in America is shrinking, and there just isn’t as much discretionary spending going on as there used to be.
And now that we have entered a new economic downturn, many retailers are finding that there are some local communities that can no longer support their stores. The following comes from CNBC…
Though the shift to online shopping is no doubt playing a role in lighter foot traffic at malls, there’s more to their changing economics than the rise of Amazon. Changing demographics in a town are another reason a shopping center could struggle or fail — for example, if massive layoffs in a particular industry cause people to move away to find employment.
“A lot of people want to try and tie it to the Internet or ‘that’s not cool,’ or teens don’t like it,” Jesse Tron, a spokesman for industry trade group International Council of Shopping Centers, told CNBC last year. “It’s hard to support large-format retail in those suburban areas when people are trying to just pay their mortgage.”
In order to have a thriving middle class, we need good paying middle class jobs. Unfortunately, our economy has been bleeding those kinds of jobs quite rapidly. For example, Halliburton just announced that it is eliminating 5,000 more jobs after getting rid of 4,000 workers at the end of last year.
During the Obama years, good paying middle class jobs have been getting replaced by low paying service jobs. At this point, 51 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.
And there is no way that you can support a middle class family with children on $30,000 a year.
We have an economy that is in the process of failing. We can see it in the explosion of subprime auto loans that are going bad, we can see it in the hundreds of retail stores that are shutting down, and we can see it in the tens of thousands of good paying energy jobs that are being lost.
During the Obama years, interest rates have been pushed to the floor, the Federal Reserve has created trillions of dollars out of thin air, and the size of our national debt is getting close to doubling. Despite all of those desperate measures, our economy continues to crumble.
We stole from the future to try to paper over our failures and it didn’t work. Now an economic downturn that will ultimately turn out to be even worse than the “Great Recession” of 2008 and 2009 has begun, and our leaders have absolutely no idea how to fix things.
I wish I had better news to report, but I don’t. Get prepared now, because very rough times are ahead.