America In Decline: The Soul Crushing Despair Of Lowered Expectations

All over America tonight there are people that believe that their lives are over.  When you do everything that you know how to do to get a job and you still can’t get one it can be absolutely soul crushing.  If you have ever been unemployed for an extended period of time you know exactly what I am talking about.  When you have been unemployed for month after month it can be very tempting to totally cut yourself off from society.  Those that are kind will look at you with pity and those that are cruel will treat you as though you are a total loser.  It doesn’t matter that America is in decline and that our economy is not producing nearly enough jobs for everyone anymore.  In our society, one of the primary things that defines our lives is what we do for a living.  Just think about it.  When you are out in a social situation, what is one of the very first things that people ask?  They want to know what you “do”.  Well, if you don’t “do” anything, then you are not part of the club.  But the worst part of being unemployed for many Americans is the relentless pressure from family and friends.  Often they have no idea how hard it is to find a job in this economy – especially if they still have jobs.  Sometimes the pressure becomes too great.  Sadly, we are seeing unemployment break up a lot of marriages in America today.  Things are really hard out there right now.  A very large number of highly educated Americans have taken very low paying service jobs in recent years just so that they can have some money coming in even as they “look for something else”.  Unfortunately, in many cases that “something else” never materializes.  In the past, America was “the land of opportunity” where anything was possible.  But today America has become “the land of lowered expectations” and the worst is yet to come.

We live during a time when “the American Dream” is literally being redefined.  In the old days, just about anyone could get a good job that would pay enough to make it possible to buy a house, buy a nice car and raise a family.

Unfortunately, those days are long gone.  The following is from a recent NPR article….

The town of Lorain, Ohio, used to embody this dream. It was a place where you could get a good job, raise a family and comfortably retire.

“Now you can see what it is. Nothing,” says John Beribak. “The shipyards are gone, the Ford plant is gone, the steel plant is gone.” His voice cracks as he describes the town he’s lived in his whole life.

“I mean, I grew up across the street from the steel plant when there was 15,000 people working there,” he says. “My dad worked there. I worked there when I got out of the Air Force. It’s just sad.”

We live in an economy that is in serious decline.  In this environment no job is safe.  In fact, even Goldman Sachs is laying off workers these days.

Millions of Americans are suffering from deep depression because they can’t find jobs.  Many of them are sitting at home right now blankly starting at their television screens as they wonder why nobody wants to hire them.  Some have been unemployed for years and have sent out thousands upon thousands of resumes.  The following is from a recent article by J.D. Hicks….

I have a brilliant cousin with a $180K Syracuse education working part-time at a department store. She has literally sent out 38,000 resumes in the span of a year to no avail. I have another very bright friend with the kindest heart who is so desperate he has applied for dishwashing jobs and didn’t get them, sending him deeper into depression. I’m sure we all know people like this, or perhaps have even been there ourselves.

Society has trained us to believe that we are worthless without a job. Indeed, we feel worthless when we are unemployed with few prospects of making money. Family, friends, and peers constantly remind us in subtle and not-so-subtle ways that we “need” a job.

Have you ever been unemployed?

How did it make you feel?

How were you treated by your family and friends?

In the old days, a college education was almost a guaranteed ticket to the middle class.

But these days, a college education guarantees you absolutely nothing.

As a recent article by Jed Graham detailed, most young unemployed workers in America today have at least some college education….

For the first time in history, the number of jobless workers age 25 and up who have attended some college now exceeds the ranks of those who settled for a high school diploma or less.

Out of 9 million unemployed in April, 4.7 million had gone to college or graduated and 4.3 million had not, seasonally adjusted Labor Department data show.

Overall, 53 percent of all Americans with a bachelor’s degree under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed last year.

It is tough to tell young college graduates with their whole lives ahead of them that they need to lower their expectations because America is in decline.

So where did all the jobs go?

Well, one place they went is overseas.  Over the past couple of decades, millions upon millions of good jobs have left the United States and have gone over to the other side of the world.

That is why you see gleaming new factories going up all over China even while our once great manufacturing cities are turning into crime-infested warzones.

But as a recent WND article reported, the WTO has a solution.  They plan to replace “Made in China” labels with “Made in the World” labels so that we don’t feel so bad about losing our jobs and our economic infrastructure…

The World Trade Organization is moving closer to eliminating country-of-origin labels and replacing them with “Made in the World” initiative labels because they say we need to “reduce public opposition to free trade” and “re-engineer global governance.”

As the number of middle class jobs has steadily declined in recent years, the number of low paying service jobs has increased.

In a previous article, I discussed how approximately one out of every four U.S. workers now makes $10 an hour or less.

Could your family survive on 10 dollars an hour?

Today, you can find hordes of very smart, very talented Americans flipping burgers, waiting tables and welcoming people to Wal-Mart.

Sadly, the United States now has a higher percentage of workers doing low wage work than any other major industrialized nation does.

Perhaps we should applaud our leaders for doing such a great job of destroying the American Dream.

Because so many Americans are working crappy jobs, a very large percentage of them have absolutely no savings to speak of.

According to one survey, 42 percent of all American workers live paycheck to paycheck.

I am constantly encouraging people to save up an “emergency fund” that will enable them to pay their bills for at least 6 months if they suddenly become unemployed.

Unfortunately, for many Americans that is simply not possible.  Way too many families are just barely scraping by from month to month.

Another area of the economy where Americans are facing lowered expectations is in housing.

In the old days, most Americans dreamed of owning their own homes.

But today we are being told that things have changed.  For example, a recent USA Today article was entitled “Home rentals — the new American Dream?“….

Steve and Jodi Jacobson bought their Phoenix-area “dream home” in 2005. They built flagstone steps to the front door. They tiled the kitchen and bathroom. They entertained often, enjoying their mountain views.

“We put our soul into that house,” says Steve Jacobson, 37.

Then, home prices tanked more than 50%. Steve, a software quality assurance engineer, suffered pay cuts. In 2010, foreclosure claimed the home and their $100,000 down payment.

The Jacobsons didn’t lose their desire to live in a single-family home, however. They now rent one, like many other former homeowners displaced by foreclosure.

Is that what we are supposed to tell future generations of Americans?

“Listen Johnny and Suzie, if you work really, really hard at your minimum wage jobs perhaps someday you will be able to rent a home that has been foreclosed by a big, greedy bank”.

It is so sad to watch what is happening to this country.

These days many Americans are scratching and clawing and doing everything that they can to make it, but they still find themselves short on money at the end of the month.

Many are turning to debt in an attempt to bridge the gap.  According to CNN, 40 percent of “low- and middle-income households” are using credit cards to pay for basic living expenses.

Overall, U.S. consumers have more than 11 trillion dollars in debt right now.

That is an incredible number.

As the economy has declined, a lot of families have completely given up trying to make it on their own and have turned to the U.S. government for financial help.  Today, an astounding 49.1 percent of all Americans live in a home where at least one person receives government benefits.

Just think about that number for a while.  It is one of the clearest signs that America is in deep, deep decline.

Unfortunately, things are about to get even worse.  The next wave of the financial crisis is unfolding in Europe and we will all be talking about another “major global recession” very soon.

That means that unemployment in the United States is going to get a lot worse.

For the millions upon millions of Americans that are already suffering through the horror of unemployment, that is really bad news.

Posted below is a trailer for a new HBO documentary entitled “Hard Times: Lost on Long Island”.  Please take a few minutes to watch this video, because I think it does a good job of showing the soul crushing despair that many unemployed Americans are going through right now….

So do any of you have any stories of lowered expectations to share?  Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below….

There Are 100 Million Working Age Americans That Do Not Have Jobs ***UPDATED***

The unemployment crisis in America is much worse than you are being told.  Did you know that there are 100 million working age Americans that do not get up in the morning and go to work?  No wonder why it seems like there are so many people that do not have jobs!  According to the federal government, there are 12.6 million working age Americans that are considered to be “officially” unemployed, but there are another 87.8 million working age Americans that are not working either.  The federal government considers those Americans to be “not in the labor force” so they are not included in the unemployment rate.  In fact, this is one of the key ways that the government manipulates the unemployment numbers.  The Obama administration would have us believe that the unemployment rate is going down and that that since the start of the last recession about as many Americans have left the labor force as we saw during the entire decades of the 1980s and 1990s combined.  Of course that is a bunch of nonsense, but that is what the Obama administration would have us believe.  The truth is that the percentage of working age Americans that are employed is just about the same right now as it was two years ago.  It was incredibly difficult to get a job back then and it is incredibly difficult to get a job right now.  So don’t believe the hype that things are getting much better.  If you still do have a good job, you might want to hold on to it tightly, because there is not much hope that things are going to improve significantly any time soon.

The first chart that I have posted below shows the total number of “officially” unemployed workers in America.  According to the Federal Reserve, that number is currently 12,673,000.  This chart makes it look like the employment picture in America is getting significantly better….

But if you dig deeper into the numbers you quickly see that this is not true.  A lot of those workers that were formerly classified as “unemployed” have now been moved into the “not in labor force” category.  Since the start of the last recession, the number of Americans not in the labor force has risen by more than 8 million according to the Obama administration.  The total number of working age Americans not in the labor force now stands at 87,897,000….

So when you add 12,673,000 and 87,897,000, you get a total of 100,570,000 working age Americans that do not have jobs.

Yes, there are certainly millions upon millions of working age Americans that do not have jobs and that do not want jobs.

But you have to be delusional to believe that there are nearly 88 million working age Americans that do not have jobs and that do not want jobs.

The Obama administration tells us that the labor force participation rate is now the lowest it has been since 1984.  But back then, a very large percentage of women were staying home and raising families.  The percentage of stay at home mothers has declined steadily since then.

So the truth is that the employment statistics that we are being fed are not portraying an accurate picture of what is really going on.

As a CNN article recently explained, there are millions of Americans that say that they would like to have a job even though they have not been “actively” looking for one in the past four weeks.  If those people were included in the unemployment rate, it would immediately shoot up to around 11 percent….

About six million people claim they want a job, even though they haven’t looked for one in the last four weeks. If they were to all start applying for work again, the unemployment rate would suddenly shoot up above 11%.

If you want a much more accurate picture of what is really happening to the employment situation in America, the key is to look at the employment to population ratio.  As I have written about previously, the percentage of working age Americans that have jobs is not increasing.

Let’s take a look at the employment to population ratio for the last six years for the month of March….

March 2007: 63.3%

March 2008: 62.7%

March 2009: 59.9%

March 2010: 58.5%

March 2011: 58.5%

March 2012: 58.5%

The percentage of the working age population that had jobs fell rapidly during the recession and it has stayed very low since then.

When Barack Obama tells you that “America is going back to work” he is lying to you.

The cold, hard reality of the matter is that there are millions of hard working Americans that have been sitting at home for years hoping that a new job will come along.

Back in 2007, approximately 10 percent of all unemployed Americans had been out of work for one year or longer.

Today, that figure is above 30 percent.

The average duration of unemployment in the United States today is about three times as long as it was back in the year 2000.

And according to a recent Wall Street Journal article, the number of announced job cuts is actually rising again….

Also, announced jobs cuts rose 7.1% in April, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, to 40,599 — and up 11.2% from last April — another bit of evidence that the jobs market isn’t doing well.

Economic conditions in the United States have been steadily getting worse for quite a while, but that is not the only reason for our employment problems.

There are two other trends that I want to briefly mention.

1) A lot of jobs that used to be very labor intensive are now being replaced by technology.  Thanks to robotics, automation and computers, a lot of big companies simply do not need as many workers these days.  Those are jobs that are never going to come back.

2) As labor has become a global commodity, millions upon millions of U.S. jobs have been sent overseas.  Today, you are not just competing for a job with your neighbors.  You are also competing with workers on the other side of the globe.  Unfortunately, it is legal to pay slave labor wages in many of those countries.  By sending our jobs out of the country, big corporations can also avoid a whole host of rules, regulations, taxes and benefit payments that they would be facing if they hired American workers.

So U.S. workers are at a massive competitive disadvantage.  Why should a big corporation pay 10 or 20 times more for an American worker when they can pad their profits by exploiting cheap foreign labor?

The sad truth is that the value that the marketplace puts on the labor of the average American worker is continually decreasing.

This is making it much more difficult to find a job and it is keeping wages down.

In the old days, pretty much any man that was a hard worker and that really wanted a good job could go out and get one.

But now all of that has changed.  Back in 1950, more than 80 percent of all men in the United States had jobs.  Today, less than 65 percent of all men in the United States have jobs.

And sadly, the vast majority of the jobs that are being lost are good jobs.  As I wrote about the other day, 95 percent of the jobs lost during the recession were middle class jobs.

So how are middle class families making it these days?

Many of them are going into tremendous amounts of debt.  As a recent CNN article detailed, the average debt load being carried by those of us in the bottom 95 percent of all income earners has risen dramatically over the past several decades….

In 1983, the bottom 95% had 62 cents of debt for every dollar they earned, according to research by two International Monetary Fund economists. But by 2007, the ratio had soared to $1.48 of debt for every $1 in earnings.

Unfortunately, many American families are absolutely maxed out at this point.  According to one recent survey, approximately one-third of all Americans are currently paying their bills late.

If your goal is to live a middle class lifestyle, you need to realize that the entire way that the game is being played is changing.

In the old days, you could start out with a company as a young person and stay with that company until you retired.  If you worked hard and you were loyal, there was a really good chance that the company would recognize that and be loyal to you too.

These days, most companies are absolutely heartless when it comes to their workers.  The good job that you have today could be gone tomorrow.  Workers are increasingly being viewed as “liabilities”, and there is a good chance that the moment you become “expendable” to your company you will be kicked out on the street.

That is one reason why I am encouraging people to consider starting their own businesses.  If you work for someone else, your security can be taken away from you at any moment.  But if you work for yourself, you aren’t going to get fired.

Unfortunately, tough economic times are coming and things are not going to be easy no matter what road you take.  It will be imperative to work harder than ever, to stay flexible, and to never, ever give up.

***UPDATE***

Since the monthly jobs numbers were released on Friday I thought I would update this article to reflect the latest figures.

The federal government has announced that the unemployment rate has declined to 8.1 percent.

That certainly sounds like good news.

But knowing better, I immediately went and checked how the employment to population ratio had changed.

Well, it turns out that the employment to population ratio has fallen once again.

That means that a smaller percentage of working age Americans had jobs in April than in March.

The following are the figures for the past three months….

February 2012: 58.6%

March 2012: 58.5%

April 2012: 58.4%

If the percentage of people that have jobs is going down, then how can they claim that things are getting better?

The following are the two Federal Reserve charts posted above after they have been updated with the new numbers.  These charts are very revealing.

1) There are now 12,500,000 workers that are “officially” considered to be unemployed….

2) There are now 88,419,000 Americans that are considered to be “not in the labor force”.  Please note that this number rose by 522,000 in just a single month!….

Okay, so now let’s do the same math that we did before.

12,500,000 unemployed workers plus 88,419,000 Americans that are “not in the labor force” equals 100,919,000 working age Americans that do not have jobs.

That number just continues to climb at a very rapid pace.

When is the mainstream media going to start telling us the truth?

Go West, Young Man (To North Dakota)

Are you unemployed and out of options?  Well, if you live in most areas of the country there is not much hope for you.  But there is one state where hiring is really hot right now.  If you are desperate for a job, you just might want to check out North Dakota.  Way back in the middle of the 19th centurty, author Horace Greeley gave young Americans the following advice: “Go West, young man, go West“.  Well, we have reached another moment in U.S. history when it may be wise for many Americans to pick up and move to another part of the country in search of opportunity.  Of course traveling to North Dakota is not “going west” for all Americans, but for the majority of the population it is.  In the 19th century, many Americans traveled west because they believed those that told them that there was “gold in them thar hills”, but today a different kind of “gold” is being found in North Dakota.  The state is currently enjoying a boom of “black gold”, and all of that oil is creating a huge number of jobs.  If you are unemployed and you are desperate, you might want to check out North Dakota.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.

As I write about so frequently, unemployment is an absolute nightmare in most areas of the country right now.  But in North Dakota there are plenty of jobs and they pay really well.  Just check out what a new CNN article is saying about what is going on in the state….

Believe it or not, a place exists where companies are hiring like crazy, and you can make $15 an hour serving tacos, $25 an hour waiting tables and $80,000 a year driving trucks.

You just have to move to North Dakota. Specifically, to one of the tiny towns surrounding the oil-rich Bakken formation, estimated to hold anywhere between 4 billion and 24 billion barrels of oil.

CNBC also recently ran an article about the jobs boom up in North Dakota.  According to CNBC, there are “help wanted” signs all over the place in little towns such as Williston….

Unemployment is a national problem in the U.S., but you wouldn’t know that if you travel through North Dakota.

The state’s unemployment rate hovers around 3 percent, and “Help Wanted” signs litter the landscape of cities such as Williston in the same way “For Sale” signs populate the streets of Las Vegas.

“It’s a zoo,” said Terry Ayers, who drove into town from Spokane, Wash., slept in his truck, and found a job within hours of arrival, tripling his salary. “It’s crazy what’s going on out here.”

If you are desperate for work and you are looking for a “reboot”, North Dakota may be an option for you.  According to CNN, there are a significant number of families that have already changed their lives by heading out to North Dakota….

McMullen now works as a nanny in exchange for housing. Her husband, who worked on behavior management programs for a school system in North Carolina where he took home about $1,600 a month, found a job working in the oilfields where he makes that same amount of money in one week — adding up to an annual salary of about $77,000.

“We want to be debt-free, so we came here to play catch-up,” said McMullen. “But when I came here, I thought I was on Mars. It’s just so crazy that the rest of the country has no jobs, and here’s this one place that doesn’t have enough people to fill all the jobs.”

So is North Dakota for everyone?

Of course not.

First of all, it gets bone-chilling cold in North Dakota in the winter.

If you cannot handle really cold weather then you should not go up there.

Secondly, there is not nearly enough housing in the boom towns and the housing that is available is really expensive.

So you may either have to commute a long way or deal with accommodations that are less than stellar.

North Dakota is very flat, the geography is not very pleasant, there is not much to do there, the “boom towns” are very far from major population centers and moving there would entail major sacrifices for most people.

But there are good jobs up there.

So if you are looking for some good news, you just got some.

Look, it is better to try to do something than to sit around waiting for Barack Obama to save you.  As I have written about previously, the Obama jobs plan is a bad joke and even if it got through Congress it would do very little to create jobs.

The truth is that Barack Obama simply does not know what he is doing when it comes to jobs.  He continues to push for even more job-killing “free trade” agreements that will result in millions more American jobs being shipped overseas.

Barack Obama continues to run around the country talking about “infrastructure jobs”, but according to ABC News, thousands upon thousands of those jobs are actually going to Chinese workers….

In New York there is a $400 million renovation project on the Alexander Hamilton Bridge.

In California, there is a $7.2 billion project to rebuild the Bay Bridge connecting San Francisco and Oakland.

In Alaska, there is a proposal for a $190 million bridge project.

These projects sound like steps in the right direction, but much of the work is going to Chinese government-owned firms.

The sad truth is that the U.S. economy continues to slide even further down the tubes and the vast majority of our politicians have no idea how to fix things.

When Barack Obama first took office, the official U.S. unemployment rate was 7.6 percent.  Today it is 9.1 percent.

There are less jobs in the United States today than there were a decade ago, and the number of good paying jobs continues to shrink.

In 1980, 52 percent of all jobs in the United States were middle income jobs.  Today, only 42 percent of all jobs are middle income jobs.

So don’t sit around waiting for the economy to fix itself.  There is no reason to have blind faith in the system at this point.

We live during unconventional times, and many of us are going to have to find unconventional solutions to our problems.

There are lots of good jobs in the western part of North Dakota.

If you need a job, you might want to look into it.

Wake Up America! 10 Very Obvious Reasons Why The Devastating U.S. Jobs Famine Is Going To Suck The Hope Right Out Of America

Do you have friends, neighbors and relatives that can’t find work?  Well, unfortunately the current U.S. jobs famine is about to get a whole lot worse.  Right now there are approximately 13.9 million unemployed Americans.  That does not count those that “are not looking for work”.  That does not count those that are working part-time jobs but that are desperate for full-time work.  The truth is that we need tens of millions more full-time jobs in order to give one to everyone that wants one.  Sadly, the long-term trends that have caused this mess continue to get worse.  Unless truly dramatic changes are made, the U.S. economy is going to continue to bleed jobs and that is going to suck the hope right out of this country.  It is time to wake up America!  It is not a big mystery why we don’t have enough jobs.  But sadly, very few of our leaders are talking about the real issues.

Something has got to be done.  Unemployment is already at epidemic levels, and this country can’t afford for things to get much worse.  Just check out how a recent article in The Wall Street Journal summarized our current predicament….

There are more unemployed than the combined populations of Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota, Alaska, South Dakota, Delaware, Montana, Rhode Island, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Idaho and the District of Columbia.

If they were a country, the 13.9 million unemployed Americans would be the 68th largest country in the world, bigger than the population of Greece or Portugal (each of which has 10.8 million people) and more than twice the population of Norway (4.7 million.)

Isn’t that incredible?

The number of unemployed Americans is larger than the entire population of Greece.

There are millions of Americans that will be sitting at home in front of their televisions tonight wondering why they can’t find jobs.  Last month, only 58.1% of Americans over the age of 16 were employed.  Our economy should be able to do far better than that.

All over the Internet there are stories of people that have sent out hundreds (or even thousands) of resumes and nobody even wants to interview them.  One recent survey found that approximately 80 percent of all Americans believe that it is “difficult” to find a job right now.

Unfortunately, things are going to get much, much worse before all this is over.

The following are 10 very obvious reasons why the devastating U.S. jobs famine is going to suck the hope right out of America….

#1 Our politicians simply do not care that America is bleeding jobs.  Amazingly, even with rampant unemployment plaguing this nation, Obama administration officials continue to declare that it is okay that we are losing manufacturing jobs because a lot of cheaper products are things that “we don’t want to make in America” anyway.  The following is what U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk told Tim Robertson of the Huffington Post the other day….

Let’s increase our competitiveness… the reality is about half of our imports, our trade deficit is because of how much oil [we import], so you take that out of the equation, you look at what percentage of it are things that frankly, we don’t want to make in America, you know, cheaper products, low-skill jobs that frankly college kids that are graduating from, you know, UC Cal and Hastings [don’t want], but what we do want is to capture those next generation jobs and build on our investments in our young people, our education infrastructure.

The economic negligence that recent administrations have demonstrated has been absolutely mind boggling.  Blue collar male workers in particular are being absolutely devastated by the loss of manufacturing jobs.  Back in 1967, 97 percent of men with a high school degree between the ages of 30 and 50 had jobs.  Today, that figure is down to 76 percent.

#2 The Obama administration has now instituted a policy of “backdoor amnesty” for illegal immigrants by executive fiat.  Janet Napolitano has announced that from now on there will be a case-by-case review of all deportation cases.  Cases involving criminals will be prioritized and most others will be thrown out.  A list of 19 factors that will allow government officials to use “prosecutorial discretion” in immigration cases has been distributed.  Recently, I listed a few of those “factors” on The American Dream website….

-arrival in the U.S. as a young child

-actively “pursuing an education”

-serving or served in the U.S. military

-spouse of someone in the U.S. military

-18 years old or younger

-“elderly”

-pregnant or nursing

-victim of a “serious crime”

-serious disability or health problem

-caring for a family member with a serious disability or health problem

Obviously, it is not going to be too difficult for most illegal immigrants to fit into at least one of those categories.

On top of everything else the Obama administration has announced that it will now allow illegal immigrants to apply for work permits….

Illegal aliens living in the United States typically don’t apply for work permits for fear of deportation, but under the new policy, they could apply for work permits if granted deferred action or parole and compete with 22 million Americans who can’t find a full-time job.

So now blue collar Americans workers will have even more competition for the dwindling number of jobs.

#3 State and local governments all over the country are dead broke, and an atmosphere of austerity is sweeping the nation.  Right now state and local governments are slashing jobs at an unprecedented rate.

In the past, government jobs were considered to be very secure and they definitely paid a lot higher than average.  But now that era is coming to an end, at least on the state and local government levels.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, state and local governments have eliminated more than half a million jobs since August 2008.  UBS Investment Research is projecting that state and local governments in the U.S. will cut 450,000 more jobs by the end of 2012.

#4 U.S. businesses are being absolutely crushed by mountains of nightmarish regulations, and yet the federal government, the state governments and local governments just continue to pile them on.  For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is projecting that the food service industry will have to spend an additional 14 million hours every single year just to comply with new federal regulations that mandate that all vending machine operators and chain restaurants must label all products that they sell with a calorie count in a location visible to the consumer.  Due to these kinds of ridiculous regulations, many business owners have simply given up and many other potential business owners figure that owning a business is just not worth the hassle.

#5 As I have written about so many times before, the “global economy” is really bad for American workers.  When we merged our economy with the economies of nations where it is legal to pay slave labor wages, we made it inevitable that we would start losing massive amounts of jobs.

Why would a giant corporation pay a U.S. worker 10 to 20 times as much as a worker on the other side of the globe?  Investors actually expect big companies to have an “outsourcing” strategy today.  When more jobs get shipped out of the country, profits go up, stock prices go up and executive bonuses go up.

Big corporations don’t exist to provide you with jobs.  They exist to maximize shareholder wealth.  If taking your job away and giving it to someone in Asia will make more money for them, then that it exactly what they are going to do.

#6 Unfair trade is absolutely killing our economy.  It would be one thing if the U.S. was running a massive trade deficit solely because we were incompetent.  But the truth is that a big factor is that a number of our “trade partners” are economic predators that are purposely trying to prey on us.

The other day, I wrote about some of the things that China does to steal our jobs, our factories and our wealth….

China massively subsidizes their biggest corporations, they brazenly steal technology from anyone that they can, they openly manipulate exchange rates and they allow their workers to be paid slave labor wages.

Today, we spend about 4 dollars on imports from China for every 1 dollar that China spends on imports from us.  China now even makes more beer than we do.  Even the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the National Mall was made in China.

Until our politicians start insisting on a level playing field, all of this is going to continue.

#7 Small businesses are traditionally one of the primary engines of job growth in this country.  But right now, small businesses all over America are having a really hard time getting anyone to loan them money.  A big reason for this is that the Federal Reserve is actually paying banks not to make loans.  Unfortunately, if small businesses can’t get the money that they need, then they can’t hire people.

#8 A lot of people may not want to hear this, but businesses in the United States are being absolutely taxed into oblivion.  The U.S. now has the highest corporate tax rate in the world, but that is only a very small part of the story.

Michael Fleischer, the President of Bogen Communications, wrote an op-ed last year for the Wall Street Journal entitled “Why I’m Not Hiring”.  The following is how Paul Hollrah of Family Security Matters summarized the nightmarish taxes that are imposed when Fleischer hires a new worker….

According to Fleischer, Sally grosses $59,000 a year, which shrinks to less than $44,000 after taxes and other payroll deductions. The $15,311 deducted from Sally’s gross pay is comprised of New Jersey state income tax: $1,893; Social Security taxes: $3,661; state unemployment insurance: $126; disability insurance: $149; Medicare insurance: $856; federal withholding tax: $6,250; and her share of medical and dental insurance: $2,376. Roughly 25.9 percent of Sally’s income is siphoned off by Washington and Trenton before she receives her paychecks.

But then there are the additional costs of employing Sally. In addition to her gross salary, her employer must pay the lion’s share of her healthcare insurance premiums: $9,561; life and other insurance premiums: $153; federal unemployment insurance: $56; disability insurance: $149; worker’s comp insurance: $300; New Jersey state unemployment insurance: $505; Medicare insurance: $856; and the employer’s share of Social Security taxes: $3,661.

Over and above her gross salary, Bogen Communications must pay an additional $15,241 in benefits and state and federal taxes, bringing the total cost of employing Sally to approximately $74,241 per year. Sally gets to keep $43,689, or just 58.8% of that total.

After reading all that, can you really blame business owners for not wanting to hire additional workers?

#9 The national debt is like a giant albatross around the neck of the economy. The U.S. national debt has increased by more than 4 trillion dollars since Barack Obama took office.  The rampant government spending that has been going on has not done much to create new jobs, but it will be a massive burden that will weigh down economic growth for many years to come.

When a nation is drowning in debt, a tremendous amount of economic resources must go to servicing that debt.  Right now, hundreds of billions of dollars a year that could be used to build up our economy are instead being used to pay interest on the national debt.  If interest rates go up significantly, we could soon be paying over a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt.

#10 Right now America is very deeply divided and a tremendous sense of pessimism has set in.  One recent survey found that 48 percent of Americans believe that it is likely that another great Depression will begin within the next 12 months.  With such a negative feeling in the air, it is going to make it even less likely that business owners will be in the mood to hire people.

I know that I pick on Detroit a lot, but it really is a microcosm of what is happening to America.  The following video contains some absolutely amazing footage of the ruins of Detroit….

Sadly, what is happening to Detroit is happening in hundreds of other communities across the United States.

All over America, neighborhoods that were once teeming with hope and prosperity are now falling apart.  Hopelessness is rampant and it is spreading.  The number of Americans on food stamps has increased 74% since 2007.  If not for our increasingly overwhelmed “safety net”, we would already have mass rioting in the streets.

Sadly, we are already seeing all sorts of signs that society is collapsing.  As the economy continues to fall apart, the violence in our neighborhoods is going to get even worse.

The following is one very shocking recent example from the Chicago Tribune….

Moments before she was slain last week on Chicago’s Southwest Side, 17-year-old Charinez Jefferson begged the gunman not to shoot because she was pregnant, prosecutors said today.

Despite her plea, Timothy Jones, 18, opened fire on Jefferson anyway, yelling an expletive at her as he shot her in the head, prosecutors said. He then stood over her as she lay on the ground and fired several more times, striking her in the chest and back.

America is changing.  The country that so many of us have loved all of our lives is becoming unrecognizable.  Large numbers of communities have had all of the hope sucked right out of them.  Tens of millions of Americans that want to do things the “right way” are rapidly losing faith in the system.

When you can’t get a decent job after months and months of trying it can be absolutely soul-crushing.

What do you tell someone that has spent a year sending out resumes and has used up all of their savings?

The era of endless prosperity for America is at an end.  The cold, hard consequences of decades of bad decisions are starting to set in.

Unless a dramatic change of course happens, the long-term trends noted above are going to get progressively worse.  It won’t matter who is running Congress and it won’t matter who is in the White House.

Right now our economy is rapidly hurtling downhill on a bus without brakes and we are headed directly for a cliff.

Please wake up America.

 

10 Reasons Why It Has Become So Soul-Crushingly Difficult To Find A Job In America Today

Have you been unemployed lately?  If so, then you probably know how frustrating it is to try to find a job in the United States today. It now takes the average unemployed worker about 33 weeks to find a job.  There are millions of Americans that have not been able to find a full-time job even after searching hard for an entire year.  Some areas of the United States have been devastated so badly by the economic downturn that they are starting to resemble war zones.  Unless you have been there, it is hard to even try to describe the extreme frustration that one feels when you are unable to pay the mortgage and feed your family.  It can be absolutely soul-crushing.  But it is not the fault of those who are unemployed.  The truth is that our economy is dying and it is not producing nearly enough jobs anymore.  Unfortunately, as you will see from the facts listed below, most of the things that are causing our economy to die have no realistic chance of being changed any time soon.

The following are 10 reasons why it has become so insanely difficult to find a job in America today….

#1 There are a lot fewer job openings in the United States today.  The number of U.S. job openings declined once again in December.  Prior to the most recent economic downturn, there were usually somewhere around 4.5 to 5 million job openings in America.  Today there are about 3 million.

#2 There is a lot more competition for the very few job openings that are actually available.  According to Gallup, the U.S. unemployment rate has been hovering around 10 percent for over a year.  When Gallup includes “underemployed Americans” that have part-time jobs but really want full-time jobs in the numbers, they get a lot worse.  Currently, Gallup says that 19.3 percent of the workforce is either unemployed or underemployed.

#3 The U.S. economy is producing an extremely low number of new jobs.  The federal government says that only about 36,000 jobs were added in January.  Well,  an increase of 150,000 jobs per month is necessary just to keep up with population growth.  We continue to fall farther and farther behind.

#4 All across the nation, state and local governments are rapidly cutting jobs.  Government jobs used to be considered some of the safest jobs available, but today state and local governments all across America are facing horrific budget crunches.  In fact, things have gotten so extreme that some cities are cutting their police forces by up to 50 percent.

#5 U.S. businesses are being absolutely crushed by regulations, and yet the government just keeps piling them on.  For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is projecting that the food service industry will have to spend an additional 14 million hours every single year just to comply with new federal regulations that mandate that all vending machine operators and chain restaurants must label all products that they sell with a calorie count in a location visible to the consumer.  These kinds of ridiculous regulations are chasing U.S. businesses out of the country at a blistering pace.

#6 When you combine all forms of taxation, businesses pay more taxes in the United States than just about anywhere else in the world.  Some of the biggest corporations have figured out how to get around this, but many other businesses are being absolutely crushed by this.  All of this taxation is also chasing businesses out of the country.  Now Barack Obama is at it again.  He has just proposed an increase in unemployment taxes.  This is going to make it even less likely that businesses will want to hire more employees.

#7 Advances in technology mean that less workers are needed today.  A robot can do the labor that a hundred workers used to perform.  A computer can do the work that a thousand people used to perform.  Our society now needs less manual labor than it used to, and that is not going to change.  In fact, our society is only going to become more computerized and more automated.  That means that the ultra-wealthy do not need as many of us to work for them.

#8 Nations such as China are taking jobs away from us.  Tens of thousands of factories and millions of jobs are moving to China.  There is a reason why Barack Obama mentioned China four times during his State of the Union address.  China now even makes more beer than the United States does.  China has been very shrewd.  They have invited international corporations to come over and take advantage of their vast population by paying them slave labor wages.  The U.S. middle class is being shredded by this.  Why should companies pay U.S. workers 10 or 20 times more than they could pay a Chinese worker?

#9 Every single year, the U.S. buys hundreds of billions of dollars more stuff from the rest of the world than they buy from us.  This is called a trade deficit, and it is killing the U.S. economy.  The hundreds of billions of dollars going to the rest of the world could be going to U.S. businesses, and in turn U.S. businesses would need more workers.  But instead of fixing our trade balance problem, our politicians continue to insist that “globalism” is going to be really, really “good” for us.

#10 Every single year the U.S. federal government spends hundreds of billions of dollars just on interest on the national debt.  This is money that we don’t get any economic benefit from.  If we were not in so much debt, the U.S. government would be able to spend that money on goods and services inside the United States and that would support a lot more jobs.  This is just one of the ways that our horrific national debt is a tremendous drag on our economy.

This Economy Is Ripping The Dignity Of Millions Of Unemployed Americans To Shreds

If you can still put a roof over your head and food on the table for your family, you should consider yourself to be very fortunate.  There are millions of Americans out there right now that are really, really suffering.  The cold, hard reality of it is that there aren’t even close to enough jobs out there for everyone right now.  It is almost as if we are all caught in a really bizarre game of musical chairs where the losers get stripped of their tickets to the middle class.  What this horrible economy is doing to the dignity of millions of middle class Americans is incredibly saddening.  There are a lot of very highly educated and very hard working Americans who cannot seem to get jobs no matter what they do and now find themselves doing whatever they can just to survive.  It can be really hard to keep your dignity when you played by all the rules and you worked as hard as you could all your life and now you find yourself a half step away from being homeless.  Those of us who are still doing okay should never look down on those who are struggling in this economy, because the truth is that any of us could be next.   

If you really want to read some horror stories about what long-term unemployment is doing to some people in America, you should go spend an hour or two over at Unemployed-Friends some time.  It is a great forum with a lot of great resources for the unemployed, but it also contains dozens and dozens and dozens of heartbreaking stories from middle class Americans who have had their lives shattered by this economic downturn.      

The following is a typical story on Unemployed-Friends.  It is from a 48 year old Air Force veteran who has lost everything and is now sleeping in his vehicle.  It turns out that Scott48’s job was shipped off to India and now he has been out of work for over two years….

“I am a 48 year old USAF Vet. I got my house in 1996 with the help of the VA. In 2009 the company I worked for went out of buisness(gone to India) I then became a 99er. I notified Wells Fargo that I lost my job and they said they would work with me, the next mortgage statement I got they conveniently increased my mortgage! With what I got from UE was enough for the house but I had to cut out the luxury of food, gas, utillities, insurance, entertainment and alcohol. That was it for me, so the forecloser ball was in motion. I had to give my dog to my cousin so he would get fed, I took everything I owened to the auction( execpt tools, clothes, pictures, tech manuals and my Saxophone) and sold it. I went to a half-way house the VA recomended for a week and it was joke, so my cousin said I could stay with her. After 4 months she diecided that I wasnt looking hard enough and kicked me out, and Ive applied for everything except selling myself. This summer I was staying in an abandoned house due to forecloser and the real estate company has now put it on the market, and I am now on the street sleeping in my vehicle or a friend here and there. Keeping clean is going to be a challenge cuz the Flying J truck stops charge $10 for a shower, rip-off. What a country!”

The truth is that this economy is driving many Americans to the brink of desperation.  Even recent college graduates are becoming desperate enough to actually consider suicide.  The following story is from an Unemployed-Friends user known as 08pacollegegrad….

“I could just take any job like working at fast food places, but I hear people who try can’t even get hired there. I went to Wendy’s for lunch the other day and I thought of picking up an application…but the slot where they keep the applications was completely empty. That should say it all. Plus, I feel like if I take just any job…I will be set back further and never be able to gain experience in my chosen fields.

I follow up on job applications, but employers ignore me for the most part when I try to contact them. I sent five follow up e-mails last week and got no responses. I contacted an employer expressing my interest in working for them, but all they gave me is the link to their online application system that I have never gotten a job from.

I am thinking of applying for more internships (I have already done two), but I don’t want employers to think why I am applying for an internship when I should have had a full fledged job by now.

I have almost killed myself over my situaion and am taking anti-depressants right now. I see a psychiatrist every 4-6 weeks, but I still have days where I feel so empty. I am sick of sitting at home searching for jobs and praying for a response that never comes.”

Many Americans spend day after day after day looking for a job that never comes.  The sense of hopelessness that can build after doing this for a few years is almost indescribable.  The following is another incredibly sad story from an Unemployed-Friends user known as feuxdejoie….

“I lost my job in June 2008, my husband was working but sentenced to prison for 4 years, for DUI, no accidents or injuries. I had been using my unemployment to pay bills but my last check came June 12, 2010. I’m alone and scared. The city that I live in has the highest unemployment in the State, Illinois. Our children are grown and I sit alone all day searching for jobs. My husband can only call once a month because of the outrageous rates for telephone calls. I’m at the end of my rope and don’t know where to turn if they don’t pass a tier V for unemployment or open up some jobs.
I turned 50 in April and had worked all of my life, starting at age 14 with a work permit! My employer stated to me that they needed someone bilingual and terminated me even after I told them that I would take classes to learn.  I signed up for college and began classes in January then unemployment told me that I wasn’t elgible for unemployment while attending school.”

There are millions of Americans who believe that their lives are over because they can’t get decent jobs.  When you lose your job, your home, your car, your health insurance and then finally your unemployment insurance runs out, it is easy to lose all hope as an Unemployed-Friends user named Ember has done….

“so i feel pretty much hopeless. been unemployed since July 2008. in over two years i haven’t even been called for an interview. tired of looking and applying for jobs outside of my field that require experience i don’t have. it’s all for naught. i have two bachelor of science degrees. my BS degrees, cuz that’s what they’re worth. since losing my job i’ve gotten divorced. lost my house. lost my health insurance. totalled my car and sustained chronic back pain. and moved in with my mom. and did i mention, when all this started i was a new mom, just back from maternity leave? so (now) i’m raising a toddler on my own, with no income. my unemployment insurance ran out a few weeks ago. i don’t even know what to do now. i just want to disappear. i’m tired of trying. i’m tired of being a burden on everyone. if i didn’t have the responsibility to take care of my child i wouldn’t be around anymore.”

This final example is from an Unemployed-Friends user identified as Faith1028.  Be warned that this one will shake you to your core if you have any sensitivity at all.  As you read this, keep in mind that this kind of thing is literally happening to millions of Americans these days…. 

“HI, y’all! This is my story. I’m from Chicago.

I lost my job 11.06.09 – I did my best to remain positive & confident that I would get a job by the end of November.

December 2009 – Still no job. I’m getting food stamps (LINK card) & Unemployment Benefits. Not much money at all, but I’m surviving. Thanks to all this stress, my stomach has been burning and/or been painful daily for all December. I puked my guts out on the 26th.

January 2010 – My stomach is still hurting every day. I had to close out my savings account. I haven’t told my slumlord or my fellow tenants that I lost my job; I go on pretending I’m still going to work everyday. Unfortunately on the 26th, I got my eviction notice. I called the office to ask why. The response was “I don’t know.” I became hysterical. I’ve no job, no money, no family/friends to help. (I have many *relatives*, but no *family*.) I truly believed my only alternative was suicide. I wanted to say good-bye to my brother (my only sibling), but we haven’t spoken to each other for over 4 years; I no longer have his address/phone number. I found him on Facebook. I didn’t bring up my situation because I felt he wouldn’t care. We exchanged a few messages and that was it. I haven’t heard from him since. Good riddance.

February 2010 – Someone found a family that I can stay with for only $250/month! My own room! They turned out to be aquaintances of mine. Vegetarian, too! At least I have a place to stay. I’d rather live alone, but, hey, I’m desperate! — And I’m not too crazy about the bedbugs. OW!

June/July 2010 – Thanks to daily/nightly use of citrine crystals since 30 May, I have no more stomach problems!
Thanks to weekly use of a natural (green!) pesticide from PlusNaturalEnzymes.com, I no longer have a problem with bedbugs! However…
Mid-June, my Unemployment Benefits ran out. Of course, I’m still looking for a job! What am I supposed to do – put a gun to someone’s head and force them to hire me? As of this date, I have $12 left to my name; $0 in my chequeing account. I recently reapplied for and am now receiving food stamps. Before I got my food stamps back, I’ve eaten whatever (Vegetarian!) food I can get, even stuff I’m allergic to. As a result, I’ve become sick: cold-like symptoms, pain in lower intestines…and a rash over my arms, legs, & neck. Oh, does it itch! At least my food allergies are not life-threatening.
Needless to say, my depression has gotten worse.

I am really trying hard to remain positive — and alive.
But why? Is it really all worth it?

I haven’t paid July’s rent, and the people I’m staying with are getting very *impatient*; I fear I’ll be evicted again! The money is coming! It’s not my bloody fault!

Someone on Twitter sent me a link to this site. I know I’m not the only one suffering; some folks have already committed suicide. I don’t want to die, but I don’t want to be homeless, either. I am so bloody scared.
Just give me money that my tax dollars paid for!
–Or better yet: GIVE ME A BLASTED JOB!!”

The really sad thing is that there are countless other stories just like these being posted all over the Internet all the time.

People are hurting.

People are losing hope.

So how did we get here?

Well, it turns out that the “haves” have figured out that they really don’t need the “have nots” after all.  Incredible advances in technology have increasingly enabled employers to replace humans with machines and computers.  In addition, as we have detailed previously, millions upon millions of middle class American jobs are being shipped off to China and to dozens of third world nations where workers are more than happy to work for less than a tenth of what an American worker would make.

All of those jobs that have been lost to technology and that have been sent overseas are not going to come back.  The hordes of long-term unemployed that we are seeing now is just the beginning.  It is going to get a lot worse.

So the next time you hear a hard luck story from an unemployed American, don’t look down on that person.

You might be next.

College Students This Is Your Future: High Unemployment And Student Loan Hell

Hundreds of thousands of college students all over the United States have just graduated and are getting ready for their first taste of the real world.  Unfortunately for them, the real world is not always easy and it is not always fair.  In fact, for large numbers of recent college graduates, the transition to a world of high unemployment, brutal student loan payments and lowered expectations can be extremely sobering.  But the truth is that we have taught these young people to have a completely unrealistic view of the future.  We have told them to take out gigantic student loans without worrying about how they are going to pay them back, we have told them that if they get good grades and do everything “right” that the system will reward them with secure, fulfilling careers, and we have made high school and college so “soft and cushy” that most of these young Americans find that they don’t have the discipline and the work ethic to make it when they actually do get out into society.

So needless to say, the first six months after graduation can be a complete shock for many college graduates.

In a piece recently published on MSN Money, journalist Joe Queenan described the tough environment that 2010 college graduates are being thrown into as they enter the real world….

They will enter an economy where roughly 17% of people aged 20 through 24 do not have a job, and where two million college graduates are unemployed. They will enter a world where they will compete tooth and nail for jobs as waitresses, pizza delivery men, file clerks, bouncers, trainee busboys, assistant baristas, interns at bodegas.

But waiting tables, delivering pizzas or greeting customers at the local Wal-Mart is not what most college graduates signed up for when they invested tens of thousands of dollars and four years (if not longer) of their lives in an education.

Unfortunately, that is where our economy is at today.

“Good jobs” are very few and far between and those freshly graduating from college are finding themselves suddenly thrust into an extremely competitive job market.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in March the national rate of unemployment in the U.S. was 9.7%, but for Americans younger than 25 years of age it was 18.8%.

In fact, according to a recent Pew Research Center study, approximately 37% of all Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 have either been unemployed or underemployed at some point during this recession.

But what makes things even worse for college graduates is that so many of them are coming out of school with absolutely crushing student debt loads.

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

But it isn’t just that they have student loans.  The loan balances that many of these students are graduating with these days are absolutely obscene.

The Project on Student Debt estimates that 206,000 U.S. college students graduated with more than $40,000 in student loan debt in 2008.  Using 2008 dollars as a baseline, that represents a ninefold increase over the number of students graduating with that amount of debt in 1996.

Most college students don’t think much about all of the debt that they are accumulating while they are in school.

But once they get out, the sudden realization that they have gotten themselves into student loan payments that they cannot possibly handle can be completely demoralizing.

The New York Times recently profiled Cortney Munna – a recent college graduate who has not been able to get a “good job” and who now finds herself in student loan hell.  She recently told the New York Times that she would be more than glad to give back her education if she could just get out of all this debt….

“I don’t want to spend the rest of my life slaving away to pay for an education I got for four years and would happily give back.”

In recent years, millions of young college graduates have found that the “great education” that they thought they were getting actually doesn’t get them very far at all in the real world.

In fact, they often find themselves taking jobs where they work right next to other people their age who never even went to college.

So a lot of young college graduates find themselves wishing that they could just “return” their education and get all that money back.

But there is no walking away from student loan debt.

The truth is that federal bankruptcy law makes it nearly impossible to discharge student loan debts.

Basically, once you get into student loan hell there is no escape.

So now we have hundreds of thousands of college graduates that can’t get good jobs and that have brutal student loan payments that they can’t possibly handle.

No wonder so many of them seem so angry and depressed.

But the funny thing is that so many that are still in college are so unbelievably optimistic about the future.

Edwin Koc, director of research for the National Association of Colleges and Employers says that those approaching college graduation are an extremely confident bunch….

“Over 90 percent think they have a perfect résumé. The percentage who think they will have a job in hand three months after graduation is now 57 percent. They’re still supremely confident in themselves.”

So have we done a good job of teaching them to have confidence in themselves or have we done them a disservice by allowing so many of them to live in complete denial?

The truth is that the U.S. economy is in the process of collapsing, and we need to prepare our young people for the tough times that are ahead.  Life is going to require an extreme amount of hard work and discipline in the years ahead, and unfortunately those qualities are not in great supply among young Americans right now.

Actually, the “real world” is not going to be getting easier for any of us.  We are all going to require an attitude adjustment if we are going to successfully navigate the difficult times that are coming.  So let’s not be too hard on new college graduates and other young Americans.  The truth is that the vast majority of us are “soft” at least to some degree because of the decadent society in which we live.  Let’s just hope that somehow we can all find enough inner strength to endure the great challenges that are going to confront us in the years ahead.

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