Goodbye Middle Class: 50 Percent Of American Workers Make Less Than 33,000 Dollars A Year

The truth is that most American families are deeply struggling, but you hardly ever hear this from the mainstream media.  Yes, about 10 percent of all American workers are making $100,000 or more a year, but most of those high paying jobs are concentrated in the major cities along the east and west coasts.  For much of the rest of the country, these are very challenging times as the cost of living soars but their paychecks do not.  According to the Social Security Administration, the median income in the United States last year was just $32,838.05.  In other words, 50 percent of American workers made more than $32,838.05 and 50 percent of American workers made less than $32,838.05 in 2018.  Let’s be generous and round that number up to $33,000, and when you break it down on a monthly basis it comes to just $2,750 a month.  Of course nobody can support a middle class lifestyle for a family of four on $2,750 a month before taxes, and so in most families more than one person is working these days.  In fact, in many families today more than one person is working multiple jobs in a desperate attempt to make ends meet, and it still is often not quite enough.

If you want to look at the Social Security wage statistics for yourself, you can find them right here.  As you will see, I am not making these numbers up.

These days many would have us feel bad if we are not making at least $100,000 a year, but according to the report only about 10 percent of all American workers make that much money.

Instead, most Americans are in what I would call “the barely getting by” category.  Here are some key facts that I pulled out of the report…

-33 percent of all American workers made less than $20,000 last year.

-46 percent of all American workers made less than $30,000 last year.

-58 percent of all American workers made less than $40,000 last year.

-67 percent of all American workers made less than $50,000 last year.

That means that approximately two-thirds of all American workers are making $4,000 or less a month before taxes.

Ouch.

But these numbers help us to understand why survey after survey has shown that most Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.  After paying the bills, there just isn’t much money left for most of us.

And for an increasing number of Americans, even paying the bills has become exceedingly difficult.  In fact, a brand new report from UBS says that 44 percent of all U.S. consumers “don’t make enough money to cover their expenses”…

Low-income consumers are struggling to make ends meet despite the “greatest economy ever,” and if a recession strikes or the employment cycle continues to decelerate — this could mean the average American with insurmountable debts will likely fall behind on their debt servicing payments, according to a UBS report, first reported by Bloomberg.

UBS analyst Matthew Mish wrote in a recent report that 44% of consumers don’t make enough money to cover their expenses.

That means that about half the country is flat broke and struggling just to survive financially.

Of course those at the top of the economic food chain often don’t have a lot of sympathy for those that are hurting.  Many of them have the attitude that those that are struggling should just go out and get one of the “good jobs” that the mainstream media is endlessly touting.

But most jobs in the United States are not “good jobs”.

Today, the poverty level for a household of four in the United States is $25,750.  More than 40 percent of the workers in this country make less than that each year.

Starting a business is always an option, but that takes money, and thanks to government regulations it is harder than ever to run a small business successfully.

Just look at what is happening to our dairy farmers.  There are few occupations that are more quintessentially “American” than being a dairy farmer, and since most people drink milk and eat cheese, you would think that it would be a pretty safe profession.

But instead, dairy farms are shutting down at a pace that is absolutely chilling all over the nation.  For example, just check out what has been going on in Wisconsin

Wisconsin lost another 42 dairy farms in July, and since January 1, has lost 491 farms, reports the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

At this rate, the Dairy State could lose 735 dairy farms this year, which would be a decline of 9%. In 2018, the state lost 691 farms, a rate of decline of 7.9%.

Over the last decade the state has lost more than 5,000 farms, or 40% of its licensed dairy farms. To state the obvious, the current rate of exits is more than double that of the last decade.

So why is this happening?

Government.

In profession after profession, government control freaks have made it nearly impossible to make a living, and this has pushed the percentage of Americans that are self-employed to historic lows.

If you are struggling right now, I want you to know that you are not alone.  There are tens of millions of other Americans that are really hurting in this economy, and the bad news is that economic conditions will soon get a lot worse.

But you can make it through whatever is ahead.  You just have to keep believing.

A lot of people accuse me of spreading “doom and gloom”, but that is not true at all.  There is hope in understand what is happening, and there is hope in getting prepared for the hard times that are ahead.  When you take steps to prepare, you are telling yourself and everyone around you that you believe that you can make it through the storm that is coming.

Or you could just have blind faith in the system, even though it is exceedingly obvious that the system is crumbling all around us.  Those that are blindly trusting the system to take care of them are building their dreams on a foundation of sand, and when the waves come crashing in those dreams are going to get washed away very quickly.

About the Author: I am a voice crying out for change in a society that generally seems content to stay asleep.  I am the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe.  I have written four books that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The End, Get Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters.  (#CommissionsEarned)  By purchasing those books you help to support my work.  I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but due to government regulations I can only allow this to happen if this “About the Author” section is included with each article.  In order to comply with those government regulations, I need to tell you that the controversial opinions in this article are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the websites where my work is republished.  This article may contain opinions on political matters, but it is not intended to promote the candidacy of any particular political candidate.  The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial or health decisions.  Those responding to this article by making comments are solely responsible for their viewpoints, and those viewpoints do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of Michael Snyder or the operators of the websites where my work is republished.  I encourage you to follow me on social media on Facebook and Twitter, and any way that you can share these articles with others is a great help.

Goodbye Middle Class: The Percentage Of Wealth Owned By The Top 10% Just Got Even BIGGER

The middle class in America is being systematically eviscerated, and it is getting worse with each passing year.  As you will see below, one new study has found that 10 percent of Americans now own 70 percent of all the wealth.  Once upon a time, the United States had the largest and most vibrant middle class in the history of the world, but pretty soon we are just going to have the ultra-wealthy and everyone else.  Our system has been designed to funnel as much wealth as possible to the very top of the financial pyramid, and that means that most of the rest of us are deeply struggling.  And when you are just barely getting by from month to month, all it takes is one bad break to knock you completely out of the middle class and into poverty.

I have been chronicling the demise of the middle class for many years, but I didn’t know that the numbers had gotten this bad.  According to a study that was recently conducted by the Federal Reserve, the percentage of wealth controlled by the top 10 percent of U.S. households has shot up from 60 percent in 1989 to 70 percent today

Deutsche Bank’s Torsten Sløk says that the distribution of household wealth in America has become even more disproportionate over the past decade, with the richest 10% of U.S. households representing 70% of all U.S. wealth in 2018, compared with 60% in 1989, according to a recent study by researchers at the Federal Reserve.

The study finds that the share of wealth among the richest 1% increased to 32% from 23% over the same period.

The ironic thing is that the Federal Reserve has actually done much to cause this high concentration of wealth among the elite.  In response to the last financial crisis, the Federal Reserve pumped unprecedented amounts of money into the financial system, and this has created the greatest stock market bubble in our history

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +2.06% has climbed nearly 300% since its closing low in March 2009, the S&P 500 index SPX, +2.14% has climbed 325%, while the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +2.65% has soared 535% over the same period.

Meanwhile, wages have stagnated for ordinary Americans.  According to the Social Security Administration, the median yearly wage in the United States is currently just $30,533.  In other words, 50 percent of all American workers make at least that much per year, and 50 percent of all American workers make that much or less per year.

$30,533 a year breaks down to approximately $2,500 per month, and you simply can’t support a middle class lifestyle for a typical American family on $2,500 a month.

Meanwhile, the cost of living for middle class families has exploded higher over the past few decades…

Everyday expenses continue to rise, and as the shadow inflation increases, it also threatens to wipe out the middle class – what’s left of it anyway. In fact, middle-class life is now 30% more expensive than it was 20 years ago, according to a separate report by CNBC. The cost of things such as college, housing, and child care has risen precipitously: Tuition at public universities doubled between 1996 and 2016 and housing prices in popular cities have quadrupled, Alissa Quart, author and executive director of the Economic Hardship Reporting Projecttells CNBC Make It.

As the cost of living has risen faster than our incomes have, more Americans have been squeezed out of the middle class with each passing month.

As a result, an increasing number of Americans have become financially dependent on the government, and our rapidly expanding welfare state is a big reason why the federal government is now 22 trillion dollars in debt.

Of course many Americans are no longer able to make it at all, and the ranks of the homeless are swelling all over the nation.  In fact, we just got some brand new numbers about the growth of homelessness in the Los Angeles area that are absolutely eye-popping

The number of homeless people counted across Los Angeles County jumped 12% over the past year to nearly 59,000, with more young and old residents and families on the streets, officials said Tuesday.

The majority of the homeless were found within the city of Los Angeles, which saw a 16% increase to 36,300, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority said in presenting January’s annual count to the county Board of Supervisors.

Yes, it is true that we have a record number of millionaires on the west coast in 2019, but meanwhile our major west coast cities are being transformed into rotting, decaying nightmares right in front of our eyes.

During a recent interview with Laura Ingraham, Dr. Drew Pinsky admitted that there is “a complete breakdown of the basic needs of civilization in Los Angeles right now”

“We have a complete breakdown of the basic needs of civilization in Los Angeles right now,” Pinsky told host Laura Ingraham. “We have the three prongs of airborne disease, tuberculosis is exploding, (and) rodent-borne. We are one of the only cities in the country that doesn’t have a rodent control program, and sanitation has broken down.”

Pinsky’s comments followed news that Los Angeles police officer had contracted typhoid fever, a rare and life-threatening illness that fewer than 350 Americans contract each year.

Los Angeles had a typhus outbreak last summer and will likely have another this summer, Pinsky said. Meanwhile, bubonic plague – a pandemic that killed tens of millions of people during the 14th century – is “likely” already present in Los Angeles, Pinsky added.

Despite all of our great wealth and despite all of our advanced technology, this is what life is like in our second largest city right now.

And if things are degenerating this badly during stable times, what are things going to look like once our society plunges into chaos?

Ultimately, the American Dream is about being self-sufficient.  Most people want to be able to work hard and provide a nice life for their families, but that is becoming harder and harder to do.

No matter which political party has been in power in Washington, the middle class has continued to shrink and more wealth and power has become concentrated in the hands of the elite.

Now we stand on the precipice of the next major economic downturn, and many are deeply concerned about what that is going to mean for the future of our society.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have you ever been there?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Middle Class Destroyed: 50 Percent Of All American Workers Make Less Than $30,533 A Year

The middle class in America has been declining for decades, and we continue to get even more evidence of the catastrophic damage that has already been done.  According to the Social Security Administration, the median yearly wage in the United States is just $30,533 at this point.  That means 50 percent of all American workers make at least that much per year, but that also means that 50 percent of all American workers make that much or less per year.  When you divide $30,533 by 12, you get a median monthly wage of just over $2,500.  But of course nobody can provide a middle class standard of living for a family of four for just $2,500 a month, and we will discuss this further below.  So in most households at least two people are working, and in many cases multiple jobs are being taken on by a single individual in a desperate attempt to make ends meet.  The American people are working harder than ever, and yet the middle class just continues to erode.

The deeper we dig into the numbers provided by the Social Security Administration, the more depressing they become.  Here are just a few examples from their official website

-34 percent of all American workers made less than $20,000 last year.

-48 percent of all American workers made less than $30,000 last year.

-59 percent of all American workers made less than $40,000 last year.

-68 percent of all American workers made less than $50,000 last year.

At this moment, the federal poverty level for a family of five is $29,420, and yet about half the workers in the entire country don’t even make that much on a yearly basis.

So can someone please explain to me again why people are saying that the economy is “doing well”?

Many will point to how well the stock market has been doing, but the stock market has not been an accurate barometer for the overall economy in a very, very long time.

And the stock market has already fallen nearly 1,500 points since the beginning of the month.  The bull market appears to be over and the bears are licking their chops.

No matter who has been in the White House, and no matter which political party has controlled Congress, the U.S. middle class has been systematically eviscerated year after year.  Many that used to be thriving may still even call themselves “middle class”, but that doesn’t make it true.

You would think that someone making “the median income” in a country as wealthy as the United States would be doing quite well.  But the truth is that $2,500 a month won’t get you very far these days.

First of all, your family is going to need somewhere to live.  Especially on the east and west coasts, it is really hard to find something habitable for under $1,000 a month in 2018.  If you live in the middle of the country or in a rural area, housing prices are significantly cheaper.  But for the vast majority of us, let’s assume a minimum of $1,000 a month for housing costs.

Secondly, you will also need to pay your utility bills and other home-related expenses.  These costs include power, water, phone, television, Internet, etc.  I will be extremely conservative and estimate that this total will be about $300 a month.

Thirdly, each income earner will need a vehicle in order to get to work.  In this example we will assume one income earner and a car payment of just $200 a month.

So now we are already up to $1,500 a month.  The money is running out fast.

Next, insurance bills will have to be paid.  Health insurance premiums have gotten ridiculously expensive in recent years, and many family plans are now well over $1,000 a month.  But for this example let’s assume a health insurance payment of just $450 a month and a car insurance payment of just $50 a month.

Of course your family will have to eat, and I don’t know anyone that can feed a family of four for just $500 a month, but let’s go with that number.

So now we have already spent the entire $2,500, and we don’t have a single penny left over for anything else.

But wait, we didn’t even account for taxes yet.  When you deduct taxes, our fictional family of four is well into the red every month and will need plenty of government assistance.

This is life in America today, and it isn’t pretty.

In his most recent article, Charles Hugh Smith estimated that an income of at least $106,000 is required to maintain a middle class lifestyle in America today.  That estimate may be a bit high, but not by too much.

Yes, there is a very limited sliver of the population that has been doing well in recent years, but most of the country continues to barely scrape by from month to month.  Out in California, Silicon Valley has generated quite a few millionaires, but the state also has the highest poverty in the entire nation.  For every Silicon Valley millionaire, there are thousands upon thousands of poor people living in towns such as Huron, California

Nearly 40 percent of Huron residents — and almost half of all children — live below the poverty line, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s more than double the statewide rate of 19 percent reported last month, which is the highest in the U.S. The national average is 12.3 percent.

“We’re in the Appalachians of the West,” Mayor Rey Leon said. “I don’t think enough urgency is being taken to resolve a problem that has existed for way too long.”

Multiple families and boarders pack rundown homes, only about a quarter of residents have high school diplomas and most lack adequate health care in an area plagued with diabetes and high asthma rates in one the nation’s most polluted air basins.

One recent study found that the gap between the wealthy and the poor is the largest that it has been since the 1920s, and America’s once thriving middle class is evaporating right in front of our eyes.

We could have made much different choices as a society, but we didn’t, and now we are going to have a great price to pay for our foolishness…

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

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50 Percent Of American Workers Make Less Than 28,031 Dollars A Year

Real Median Household Income 2014The Social Security Administration has just released wage statistics for 2013, and the numbers are startling.  Last year, 50 percent of all American workers made less than $28,031, and 39 percent of all American workers made less than $20,000.  If you worked a full-time job at $10 an hour all year long with two weeks off, you would make $20,000.  So the fact that 39 percent of all workers made less than that amount is rather telling.  This is more evidence of the declining quality of the jobs in this country.  In many homes in America today, both parents are working multiple jobs in a desperate attempt to make ends meet. Our paychecks are stagnant while the cost of living just continues to soar.  And the jobs that are being added to the economy pay a lot less than the jobs lost in the last recession.  In fact, it has been estimated that the jobs that have been created since the last recession pay an average of 23 percent less than the jobs that were lost.  We are witnessing the slow-motion destruction of the middle class, and very few of our leaders seem to care.

The “average” yearly wage in America last year was just $43,041.  But after accounting for inflation, that was actually worse than the year before

American paychecks shrank last year, just-released data show, further eroding the public’s purchasing power, which is so vital to economic growth.

Average pay for 2013 was $43,041 — down $79 from the previous year when measured in 2013 dollars. Worse, average pay fell $508 below the 2007 level, my analysis of the new Social Security Administration data shows.

Flat or declining average pay is a major reason so many Americans feel that the Great Recession never ended for them. A severe job shortage compounds that misery not just for workers but also for businesses trying to profit from selling goods and services.

Average pay declined in 59 of the 60 levels of worker pay the government reports each October.

And please keep in mind that “average pay” is really skewed by the millionaires and billionaires at the top end of the spectrum.

Median pay in 2013 was just $28,031.02.  That means that 50 percent of American workers made less than that number, and 50 percent of American workers made more than that number.

Here are some more numbers from the report that the Social Security Administration just released…

-39 percent of American workers made less than $20,000 last year.

-52 percent of American workers made less than $30,000 last year.

-63 percent of American workers made less than $40,000 last year.

-72 percent of American workers made less than $50,000 last year.

I don’t know about you, but those numbers are deeply troubling to me.

It has been estimated that it takes approximately $50,000 a year to support a middle class lifestyle for a family of four, and so the fact that 72 percent of all workers make less than that amount shows how difficult it is for families that try to get by with just a single breadwinner.

The way that our economy is structured now, both parents usually have to work as hard as they can just to pay the bills.

But there was one group of Americans that did see their incomes actually increase last year.

Those making over 50 million dollars had their pay increase by an average of $12.8 million in 2013.

For everyone else, the news was not good.

And of course this is a trend that has been going on for a long time.

Posted below is a chart that comes from the Federal Reserve.  It shows how real median household income in the United States has declined since the year 2000…

Real Median Household Income 2014

Meanwhile, the cost of living has continued to rise at a steady pace.

Needless to say, this is putting a tremendous squeeze on the middle class.  With each passing day, more Americans are losing their spots in the middle class and this has pushed government dependence to an all-time high.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 49 percent of all Americans now live in a home that receives money from the government each month.  This is completely and totally unsustainable, but our long-term economic problems just keep getting worse.

Our politicians have stood by as millions upon millions of good paying jobs have been shipped out of the country.  Millions of other middle class jobs have been lost to technology.  This has resulted in intense competition for the middle class jobs that remain.

And at this point we are even losing lots of lower paying retail jobs.  For example, it is being reported that Sears plans to close 110 more stores and lay off more than 6,000 workers.  Sears says that the report “isn’t accurate”, but it isn’t denying that stores will be closed either…

In an email to USA Today, Sears spokesman Howard Riefs said the store count and closures “isn’t accurate,” but did not provide store closures or layoff numbers.

“As we stated in our (second quarter earnings report), we disclosed that we would be closing unprofitable stores as leases expire and in some cases will accelerate closings when it is economically prudent. And that we would consider closing additional stores during the remainder of the year,” Riefs said. “Make no mistake, we believe the store will continue to play an integral role in our transformation, however, if a store is not generating a profit, it is straightforward that the store should be considered for closure.”

No matter how many stores Sears does end up closing over the next few months, the truth is that our economy is a complete and total mess at this point.

Our politicians and the mainstream media are trying to put a happy face on everything, but the cold, hard numbers prove that we are not anywhere close to where we were prior to the last recession.

Because it is so difficult to find a good job in America today, I often recommend to people that they should consider starting their own businesses.

But thanks to the bureaucratic control freaks in the Obama administration and in our state governments, small business ownership in America today is at an all-time low.  It is almost as if they don’t want the “little guy” to win.  Every avenue of prosperity for the middle class is under assault, and there does not appear to be much hope that this will change any time soon.

And the truly frightening thing is that this is about as good as things are going to get for the middle class.  We are rapidly approaching the next major wave of our long-term economic decline, but that is a topic for a future article.

Low Inflation? The Price Of Ground Beef Has Risen 17 Percent Over The Past Year

Inflation Public DomainThanks to the Federal Reserve, the middle class is slowly being suffocated by rising food prices.  Every single dollar in your wallet is constantly becoming less valuable because of the inflation the Fed systematically creates.  And if you try to build wealth by saving money and earning interest on it, you still lose because thanks to the Federal Reserve’s near zero interest rate policies banks pay next to nothing on savings accounts.  The Federal Reserve wants you to either spend your money or to put it in the giant casino that we call the stock market.  But when Americans spend their paychecks they are finding that they don’t stretch as far as they once did.  The cost of living continues to rise at a much faster pace than wages are rising, and this is especially true when it comes to the price of food.

Someone that I know wrote to me today and let me know that she had to shut down the food pantry that she had been running for the poor for so many years.  It isn’t that she didn’t want to help the poor anymore.  It was that she just couldn’t deal with the rising food prices any longer.  Now she is just doing the best that she can to survive herself.

Perhaps you have also noticed that food prices have gotten pretty crazy lately.  In particular, meat prices have become absolutely obscene.  For example, the average price of ground beef has risen to a new record high of over $4.09 a pound.  Over the past twelve months, that works out to a whopping 17 percent increase…

The average price for a pound of ground beef climbed to another record high–$4.096 per pound–in the United States in September, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

In August, according to BLS, the average price for a pound of all types of ground beef topped $4 for the first time–hitting $4.013. In September, the average price jumped .083 cents, an increase of 2.1 percent in one month.

A year ago, in September 2013, the average price for a pound of ground beef was $3.502 per pound. Since then, it has climbed 59.4 cents–or about 17 percent in one year.

The “intellectuals” over at the Federal Reserve insist that “a little bit of inflation” is good for an economy, but the truth is that inflation slowly robs us of our buying power.

In a previous article, I shared a chart that showed how food inflation has risen dramatically since the year 2000.  For this article, I wanted to show how food inflation has risen since the 1970s.  As you can see, the rise in food prices has been absolutely relentless for more than 40 years…

Food Inflation 2014

If our paychecks were going up at the same rate or even faster that would be okay.

But they aren’t.

In fact, CNN is reporting that our paychecks have fallen back to 1995 levels…

Americans also don’t feel any better off. While more people may have jobs, they aren’t bringing home fatter paychecks. Wages and income have remained stagnant for years, making it tough for folks even though inflation is low. Median household income, which stood at $51,939 last year, is back to 1995 levels.

Consumers expect a median income boost of 1.1% over the next year, Curtin said. But that won’t keep up with their inflation expectations of 2.8%.

“American households, on average, are still struggling with their living standards slowly eroding,” he said.

This is one of the primary reasons why the middle class is disappearing in America.

The purchasing power of our dollars is continually diminishing.

And this could be just the beginning.  Right now, severe drought is affecting some of the most important agricultural areas around the globe.  Most people are aware of the nightmarish drought in California, but did you know that things in Brazil are even worse?  Brazil is one of the most important food exporters in the world, and so they definitely need our prayers.

In addition, a “black swan event” such as a worldwide explosion of the Ebola pandemic could quickly drive food prices into the stratosphere.

Just this week, we learned that food prices in the Ebola-stricken regions of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone have already risen by an average of 24 percent

Infection rates in the food-producing zones of Kenema and Kailahun in Sierra Leone, Lofa and Bong County in Liberia and GuDeckDedou in Guinea are among the highest in the region. Hundreds of farmers have died.

The three governments quarantined districts and restricted movements to contain the virus’ spread. But those measures also disrupted markets and led to food scarcity and panic buying, further pushing up prices, WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organization have said.

“Prices have risen by an average of 24 percent,” said WFP spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs, adding an assessment of major markets showed the price of basic commodities was rising in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and in neighboring Senegal.

If you have been storing up food, I think that you will be very happy with your decision in the long run.

Without a doubt, food prices are only going to be going up from here.

But the Federal Reserve continues to insist that inflation is under control.

One of the ways that they make the “official numbers” look good is by playing accounting games.  They regularly change the way that inflation is calculated in order keep everyone calm.

You don’t have to take my word for it.  Posted below is an excerpt from an article by Mike Bryan, a vice president and senior economist in the Atlanta Fed’s research department…

The Economist retells a conversation with Stephen Roach, who in the 1970s worked for the Federal Reserve under Chairman Arthur Burns. Roach remembers that when oil prices surged around 1973, Burns asked Federal Reserve Board economists to strip those prices out of the CPI “to get a less distorted measure. When food prices then rose sharply, they stripped those out too—followed by used cars, children’s toys, jewellery, housing and so on, until around half of the CPI basket was excluded because it was supposedly ‘distorted'” by forces outside the control of the central bank. The story goes on to say that, at least in part because of these actions, the Fed failed to spot the breadth of the inflationary threat of the 1970s.

I have a similar story. I remember a morning in 1991 at a meeting of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland’s board of directors. I was welcomed to the lectern with, “Now it’s time to see what Mike is going to throw out of the CPI this month.” It was an uncomfortable moment for me that had a lasting influence. It was my motivation for constructing the Cleveland Fed’s median CPI.

I am a reasonably skilled reader of a monthly CPI release. And since I approached each monthly report with a pretty clear idea of what the actual rate of inflation was, it was always pretty easy for me to look across the items in the CPI market basket and identify any offending—or “distorted”—price change. Stripping these items from the price statistic revealed the truth—and confirmed that I was right all along about the actual rate of inflation.

It is all a game to them.

It is all about getting to the “right number” to release to the public.

But anyone that goes to the grocery store knows what has been happening to food prices.

The next time you get to the checkout register and you feel tempted to ask the cashier what organ you should donate to pay for your groceries, please keep in mind that it is not the fault of the cashier.

Instead, there is one entity that you should blame.

Blame the Federal Reserve – their policies are slowly pushing the middle class into oblivion.

Meet One Of The Victims Of Obama’s “Economic Recovery”

Barack Obama speaking into a microphone and pointing to the right - Photo by Pat HawksHave you ever cried yourself to sleep because you had no idea how you were going to pay the bills even though you were working as hard as you possibly could?  You are about to hear from a single mother that has been there.  Her name is Yolanda Vestal and she is another victim of Obama’s “economic recovery”.  Yes, things have never been better for the top 0.01 percent of ultra-wealthy Americans that have got millions of dollars invested in the stock market.  But for most of the rest of the country, things are very hard right now.  At this point, more than 102 million working age Americans do not have a job, and 40 percent of those that are actually working earn less than $20,000 a year in wages.  If we actually are experiencing an “economic recovery”, then why is the federal government spending nearly a trillion dollars a year on welfare?  And that does not even include entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare.  We live in a nation where poverty is exploding and the middle class is shrinking with each passing day.  But nothing is ever going to get fixed if we all stick our heads in the sand and pretend that everything is “just fine”.

What you are about to read is an open letter to Barack Obama that has gone absolutely viral on the Internet in recent days.  It is a letter that a single mother named Yolanda Vestal posted on her Facebook page, and it has really struck a nerve because countless other young parents can clearly identify with what she is going through.  The following is the text of her letter…

Dear President Obama,

I wanted to take a moment to say thank you for all you have done and are doing. You see I am a single Mom located in the very small town of Palmer, Texas. I live in a small rental house with my two children. I drive an older car that I pray daily runs just a little longer. I work at a mediocre job bringing home a much lower paycheck than you or your wife could even imagine living on. I have a lot of concerns about the new “Obamacare” along with the taxes being forced on us Americans and debts you are adding to our country. I have a few questions for you Mr. President.

Have you ever struggled to pay your bills? I have.

Have you ever sat and watched your children eat and you eat what was left on their plates when they were done, because there wasn’t enough for you to eat to? I have.

Have you ever had to rob Peter to pay Paul, and it still not be enough? I have.

Have you ever been so sick that you needed to see a doctor and get medicine, but had no health insurance because it was too expensive? I have.

Have you ever had to tell your children no, when they asked for something they needed? I have.

Have you ever patched holes in pants, glued shoes, replaced zippers, because it was cheaper than buying new? I have.

Have you ever had to put an item or two back at the grocery store, because you didn’t have enough money? I have.

Have you ever cried yourself to sleep, because you had no clue how you were going to make ends meet? I have.

My questions could go on and on. I don’t believe you have a clue what Americans are actually going through and honestly, I don’t believe you care. Not everyone lives extravagantly. While your family takes expensive trips that cost more than most of us make in two-four years, there are so many of us that suffer. Yet, you are doing all you can to add to the suffering. I think you are a very selfish and cold hearted man, who does not care what is best for the people he was elected by (not by me) to represent, but more so out for the glory of your name attached to history. So thank you Mr. President, thank you for pushing those of us that are barely staying afloat completely under water and driving America into the ground. You have made your mark in history, as the absolute worst and most hated president of the United States. God have mercy on your soul!

Sincerely,

Yolanda Vestal

Average American

These are the kinds of emotions that millions of American parents are wrestling with on a daily basis.  Many of them are working as hard as they possibly can and yet still find themselves unable to adequately provide for their families.

And now that food stamps are being cut back, more of them than ever are going to be forced to turn to food banks for help.  The following is what the head of a large food bank in Casper, Wyoming told one local newspaper about the increase in demand that he is witnessing in his area…

Across the state, food banks and other related programs aiming to feed the needy are worried the supply to meet the uptick in need during the holiday season won’t meet the growing demand for food caused by the expiration of SNAP benefits.

“People are scared to death of the lack of food availability,” Martin said.

Martin called Joshua’s Storehouse a reliable barometer for measuring the rate of need in Casper. The number of people using the food bank skyrocketed before the reduction in SNAP, he said.

Fewer than 2,000 people used the food bank in October 2012. Last month 2,500 people went there for help.

And of course this is not just happening in rural areas either.  Margarette Purvis, the head of the largest food bank organization in New York City, says that she is anticipating a huge surge in demand and that veterans are being hit particularly hard

“On this Veterans Day, when we’re waving our flags — I need every New Yorker to know — 40 percent of New York City veterans are relying on soup kitchens and pantries.”

Purvis says that there are 95,000 vets relying on food banks in New York City alone.

That is a lot of people.

And while Barack Obama may trot out a few vets on national holidays and promise that “we will never forget” them, the truth is that most of the time the federal government treats our military veterans like human garbage.  If you doubt this, please see my previous article entitled “25 Signs That Military Veterans Are Being Treated Like Absolute Trash Under The Obama Administration“.

Meanwhile, anger and frustration with the economy are starting to rise to very dangerous levels in this nation.

In a previous article, I noted that violent crime in America rose by 15 percent last year.  One of the primary reasons for this is the economic despair that we see in our streets.

As the economy gets even worse, people will become even more desperate.  We will start to see even more flash mob crimes like we saw in Chicago recently.  Posted below is a video news report that shows footage of a flash mob in Chicago dragging entire racks of merchandise out of a Sports Authority store…

When you watch stuff like this, it helps to explain why demand for armored vehicles among the ultra-wealthy in America is skyrocketing.

Unfortunately, most Americans cannot afford armored vehicles and walled vacation homes in the middle of nowhere.

Most Americans are going to have to live right in the middle of all of this as it happens.

A volcano of anger, frustration and despair is simmering just below the surface in America.

When that volcano finally erupts, it is going to be a very frightening thing to behold.

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