Here Are 15 Numbers That Show How The Global Economy Is Performing, And All Of Them Are Bad

Global economic activity has already been slowing down dramatically, and the U.S. trade war with China is just going to make things worse.  In so many ways, what we are witnessing in 2019 is quite reminiscent of what we witnessed as the last recession was beginning.  Global exports are absolutely plummeting, auto sales are way down all over the globe, debt delinquencies are way up, and retailers are closing stores at a record pace.  Even if the U.S. and China were getting along, things would be rough for the global economy in the months ahead, but a full-blown trade war between the two largest economies on the entire planet has the potential to be absolutely disastrous.  We are truly in uncharted waters, and many believe that events are going to start accelerating very rapidly now.

Even though I write about this stuff on a daily basis, I have been surprised by how poor the global economic numbers have been lately.

And remember, earlier this month the global media were convinced that the U.S. and China were about to finalize a trade deal.  Now that negotiations have completely broken down, we should expect that these numbers will soon get even worse.

The following are 15 numbers that show how the global economy is currently performing…

#1 Global exports are absolutely crashing and have now fallen to the lowest level since 2009.

#2 U.S. auto dealers are dealing with a backlog of 4.2 million unsold vehicles.

#3 Auto sales in Europe have fallen for seven months in a row.

#4 Chinese auto sales fell a whopping 16.6 percent in the month of April.

#5 Overall, Chinese auto sales have now fallen for 11 months in a row.  That is a new all-time record.

#6 U.S. auto loan delinquencies have reached the highest level since the last recession.

#7 U.S. credit card delinquencies have hit the highest level in eight years.

#8 In April, U.S. manufacturing activity unexpectedly declined 0.5 percent.

#9 Thanks to the trade war, the price of soybeans just dropped to the lowest level since 2008.

#10 Party City just announced that it will be closing 45 stores.

#11 Fred’s just announced that they will be closing 104 more stores.

#12 In April, U.S. retail sales declined for the second time in three months.

#13 According to the Atlanta Fed’s latest forecast, U.S. GDP growth is expected to fall to just 1.2 percent in the second quarter of 2019.

#14 According to a new study just released by the Urban Institute, 40 percent of all Americans “sometimes struggle to afford housing, utilities, food or health care”.

#15 Overall, 59 percent of all Americans are currently living paycheck to paycheck according to a survey that was just conducted by Charles Schwab.

Leaders from both the U.S. and China are trying to act tough and say the right things, but everyone knows that this trade war is going to hurt both countries.

Economic numbers from both nations have been troubling lately, and one expert that was just interviewed by CNBC says that “it could get a lot worse”

Consumer and industrial activity in both the U.S. and China slowed in April, even before the world’s two biggest economies entered the latest phase of an escalating trade war that could take a bite out of global growth.

“The real message today is that both the economic data from the U.S. and China have disappointed. They’re like two boys in the sandbox that are spitting on each other, and it could get a lot worse,” said Marc Chandler, global market strategist at Bannockburn Global Forex.

In the short-term, it would greatly help if the U.S. and China could find a way to agree to a trade deal.

Unfortunately, the events of the past 48 hours have made that a lot less likely.

As I discussed yesterday, President Trump essentially took a sledgehammer to Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.  When the Commerce Department put Huawei on the “Entity List”, it essentially banned the company from buying much needed parts and components from U.S. firms.  Some have described this as “the nuclear option”, and I think that description is quite accurate.  In the end, this move is going to be absolutely devastating for Huawei.

Of course the Chinese are absolutely furious about this.  Huawei is viewed with great national pride in China, and this move is considered to be a direct insult to Chinese national honor.  Most Americans are not paying too much attention to the details of the trade war, but in China this is a really big deal and people are extremely angry.  In fact, there has apparently been a run on “Donald Trump toilet brushes” in China in recent days because the Chinese are so angry.

Following my recent article about Huawei, a number of readers complained that I was being too soft on China.  Of course that is not true at all.  Long before Donald Trump ran for president, I was writing about how China was lying, cheating, stealing our technology and robbing us blind.  I was literally begging for our politicians to stand up and do something, and I was thrilled when Trump started talking tough about China because I knew that he really understood these issues.

But I also want everyone to understand that trying to decouple from the Chinese economy would be extremely painful even in the most optimistic scenario.  Our two economies have become extremely integrated, and we have become very dependent on China in many different ways.  They buy our soybeans, they provide us with rare earth elements, and they own more than a trillion dollars of our debt.  Looking at it from the Chinese perspective, they have countless ways that they can hurt us, and the angrier we make them the more likely it will be that they will lash out at us.

When negotiating with China, you need to be tough but you also need a lot of finesse.  Taking a baseball bat and slamming it into their kneecaps is not going to work.

If we destroy our relationship with China, that is going to result in us going down a very dark path.  Yes, China is an evil empire that has no respect for human rights at all.  There is no freedom of speech in China, over the past year they have been shutting down lots of churches and burning lots of Bibles, and they have been systematically throwing members of other religious minorities into concentration camps.

So I don’t have any sympathy for the communist Chinese government at all.  I just want all of you to understand that they are a very dangerous adversary, and a protracted trade war could be truly disastrous for the entire global economy.

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.

I Dare You To Tell Me The Economy Is “Booming” After Reading This List Of 19 Facts About Our Current Economic Performance

After taking an honest look at the facts, I don’t know how anyone can possibly claim that the U.S. economy is “booming”.  I really don’t.  We hear this sort of rhetoric from the mainstream media all the time, but it doesn’t make any sense.  As I discussed yesterday, nobody should be using the term “booming” to describe the state of the U.S. economy until we have a full year when GDP growth is 3 percent or better, and at this point we haven’t had that since the middle of the Bush administration.  And as you will see below, the latest numbers are clearly telling us that the U.S. economy is not even moving in the right direction.  Economic conditions are getting worse, and they weren’t that great to begin with.  According to the calculations that John Williams has made over at shadowstats.com, the U.S. economy is already in a recession, but of course the Federal Reserve will continue to tell us that everything is just fine for as long as they possibly can.  Unfortunately for them, they can’t hide the depressingly bad numbers that are coming in from all over the economy, and those numbers are all telling us the same thing.

The following are 19 facts about our current economic performance that should deeply disturb all of us…

#1 In April, U.S. auto sales were down 6.1 percent.  That was the worst decline in 8 years.

#2 The number of mortgage applications has fallen for four weeks in a row.

#3 We just witnessed the largest crash in luxury home sales in about 9 years.

#4 Existing home sales have now fallen for 13 months in a row.

#5 In March, total residential construction spending was down 8.4 percent from a year ago.

#6 U.S. manufacturing output was down 1.1 percent during the first quarter of this year.

#7 Farm incomes are falling at the fastest pace since 2016.

#8 Wisconsin dairy farmers are going bankrupt “in record numbers”.

#9 Apple iPhone sales are falling at a “record pace”.

#10 Facebook’s profits have declined for the first time since 2015.

#11 We just learned that CVS will be closing 46 stores.

#12 Office Depot has announced that they will be closing 50 locations.

#13 Overall, U.S. retailers have announced more than 6,000 store closings so far in 2019, and that means we have already surpassed the total for all of last year.

#14 A shocking new study has discovered that 137 million Americans have experienced “medical financial hardship in the past year”.

#15 Credit card charge-offs at U.S. banks have risen to the highest level in nearly 7 years.

#16 Credit card delinquencies have risen to the highest level in almost 8 years.

#17 More than half a million Americans are homeless right now.

#18 Homelessness in New York City is the worst that it has ever been.

#19 Nearly 102 million Americans do not have a job right now.  That number is worse than it was at any point during the last recession.

But at least the stock market has been doing well, right?

Actually, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has been down for two days in a row, and investors are getting kind of antsy.

Hopes of a trade deal with China had been propping up stocks in recent weeks, but it looks like negotiations may have hit “an impasse”

The latest round of US-China trade talks may have hit an impasse, raising doubts about the chances of an early trade deal between the world’s two leading economies, Chinese official media reported on Thursday.

Unlike the previous negotiations, the 10th round of high-level economic and trade talks, which concluded here on Wednesday, had fewer details about specific discussions and results, state-run Global Times reported.

I warned my readers repeatedly that this would happen.  The Chinese are going to negotiate, but they are going to drag their feet for as long as possible in hopes that the U.S. will free Meng Wanzhou.

Of course that isn’t going to happen, and so at some point the Chinese will have to decide if they are willing to move forward with a trade deal anyway.

But if the Chinese drag their feet for too long, Trump administration officials may lose patience and take their ball and go home.

In any event, the truth is that the U.S. economy is really slowing down, and no trade deal is going to magically change that.

And a lot of other pundits are also pointing out that a substantial economic slowdown has now begun.  For example, the following comes from Brandon Smith’s latest article

The bottom line is, the next crash has already begun. It started at the end of 2018, and is only becoming more pervasive with each passing month. This is not “doom and gloom” or “doom porn”, this is simply the facts on the ground. While stock markets are still holding (for now), the rest of the system is breaking down right on schedule. The question now is, when will the mainstream media and the Fed finally acknowledge this is happening? I suspect, as in 2008, they will openly admit to the danger only when it is far too late for people to prepare for it.

Hopefully things will remain relatively stable for as long as possible, because nobody should want to see a repeat of 2008 (or worse).

Unfortunately, we can’t stop the clock.  We are already more than a third of the way through 2019, and we will be into 2020 before we know it.

It has been an unusual year so far, but I have a feeling that it is about to get much, much more interesting.

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.

Nearly 102 Million Americans Do Not Have A Job Right Now – Worse Than At Any Point During The Last Recession

Wouldn’t it be horrible if the number of Americans without a job was higher today than it was during the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009?  Well, that is actually true.  As you will see below, nearly 102 million Americans do not have a job right now, and at no point during the last recession did that number ever surpass the 100 million mark.  Of course the U.S. population has grown a bit over the last decade, but as you will see below, the percentage of the population that is engaged in the labor force is only slightly above the depressingly low levels from the last recession.  Sadly, the truth is that the rosy employment statistics that you are getting from the mainstream media are manufactured using smoke and mirrors, and by the time you are done reading this article you will understand what is really going on.

Before we dig into the long-term trends, let’s talk about what we just learned.

According to CNBC, initial claims for unemployment benefits just rose by the most that we have seen in 19 months

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits jumped 37,000 to a seasonally adjusted 230,000 for the week ended April 20, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The increase was the largest since early September 2017.

And considering all of the other troubling economic signs that we have been witnessing lately, this makes perfect sense.

In addition, we need to remember that over the last decade lawmakers across the country have made it more difficult to apply for unemployment benefits and have reduced the amount of time that unemployed workers can receive them.  In reality, the unemployment situation in this nation is far worse than the mainstream media is telling us.

When a working age American does not have a job, the federal number crunchers put them into one of two different categories.  Either they are categorized as “unemployed” or they are categorized as “not in the labor force”.

But you have to add both of those categories together to get the total number of Americans that are not working.

Over the last decade, the number of Americans that are in the “unemployed” category has been steadily going down, but the number of Americans “not in the labor force” has been rapidly going up.

In both cases we are talking about Americans that do not have a job.  It is just a matter of how the federal government chooses to categorize those individuals.

At this moment, we are told that only 6.2 million Americans are officially “unemployed”, and that sounds really, really good.

But that is only half the story.

What the mainstream media rarely mentions is the fact that the number of Americans categorized as “not in the labor force” has absolutely exploded since the last recession.  Right now, that number is sitting at 95.577 million.

When you add 6.2 million “officially unemployed” Americans to 95.577 million Americans that are categorized as “not in the labor force”, you get a grand total of almost 102 million Americans that do not have a job right now.

If that sounds terrible to you, that is because it is terrible.

Yes, the U.S. population has been growing over the last decade, and that is part of the reason why the number of Americans “not in the labor force” has been growing.

But overall, the truth is that the level of unemployment in this country is not that much different than it was during the last recession.

John Williams of shadowstats.com tracks what the real employment figure would be if honest numbers were being used, and according to him the real rate of unemployment in the United States at the moment is 21.2 percent.

That is down from where it was a few years ago, but not by that much.

Another “honest” indicator that I like to look at is the civilian labor force participation rate.

In essence, it tells us what percentage of the working age population is actually engaged in the labor force.

Just before the last recession, the civilian labor force participation rate was sitting at about 66 percent, and that was pretty good.

But then the recession hit, and the civilian labor force participation rate fell below 63 percent, and it stayed between 62 percent and 63 percent for an extended period of time.

So where are we today?

At this moment, we are sitting at just 63.0 percent.

Does that look like a recovery to you?

Of course not.

If you would like to claim that we have had a very marginal “employment recovery” since the last recession, that is a legitimate argument to make.  But anything beyond that is simply not being honest.

And now the U.S. economy is rapidly slowing down again, and most Americans are completely and totally unprepared for what is ahead.

The good news is that employment levels have been fairly stable in recent years, but the bad news is that unemployment claims are starting to shoot up again.

A number of the experts that I am hearing from expect job losses to escalate in the months ahead.  Many of those that are currently living on the edge financially suddenly won’t be able to pay their mortgages or their bills.

Just like the last recession, we could potentially see millions of middle class Americans quickly lose everything once economic conditions start getting really bad.

The economy is not going to get any better than it is right now.  As you look forward to the second half of 2019, I would make plans for rough sailing ahead.

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.

Uh Oh: The Number Of Job Openings In The U.S. Dropped By More Than Half A Million In Just One Month

According to the Labor Department, the number of job openings in the United States just plunged by the largest amount we have seen in nearly four years.  The latest JOLTS report shows that the number of job openings has declined by 538,000, and that is a really big number for just a single month.  But we shouldn’t be surprised by this at all, because it is perfectly consistent with all of the other dismal economic numbers that have been coming in recently.  An economic slowdown is here, and many believe that it is just getting started.

Very briefly, let’s review some of the reasons why we should expect to see the employment numbers get worse.  As the economy slows down, goods begin to pile up in our warehouses, and that is precisely what the numbers show.  In fact, the inventory to sales ratio in the U.S. has now increased for five months in a row.

Fewer sales should result in less stuff being shipped around the nation by freight, rail and air, and this is yet another thing that we see happening right now.  Overall, U.S. freight shipment volume has dropped for three months in a row.

Once businesses realize that economic conditions have changed, then they start reducing the number of job openings and laying off workers.  That is why employment statistics are often referred to as “trailing indicators”.  The employment numbers don’t usually start to go down until other indicators start dropping first.

And without a doubt, the employment numbers are starting to move.  Continuing jobless claims have been rising at the most rapid pace in 10 years, and U.S. businesses have been adding jobs at the slowest pace in 18 months.

With all of that in mind, we should not be surprised at all by this latest number

Job openings, a measure of labor demand, tumbled by 538,000 to a seasonally adjusted 7.1 million, the Labor Department said in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, report on Tuesday. The drop was the biggest since August 2015.

That is a really dreadful number, and there is no way to spin it to make it look good.

One factor that is shifting the employment environment is all of the minimum wage laws that are being passed around the country.

A number of liberal enclaves have raised the minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour, and as a result a lot of small businesses have been forced to let workers go

In what has become just one more example of government intervention going the exact opposite of what socialists intend, minimum wage laws are driving a “payroll tsunami.”  Small businesses are being forced to lay off workers in order to comply with a law demanding an increase in wages.

This isn’t all that surprising. Economists, small business owners, and other analysts have said that the net result of higher wages is a loss of jobs. And small businesses, who don’t have the capital or return that large corporations do, are feeling the proverbial pinch. According to Fox News, several mom-and-pop coffee shops and restaurants, are responding by cutting hours, eliminating jobs or closing down entirely because they can’t keep up with rising wages under the law.

My very first job was flipping burgers for McDonald’s, and I made $3.35 an hour doing it.  As a teenager, I was grateful to have such a job, but now such minimum wage jobs are in danger.  Wal-Mart and other major corporations are already making extensive use of robots to perform basic tasks, and making human workers more expensive is going to hurt those at the bottom of the economic food chain the most.

But for the moment, things are still relatively stable.  Most Americans still seem to believe that the bubble of debt-fueled economic “prosperity” that we are currently enjoying is going to continue for the foreseeable future, and they are spending money as if tomorrow will never come.

According to Zero Hedge, U.S. consumer credit has now surged past the 4 trillion dollar mark…

After a few months of wild swings in mid 2018, in February US consumer credit continued to normalize, rising by $15.2 billion, slightly below the $17 billion expected, following January’s $17.7 billion increase. The continued increase in borrowings saw total credit storm above $4 trillion, and hit a new all time high of $4.045 trillion on the back of a America’s ongoing love affair with auto and student loans, and of course credit cards.

We better hope that the U.S. economy is able to pull out of this new slowdown, because most of us are living right on the edge financially.

Sadly, we never seem to learn.  The same mistakes that we made last time around are all happening again, and Americans are completely and totally unprepared for what is coming.

And the warnings are all around us.  On Tuesday, the IMF downgraded their forecast for global economic growth for the third time in six months.  Commenting on this downgrade, IMF executive director Christine Lagarde noted that this is a “delicate moment” for the global economy…

Christine Lagarde, the IMF’s executive director, said the global economy is in a “delicate moment.”

“Only two years ago, 75% of the global economy experienced an upswing,” Lagarde said, according to the text of a speech she’s due to give at the US Chamber of Commerce. “For this year, we expect 70% of the global economy to experience a slowdown in growth.”

It is not often that I agree with a globalist like Christine Lagarde, but she is quite right in saying that this is a “delicate moment”.

Global economic numbers have not been this bad since the last financial crisis, and many believe that we have now reached a major turning point.

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.

As The Perfect Storm Approaches, Most Americans Are Partying Instead Of Preparing

I can’t think of a time when Americans were more apathetic about getting prepared, and yet this is exactly the time when the urgency to get prepared should be at the highest.  Earlier today, my wife Meranda and I were discussing the fact that every single element of “the perfect storm” is coming together just as we had anticipated.  One by one, the pieces are all falling into place, and I share the most recent things that my research has uncovered with all of you on a daily basis.  Unfortunately, most Americans are absolutely convinced that there is no reason to get prepared for hard times because everything is going to be just great.  In America today, most people either believe that the future is going to be totally wonderful or that the future will be totally wonderful once we get rid of Trump.  Because so many of us have adopted one of these false narratives, most Americans are partying instead of preparing, and that is going to mean big trouble when things really start going haywire.

Are you familiar with “the rule of three”?  I just looked it up on Google, and this is how it is defined…

“You can survive for 3 Minutes without air (oxygen) or in icy water. You can survive for 3 Hours without shelter in a harsh environment (unless in icy water) You can survive for 3 Days without water (if sheltered from a harsh environment) You can survive for 3 Weeks without food (if you have water and shelter)”

Of course these numbers are not exact.  For example, many have gone without food for more than 3 weeks without serious problems.  But in general, this is a pretty good guideline for survival.

Sadly, if a major emergency were to hit this country tonight, most Americans would be completely unprepared when it comes to even the most basic essentials.  In fact, one survey found that only 39 percent of Americans have any sort of an “emergency kit” whatsoever…

When it comes to being prepared for an emergency, 39% say they have an emergency kit, while another 39% have a non-perishable food stock. A little less than one-third (28%) of people have stockpiles of water, and one in four people (25%) have an evacuation plan.

Of those who have an emergency kit, the most common items to have in the kit are: a first-aid kit (86%), flashlights or other light sources (83%), food (65%), water (63%), and blankets (62%).

Those are depressingly low numbers.

So what are all of those people going to do when things hit the fan and the government is not there to rescue them?

Needless to say, a lot of people will really freak out when they can’t get what they need.

But as long as things are relatively “normal”, this astounding lack of preparation will not be a problem.  And right now, Americans are acting as if things will be “normal” for the foreseeable future.  In fact, most of us are partying like it’s 1999 all over again.  According to CNBC, U.S. consumer debt just surpassed the four trillion dollar mark for the first time ever…

As of this month, outstanding consumer debt exceeded $4 trillion for the first time, according to the Federal Reserve.

Relatively strong holiday spending, particularly in November, and increasing credit card debt added more than $41 billion in outstanding balances at the end of 2018, according to LendingTree, a loan comparison website, which analyzed the data from the Fed.

We are spending money as if there is no tomorrow, and that would be fine if tomorrow never arrived.

Of course we really shouldn’t be spending money so wildly anyway, because many of us are already completely drowning in debt.  For example, auto loan delinquencies are already far higher than they were during the peak of the last recession.  The following comes from NBC News

At least 7 million Americans were in serious delinquency on their car loan — 90 or more days behind — at the end of 2018, according to data released Tuesday by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

That’s 1 million more than at the end of 2010, after the recession.

And student loan delinquencies also just shot up to the highest level ever.  We have never seen anything like this before in modern American history, and yet the party continues to roll on.

For now.

Unfortunately, all parties eventually come to an end, and the end of this one is going to be particularly painful.

When disaster strikes, most Americans are going to be out of resources very, very rapidly.  One survey found that 78 percent of all American workers are living paycheck to paycheck.  That number is a little higher than other figures that I have seen, but everyone agrees that a solid majority of the country is barely scraping by each month.

When things get really bad, I honestly don’t know how most people are going to make it.

A number of years ago, a survey asked Americans how long they thought they would survive if the electrical grid went down for an extended period of time.

Nearly 75 percent said that they would be dead before the two month mark.

Hopefully you are more resourceful than that.  But without a doubt all of us are going to stand a better chance of surviving what is ahead if we make some basic preparations.  In particular, I would encourage everyone to stock up on some emergency food and make sure that you have a Berkey water filter.  It’s isn’t rocket science, but if you choose to do nothing because you have blind faith in the system, then you and your entire family could find yourselves in a world of hurt when things start getting really crazy out there.

If we had made different choices as a nation, we could have had a very different future.

Sadly, our self-destructive behavior continues to get even worse, and a day of reckoning for America is fast approaching.

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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