The federal government uses very carefully manipulated numbers to cover up the crushing economic depression that is going on in this nation. For the month of September, the federal government told us that 142,000 jobs were added to the economy. If that was actually true, that would barely be enough to keep up with population growth. Sadly, the truth is that the real numbers were actually far worse than that. The unadjusted numbers show that the U.S. economy actually lost 248,000 jobs in September and the government added more than a million Americans to the “not in the labor force” category. When I first saw that number I truly believed that it was inaccurate. But you can find the raw figures right here. According to the Obama administration, there are currently 7.9 million Americans that are “officially unemployed” and another 94.7 million working age Americans that are “not in the labor force”. That gives us a grand total of 102.6 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now.
That is not an economic recovery – that is an economic depression of an almost unbelievable magnitude.
This is something that my friend Mac Slavo pointed out the other day. I encourage you to read his analysis right here. If we measured unemployment the way that we did decades ago, we would all be talking about how similar Obama’s economy is to the Great Depression of the 1930s.
But instead we let the feds get away with feeding us this completely fraudulent “5.1 percent” unemployment number and most of us believe the mainstream media when they tell us that everything is just fine.
Well no, everything is not just fine. At this point, the labor force participation rate is the lowest that it has been since 1977. And the labor force participation rate for men is at the lowest level ever recorded. The only way that the federal government has been able to get the official unemployment rate to go down so much is by pretending that hundreds of thousands of Americans that have been unemployed for a very long time “leave the labor force” each month.
The chart posted below shows how our labor force participation rate has deteriorated since the year 2000. And in particular, the decline since Obama first entered the White House has been very striking. Does this look like a “healthy economy” to you?…
To me, the civilian employment-population ratio is a far more accurate measurement of the employment picture in America than the official unemployment rate is. Just prior to the last recession, approximately 63 percent of all working age Americans had a job. During that recession, that figure slipped below 59 percent and it stayed there for several years. Just recently it slipped back above 59 percent, but as you can see we are now falling once again…
The reason this number is falling is because lots of Americans have been losing jobs lately.
In fact, we are seeing layoffs at major firms at a level that we have not witnessed since 2009…
The jobs report today has been described as “ugly,” though it certainly didn’t, or shouldn’t have, come out of the blue: Layoffs in the energy, Big Tech, retail, and other sectors have recently mucked up our rosy scenario.
“The third quarter ended with a surge in job cuts,” is how Challenger Gray, which tracks these things, started out its report yesterday. In September, large US-based companies had announced 58,877 layoffs. In the third quarter, they announced 205,759 layoffs, the worst quarter since the 240,233 in the third quarter of 2009!
Year-to-date, we’re at nearly half a million job cut announcements (493,431 to be precise), up 36% from the same period last year.
Some of the companies that have recently announced layoffs include Wal-Mart, RadioShack, Delta, Sprint, ConAgra, Caterpillar, Bank of America, Halliburton, Qualcomm, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard.
If you need to find a job or you plan to switch jobs in the near future, time is of the essence. Jobs are going to become much, much harder to find in the months ahead, and so every single day of job searching is absolutely critical at this point.
Right now, there are more than 100 million Americans that get some sort of assistance from the federal government every month. Government dependence is at a level that we have never seen before in U.S. history, and it is going to get a lot worse.
If we get to a point where the government is either unwilling or unable to take care of all of these people, we are going to have a massive societal problem on our hands. More than a third of the people living in our nation cannot independently take care of themselves, and more Americans are falling out of the middle class every single day. When the welfare state starts breaking down, the chaos that will ensue will be far worse than most people would dare to imagine.
So what do you think?
Are job losses and layoffs starting to happen in your area?
Please feel free to add to the discussion by posting a comment below…
Jim Clifton, the Chairman and CEO of Gallup, says that the percentage of Americans that are employed full-time has been hovering near record lows since the end of the last recession. But most Americans don’t realize this because the official unemployment numbers are extremely misleading. In fact, Clifton says that the official 5.6 percent unemployment rate is a “big lie”. Gallup regularly tracks the percentage of U.S. adults that are employed for 30 or more hours per week, and it is currently at 44.2 percent. It has been hovering between 42 percent and 45 percent since the end of 2009. This is extremely low. As I discussed the other day, there are 8.69 million Americans that are considered to be “officially unemployed” at this point. But there are another 92.90 million Americans that are considered to be “not in the labor force”. Millions upon millions of those Americans would work if they could. Overall, there are 101 million U.S. adults that do not have a job right now. But you won’t hear that number being discussed by the mainstream media, because it would make Barack Obama look really bad.
Most Americans just assume that the economic numbers that we are being given accurately reflect reality. That is why it is so refreshing to have men like Jim Clifton step forward and tell the truth. His recent article entitled “The Big Lie: 5.6% Unemployment” is making headlines all over America. The following is an extended excerpt from that article…
There’s another reason why the official rate is misleading. Say you’re an out-of-work engineer or healthcare worker or construction worker or retail manager: If you perform a minimum of one hour of work in a week and are paid at least $20 — maybe someone pays you to mow their lawn — you’re not officially counted as unemployed in the much-reported 5.6%. Few Americans know this.
Yet another figure of importance that doesn’t get much press: those working part time but wanting full-time work. If you have a degree in chemistry or math and are working 10 hours part time because it is all you can find — in other words, you are severely underemployed — the government doesn’t count you in the 5.6%. Few Americans know this.
There’s no other way to say this. The official unemployment rate, which cruelly overlooks the suffering of the long-term and often permanently unemployed as well as the depressingly underemployed, amounts to a Big Lie.
And it’s a lie that has consequences, because the great American dream is to have a good job, and in recent years, America has failed to deliver that dream more than it has at any time in recent memory. A good job is an individual’s primary identity, their very self-worth, their dignity — it establishes the relationship they have with their friends, community and country. When we fail to deliver a good job that fits a citizen’s talents, training and experience, we are failing the great American dream.
Gallup defines a good job as 30+ hours per week for an organization that provides a regular paycheck. Right now, the U.S. is delivering at a staggeringly low rate of 44%, which is the number of full-time jobs as a percent of the adult population, 18 years and older.
And Gallup is being extremely generous.
I certainly would not define a 30 hour a week job at minimum wage as a “good job”, but Gallup does.
So the truth is that the percentage of U.S. adults that do have “good jobs” is actually far lower than 44 percent.
In the video that I have posted below, there is much more from Clifton about our current employment crisis…
Pretty strong stuff.
But Clifton also understands that there is danger in speaking out like this.
For example, just check out what he told CNBC during one recent interview…
“I think that the number that comes out of BLS [Bureau of Labor Statistics] and the Department of Labor is very, very accurate. I need to make that very, very clear so that I don’t suddenly disappear. I need to make it home tonight.”
So why are there so few good jobs for Americans?
Well, for one thing, our control freak politicians have absolutely murdered job creation in the United States.
Traditionally, small businesses have been the primary engine of job growth for the U.S. economy. But for each of the past six years, the number of new businesses being created has been lower than the number of businesses that have died.
Prior to 2008, we had never seen this happen before in all of U.S. history.
A confluence of factors are coming together to create a perfect storm that is going to be extremely bitter for American workers.
Spending our wealth is not a path to prosperity. We have got to create wealth in order to be a prosperous nation.
But instead, we continue to buy far, far more from the rest of the world than they buy from us. We just learned that the trade deficit increased to 46.6 billion dollars in December, and the total trade deficit for the year was more than half a trillion dollars.
This is complete and utter insanity, but at this point the trade deficit is not even a political issue for either major political party anymore.
And the really bad news is that this is about as good as things are going to get for the U.S. economy. The next major economic downturn is right around the corner, and our employment crisis is going to get much, much worse once that strikes.
Already, layoffs in January were 17.6 percent higher than they were in January a year ago and businesses all over the country are shutting down following a very disappointing holiday season.
In addition, the Baltic Dry Index has dropped to stunningly low levels. In fact, it is already lower than it was at any point during the last recession. The following is an excerpt from a recent article by Mac Slavo…
The Baltic Dry Index (BDI) is used by economists and stock traders alike as a leading economic indicator because it predicts future economic activity. The index tracks in US dollars and measures global supply and demand for commodity shipments among bulk carriers including raw materials like lumber, coal, metallic ores, and grains. What makes this particular measurement so distinct from others, according to economic Howard Simmons, is that the BDI “is totally devoid of speculative content” because “people don’t book freighters unless they have cargo to move.”
On Thursday, the Baltic Dry Index was sitting at 564, That is not too far above the record low level of 554 that was established in July 1986.
So don’t be fooled by all the happy talk from the mainstream media and from politicians like Barack Obama.
They are lying to you, and their lies will soon be evident for all the world to see.
If you believe that the U.S. economy is heading in the right direction, you really need to read this article. As we look toward the second half of 2014, there are economic red flags all over the place. Industrial production is down. Home sales are way down. Retail stores are closing at the fastest pace since the collapse of Lehman Brothers. U.S. household debt is up substantially, and in 20 percent of all U.S. families everyone is unemployed. In so many ways, what we are witnessing right now is so similar to what we experienced during the build up to the last great financial crisis. We are making so many of the very same mistakes that we made the last time, and yet our “leaders” seem completely oblivious to what is happening. But the warning signs are very clear. All you have to do is open your eyes and look at them. The following are 27 huge red flags for the U.S. economy…
#1 Despite endless assurances from the Obama administration that we are in an “economic recovery”, the number one concern for U.S. voters is “Unemployment/Jobs” according to a recent Gallup survey.
#2 Historically, sales for construction equipment manufacturer Caterpillar have been a pretty good indicator of where the global economy is heading next. Unfortunately, sales were down 13 percent last month and have now experienced year over year declines for 17 months in a row.
#3 During the first quarter of 2014, profits at office supply giant Staples fell by 43.5 percent.
#4 Foot traffic at Wal-Mart stores fell by 1.4 percent during the first quarter of 2014. Analysts seem puzzled as to why Wal-Mart is “underperforming“. Perhaps it is because the U.S. middle class is being steadily destroyed and U.S. consumers are tapped out at this point.
The company said this week that it may sell its 51% stake in Sears Canada, which operates nearly 20% of the company’s stores worldwide. It has quietly closed nearly 100 U.S. stores in the last year. Next week, it’s expected to announce dismal fiscal first quarter results and possibly yet more store closings.
“They have too many stores and they’re losing a lot of money, burning cash,” said John Kernan, an analyst with Cowen.
Kernan expects the company to close 500 of its 1,980 U.S. stores in a few years and, ultimately, to go out of business.
“The lights are going off at Sears and Kmart,” he said. “There are tumbleweeds blowing through the parking lots at Kmart. They’re basically completely irrelevant.”
The “retail apocalypse” just continues to roll on, but the mainstream media is treating this like it is not really a big deal.
#6 The labor force participation rate for Americans from the age of 25 to the age of 29 has fallen to an all-time record low.
#7 According to official government numbers, everyone is unemployed in 20 percent of all American families.
#8 As families struggle to pay their bills, many of them are increasingly turning to debt in order to make ends meet. Earlier this month we learned that total U.S. household debt has increased for three quarters in a row. And as I noted in one recent article, total consumer credit in the United States has increased by 22 percent over the past three years, and 56 percent of all Americans have “subprime credit” at this point.
#9 Interest rates on student loans are scheduled to increase substantially on July 1st…
As of July 1, federal student loan rates will edge up. Rates overall will be up 0.8% compared to current rates.
Federal Stafford Loans for undergraduate students will be 4.66% — up from 3.86%. Federal Stafford Loans for graduate students will be 6.21% — up from 5.41%.
Federal Grad PLUS and Federal Parent PLUS Loans will be at 7.21% — up from 6.41%.
#13 In the real estate bubble market of Phoenix, sales in April were down 12 percent year over year, and active inventory was up 49 percent year over year. In other words, there are tons of homes on the market, but sales are going down.
#14 The homeownership rate in the United States has dropped to the lowest level in 19 years.
#15 Trading revenue at big banks all over the western world is way down…
Late Friday, it was JPMorgan who said trading revenues will be down 20 percent this quarter. Now Barclays says trading revenues in the first three months were down 41 percent. The company cited “challenging trading conditions resulting in subdued client activity.” Like JPMorgan, Barclays also warned they were seeing no improvement in trading in the second quarter.
#16 Jan Loeys, JPMorgan’s head of global asset allocation, is warning that the Federal Reserve is creating a huge financial bubble which could “push us into a credit crisis“…
Where do we go from here? To this analyst, still very subdued economic growth, both at the US and global level, implies continued easy monetary policy. The risk is that bond yields rise no faster than the forwards. Financial overheating (asset inflation) proceeds much faster than economic overheating (CPI inflation). Before CPI inflation has a chance to emerge, and before monetary policy is truly above neutral, a financial bubble will have popped up somewhere and will have corrected, pushing the economy down. That is what has happened in the past 25 years. The behavior of central banks gives us no confidence that this time will be different: Central banks talk about financial instability, but appear to define this mostly in term of bank leverage. Each successive boom and bust is always in another place. A bubble can emerge without leverage. It is not possible to project exactly where this boom and bust cycle will take place as knowing where it will be would induce evasive actions that should prevent it from occurring. One possible ending, among many, is that ultra-easy rates having induced credit markets to grow much faster than equity markets, combines with reduced market making by banks (many of whom have become like brokers) to create a liquidity crisis when the Fed starts the first set of rate hikes. This could then be bad enough to close primary markets, and thus push us into a credit crisis.
#17 Peter Boockvar, the chief market analyst at the Lindsey Group, is warning that the U.S. stock market could experience a 20 percent decline once quantitative easing completely ends.
#18 A lot of other big names are telling CNBC that they expect a significant stock market “correction” very soon as well…
A bevy of high-profile names have warned lately that the market is on the doorstep of a major move lower. From long-term market bulls such as Piper Jaffray to short-term traders such as Dennis Gartman, expectations are high that the major averages are poised for a big dip, with calls varying from 10 percent or so all the way up to 25 percent.
#19 The number of Americans enrolled in the Social Security disability program exceeds the entire population of the nation of Greece and has just hit another brand new record high.
#20 Poverty continues to grow all over the country, and right now there are 49 million Americans that are dealing with food insecurity.
The EPA is about to impose a new regulation that will reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants starting June 2 and will become permanent in 2015. The new regulation, according to Politico, is the “most dramatic anti-pollution regulation in a generation.” Because the new regulation will further cripple the coal industry, as coal-burning plants will be severely affected, American power will become more dependent on natural gas, solar and wind.
#23 Climatologists are now saying that the state of Texas is going through the worst period of drought that it has experienced in 500 years.
Did you know that there are nearly 102 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now? And 20 percent of all families in the United States do not have a single member that is employed. So how in the world can the government claim that the unemployment rate has “dropped” to “6.3 percent”? Well, it all comes down to how you define who is “unemployed”. For example, last month the government moved another 988,000 Americans into the “not in the labor force” category. According to the government, at this moment there are 9.75 million Americans that are “unemployed” and there are 92.02 million Americans that are “not in the labor force” for a grand total of 101.77 million working age Americans that do not have a job. Back in April 2000, only 5.48 million Americans were unemployed and only 69.27 million Americans were “not in the labor force” for a grand total of 74.75 million Americans without a job. That means that the number of working age Americans without a job has risen by 27 million since the year 2000. Any way that you want to slice that, it is bad news.
Well, what about as a percentage of the population?
Has the percentage of working age Americans that have a job been increasing or decreasing?
As you can see from the chart posted below, the percentage of working age Americans with a job has been in a long-term downward trend. As the year 2000 began, we were sitting at 64.6 percent. By the time the great financial crisis of 2008 struck, we were hovering around 63 percent. During the last recession, we fell dramatically to under 59 percent and we have stayed there ever since…
In March, 58.9 percent of all working age Americans had a job.
In April, 58.9 percent of all working age Americans had a job.
Things are not getting worse (at least for the moment), but things are also definitely not getting better.
The month that Barack Obama entered the White House, we were in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and only 60.6 percent of all working age Americans had a job.
Since only 58.9 percent of all working age Americans have a job now, that means that the employment situation in America is still significantly worse than it was the day Barack Obama took office.
So don’t let anyone fool you with talk of an “employment recovery”. It simply is not happening. The official unemployment rate bears so little relation to economic reality at this point that it has essentially become meaningless.
A family, as defined by the BLS, is a group of two or more people who live together and who are related by birth, adoption or marriage. In 2013, there were 80,445,000 families in the United States and in 16,127,000—or 20 percent–no one had a job.
So if one out of every five families is completely unemployed, then why is the official government unemployment rate not up at Great Depression era levels?
Could it be that the government is manipulating the numbers to make them look much better than they actually are?
Why don’t they just go ahead and get it over with? They can just define every American that is not working as “not in the labor force” and then we can have “0.0 percent unemployment”. Then we can all have a giant party and celebrate how wonderful the U.S. economy is.
And don’t be fooled by the “288,000 jobs” that were added to the U.S. economy last month. For workers under the age of 55, the number of jobs actually droppedby a whopping 259,000.
If we were using honest numbers, the official unemployment rate would look a lot scarier. John Williams of shadowstats.com has calculated that the unemployment rate should be about 23 percent. I don’t think that is too far off.
Meanwhile, the quality of the jobs in our economy continues to go down. The House Ways and Means Committee says that seven out of every eight jobs that have been “added” to the economy under Barack Obama have been part-time jobs. But you can’t raise a family or plan a career around a part-time job. To be honest, it is very hard for a single person to even survive on a part-time wage in this economic environment.
Without middle class incomes, you can’t have a middle class. Considering what we have been watching happen, it should be no surprise that the homeownership rate in the United States has dropped to the lowest level in 19 years or that the number of Americans receiving money from the government each month exceeds the number of full-time workers in the private sector by more than 60 million.
There are millions of American families that once lived very comfortable middle class lifestyles that have lost it all. When you are unemployed and you can’t find a decent job, it can crush your soul. Every day you can see the disappointment or the disapproval in the eyes of your family and friends, and it can be really easy to want to give up completely. And then there are always those that choose to actively vocalize their disdain for those that are down on their luck. But telling people “to get a job” or shaming them for being on welfare isn’t going to solve anything in an economy where there simply are not enough jobs for everyone. Only a small minority of welfare recipients are actually trying to abuse the system. Most people just want to work hard and take care of their families. Unfortunately, that is much harder to do than it was before the last financial crisis.
At this point, our economy has stabilized at a much lower level than it was at before. For example, 32 million Americans were on food stamps when Barack Obama took office, and subsequently that number shot up to about 47 million. Fortunately, that number has been relatively stable for the last couple of years, but there has been no recovery. This can be seen in lots of other economic statistics as well.
If we were going to have an “economic recovery”, it should have happened by now.
Unfortunately, it has not materialized, and now the next downturn is coming.
Since I run a website called “The Economic Collapse”, a lot of people seem to assume that I actually want an economic collapse to happen. But that is not the truth at all. I love this country, and just like most other people I really enjoy life in modern America. I wish that the party could go on forever. But I know that it cannot.
And every day I hear from people that are deeply suffering in this economy. Anyone that has a heart that hears of such suffering would want things to get better. Why would anyone want to see even more pain?
But I know that more pain is coming.
In the years ahead, a tremendous amount of love and compassion are going to be needed. When people lose their jobs, their entire lives can be turned upside down. Just consider the case of one formerly middle class woman named Abby Henson…
Last winter I ran into a friend pushing his two youngest children in a stroller. When I asked how he was doing, he told me he’d recently lost his job. I walked away thinking, “Thank God that’s not us.” Fast-forward seven months and now we’re the family people walk away from with a sigh of relief.
One day this summer, my husband came home early from work with the news he’d lost his job. Since then, we’ve gone through all the stages of grief, with a few additions of our own. I’ve gone into what I’ve dubbed “Mama Bear mode,” wanting to do everything with my husband and our two small children, maybe because I just don’t want to face anyone alone. “How are you doing?” is a hard question to answer in the rush of school pickup. So I keep my mate and cubs close, or we hibernate at home, trying to avoid scrutiny.
Sadly, this kind of thing has happened to millions of families. Those that doubt this just need to look at the survey numbers.
Back in 2008, 53 percent of all Americans considered themselves to be “middle class”.
In 2014, only 44 percent of all Americans still consider themselves to be “middle class”.
This next story that I want to share with you is from a reader named Joe. Please look past the lack of punctuation, and consider what he is saying. This is a man that has had his heart broken…
im not sure whats worse. never having a career and family or losing them both. i know that when i got the honor of handing 20 years of hard work to the chinese it plunged me in to despair and a horrible spin. 3 years later and a college degree and ive lost my home and my family over it. and all i got was, you could have, you should have. so its all my fault that someone elses greed caused all this. by the way the corporate CEO that did this makes 7 million bucks a year. she caused 2 divorces. a dozen early forced retirements, countless career losses and multiple wrecked families. im lucky i still have my RV which is home now. i used to have a nice 4 bedroom house with all the middle class trimmings. now i consider myself lucky to have a job where i barely make the space rent and no hope of recovering my former career or my family. i had it all and lost it so i dont know whats worse having or never having it at all and pining for it. either way it hurts knowing that no one wants you after you fall apart youre just a hot potato. all i know is that im lost with no hope with a clean 30 year work history thats now moot. in retrospect i wish i had stayed in the saddle and kept riding my motorcycle till i was no more.
And it is not just older Americans that are suffering in this economy.
Many young people that worked incredibly hard through school and that did everything “right” now find the door to the middle class completely shut. The following is testimony from a recent college graduate that is incredibly sad…
I’m a college graduate. I live at home. I am on food stamps. I graduated about two years ago and the only work I’ve been able to get is sign waving. Temp agencies are all so flooded with applicants they are almost useless. I’ve sent out hundreds of resumes, filled out dozens of applications, and nothing ever happens. Everyone acts like it’s YOUR fault. That used to be hurtful, but now I’m past caring, because I realize what life holds for me: nothing. I will never have a family or career. I will never own a home or even live on my own again. I will never be able to have a social life again. I will never be financially independent, like I was for a brief period of time at an age younger than most because I worked so hard for it. And all of it was for this nothing. A lifetime of hard work, completely wasted. I wish I had just partied and screwed around my whole life – the outcome probably would have been better.
The despair that our young adults are feeling right now shows up very clearly in the survey numbers.
Back in 2008, 25 percent of all Americans in the 18 to 29-year-old age bracket considered themselves to be “lower class”.
Due to a lack of job security and all the bad economic news I have lapsed into a clinical depression. I have been susceptible to anxiety and depression in the past. However, I did not have to deal with a bout of depression for about 5 years. I am writing this as a wakeup call to other people who may be feeling what I am feeling right now. I am extremely angry about the rampant corruption, laziness, hubris, and ignorance that is permeating through society today. I have shifted between anger, apathy, and sadness. However, I have family that I must protect. One of my purposes in life is to give people hope. Also, below is a list of actions I took to combat my depression.
· Take up a new hobby. Dancing helped me.
· Take stock of how your life impacts others.
· Prepare for harder times ahead. This is extremely empowering.
· Engage in acts of kindness. I found a twenty dollar bill on the floor at a store. Instead of keeping it I gave it to lost and found at customer service. I also removed a sharp piece of wood from the middle of a residential street.
· I remember the saying “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem” Feelings of sadness, anger, hopelessness are transitory. If you have thoughts about taking your life please get help.
· Typing this has made me feel better.
I will continue to fight my depression. I am in a dark place right now. However, I am searching for the light.
Please pray for Paul and others just like him as they struggle with their pain.
The truth is that there is always hope.
If you are reading this and you are hurting, I want you to know that almost everyone hits a very deep low at some point. But if you keep fighting, there is always a way for things to be turned around.
Personally, God took the broken pieces of my life and turned them into a beautiful thing, and He can do the same for you.
So never, ever, ever give up.
Yes, very challenging economic times are coming.
But our lives should not be defined by our material possessions anyway.
Personally, I am very glad to be alive during this time of human history. When times are the darkest, that is when light is needed the most. And times of great crisis also often bring great opportunity as well.
The years ahead are going to present an awesome opportunity to make a difference in this world.
If you want to get an idea of where the rest of America is heading, just take a trip through the western half of West Virginia and the eastern half of Kentucky some time. Once you leave the main highways, you will rapidly encounter poverty on a level that is absolutely staggering. Overall, about 15 percent of the entire nation is under the poverty line, but in some areas of eastern Kentucky, more than 40 percent of the population is living in poverty. Most of the people would work if they could. Over the past couple of decades, locals have witnessed businesses and industries leave the region at a steady pace. When another factory or business shuts down, many of the unemployed do not even realize that their jobs have been shipped overseas. Coal mining still produces jobs that pay a decent wage, but Barack Obama is doing his very best to kill off that entire industry. After decades of decline, vast stretches of impoverished Appalachia look like they have been through a war. Those living in the area know that things are not good, but they just try to do the best that they can with what they have.
In previous articles about areas of the country that are economically depressed, I have typically focused on large cities such as Detroit or Camden, New Jersey. But the economic suffering that is taking place in rural communities in the heartland of America is just as tragic. We just don’t hear about it as much.
Most of those that live in the heart of Appalachia are really good “salt of the earth” people that just want to work hard and do what is right for their families. But after decades of increasing poverty, the entire region has been transformed into an economic nightmare that never seems to end. The following is a description of what life is like in Appalachia today that comes from a recent article by Kevin D. Williamson…
Thinking about the future here and its bleak prospects is not much fun at all, so instead of too much black-minded introspection you have the pills and the dope, the morning beers, the endless scratch-off lotto cards, healing meetings up on the hill, the federally funded ritual of trading cases of food-stamp Pepsi for packs of Kentucky’s Best cigarettes and good old hard currency, tall piles of gas-station nachos, the occasional blast of meth, Narcotics Anonymous meetings, petty crime, the draw, the recreational making and surgical unmaking of teenaged mothers, and death: Life expectancies are short — the typical man here dies well over a decade earlier than does a man in Fairfax County, Va. — and they are getting shorter, women’s life expectancy having declined by nearly 1.1 percent from 1987 to 2007.
In these kinds of conditions, people do whatever they have to do just to survive. With so much poverty around, serving those on food stamps has become an important part of the local economy. In fact, cases of soda purchased with food stamps have become a form of “alternative currency” in the region. In his article, Williamson described how this works…
It works like this: Once a month, the debit-card accounts of those receiving what we still call food stamps are credited with a few hundred dollars — about $500 for a family of four, on average — which are immediately converted into a unit of exchange, in this case cases of soda. On the day when accounts are credited, local establishments accepting EBT cards — and all across the Big White Ghetto, “We Accept Food Stamps” is the new E pluribus unum – are swamped with locals using their public benefits to buy cases and cases — reports put the number at 30 to 40 cases for some buyers — of soda. Those cases of soda then either go on to another retailer, who buys them at 50 cents on the dollar, in effect laundering those $500 in monthly benefits into $250 in cash — a considerably worse rate than your typical organized-crime money launderer offers — or else they go into the local black-market economy, where they can be used as currency in such ventures as the dealing of unauthorized prescription painkillers — by “pillbillies,” as they are known at the sympathetic establishments in Florida that do so much business with Kentucky and West Virginia that the relevant interstate bus service is nicknamed the “OxyContin Express.” A woman who is intimately familiar with the local drug economy suggests that the exchange rate between sexual favors and cases of pop — some dealers will accept either — is about 1:1, meaning that the value of a woman in the local prescription-drug economy is about $12.99 at Walmart prices.
I would encourage everyone to read the rest of Williamson’s excellent article. You can find the entire article right here.
In Appalachia, the abuse of alcohol, meth and other legal and illegal drugs is significantly higher than in the U.S. population as a whole. In a desperate attempt to deal with the pain of their lives, many people living in the region are looking for anything that will allow them to “escape” for a little while. The following is an excerpt from an excellent article by Chris Hedges which describes what life is like in the little town of Gary, West Virginia at this point…
Joe and I are sitting in the Tug River Health Clinic in Gary with a registered nurse who does not want her name used. The clinic handles federal and state black lung applications. It runs a program for those addicted to prescription pills. It also handles what in the local vernacular is known as “the crazy check” — payments obtained for mental illness from Medicaid or SSI — a vital source of income for those whose five years of welfare payments have run out. Doctors willing to diagnose a patient as mentally ill are important to economic survival.
“They come in and want to be diagnosed as soon as they can for the crazy check,” the nurse says. “They will insist to us they are crazy. They will tell us, ‘I know I’m not right.’ People here are very resigned. They will avoid working by being diagnosed as crazy.”
The reliance on government checks, and a vast array of painkillers and opiates, has turned towns like Gary into modern opium dens. The painkillers OxyContin, fentanyl — 80 times stronger than morphine — Lortab, as well as a wide variety of anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax, are widely abused. Many top off their daily cocktail of painkillers at night with sleeping pills and muscle relaxants. And for fun, addicts, especially the young, hold “pharm parties,” in which they combine their pills in a bowl, scoop out handfuls of medication, swallow them, and wait to feel the result.
Of course this kind of thing is not just happening in the heart of Appalachia. All over the country there are rural communities that are economically depressed. In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, economic activity in about half of the counties in the entire nation is still below pre-recession levels…
Did you know that the Obama administration is negotiating a super secret “trade agreement” that is so sensitive that he isn’t even allowing members of Congress to see it? The Trans-Pacific Partnership is being called the “NAFTA of the Pacific” and “NAFTA on steroids”, but the truth is that it is so much more than just a trade agreement. This treaty has 29 chapters, but only 5 of them have to do with trade. Most Americans don’t realize this, but this treaty will fundamentally change our laws regarding Internet freedom, health care, the trading of derivatives, copyright issues, food safety, environmental standards, civil liberties and so much more. It will also merge the United States far more deeply into the emerging one world economic system.
Once again, our politicians are betraying the American people and millions of jobs will be lost as a result.
But now the ongoing economic collapse seems to be picking up steam again. For example, the Baltic Dry Index (a very important indicator of global economic activity) is collapsing at a rate not seen since the great financial crash of 2008…
Despite ‘blaming’ the drop in the cost of dry bulk shipping on Colombian coal restrictions, it seems increasingly clear that the 40% collapse in the Baltic Dry Index since the start of the year is more than just that. While this is the worst start to a year in over 30 years, the scale of this meltdown is only matched by the total devastation that occurred in Q3 2008. Of course, the mainstream media will continue to ignore this dour index until it decides to rise once again, but for now, 9 days in a row of plunging prices is yet another canary in the global trade coalmine and suggests what inventory stacking that occurred in Q3/4 2013 is anything but sustained.
Soon economic conditions will get even worse for Appalachia and for the rest of the country. The consequences of decades of very foolish decisions are rapidly catching up with us, and millions upon millions of Americans are going to experience immense economic pain during the years to come.
So what are things like in your area of the country right now? Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…
That headline is not a misprint. The number of working age Americans that do not have a job has increased by nearly 10 million since Barack Obama first entered the White House. In January 2009, the number of “officially unemployed” workers plus the number of Americans “not in the labor force” was sitting at a grand total of 92.6 million. Today, that number has risen to 102.2 million. That means that the number of working age Americans that are not working has grown by close to 10 million since Barack Obama first took office. So why does the “official unemployment rate” keep going down? Well, it is because the federal government has been pretending that millions upon millions of unemployed workers have “left the labor force” over the past few years and do not want to work anymore. The government says that another 347,000 workers “left the labor force” in December. That is nearly five times larger than the 74,000 jobs that were “created” by the U.S. economy last month. And it is important to note that more than half of those jobs were temporary jobs, and it takes well over 100,000 new jobs just to keep up with population growth each month. So the unemployment rate should not have gone down. If anything, it should have gone up.
In fact, if the federal government was using an honest labor force participation rate, the official unemployment rate would be far higher than it is right now. Instead of 6.7 percent, it would be 11.5 percent, and it has stayed at about that level since the end of the last recession.
But “6.7 percent” makes Obama look so much better than “11.5 percent”, don’t you think?
The labor force participation rate is now at a 35 year low, and the only way that the federal government has been able to get the “unemployment rate” to go down is by removing hundreds of thousands of Americans out of the labor force every month.
Why don’t they just get it over with and announce that they have decided that all workers immediately leave the labor force the moment that they lose their jobs? That way we could have an unemployment rate of “0.0 percent” and Obama could be hailed as a great economic savior.
Of course the truth is that the employment crisis in the United States is about as bad now as it was during the depths of the last recession.
If you want a much more accurate reading of the employment picture in America, just look at the employment-population ratio. The percentage of working age Americans that actually have a job continues to stagnate at an extremely low level. In fact, the percentage of working age Americans that are employed has stayed between 58.2 percent and 58.8 percent for 52 months in a row…
Does that look like an “employment recovery” to you?
Because no matter how hard I squint my eyes, I just can’t see it.
The percentage of Americans that actually have jobs should have bounced back at least a little bit by now.
No matter how rosy the mainstream media makes things out to be, the reality on the ground tells an entirely different story.
For example, just check out the desperation that was displayed on the streets of New York City last week…
The line wrapped nearly around an entire city block on Friday as approximately 1,500 people waited in Queens for a chance to apply for a coveted union job as painters or blasters on bridges and steel structures.
The first few people on line had been there since 1 p.m. on Tuesday when the temperature in New York City was in the single digits.
The job that those desperate workers wanted to apply for only pays $17.20 an hour.
Of course that is far from an isolated incident. Last week, I wrote about how 1,600 workers recently applied for just 36 jobs at an ice cream plant in Maryland.
We would not be witnessing scenes like these if the unemployment rate in America was really just 6.7 percent.
Since 2009, we’ve been told that things have improved. The fact of the matter is that the improvement has been largely due to accounting tricks rather than any real change in reality.
Sure you can make unemployment look better by not counting people, you can claim the economy is growing by ignoring inflation, you can argue that inflation is low because you don’t count food or energy, but the reality is that all of these arguments are grade “A” BS.
We are now five years into the “recovery.” The single and I mean SINGLE accomplishment from spending over $3 trillion has been the stock market going higher. This is a complete and total failure. Based on the business cycle alone, the economy should be roaring.
What does it say that we’ve spent this much money and accomplished so little?
The word is FAILURE.
The media is lying about the economy. They have been for years. Even the BLS now admits that its methodologies are either inefficient (read: DON’T work) or outright wrong.
The cold, hard reality of the matter is that there has not been an economic recovery in this nation.
And now the next major wave of the economic collapse is rapidly approaching.
The U.S. national debt is on pace to more than double during the eight years of the Obama administration and the Federal Reserve has been recklessly printing up trillions of dollars. The long-term damage that they have done to our economy is incalculable. But despite all of those extraordinary “stimulus” measures, the percentage of Americans that are actually working has not budged.
If we were going to have a recovery, it would have happened by this point. In fact, this is all the “recovery” that we are going to experience.
From here on out, this is about as good as things are going to get. As bad as you may think things are now, the truth is that this is rip-roaring prosperity compared to what is coming.